Might & Magic Heroes VI Review

Engrossing exploration, diverse development, and challenging combat return in Might & Magic Heroes VI.

by

For more than a decade and a half, the Heroes of Might & Magic series has offered players the chance to adventure through fantastical worlds while training heroes, developing towns, and building armies to explore the realm and conquer their enemies. The turn-based titan returns in Might & Magic Heroes VI with the same engrossing and rewarding gameplay that its predecessors served up so well. New creatures, spells, and a lovely new faction help make this visually vibrant game feel fresh, while the restructured skill tree and new dynasty mechanic make hero development more flexible. Progressing through the five lengthy campaigns can drag at times, which is something the new quick combat feature both ameliorates and exacerbates. And the diverse tactical considerations can outpace the game's ability to explain them properly. But the addictive rhythm of building, fighting, and exploring is as powerful as ever, making Might & Magic Heroes VI another compelling entry in this storied series.

Whether you play one of the campaigns, a one-off game, or a multiplayer match, you must choose from one of the five factions. Each faction has a different town in which it can construct unique buildings and recruit seven faction-specific creature types. The medieval Haven, hellish Inferno, and ghoulish Necropolis factions will be instantly familiar to veterans of the series, as might the snarling Stronghold faction introduced in Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East. The Sanctuary faction, on the other hand, is entirely new and makes a great addition to the existing roster. The blue and green temples of a Sanctuary town feature the curved eaves of Japanese pagodas and sit atop flowing waterfalls. The creatures also draw on Eastern inspiration, including slithering, four-armed samurais (kenseis) and ethereal, kimono-clad water spirits (snow maidens).

Regardless of which faction you choose, the creatures are all richly detailed and appealing. Some examples include the hulking, skull-fisted jaguar warriors (Stronghold); the floating, feminine radiant glory (Haven); the corpulent, spike-limbed breeder (Inferno); and the desiccated, sphinxian lamasu (Necropolis). The creatures and buildings of a given faction share a strong artistic theme, creating a great sense of cohesion among the ranks and a strong visual opposition between rivals. This artistry also extends to neutral creatures, buildings, and environmental elements that litter each map. The lush forests of Sanctuary regions, the cavernous Inferno depths, and the gloomy plains of Necropolis territory all offer new visual treats for the intrepid explorer.

Into these realms you go, guiding one or more heroes down pathways littered with free-standing creatures, resources, artifacts, and buildings. Though there are only four types of resources (wood, coal, crystal, gold), the variety of artifacts and buildings continues to provide new sights, even hours into the game. Buildings can offer temporary or permanent attribute boosts for your hero, resource-producing mines, challenging arena fights, and a glimpse of distant lands, to name a few. These places can be visited by any hero, and mines can be claimed by a faction. However, rather than simply walking in and flagging a mine as you could previously, you must now control the surrounding area, which requires capturing the town or the fort that controls the region. Defending regions rather than individual mines is a much more logical and viable strategy, though your enemies can still disrupt your production by occupying or sabotaging your mines.

The Mother Namtaru will see you now.

Sabotage requires a special skill, however, which you can find in the expansive and revamped hero ability tree. Rather than making abilities dependent on skills, as in Heroes of Might and Magic V, the ability tree is divided into magic abilities, might abilities, and heroic abilities. Magic abilities (divided into six schools of magic) consist almost entirely of spells that you cast in combat to buff your allies, damage your enemies, or summon new creatures. Might abilities (divided into five categories) include war cries that can be used similarly to spells, as well a broad swath of noncombat abilities that let you, for example, walk farther in a turn, find more resources, confer the benefit of your experience to fellow heroes, or increase many hero attributes. Both might and magic abilities are unlocked with skill points that your heroes earn with each level, and the abilities are divided into three tiers that unlock when your heroes reach a certain level.

The vast majority of abilities are available to all heroes, and choosing one never locks out another. This system gives you more freedom to develop your hero than in past games, allowing you to specialize or generalize at any point along the way. There are restrictions, however. Heroes have an affinity--either might or magic--and they can only access the powerful third-tier abilities within their given affinity (some artifacts are also restricted by affinity). Furthermore, certain factions don't have access to certain schools of magic, and each faction has a unique faction ability that can be periodically used during combat to buff allies (Sanctuary), summon new creatures (Inferno), or resurrect the dead (Necropolis). Heroes can also earn a reputation through their actions (what spells you cast, how you treat fleeing armies) to eventually become aligned with the path of blood or tears. Progress down these paths grants new abilities that are unique to each faction as well.

The Curse of the Netherworld steals health from your enemies and gives it to you.

All of these varying abilities can be daunting, initially. When you add the abilities conferred by dynasty traits and weapons (more on your dynasty shortly), as well as the potential to equip up to 13 artifacts, there is a lot going on with your hero. Though every ability will tell you what it does when you mouse over the icon, some abilities mention status effects or other consequences that are only explained elsewhere. The case with creatures is similar; you can find out about a creature by right-clicking on it, but if you're trying to decide which creature to upgrade first, even the bestiary (accessible only from the main menu) won't tell you the upgraded stats unless you've encountered that creature before. Most of the information you need to make smart decisions in Might & Magic Heroes VI is somewhere in the game, but it's a shame it isn't more easily and universally accessible.

Though the strategic nuances may take some time to discover and master, it's easy to enjoy the game right from the start. A tutorial campaign gets you started with the basics, providing pop-up hints that ease newcomers into the mechanics of exploring, fighting, and building. The town interface has received a visual overhaul but retains the simple tiered structure that makes it easy to learn about each building, evaluate your construction priorities, and plan your future developments. You can drag small buttons from the town menu into the bottom-right corner of the screen to create some helpful shortcuts, but the most helpful streamlining comes in the form of creature recruitment. In previous games, you had to caravan creatures from your various towns to a single point or simply go on a tour of your whole kingdom if you wanted a strong army. In Might & Magic Heroes VI, you can recruit a given type of creature from your kingdom-wide production pool in any town that produces that type of creature. This is an immense time-saver, and it makes the aforementioned forts even more valuable as strategic outposts.

Maintaining a strong army is crucial to your success because victory can only come through combat. The turn-based battles take place on a grid of square tiles. Your armies can be arrayed in up to seven stacks, from a single towering cyclops to hundreds of crossbowmen. Creatures act in order of initiative, though like many attributes, this can be boosted or dampened by a number of factors. Your hero can act during combat as well, and effectively using your abilities is one of the most enjoyable parts of battle. Sure, it's fun to cast implosion and severely damage an enemy stack, but what if you choose to first unleash a war cry that makes your entire army counterattack with renewed vigor? Blinding a powerful stack can take it out of the game while you tackle your lesser foes, but casting a retribution aura will cause each melee attack on your stack to damage the attacker. Wielding your arsenal is a blast, and the opposing hero is likely to feel the same way about his or her own abilities.

Combat gets even deeper when you consider the individual attributes of the creatures on the field. Knowing your own armies is as important as knowing your opponent's capabilities, and you can easily learn about each creature and its unique abilities in the midst of combat. Strategic considerations include who can fly, who can shoot, who should wait to attack later, who benefits most from certain buffs, who is weak to which spells, how many retaliations a creature can deliver, and who is worth resurrecting. The tactical challenges start off simple and get more complex as creatures get more advanced and your enemies get tougher. In a well-matched battle, making smart moves can mean the difference between life and death. In a not-so-well-matched battle, smart moves can help you rout the enemy with zero friendly casualties.

Seeing the creatures take the field gives you another chance to appreciate the excellent character design, especially when a lucky hit results in a close-up view of the action. Tough matches are almost always engaging, but most battles are not very tough. Taking the time to manually stomp out every creature stack that stands in the way of your exploration can be tiresome, and this is when the quick combat option comes in handy. With this option on, all fights are resolved with the single click of a button. If you right-click on an enemy, you can see the threat it poses to you and decide whether the fight will go your way. If you don't like the outcome, you can repeatedly play it manually until you do (just once in multiplayer), though the AI usually does a good job of battling on your behalf.

Poisonous gases emanating from nearby trees always make a Necropolis more appealing.

Quick combat is a double-edged sword, however. On the one hand, it allows you to skip tedious combat and progress more quickly through a given game. Players who prefer the noncombative aspects of the game can play almost the entire game without fighting. Though you may be tempted to delegate combat to the AI, fighting is one of the most appealing elements of Might & Magic Heroes VI. Relying on quick combat can drain much of the excitement out of the action, making you feel more like a risk-management assessor than a powerful adventurer.

It's best to use this feature in moderation, especially during the lengthy campaigns. Each of the five factions has a multi-mission story arc to follow that happens more or less concurrently with the others. They follow the Duke of Griffin's children who have been scattered throughout the realm of Ashan. Though they take place in the same realm as previous games, the stories here are new and varied. Following twin siblings on their divergent journeys into the Inferno and Necropolis worlds provides a different narrative experience than joining their brother's righteous Haven crusade. The stories are serviceable and feature some thoughtful moments, along with some dull filler, and the voice acting is similarly hit or miss. Intermittent cutscenes add some nice context, and on the whole, these campaigns feel more varied and well-developed than previous campaigns in the series.

You can also play a single-player or multiplayer custom game on any of the 14 skirmish maps with up to eight players. Human turns take much longer than AI turns, naturally, and though you can impose time limits if you host a game, multiplayer matches still take many hours to complete. You'll want to find opponents who are on the same page as you in terms of time commitment and play frequency (matches can be saved and reloaded at a later time) because joining a random game often results in opponents quitting early. Fortunately, Might & Magic Heroes VI features Skype integration and a friends list to help you connect with friends, and there's always the tried-and-true local hotseat play. If you want a shorter contest, you can compete in a one-off battle with a preset army against an opponent. These duels are a great way to get a quick combat fix without the investment of having spent time and resources building up your army.

Tonight's main event: Putrid Lamasu vs. Sacred Kirin.

Be warned, though: Before you challenge anyone to an online match, you need to spend some time setting up your dynasty. Here, you can create and edit heroes to use in your online play, assigning ability points, dynasty traits, and dynasty weapons. These ability points are crucial in one-on-one duels because if you haven't assigned them, your opponent will outclass you with spells and abilities. Dynasty weapons and traits offer smaller bonuses, but they can also be used in single-player. The weapons gain experience as you use them, leveling up and conferring bonus abilities that persist across modes. There are also a lot of achievements that chronicle your successes and earn you currency that you can spend by unlocking things (extra heroes, dynasty gear, online titles) in the altar of wishes.

Whether you're embarking on an epic contest with friends or adventuring through the dozens and dozens of hours of campaigns, Might & Magic Heroes VI is very entertaining. The appeal of Heroes games has always come from the three pillars of exploration, development, and combat, and the action is in fine form here. Beautiful new lands and creatures provide a welcoming world to explore, streamlined development makes it a pleasure to build up your towns and heroes, and tactically rich combat fills your fights with potential. Though the name may have changed, the allure is the same, and Might & Magic Heroes VI is bound to entice both veterans and newcomers alike.

The Good
Classic formula remains as addictive as ever
Some welcome restructuring and streamlining
Vibrant, creative visuals
Tons of campaign content
Quick combat can bypass drudgery
The Bad
Quick combat can engender drudgery
Some helpful information is hard to find
Online competitors frequently quit
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Years later, you can find him aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent while desperately avoiding sunburns.

Discussion

30 comments
Warpld
Warpld

I can't understand all the bitching about difficulty. I am not the best Heroes player and still tear through the campaigns on hard. The instant access to all your armies from any town, the ability to convert enemy towns so you get EVEN LARGER armies plus the early access to Town Portal make any level a breeze. Also, there is no wasting time on recapturing mines once you get invaded and the fact that your enemy can summon all his armies as well means that if you hit him early and harass him, you never have to face a beefy hero again. Oh, and you always have at least three ways to resurrect units, plus buildings where you can still recover any losses you did not manage to get back on feet before the end of the combat. Seriously, with Necro, I finished the campaign without losing a single unit. If you want hard, try Heroes of Might and Magic 3: Armageddon's Blade!


As to the game itself, it is not bad, but definitely the weakest Heroes game. The control zones are a welcome change, but everything else isn't. The skill system is broken, making it pretty much irrelevant with what faction you are playing if you are playing Might. Dropping 3 types of resources in favour of just crystals makes you constantly struggle for them in the early stages of each map, then all of a sudden, you are drowned with resources. At least, as a long time Heroes fan who stuck with the series since Heroes 2, I find the creatures here and their abilities much more varied than in any other Heroes game. Not only some creatures have powerful abilities, but also others have skills that only benefit other stacks, making combat much more tactical than ever.

Godlikan
Godlikan

Worst thing they did is recycled champaign with every race...

Mekon
Mekon

How on earth did this game get given an 8? I would give it a 4 at best. It's pretty dreadful. Considering this is a turn based game, it's extremely "clunky" and the gameplay isn't very intuitive. Even with all the updates it has received, it still feels like an unfinished game to me. I also get extremely irritated with ridiculous stuff, such as enemy troops literally walking around my melee units (while they stand by and watch) to attack my archers at the back......which of course forces them into melee and effectively takes them out of action. Healing units that can't heal until later in the game is also a rather crap idea. It just results in me restarting battles when I lose troops, as once they are gone you won't be getting them back until the end of the game week. Combine this with the fact that the game punishes you for "wasting time" by exploring the map (as unseen enemy armies increase in size and power each turn), you can end up encountering armies that are practically impossible to defeat, forcing you to restart the map so you can play it "the correct way".

The game looks reasonably good but in my opinion it is let down by extremely cheesy and OTT art design. It's odd when you go to a city screen and it looks quite glorious, but it's really just a picture with very little interaction or depth to any of it. More variety and fluidity in the gameplay would have helped this game loads, but alas it was not to be.

Oh yes....almost forgot. The online aspect of the game is irritating. It's great when I get disconnected from my single player campaign because I lost connection. Wonderful stuff ;)

remiaw
remiaw

I had fun enough to play through the campaigns, but I don't like only 3 resources, the zoning, and the drm part.

bostadskontrakt
bostadskontrakt

I feel proud as a newcomer to the series to now be in control of mission 4 of the Haven Campaign on normal difficulty. It was tough on mission 1 and so unforgiving in mission 2 I had to restart it twice, but then I toughened up and ran the enemy to the ground! :D

I have played 135 hours so far, it's challenging and a great game.

vagner995
vagner995

This is not a bad game, at first I HATED IT, but as I kept playing, it got a lot better, this game is just as good as the 5th, it's really hard to start but once you get it, it's a great game.

judge1326
judge1326

I am new at this. This is my first time to say any thing. I have played 3 games all the way to the end and then I bought this one. I HATE IT.  Have played for 2 weeks and all ways get killed in easy mode . I have the gold Edition mmh6. I am in Haven fair is Foul and no mater what I do they always have more army than what I have and I get killed. the game has great graphic's. But games are to be fun. THIS ONE IS NOT! and that is such a shame the rest of the game is great that is what I have seen of it.

 I feel bad that I just wasted my money.

mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

The game feels unbalanced: on easy, the neutral enemies are too easy, but the AI "boss" heroes are still too tough. On normal, I just can't get enough troops compared to the huuuuge armies of enemy heroes.

It actually forces me not to explore the map (which i love), but to go straight at the enemy (which i hate).

So:

-too difficult for the casual player (I do have a real life, too, i apologize for that)

- not as good as H5, not to talk about H4 or the great H3.

Wensea10
Wensea10

This looks like an excellent game; the settings are breathtaking.

manuelg89
manuelg89

it sounds like there are some solid gameplay improvements here but my interest in this installment was severely deflated when i saw my faction, sylvan, get the axe. And with a franchise as deep as this that's dozens/hundreds of hours of specific battle tactics flushed down the drain. I played HoMM II  for 10+ years before i played HoMM V, guess i'll get cozy with HoMM V for a while.

frazzz619
frazzz619

So I'm a little late to the party. Picked this up yesterday, and while I was waiting for it to install I was reading through a whole host of complaints about graphical glitches, bugs, constant drop-out from the conflux, and many others. I've played through the first 2 maps of the tutorial campaign & experienced none of these problems. Has it been all sorted with a patch? Or have I been lucky? Because as far as I can see so far, this game has been carefully crafted and beautifully designed. I also loved Heroes II and III.

nimd4
nimd4

It's strange how the majority of people seem not to like HoMM 4 which was the best in the series (3 is just way too old, unfortunately); & also accept the new ones. I guess the development went in the right direction as far as making money goes. Here, same as in 5, I get to a computer opponent that's impossible to beat (really, 110% not possible). Hopefully I'll have the time to figure it out and start playing it again, one of these days. :$

Grbonjic
Grbonjic

I'm a little bit dissapointed, but it's a good game. HOMM V was almost perfect, not to mention the legendary HOMM III.

jericho2121
jericho2121

and also just like wilhelmut I perfer HOMM IV to III.

jericho2121
jericho2121

oh god I miss HOMM IV. the series after HOMM are disaster.

wiserat4
wiserat4

No thanks, I'm just fine with Heroes 2! Peace out!

claizik
claizik

I love the HOMM series! This one is no exception. (I've played them all 1-6). The best was 3, but with the exception of 4 they were all great! In 6 there is a lot of new stuff, I like most of it. The graphics are great. I haven’t played all of the campaigns and scenarios but the ones I’ve played so far are varied and interesting. A bit too easy in the normal mode. I am not overly fond of the new ability tree. It seems to be overly complex and if you don’t fully understand it, you can really limit your character by choosing the wrong abilities early on. Outside of that I would highly recommend this game. It is very fun!!

lary1sa
lary1sa

This game is in the middle .Not so bad , not so good . I don't like that since H3(H4) , the maps are a piece of crap . Where is the liberty to go wherever you want and explore ? I think they think we are stupid and they make a simple map , with only one road , not to trouble us . But I like the combat and the spell effects . The design of the wall and gate in the combat mode is also a plus . I also like the conversion of the castle , but I think that for the game it's not so good . In H3 ,you are obligated to combine units to have a stronger army and the feeling of it was great . I still hope that in the next Heroes , the maps will be like in H3 (campaign-solo play).

blade_13
blade_13

"Paid review clearly"??? OK! Here's a "not paid" revew- the lowest score based on a review is 5/10 by a guy who starts the review with: "the only people I know who've played it (The Heroes of Might & Magic series) without me introducing them to it are women". Seriously?!? It's all about an opinion on something, and yes, I know the reviewer MUST be objective, but everyone has a taste in something. I LOVE ALL of the HoM&M series- 1,2,3,4,5,6!!! The RPG genre is dead as so many others, not because of consoles, but because they are completely dried out of ideas and reused soooo many times! And thank God for Bioware, Bethesda and few others for trying to do something different!!!

stabby_mcgee
stabby_mcgee

This game is a mess. This game is almost as buggy as Heroes 4 and 5 but what makes it worse is the stupid always online crap. The online component is completely unnecessary and very annoying. A bunch of the so called new features are just old features that were already in previous games. Not to mention the fact that Ubisoft's servers are crap. There are connection problems all the time and their servers were down again just last weekend. At least Heroes 4's problems are somewhat excusable due to 3DO's bankruptcy. They had plenty of time to work on this game but Ubisoft clearly wasn't willing to put up the effort.

Blackbeaker
Blackbeaker

Paid review clearly, the game should not be able to get more then 5. Both strtegic and tactical aspect of the game are not streamlined but dumbed down beyond recognition for any long time series fan. AI is non existant. And BUGS. The thechnical aspect of the game is bareley above SoS II just with worst patching I have ever seen in a game. By the time of this review luck was not even working and it was not mentioned here. For first major patch to be released it took close to 3 months. And it fixed around 20 bugs out of 75 pages of buglist thread. Multiplayer is broken and dead. Do not buy it at this state.

edinko
edinko

My stomach turns and my face gets green just when i see the words "streamlined" and "accesible" . It means in many cases that the game has been stripped of all depth and dumbed down for the stupidest person they could imagine. Exactly what is happening in the RPG genre which doesnt even exist cause Bioware is ruining everything into a consolized shooter or stupid button masher. And eveyrone else is following to milk the brainless masses cow. Consoles are responsible for most of this crappiness today cause their audience needs just to PRESS X. Thats it for gameplay depth

wilhelmut
wilhelmut

Good review. Some bugs and lack of few factions and some visuals doesn't make this game a bad game. Campaign is interesting and most of the units too. Also I'm one of those who prefer Heroes IV to Heroes III :)

RealHarry
RealHarry

Why don't these reviews come up on the main page? I'm happy for To The Moon, but what about all the other games?

Noborou
Noborou

forget to say. Heals heal later in game - becos on start of game no one is killed or injured. You even dont get this simple thing. What to heal if he is full hp??????? Better give game to some one with brains.

Noborou
Noborou

at 1st use tawern to buy 2 more heroes and explore with them and main hero use as war machine. 

What about battle. Imagine war, you killing lots of units and ther is no end of them, then you see that some shit is resurecting them. What will you do? I in you place go and kill that bitch. Same with archers. Use god damn LOGIC you idiot. That bot was smarter then you.

Cyti ye that screan looks not wery impresive. But you dont see that cyti is growing on screan wher you move? When you build some goblin home you see that goblin home even dont opening cyti window. 

And weak trop respawn time was in all M&M. Use second hero to transport army to you dont go to cyti ech weak. 

You just to stupid for this game thats all.

vagner995
vagner995

 @vagner995 Changed my mind, IT IS F***ING HARD, can't get past the first necro mission, got both the first towns, and then it gets REALLY HARD, two heroes always come with giant armies, it's just unfair, they have made this game really crappy, the only good strategy in this game is to rush everything, I really stopped liking it after the tutorial...

dorottya666
dorottya666

 @edinko Well said, i totally agree. Also: why, oh why does this game have to be multiplayer? Or other good games that had fantastic solo campains??? 

Might & Magic: Heroes VI

  • PC
Might & Magic Heroes VI is a multiplayer turn-based strategy game for the PC platform.
ESRB
Teen
All Platforms
Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Violence