Heroes of Might and Magic VI Preview

It’s been years since I took part in a Heroes of Might and Magic game. I have fond memories of playing one with a friend for days as the slow, turn-based action completed its rounds. Year 2011 rolls around, and I’m taking part in the beta for the sixth installation.

My initial impression of the game was that it’s an upgraded version of the classic series. The graphics are phenomenal—almost too good for my updated PC. If I load a game or minimize outside of windows mode, the game can take about 20-40 seconds to catch up. This is not a flaw, but the game does have high requirements. The environments, battles, and even the detail on the individual units are quite impressive.

Gameplay is … complex. I mean this as a compliment. In the beta, there are two samples of the campaign and one multiplayer map. With the multiplayer map, you can test out all the five factions. Due to the nature of the beta, the game does not explain much to you. I learned something new, though, each time I played through the beginning. Also, with my prior knowledge of the franchise, I knew the basics starting out. I could see someone picking up this beta for the first time and having a lot of questions. Hell, I still do.

When I say complex, I mean it. To become good at Heroes VI, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each faction and what each individual unit is capable of. I have joined fights and have been blown away by a single ability of a unit I had never seen before. Certain units have special combat abilities outside of simply attacks. Now add splash damage, straight line path damage, and area of effect, and suddenly your own troops are dying by your hands—oops. Strategy is key for not only winning battles but also managing your kingdom. I have seen an enemy hero race to my lightly defended capital and take it from under me.

Watch gameplay highlights from Heroes of Might & Magic VI

The game has in-depth detail, too, which I always enjoy. You make your own hero: male/female, might/magic, and blood/tears (evil/good). The blood and tears are destiny paths and unlock unique abilities for each faction. As your hero levels up, you choose between pages of abilities to bestow upon them. These pages can increase movement, income, might, creatures per week, magic spells, etc. Tons of options allow for customizable heroes, as well as to let you build exactly what you want. This kind of detail is what separates the good players from the great ones. Oh, and if leveling your hero is not enough for you, your player account also levels the more you play. Mind. Blown.

I like the direction this franchise is headed in. Heroes of Might and Magic VI has a lot of potential. So much can be fixed and changed by release time in September. I expect a tutorial will be added to the live version of the game. The game has a social aspect I have yet to toy with. This allows for Skype, voice communication, and detailed friends lists.