Warriors of Might and Magic is back, with a new name. We have impressions.
Shifters is the spiritual sequel to last year's Warriors of Might and Magic, though you won't find the classic series' name, nor any reference to its world, anywhere in the game. 3DO seems to be distancing the series' console offshoots from its PC counterparts, and Shifters is the latest manifestation of this. Warriors' masked hero Alleron is still the leading man, however, and the roster of villains he faces is largely composed of foes from his past. The core gameplay remains the same, though, despite the dropping of the moniker--Shifters is a combat-heavy 3D adventure game in the spirit of its predecessor, though its focus is a bit different. Alleron, as the game progresses, will be allowed to shapeshift into a variety of forms, each with different abilities and statistical characteristics. The build we're currently playing lets us change into undead, genie, and beast forms, all of which have differing subforms that can be released as you progress through the game.
Those familiar with Warriors of Might and Magic will feel right at home with Shifters. Alleron is back, albeit heavily armed and armored, and he moves in largely the same way as he did before. The game's current control scheme maps attacks to the X button, with the circle serving as a combo modifier. You jump, meanwhile, with the triangle button, and you execute spells with the square button. The shoulder buttons are reserved for auxiliary functions: blocking, sneaking, targeting, and interaction. Overall, the gameplay is very fast and loose; Alleron combos pretty quickly, and, at least from what we've seen, the enemies seem to be applied on the levels with a heavy hand. Shifting through your forms and swapping spell effects is relatively simple too, which adds to the beat-'em-up-like pacing. It works like this: You have two "inventories," one of which lists your potions and items, the other spell effects. To access either one, you press the D-pad in the appropriate direction and scroll through it with the right analog stick. When you've found the spell or item you want, you stop and press the square to activate it--or, in the case of a potion, you press down on the D-pad to quaff it. Spells such as fireball, bless (a straightforward "shield" spell), and light were included in our build, and if the previous game is any indication, the final product should include a good number more, many with more powerful effects. In the potions department, we found standard health/mana potions, as well as ones for invisibility, strength, and speed.