Might & Magic: Heroes VI Updated Hands-On - Exploration, Combat, and More

Might & Magic: Heroes VI will continue the Heroes of Might & Magic series in a unified world. We dive into the world of Ashan once more.

Might & Magic: Heroes VI is the next chapter in Ubisoft's rebooted Heroes of Might & Magic series, and even though this new game is being developed by Black Hole Studios (Warhammer: Mark of Chaos and Armies of Exigo), it seems to have more immediately in common with Heroes V than with the classic Heroes III--the game that gets us all nostalgic. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. For starters, Heroes VI has a lush 3D graphics engine that renders a colorful world inhabited by the fantasy creatures you've come to expect from Ubisoft's rebooted Might & Magic franchise--demons, undead, orcs, and humans, among others. We recently spent some more time with the single-player campaign, and here's what we found out.

Heroes VI's campaign will emphasize story and characters more than any other game in the series.

Similar to Heroes V, Heroes VI's campaign will put a stronger emphasis on story and will include numerous cinematic cutscenes (as well as brief audio conversations among key characters) to break up the action of exploring and conquering the overworld map. As we've discussed in our previous coverage, your primary goal on most Heroes VI maps, like in every other game in the series, is to explore and conquer the map by seizing resources in the form of small caches that give you a one-off bonus, and production nodes (gold mines, sawmills, and so on) that give you a continuous income, while hacking through any neutral monsters or enemy heroes that dare oppose you.

Most of the resources and map features you recall from previous games--gold, wood, ore, and crystal, as well as learning stones that grant bonus experience and rally flags that grant morale bonuses for a week--return in Heroes VI, though the game also has interesting new tweaks to the basic Heroes formula. For instance, even though the game still considers each passing turn on the overland map to consist of a single day (with seven turns composing a week), each week brings with it a bonus not to individual unit growth (such as the week of this or that unit that gains a growth bonus), but rather to a more-abstract concept that will benefit a specific strategy instead. One of the more-interesting weekly bonuses we saw was the "week of blood," a temporary, weeklong bonus in which all abilities along the path of blood gain bonus effectiveness.

As we've mentioned previously, Heroes VI introduces a new concept of ethical alignment in the form of two "paths" you can follow, the path of tears (a peaceful path that grants mostly defensive bonuses) and the path of blood (a more-aggressive path that grants mostly offensive bonuses in battle). Taking more-aggressive action in certain situations will unlock more slots along the path of blood, while taking a pacifist's approach will unlock more slots in tears. In each case, every time your campaign hero gains an experience level by either slaughtering enemies in battle or converting treasure chests to experience points (rather than keeping the gold for himself--a classic Heroes of Might & Magic choice), you'll have the opportunity to advance one additional slot into either path. However, at least in the early goings of the campaign, you'll actually be able to advance equally in both paths, since each one is divided into tiers with multiple skills in each, and subsequent tiers are locked out until your hero gains a certain experience level…so at least in the early part of the campaign, which we played, it won't be possible to specialize entirely in tears or in blood. In any case, each time you gain a level, you can pick up an additional blood or tears hero ability that you can use once per round in the game's board-game-like tactical combat mode.

Tactical combat seems just as strategic as ever and even seems to have a puzzle-game-like quality to it. Because battles take place on a rectangular grid between units such as guardsmen (pikemen), marksmen (archers), and sisters (healers), and because each unit has a specific movement range and damage range, and because you can use only one ability from your hero (either an innate magic spell or a blood/tears spell, or a simple attack), just like in Heroes V, winning battles with minimal losses seems like a game of advanced planning and some simple math, adding up damage from attacks and counterattacks that might be elicited. For those players who desperately need to win every battle without a single casualty, Heroes VI handily lets you replay each one--though for players who don't care to sweat the details, the game also has an auto-combat option that gives up control of your armies to the computer and auto-resolves the results in quicker, if less-than-optimal, fashion.

Completing each map in the campaign will earn you special bonuses for the next mission tied to your online Heroes VI "conflux" account. The conflux is Heroes VI's online game profile that tracks your overall single-player and multiplayer statistics, as well as "dynasty traits," an ongoing passive bonus to your hero that you can choose at the beginning of a new map, and keep active on your hero for that particular adventure, such as bonus starting gold or bonuses to your combat prowess. Over time, you'll also earn dynasty weapons--items that you can keep in your persistent dynasty profile and equip on your heroes later on.

The game will be released later this year.

Might & Magic: Heroes VI will apparently offer an evolved version of the new Heroes universe first envisioned in Heroes V and expanded upon in later games, such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. The game is scheduled to launch later this year.

Written By

Want the latest news about Might & Magic: Heroes VI?

Might & Magic: Heroes VI

Might & Magic: Heroes VI

Follow

Discussion

13 comments
remiaw
remiaw

Conflux dynasty bonuses online profile... :( Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but for me homm is a game i can always enjoy single,custom,hot seat and lan. Still playing 3wog & 5. I don't even have cable. Hope they at least throw in a mapeditor

nagyfrancisc
nagyfrancisc

I played the demo and I enjoyed it. It still needs a lot of ironing, but I am sure it will be a successful game. [please stop comparing it it to that "mythical" heroes 3, cause i'm sick of that.. of that game and of that comparison].

Majkic666
Majkic666

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Majkic666
Majkic666

@skynest meh, HOMM V is far from superior from its prequels... many would say it is the worst in the series... but in my opinion its the second worst, IV is the worst

skynest
skynest

I have played all three Heroes V adventures and after a shaky start on the part of Nival Interactive they all played solidly and only occasionally had some balance issues. What a game and well done!!! I have played a couple hours of Heroes VI and my impression is Heroes V "light". Why go backword? Less of most of the game mechanics traded for better graphics and cutscenes. Nival could have done a much better job of moving this series to the next level because they already made a superior product in HMM V. Looking for HMM VII or a miracle.

lyk3
lyk3

i also played a bit of beta. I dont like the town layout, too many tabs. The world itself looks amazing. Its not cluttered as in HOMM5 and the visual details are stunning. Combat is similar to 5 and I enjoy that more units have special abilities.

bear67
bear67

Man I thought heroes v was the best game I've played since Diablo 2 hope this is closer v than lll time will soon tell.

John_Doe-
John_Doe-

It appears as if the writer of this article is not a true HOMM fan... the game as it is described here sounds very similar to Heroes V, except for the blood/tears approach. Week of the X in heroes V did not include only singular monsters, but more general bonuses such as 'Week of Fire' (50% more damage to fire based spells) etc. etc. Longing for the past in the form of Heroes III seems to be the popular thing to do and it appears as if the writer of this article knows this, but truth to be told is, that HOMM V is in my opinion the best in the series! sure, HOMM 3 was great in it's balance between simplicity and complexity, but I think that a true fan to the series, one who played all titles (including Heroes IV, which turned to be quite amusing after giving it a second chance) will agree that Heroes V does not fall from it's role model - Heroes III. I can't say that I'm pleased to hear that there will only be one more resource to gather (other than the mandatory gold, wood and ore), and even less pleased to hear about the DRM in disguise! My Expectations from this game are significantly low at this point... Hope to be stand corrected.

DownToOne
DownToOne

wow, this article made me want to play heroes 3 with friends like the old times. hope the new chapter in the series will bring the same nostalgic as opposed to heroes 4,5

HufflePuff-TLH
HufflePuff-TLH

yea so uhm, I'm as big a heroes fan as the next guy, but this is going to fail..

PseudoElite
PseudoElite

I played some of the Beta and wasn't awfully impressed, I hope they prove me wrong when it releases.

Majkic666
Majkic666

I am gonna go and play Heroes 3 now... and hope this will at least be half as good as it