Preview: Might & Magic Heroes VII

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Ever since Ubisoft took the reins of the turn-based strategy series Heroes of Might and Magic in 2003, after acquiring the rights from 3DO (and changing up the way the title reads), things seem to be a more frequent in the franchise. This preview of Heroes VII appears only two years after the release of the last expansion for Might & Magic Heroes VI: Shades of Darkness. Needless to say, having the ability to produce seven in a series of anything these days is a feat in itself.

Majors changes to the way the games have looked started with Might & Magic Heroes V, having both the field and a battle imagery, taking on more of a three dimensional appearance. Might & Magic Heroes VII continues the trend, with the colours being more washed and pastel-like as opposed to the vibrant colours of Heroes IV and its predecessors.

This certainly takes away from visibility and the ability to identify resources and artifacts in the field. The visuals for the cut scenes are a little disappointing as well, with storyboards and script being opted for instead of full cinematics. On the upside, the script is well read, with the voice actors filling the characters with emotion. This is emphasised and complimented by the orchestral and operatic soundtrack.

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Campaigns and single scenarios have been slightly altered, with the resources no longer focusing on gems and sulfur, but replacing them with various steels and silver. Tasks in campaigns are awfully vague and offer no real direction as to how to complete your current task. You have the ability to track your tasks in the menu, but that offers very little other than an icon next to the task name. Lack of direction, combined with a bland map brings comes together to become frustrating circle work as you pace around the countryside attempting to work out what to do next.

The multiplayer option is still available with LAN and Hot Seat for local play and online who like to challenge themselves outside the comfort of their own home. Like the last version of M&M:H players are unable to put their name against their player, offering no sense of belonging to your character. It’s probably best to let players familiarise themselves with the mechanics of the game in theory own time, by playing a single scenario or campaign.

Should you forgo that piece of advice, expect there to be quite a while between turns, as the learning curve is moderate for new players. Navigating equipment screens, build screens and magic spell trees can be quite daunting, even for those who are familiar with Might & Magic. There are some great hot keys set up, but if you’re a mouse only player there go to waste.

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To this reviewer, who would consider himself a veteran player of Might & Magic Heroes, there isn’t quite enough showing to get me pumped for the next game. Maybe I am still clutching to Heroes of Might & Magic III, a game which I find to be the most popular amongst many players. Maybe there’s not enough changes to what Heroes VI presented players?

A fair bit of polish is certainly required before the final version hits the shelves. I’d probably make the comparison to Kate Upton: lovely to look at but lacks substance. Come on Ubisoft and Limbic Entertainment, find that cherry to put on top and serve us the sweet rewards that we, the Might & Magic faithful, are looking forward to.