Recently I’ve started playing Dungeons and Dragons with a group of friends. Admittedly we don’t really know what we’re doing and we don’t take it seriously at all, but once a week we gather round a table, roll some dice and shout at each other, whilst pretending to be elves, paladins and even a squirrel. My one issue with the tabletop RPG is that I have a very poor imagination; I find it difficult to visualize the situations, locations and enemies that our dungeon master describes. Fortunately, Might and Magic X Legacy is effectively my Dungeons and Dragons game, but in video game form.
The character creation system allows players to create a party of four characters, or if creating isn’t your thing you can go with a default balanced party, or a totally random party. In an attempt to recreate my D&D character along with 3 others I ended up with a party that included one damage dealer/tank, one super awesome ranged elf (based on my D&D character) one free mage and one amazingly generic human dude with a big sword.
Once my party was created I was ready to get going on my adventures, only to be halted by a long, information filled prologue video. Filled with stories of epic battles, burning cites and a whole manner of other generic fantasy stories the prologue aims to fill users in on the lore of the world. However, all it really does is throw too much information at you too quickly.
Once the prologue is done your party is let lose into the town of Sorpigal-by-the-Sea, where you quickly find out that despite all the epic tales of the prologue you are just a group of adventures looking to make a name for yourself. After heading into a well to fight some spiders (and why not?) you are free to explore the first area of the game, which after a few hours extends into a full open world.
The story is somewhat of a disappointment; the main quest line is generic and the first 8-10 hours have very little in the way of an actual story. Once the game opens up it becomes more bearable, but it’s hardly Dragon Age. Instead, M&M XL relies on you to create your own stories, tales of how your party defeated a dragon that should have wiped you out in seconds, or how despite being poisoned and surrounded you managed to escape to the nearest town.
Despite being an open world M&M XL works best in the tight enclosed spaces of caves, buildings or dungeons. The grid based movement, which sees you use WASD in the traditional way but also using Q and E to rotate 90 degrees is prefect for these situations, making tactical positioning and movement key in fights. But once you head to the open world it starts to go wrong. The grid remains but the tight spaces are gone, resulting in movement that feels ridged and frustratingly slow. To make matters worse, ranged attacks only appear to travel in almost perfect straight lines. Your best ranger may have a clear line of sight on an enemy, but if you are not in the right square, or even if a small hill, rock or bush is between the two you, there’s no chance of event attempting the attack.
Fortunately, the turn based combat works well everywhere else, regardless of the enemy you’re fighting. Even from the start most enemies pose a real threat and many require certain tactics to take them down. The turn based combat offers truly enjoyable strategic moments, and makes all fights losable due to a couple of mistakes. The only time combat becomes boring is when you fight the same enemy types over and over again. All of them will have similar ways of fighting and taking them down will eventually be done in almost the exact same way. M&M XL often tries to combat this by throwing multiple enemies at you all at once, usually from behind so they get a cheap shot in before you realize they are there. This certainly makes fights more challenging but not necessarily more interesting.
Stats are key in fights: no matter how good your tactics are, if you’re significantly out-leveled you will lose. This makes grinding too much of a common occurrence and makes the first 6-8 hours unbelievably tedious.
Technically the game is not great. The visuals are poor and although there isn’t too much the CPU needs to process, my rig, which can handle almost everything else on near high settings, struggled to run it. Long loading times are common and texture-pop is apparent everywhere. Perhaps even more shocking is the difference between playing on a 32 Bit OS compared to 64Bit. On 32Bit, far less characters have voices and textures look as if they are running on a PS2.
VERDICT: Despite visualizing my Dungeons and Dragons fantasies amazingly well, Might and Magic X Legacy has too many pitfalls to truly recommend it. Things start off poorly with the information-heavy prologue and get worse with the grid-based open world and poor story. The combat system certainly deserves some plaudits, as do the dungeons and enclosed spaces, but cheap tactics and technical issues even mange to put a downer on these highlights. Hardcore fans of old school western RPG’s may have a good time, but the majority will find it confusing and uninspired.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher.