In the last of our articles looking at the trio of free to play games coming from Ubisoft BlueByte, we turn out attention to Might & Magic Heroes Online. We’ve played the game and caught up with Creative Supervisor Doru Apreotesei.
Heroes of Might and Magic is a game franchise that has been going since 1995. In that time it has built up a huge following, one that some would say peaked around the time of Might and Magic Heroes IV in 2003. Since then, the series has maintained a steady following, with new iterations bringing evolution rather than revolution. M&M Heroes Online seeks to change that pattern, with it being the first Might and Magic game to be completely online enabled, and free to play at that, coming from Ubisoft’s now Free to Play focused studio, BlueByte; creators of the Settlers series of games.
Free to Play Games are yet to register in the conscience of many gamers, and are often viewed as being the shallow cousin of the paid for title. With the development of Anno Online, Silent Hunter Online and Might & Magic Heroes Online, it’s fair to say that Ubisoft BlueByte are working hard to change that assumption.
“The perception at the moment is that hardcore gamers don’t play browser games. The only people who play browser games are players who click on advertising banners and things like that,” says Doru Apreotesei, Creative Supervisor on Might & Magic Heroes Online. “But with Might & Magic Heroes Online we’ve had a loads of people come up to us and say that this game is as complex and deep as some of the games they have paid upfront for.”
If the game is to change these perceptions, it needs to be as good as its disc based, paid for brethren, and we’re happy to report that, like Anno Online, and to a lesser extent, Silent Hunter Online, Might and Magic Heroes Online is looking every part the fully realised, online browser game experience.
Might and Magic, for those not in the know, is an isometric RPG, chock-full of fantastical and mythological lore and strategic turn-based gameplay. In my preview session, I played the beginning of the Haven campaign. When the open Beta launches later this year, you’ll be able to get your hands on the Necropolis campaign, too. You navigate the world via an easy to use point and click system; click and a location and your doting character will go there.
Combat in the is extremely strategic, it all takes place on a hex-grid pattern, with each character taking turns to either move or attack. Our first engagements came against some rather angry trees, and later wolves, bigger wolves, and eventually other power wielding maniacs on horseback. The progressive nature of the battle difficulty did an ample job of showing me the ropes.
Between the battles you’ll find the usual exploration fuelled gameplay, requiring you to look under every rock and round every corner to find collectables and people to talk to. One interesting feature of the combat system is that when you find the battle is becoming overwhelming, you can invite a fellow player in to help you out. The other player benefits by getting a share of the spoils and stat points, and you benefit by, well, not dying.
The full game, we are told, will offer numerous opportunities to customise your character, as well as giving you the choice of focusing on Might or Magic abilities.
How close is the game to completion? We put that question to Doru Apreotesei;
“Speaking in absolute terms, anything from 70% all the way down to 1%, meaning that if the game is popular enough we’ll keep developing for it. We have so much to draw from the Might and Magic franchise, and so much to play around with as far as games systems at concerned. To answer your question though, we’re about 80% done in terms of launchable content”
We’ll be keeping tabs on the progress of Might and Magic Heroes Online in the build up to its release. In the mean time, keep an eye out for the start of the open Beta period, which we are told will start “in late summer”.