At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Richard Pilot PC/Mac Ubisoft Limbi Entertainment 2015

Might and Magic Heroes VII preview

At this year's Gamescom, Ubisoft announced a new entry in their enormous fantasy strategy and role playing franchise, Might and Magic Heroes VII, set to take place between the fifth and sixth games in the Heroes series.

The game focuses on Duke Ivan Griffin, an important Might and Magic hero, who is at a crossroads. Due to the events of previous games, the world is in a time of transition and the Duke is unsure whether he will continue to go down the path of civil war the land finds itself in. He seeks advice from six advisors and each of them tells a story of a great hero of their people and it is these tales that form the six story arc in the campaign.

The game is being made by Limbic Entertainment, and whilst this is their first proper Might and Magic title, they are no strangers to the series, having produced several add-on packs for the previous game, as well as developing this year's Might and Magic Legacy. With those games under their belt, Limbic were honoured when Ubisoft approached them to make the full sequel. The game is being built with Unreal Engine 3 and using this tried and tested engine meant that they could focus on the game without worrying about the technology. Throughout the demo I saw, the team was keen to show off some of the effects they were trying to get in as a result of this.

Get the catapult ready for action

Get the catapult ready for action

In the live demo I was shown, the city had been under siege by a powerful wizard Cyrus, who had just deployed two large titans. The game continues to have an adventure map for moving around or engaging cities, and a tactical map for the actual encounters. However, the team wanted to have more strategic locations on the adventure map, so in the demo I was shown a few ways in which that could happen. Early on, catapults were used to destroy a bridge, the only route to retreat from the area thus blocking us in the titans. This made it much easier to take them out, again using the catapults, but not before they had caused plenty of destruction against the local cities. Titans subdued, the bridge was repaired before heading into the snowy mountains with the hero to confront the wizard. This was a great opportunity to be introduced to the tactical map with has a very familiar feel to it based on past games, although there were some welcome additions to the combat such as the ability to flank enemies.

With the help of his arcane eagle, the wizard was able to retreat, so we were sent back to the adventure map, securing the mountain fort as a reward. The developer pointed out that full city views are back, featuring full interaction with buildings within the city, something that was only patched in at a later date in the last game. With the fort rebuilt this effectively brought the mountain region of the adventure map under our control. This included the cave system underneath the mountains as adventure maps now have multiple layers with this one including a surface and underground area. In the cave system our hero destroyed some rocks, draining the underground lake, which meant that they could then pass across the now dried up river on the surface.

In the final stage of the demo, we descended from the mountains to the land of wizards set in a desert tundra. Approaching the city, a large magical shield emerged to protect it, preventing any further progress in the adventure map. In order to break the shield we needed to acquire a new spell. The game employs the older spell system; there are no skill points here, instead spells are learnt via guilds. Luckily one happened to be nearby allowing us to get the spell we needed and besiege the city, triggering the climactic battle and ending the demo.

These Titans don't have large guns, but they are powerful

These Titans don't have large guns, but they are powerful

Might and Magic Heroes VII is due next year, and the team is working hard to meet that deadline. That said, they still want to get fans of the series to have an influence on the game. The developers have yet to start work on the last two of the playable races, so the specifics of those are still up in the air, and fans can go to the game's website to join the Shadow Council. There they are able to vote between which of the two races they want to see in the final game. Currently they can chose between the Elves of the Sylvan or the Dwarfs of the Fortress and there'll be another vote down the line for the sixth and final race.

The game looked and felt very familiar, and Limbic Entertainment seem to know what they're doing with the series. This combined, with their track record, makes me feel like Might and Magic Heroes is in the right hands and I look forward to this new entry arriving next year.

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