Might & Magic Heroes VI: Pirates of the Savage Seas Hands-On Preview
Following on from the critical success of the Might & Magic franchise within its 26 year lifespan, Ubisoft and Limbic Entertainment have revealed the details about how they’re both working on building on that legacy. The upcoming ‘Adventure Pack’, Pirates of the Savage Seas, is a mixture of new and old as it aims to cater to both fans of the franchise and those who have picked it up slightly later. With a “budget pricetag” and a whole host of promised features, will Pirates of the Savage Seas board your PC, or will it be thrown overboard, on July 12th?
At a recent Ubisoft event in Paris, I managed to get some hands-on time with the game, and get some info and just what to expect later this month.
Taking part within ‘The Void Cycle’ that Heroes VI did, the pack features a whole new set of heroes, foes and environments in which to adventure and stop the evil of the Void from destroying the world of Ashan. However, before I get onto the specifics of the pack, it’s important to stress that the development team has been listening to the community and the players of the original Heroes VI, and as such has prepared the biggest patch to date to coincide with the release of the DLC. Amongst the usual array of bug-fixes that are a feature of every patch, there is an assortment of changes to the game to change the experience. This ranges from rebalancing the game in order to completely revamp the battle elements, through to implementing a much requested change; the reinvention of the Town Screen. A feature of the Heroes of Might & Magic series since the very first game, the team (and indeed, many fans) felt that they were somewhat lacking in Heroes VI. Rectifying this, Alexis De Becque, producer of Heroes VI, announced in Paris on Thursday that the town-screens would be completely overhauled in order to provide a more upgraded, yet still ultimately nostalgic, interface.
Alongside that free patch, Pirates of the Savage Seas also launches on July 12th, bringing a whole host of new features, and the reintroduction of a hero whose disappearance from the series was much maligned. The Legacy Hero, Crag Hack, rumoured to be the pen and paper character of the creator of the first Might & Magic, is returning to the series in POTSS, but with some radical changes to his appearance and class. Last seen in Heroes of Might & Magic III, Crag has now become a Barbarian Pirate, tasked with tackling the most serious of tasks; removing the deadly Thunderbird’s threat from the Savage Islands.
In the game, this essentially translates to battling your way through a campaign as Crag Hack, overcoming a series of obstacles on the way to defeating the Thunderbird. The playable section of the pack that I managed to get my claws into was the section entitled ‘The King of the Savage Seas’. After Crag and his companion, Falager, find themselves imprisoned in a sunken temple to the dragon Shalassa (the elemental dragon of Water) by the Nagas, they have to fight their way out. However, that is easier said than done, as the medusa Hamiko is all too happy to point out in their first meeting. Although she stops short of fighting Crag and his Shaman friend, she prophesises the demise of the two, as the ‘Voice of the Wrecker’ has told her that all those who come from the sea (like the Pirates) will drown by the sea.
Once she’s gone off on her merry way, you have to fight your way through the environment, against the likes of the Wanizami (sharks that can walk and possess deadly attacks) and powerful snow maidens such as Yuki-Orma, in order to reach the ship and escape the temple. Once you do, a brief intermission plays out, and you arrive at an island infested with Nagas. It’s there where my journey with Crag ended, after multiple victorious battles and a great amount of units added to my army. However, it’s not where the expansion ends, as there were plenty of new Dynasty Traits and weaponry, as well as the ability to recruit the Thunderbird as a pet after its defeat, that was unavailable to me at this time.
All in all, the expansion boasts ’10 hours of additional gameplay’, and not all of this is spent with Crag in Ashan. As a tribute to the original Might & Magic, released in 1986, the world of Varn has been loving recreated for POTSS. This allows you to an experience an updated version of the world of the first game, without necessitating you download DOSBox or dig that old PC out of the attic. Every area in the game, whether it be the world of Varn or the world of Ashan, is packed to the rafters with content. As Stephan Winters, CEO of Limbic Entertainment stated, his intentions were to build the story by creating maps that contain plenty of content and quests in order to occupy the player. Alongside this, there is also a whole new building and a new set of artefacts to boost the Pirate feel of the loot, or plunder as it should be called in this context.
With a fairly hefty amount of content, and additional areas and quests to refresh the Heroes VI experience, it appears that fans will have plenty to cheer about when the expansion lands on July 12th, priced at £7.99. Even those who do not wish to put down the money for the new content are still getting a refined Heroes VI experience completely free in the new patch, meaning that the continued support of the franchise by Ubisoft is seemingly assured.