Reviewed: November 16, 2011
Released: October 13, 2011
Heroes of Might and Magic is about as venerable as series get nowadays. Now, 15 years after the original Windows release, Might and Magic Heroes VI brings the franchise back to the PC. A faithful followup to one of the original strategy RPGs, Heroes VI captures the magic of the original games, and brings an array of updated features to take advantage of modern connectivity. While there are a few rough spots, Heroes VI manages to shine overall.|
A prequel to the events of Heroes V, Heroes VI puts you on the world of Ashan, where a shadowy archangel plots to control the world, using the threat of an impending demonic invasion to consolidate his power. When the Duke Slava, head of the Griffin dynasty and a man suspicious of angelic intentions is assassinated, his five children each carry on his legacy. Each of the game's seven campaigns follows a different character, each aligned with one of the five factions.
While the core gameplay doesn't vary much from faction to faction, as it involves exploring the map to upgrade your hero, creating buildings in towns to grow an army, and crushing your enemies in turn-based battles, each faction has a strong identity, backed by their forces and unique abilities. The Haven's army focuses on a strong defense for its soldiers, backed up by the ability to render one unit completely invulnerable for a turn.
Meanwhile, the individualistic demons of the Inferno lack in support powers, but their magic and luck (which leads to maximum damage hits) are without peer. The Necropolis's troops are durable, and what few fall can always be replaced by the enemy's losses. The orcs of the Stronghold hit the enemy's front lines hard and fast, but lack in options aside from that, and the Naga of the Sanctuary's expensive units support each other and duel enemies one on one. Each of these factions are a great time to play, and pretty much any fan of strategy RPGs will find one to favor.
With five factions, seven campaigns, multiplayer and custom single-player games, Heroes VI has a massive amount of content, enough to keep a dedicated player busy for weeks. What's more, thanks to Ubisoft's Conflux integration, your accomplishments in each map you play go towards building your dynasty, unlocking equipment and buffs for your heroes, portraits and titles for playing online, and letting you level up weapons that you can share between your heroes. It's a great way to let you keep making progress when one of the campaigns' difficult maps stumps you, and as far as copy protection goes, the Conflux makes good use of Ubisoft's requirement of connection to their servers.
When it comes to flaws, Heroes VI comes up mercifully short. While the town-building isn't as rewarding as previous Heroes games, where an illustration of your town updated and showed the new structures in your cities, it's not terrible, and there's been talk of making it more evocative. Possibly worse is the sheer number of options available as you build your heroes, making it entirely possible to accidentally make a hero who's complete and total garbage. With numerous tabs each full of trees, you can spec out your characters in any way you please, a far cry from the more limited hero building of previous games. While great once you learn it, it's a bit of a pain to get used to, and it's pretty likely that you'll make at least one or two of your campaign characters useless along the way.
Heroes VI brings back the kind of game I thought I'd never see any more. It's rare to see a turn-based strategy game come from a major company these days, but Heroes VI goes back to the series' roots, and comes out with a great game.