We Just Played Might & Magic: Heroes VI (in Beta)

We spend some time in the closed public beta of Might & Magic: Heroes VI.

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The closed public beta for Might & Magic: Heroes VI is in full swing, and we got to spend some quality time with it, starting with the single-player campaign. The opening mission of this turn-based, high-fantasy strategy game put us in control of Prince Charming himself, Duke Slava, who is also the son of the deceased Duke Pavel. Slava, his aunt Sveltana, and a smart-mouthed raven have to band together to stop a renegade orc shaman, Toghrul, who has made a pact with a band of demons.

Like in previous Heroes games, you can add any gold you find to your treasury, or divide it among your subjects for an experience boost.

Like in other games in the series, we spent much of our time exploring the overworld as our avatar, Duke Slava, collecting resources and fighting monsters. These resources were wood, ore, crystal, and gold, which, as always, sometimes appeared in convenient piles out in the open, or guarded by enemies. Another way to amass resources was by controlling a production facility, such as a wood mill or stone quarry. While taking one of these stations was easy, holding it could be hard. Certain stations were under the control of a nearby fort. Holding the fort prevented others from taking nearby buildings; however, enemies could still capture them temporarily by leaving units garrisoned in them.

Once we were flush with rocks and gold, we returned to our keep to cash in our resources. There were plenty of different structures for us to build, but we focused mostly on the unit-producing ones. Once we had a sizable army in tow, it was time to take the fight to the demons. Whether we were fighting a wolf or a demon, combat was conducted on a large grid similar to a chess board. Both side's units took turns moving and fighting across the board, depending on which ones were faster. Our force was modest--only a handful of crossbowmen, spearmen, and healers--but our hero unit had some special skills to help even the odds.

Unlike the others, hero units don't move around and fight on the battlefield. Instead, they can act once a turn and either attack an opponent directly or use a spell or special ability. Because the duke was a might-based hero, as opposed to magic based, we mostly had him attacking enemies when he could. However, he also had a few useful abilities, such as stand your ground, which granted one extra retaliation and increased the defense of the selected unit. We used this to great effect on our spearmen, who were already pretty beefy. With them soaking up damage, we had Slava use the rush ability on our crossbowmen, increasing their initiative and movement stats, to keep them in a prime firing position.

Heroism (which increased a unit's morale, luck, and damage) and flawless assault (which caused a unit to deal maximum damage) were great all-purpose abilities. The number of turns these spells affected our units for and the percentage increase to stats varied depending on Slava's level. All of these abilities stemmed from the war cries skill tree, which is part of the might skill set. While we had fun cutting down wolves, demons, and their ilk, we found it much faster to skip through easier fights using the quick battle options, which let us speed up animations.

In order to get to your foes, you'll need to destroy sections of the wall separating you.

While the single-player campaign focused on the units from the Haven faction, we could also create new characters from the Necropolis, Sanctuary, Stronghold, and Inferno factions to use in multiplayer. However, the multiplayer was local only against either bots or other players on a single map. Against the AI, it functioned much the same way as in the campaign, with the option of playing on teams or in a free-for-all. For more information on the game, check out our previous coverage. Otherwise, you can get your hands on Might & Magic: Heroes VI on September 8 for the PC.

Discussion

18 comments
thorn3000
thorn3000

I am a long time fan who played (and created maps) for every Heroes game there ever was and...is it just me od does HOMM 6 looks exactly like HOMM 5? even graphically? both the map and combat? I mean the fifth instalment is 5 years old, they could have improved at least something, and no, so-called "streamlining" is not an improvement, if its anything that its a disimprovement to say the least...as for me, I would to point out 3 things: first - I hope they haven't wasted too much time on cutscenes and story, while I love a good story, I always prefer a game without bugs, without balancing issues and with uniqueness of gameplay feeling for each faction second - hope they will include behemonts this time, the most awesome unit if there was one, I still fondly remember how I always used to rush to be able to produce them right in the first week in HOMM III third - while continuing the Heroes franchise is great, when, if ever, are we going to get a M&M game? I feel now (after ou so many countless years) is the right time for it (not even counting DMoM&M as it was just a hack and slash spin off like Crusaders of M&M)...

quinholo
quinholo

When HoMM series are comming to the ps3!! My Pc just supported the V! It will not support HoMM VI!! Port it to ps3 pleeeaaaseeeee!!!

nimd4
nimd4

Even this preview spells disaster. New title = new game? No and the devs spent time on stupid (completely pointless?) cut scenes again, instead of on the game. Thankfully it's a LOT better than HoMM5 (beta 1.2, anyway), but it seems that we'll never see the Heroes game(s) we used to love again.

vadagar1
vadagar1

As long as they enhance the Heroes and not make them set in stone (haven only has might, Necro only has ...well necros...etc) I will be very happy. a few balance issues and art directions should be also fixed (I can see the later is taken care of :D) and the game should be very enjoyable.

werewolfalf
werewolfalf

@Neolostars: Its not as simple as King's Bounty but not as advanced as other Heroes for sure. You can wander around a lot more than King's Bounty. It seems like the creatures are not as complicated to use. I use to remember that you could recruit ghosts and everytime they killed someone they would become ghosts. This level of creature use seems diminished. Every faction you play feels exactly the same. @stabby_mcgee: I agree, you use to be able to win a game in the old games by just controlling the Gem mines because then the enemy could not create titans and you could crush them with your dragons. The rare resources were such a large part of the old games you could really delay an enemy development by controlling different mines. The old games were not that complicated to play to begin with. I remember an 8yr old who could play heroes 3 so why reduce the number of elements on the screen. Run and Gun games never last, but I hope the full version with other maps have a solid design to fight for control. The beta map is not the best layout every player gets all mines right next to thier castle.

mangust26
mangust26

First, i had some weird technical issue... When I point on some button in the game, i must press below the button to make it work. Second, HOMM 3 is no competition for any homm game, no fancy graphics but still very beautifull, plot and music and so much stuff to mess with! HOMM must stay at Home, turn left turn right it is a shut in it's head! It survived decades only because each game had something left of the HOMM.

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

@werewolfalf It is unfortunate that they're making the game simpler considering how every game has gotten more complex and added more features for existing content. For example, they added more and more uses for the rare resources. In Heroes 1, you could only use them to buy buildings and a few top tier creatures. Trading posts were added in Heroes 2 to let you exchange rare resources for gold. Heroes 3 let you buy artifacts with rare resources. Heroes 4 let you buy spells with rare resources. Heroes 5 let wizards make mini-artifacts with rare resources and let the dwarves cast rune spells with them. I also remember an early interview with the Heroes 4 developers where they said they wanted to add the feature to craft artifacts with gold and rare resources but that never saw the light of day since as mentioned before, the game wasn't finished. It sucks that they got reduced the number of rare resources instead of creating new uses for them like in previous games.

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

@werewolfalf: God, from your description, I hope they didn't reduce this game to King's Bounty's (the new ones) simplicity. I've always loved HOMM, but I'm getting less and less warmer for this one, especially because there is no elves faction. Oh well... I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

werewolfalf
werewolfalf

I have played the beta as well as all heroes games before. This game is less complex than previous games. Not having to go out and find other resources make it so you level up your town in only a few weeks. I am not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing. I use to like having to go out and find that missing mercury or gem that was not near my castle. Everything seems to revolve around your heros. Spells are now gained by hero points earned at each level (no more mage guild). Much more artifacts for you hero to find so that might be a reason to venture out. Each hero can hold over 15 of them. Town screens are simplified to popup windows. If should take far less time to finish a map than in previous games. The deciding edge in each game will be the how the hero setup with abilities, spells and artifacts since each person or AI should level up towns fairly easily. No more need to control special resources to prevent the other side from building their town up, the reduced amount of resources availible ensures all sides get what they need. The beta played smooth with some annoying bugs that are sure to be fixed but the core gameplay was solid.

werewolfalf
werewolfalf

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

kaem79
kaem79

Go play Witcher:AoK instead.

zahhibb1
zahhibb1

From what I have experienced through the beta so far is that it's 10 times more fluid and less bugs and glitches than HOMM5.

SoundsBien
SoundsBien

@faisal2010 They reduced all the rare resources to crystal.

faisal2010
faisal2010

I really really hope that Heroes 6 will be as good as 3. Also expecting M&M series to revive though. I am a big fan of M&M. Anyway, i just noticed in the screen shots and in the above preview that the resources type is reduced to Wood, Ore, Gold and Crystal only. Is that true? or it's in the early round of the game? Where are gems, ruby, mercury etc goes? Are they not part of Heroes 6?

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

First of all, I hope the game doesn't have that crappy Ubisoft DRM. Second, I hope they invest enough time and resources to make this a polished game. Heroes 4 ended up with a lot of problems because 3DO was dying. The company was going bankrupt, people working on Heroes 4 were being diverted for other projects, the game was released before it was completed, and most of the developers got fired two weeks after the game's release so the game didn't get properly patched. The fact that Heroes 5 was released with a ton of bugs and glitches was far less excusable. Sure, Nival never had experience working on the franchise but Ubisoft wasn't desperate for money like 3DO. They could have invested more resources into the game to make it more polished but they still released it in an unfinished state. I really hope that Ubisoft does not make the same mistake they made with Heroes 5.

Paintballa
Paintballa

Ya I agree with you Boaan. I am glad they are trying to stick with the Heroes 3 formula instead of Heroes 4. The new graphics engine in 5 and 6 really does add some depth to the game. Hopefully they will get it smoothed out and we can start tearing it up again! The wonderful thing about Heroes 3 was the random map generator and the ability to setup a match with bots and teams. Fully customizable setup. Heroes 5 kinda sucked on that front.

Boaan
Boaan

I'm definitely looking forward to this entry in the series. I just wish Gamespot had covered the responsiveness and/or the performance of the beta. I found Heroes V to be too sluggish and laggy despite good framerate, which was due to a faulty engine more than a taxing one.