What's on the horizon for the Might & Magic franchise

Preview

posted 9/19/2013 by Russell Archey
other articles by Russell Archey
Platforms: PC
Another year, another GenCon is in the books.  You might be wondering why you don’t see much news about GenCon on the site.  That’s because the bulk of GenCon is made up of board games, role-playing games, and collectible card games.  However, there typically is at least some sort of video game presence at GenCon and this year it took on the form of attendees getting the chance to preview two up and coming games in the Might & Magic franchise as well as one that’s been around for about a year or so.  I was also able to talk to an Ubisoft employee about one of the games and get some insight about it.  With that said, let’s talk Might & Magic for a bit.
 
The first game I’m going to talk about is Might & Magic X: Legacy which takes on a first-person perspective similar to earlier games in the series.  In the demo I “controlled” four characters that would all move as a single unit and acted independently in battle.  The first thing I noticed was that everything is done in a turn-based style, again similar to the older games in the series.  While I have no issues with this, it kind of threw me off guard when even movement was turn-based as long as an enemy was in the room with me.  I went into the demo thinking it would be similar to the more recent Might & Magic games, though I have no problems with the style that Might & Magic X: Legacy presents.  It’s a call back to older games in the series as well as to other RPGs that use this style of gameplay.
 
The setting was some sort of tower and it served as a good chance to learn the mechanics as you battled a few enemies (one or two at a time) while you figured out how to reach the top of the tower, so some puzzle solving was also involved, but not too deep.  Each turn you can either move or have your characters take actions such as attacking, using magic, or using potions.  The characters you have are a Barbarian, Defender, Ranger, and Freemage, and each character has their own variety of skills and spells to use.  I haven’t played a Might & Magic game in a while, so I wound up taking my time a bit to look over what skills and spells I had access to and how best to apply them.  However, I noticed that for the most part the spells had some pretty steep MP requirements, and unfortunately I’m the curious type that wanted to see what various spells did, so I ate through my magic potions quickly, which wasn’t a good idea once I hit the boss.
 
 
When I got to the boss, I made one movement action, then decided to just hit him from a distance for a couple of turns.  Keep in mind that I was at nearly full health at this point.  The boss’s first action when he was in melee range was to push me back a bit.  Not too bad of a hit really.  Then I hit a couple more ranged attacks, he approached again, hit me, and I was instantly dead.  All four characters bit the dust.  I thought that maybe this was just part of the demo, to get a taste of what’s to come, but one of the Ubisoft employees said that the boss was beatable in the demo and it was best to kind of go on the defensive against him.  The only two things I can think of were either his attacks are REALLY powerful and damaging, or he had pushed me so close to the edge of the tower that his next attack pushed me off of it entirely.  I certainly wouldn’t put it outside the realm of possibility.
 
When it came to Might & Magic X: Legacy, I had an enjoyable experience with the game.  It had been a while since I had played a PC RPG of this style, so it kind of threw me off guard a bit.  However, if you’re into older-style RPGs, especially the earlier games in the Might & Magic franchise, I’d say keep an eye out for this one once it’s released.   If you don’t want to wait that long, you can purchase it now on Steam and Uplay to get in on an early access version.
 
Next up is Might & Magic: Heroes Online.  Here we have a different style of game in more ways than one.  Might & Magic: Heroes Online is a free-to-play browser-based RPG that’s shown from a top-down perspective.  If you’ve played games like Diablo II or Torchlight II, then you should feel pretty comfortable in navigating around the world.  In the demo I had four classes to choose from when creating my character: Knight, Cleric, Death Knight, and Necromancer.  I chose the Cleric as I tend to favor spellcasters and set out on my way towards my first quests.  As you travel you can recruit other knights and soldiers to help you in battle, and this is where I stepped into unfamiliar territory.
 
Battles in Heroes Online are done on a hexagonal grid and while that may have been done in previous RPGs, this was a little new to me so it took me a minute to get my bearings.  While you can use your turn in battle to activate various skills and effects (in my Cleric’s case I could also fire off a ranged attack), it’s those soldiers you recruited that will be doing most of the battling against your enemies.  Towards the bottom of the screen you have several slots in which you can place your recruited soldiers in “stacks”.  Each stack can hold any number of soldiers of the same type, but only fifty-five from each stack will go into battle while the rest are on reserve.
 
 
During a stack’s turn in battle, you can move them around the grid and attack other groups of enemies in a style that’s similar to games like Advanced Wars on the Game Boy Advance.  As your stacks take damage, the number of soldiers in that stack decreases as the soldiers are eliminated.  The more soldiers in a stack, the better chance you’ll have against your enemies.  If you’re unfamiliar with this style of gameplay, it’s not too complicated once you get a couple turns in and see what all is going on.
 
While I didn’t get to play much of Heroes Online as they were limiting play time to ten minutes per person, I played enough to know that this is a game I’ll be getting into once it’s released.  I’ve always been a fan of games like Diablo II, and any game that feels similar is typically right up my alley, such as the Torchlight series.  The fact that it’s free-to-play and browser based is even better.  While this one’s not released yet, you can head on over to http://us.heroes-online.com/ to sign up for the chance to play in the closed beta.  If you’re into this style of RPG, I definitely recommend signing up for the chance to check it out.
 
Finally we hit up a game that prior to GenCon I didn’t realize had already been released: Might & Magic: Duel of Champions.  This is actually a good thing because Duel of Champions is a free-to-play online collectible card game, and as a huge fan of CCGs I’ve spent a lot of time with the game since I returned from GenCon.  While at the event I was able to speak with Emile Gauthier from Ubisoft about the game itself.  My main concern was how a PC game series such as Might & Magic would translate over to a CCG.  Some games seem ready made for the move from one medium to another, such as Pokemon.  A game about collecting various creatures to battle for you lends itself perfectly to a CCG format.  Emile explained that I didn’t have anything to worry about, as the Might & Magic franchise has a rich universe and a huge backstory that lends itself nicely to a CCG.  With different factions and various types of creatures, there’s a lot of material that helps create the world of Duel of Champions.
 
When you first begin the game you’re given the choice of deck to start the game with, but don’t worry about getting in depth with it yet, as you’ll be using a “demo deck” for lack of better term for the first few battles.  As the game begins proper you’ll be given the chance to get your feet wet with some training battles.  These are typically pretty easy to get through, but are necessary to learn the mechanics of the game.  Each player has a hero that represents them, and each hero has an HP total and a few different abilities they can use, but a hero can only use an ability once per turn.  At the top of the screen you’ll see totals for Resources, Might, Magic, and Destiny.  Resources are like mana in that you spend them to play cards from your hand.  However, you get one more max Resource at the start of each turn and your total Resources go back up to the max amount.  The cards also have Might, Magic, and Destiny requirements for playing them, but there are cards you can play to increase your totals, plus your hero can also increase one of the three by a point each turn.
 
 
The other card types are creatures, spells, fortunes, and events.  Creatures can be placed in one of two columns (some are required to go into a particular column) and where you place them determines whether they’ll attack an opposing creature or your opponent directly.  Spells are just that, spells you can use to either help you or hinder your opponent.  Fortune cards can help you by increasing various stat totals or gain extra resources for your turn, while Event cards can be used by either player and have various effects.  As you start your training you’ll be introduced to the basics of the game, in particular how to play creatures and attack with them, as well as using your Hero to increase your stats each turn.  Later trainings introduce a full battlefield with two columns per side, spell and fortune cards, and event cards.  Once you’ve completed your training it’s time for the real thing, and this is where you get to use that deck you chose when you first started.  This can actually be a little tough if you don’t know the cards in your deck and how they work.  As a little spoiler, the deck your opponent uses is pretty similar to your deck in terms of the power levels of the creatures he plays.
 
Of the three Might & Magic games I played at GenCon, this is probably the one I got the most enjoyment out of, mainly because I love CCGs.  There’s a lot more you can do beyond the single-player campaign, such as purchase card packs to improve your decks and even participate in various tournaments and compete against other players from around the world.  I asked Emile  during our conversation if Duel of Champions could have the potential to become a physical CCG.  He explained to me that this was actually something they did when play testing the game; they actually made physical versions of the cards to use while testing the game.  However, he also explained that there are a lot of tokens and counters to account for and keep track of, such as your Might, Magic, Destiny, and total Resources.  While there’s nothing on the table now for the short term, it’s not necessarily outside the realm of possibility down the road.  Personally, I would love to see this become a physical CCG given the circumstances.
 
That concludes my look at these three games in the Might & Magic franchise.  I was actually kind of surprised that all three were playable, as I was initially told only two were, and I didn’t even realize that Duel of Champions had been out for a while now.  However, it’s nice to see three games in the same franchise such as Might & Magic take on different forms of play.  I got to experience a first-person RPG, a top-down RPG, and a collectible card game, and I enjoyed all three of them.  If you’re a fan of any of these styles of games, I recommend giving them a chance at some point.  As stated earlier, Might & Magic X: Legacy is currently playable via Early Access and you can sign up for Heroes Online’s closed beta at http://us.heroes-online.com.  As for Duel of Champions, head to http://www.duelofchampions.com for more information and to download the game for free.
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