|Dev: Black Hole Games|
|Release: October 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Violence|
by Joshua Wirtanen
The Might & Magic franchise is a long-running staple of PC role-playing. In fact, it dates all the way back to the mid-1980s, and the Heroes of Might & Magic series in particular can be traced back to 1995. It's not going away any time soon; the newest game in the series, Might & Magic: Heroes VI, is due out this September.
Heroes VI is switching up the formula a little bit, and the team actually took a fairly innovative approach to going about this. They forged an alliance between themselves and fans, creating a private forum where the Might & Magic community leaders and proven modders could share their own expectations of the series.
And they listened to the fans. One of the complaints about Heroes of Might & Magic V was that the various faction campaigns took place in a specific order, which was a departure from Heroes III and IV. In Heroes VI, the campaigns can be played in any order. Instead of the campaign stories all taking place chronologically, they tell an interlocking story. Plot lines weave seamlessly between the various factions to paint a fuller overall picture of what is going on in the world of Ashan.
Another major change for the series is that skills have been refined a bit. New players were often confused by the way skills worked in Heroes V. Various online resources were necessary to keep players from advancing the skills that wouldn't necessarily keep them on the best "skill path" as they progressed through the game. This time around, players get more control with a skill tree closer to that of World of Warcraft than previous Heroes skills advancement systems. It's much more intuitive, and should be much less intimidating for players brand new to the series.
The Resurrection spell is a good example of the effectiveness of the new skill tree. To earn Ressurection in Heroes V, you needed to get a lucky break at the Mage Guild once you hit level 5. In Heroes VI, you'll be able to earn the Heal spell—which will also resurrect your allies—much earlier, and you can take luck out of the equation. You can also earn a Mass Heal spell once you hit level 5, which allows you to heal all your troops at once.
Speaking of healing, there are new dedicated healing classes added to the mix; the Haven faction has Sisters, the Sylvan faction has Coral Priestesses, and the Necropolis has Ghosts, all of which can heal multiple times per battle. This means there will be much more healing than there was in Heroes V. However, the game isn't in its final build yet, so there could still be some upcoming tweaks to the heal system.
Another new addition to the series is that when you take control of a city, you can convert it to your faction. If, for example, you convert over a city while playing as the Haven faction, you will then be able to pump Haven troops out of it. This changes up the tactical edge of the gameplay quite a bit. Additionally, any mines in a territory you capture will automatically be yours. You will no longer need to ride out to specific mines in order to claim them.
The combat is still turn-based in Heroes VI, but heroes will function more like they did in Heroes III. They can move at any time during the player's turn, but only once per turn. Also, critical hits will trigger an "action cam" that zooms in on the fight. If you aren't a fan of this, you can disable it in the menu.
There are five playable factions in Heroes VI, and every faction should play differently enough to require completely different strategy types. The "good" factions—those that use light magic—include Haven and Sanctuary. Haven is a theocratic faction, made up of knights and monks. In battle, they excel at defensive roles, and it's standard fare to see mythological creatures like Griffins on the field with them. Sanctuary is a spiritual faction that worships Shalassa, the Dragon of Water. Many of their skills are water-based, and their combat strategy revolves around a powerful one-on-one warrior called a Champion.