Might and Magic Heroes VII Beta Preview
If you ask any long time Might and Magic Heroes fan about the series they will tell you two things. The first is that it still should be called Heroes of Might and Magic and secondly that the 3rd entry is the best entry. Well after playing the second closed beta of number VII the best thing I can say about it is that it feels like the 3rd game and as far as I am concerned that is pretty high praise.
For those that have never played one of these games they are a combination of RPG and Turn based strategy and it involves taking your heroes and their supporting armies across the maps to conquer castles and destroy opposing forces. Armies are produced at owned castles with each in-game week adding more units to purchase. Of course this means that every week the opposition gets stronger as well making the game a balancing act of having enough units to win but not waiting for the opposition to build up their forces as well. Combat is a turn based affair where players control units who have limited moves available each turn. This is a quite tense and when two equally sized armies come up against each other positioning and effective use of abilities becomes extremely important.
This formula has been true since the beginning of the franchise. Each game has added new features on top of this but personally ever since number 3 something has been missing from the game. That is not to say the games haven’t been fun but they haven’t had the clear sense of purpose and refinement that 3 had. It appears the developers have realised this with number 7 and paired back a number of features to give players a more streamlined experience and do you know what? It works.
That isn’t to say things haven’t been added or improved upon but this time the improvements are actually logical. There is a great new hero upgrade path that gave me a lot more say in how the hero progressed. Gone is the binary skill choices of past games and in its place is a much more traditional skill tree that can be climbed to specialise in certain areas. I loved this addition and it really helped me to feel like I had more control over my heroes, especially as I could now tailor my castles to give my heroes further bonuses.
The game looks great too. It should be expected but it really feels like a nice graphical upgrade from the previous game. What is surprising is just how smooth it all runs. Previous games, especially since the transition to a 3d engine, have been known for a general jankiness in the graphics department but from my time with the new game it seems that is gone. All the weird and wonderful creatures are beautifully designed and have much more character than they previously did. The battle animations have also had an upgrade giving a cinematic feel to battles that were previously dull visually.
There were some problems in my time but most of those could be explained away with the fact that this was a beta version of the game. A couple of crashes and some game stutters when the enemy was taking their turn were the extent of these problems. It did also seem that as the game went on the enemy turns took longer and longer to complete which did lead to some frustration. Hopefully these issues are fixed in the final release.
In all my time with Might and Magic Heroes VII was very positive. The game comes with some nice upgrades and does away with a lot of superfluous junk from the previous games. This is sure to please long-time fans of the series. The game will live or die on its campaign mode however and this is something the franchise has traditionally struggled with so while I am excited to see what comes from the game upon final release I am not prepared to call it a must buy just yet. I will say things are looking up for a franchise that has long held a place in my heart.