The other day I saw something about Heroes of Might and Magic Online. It had a screenshot of the battlefield and it looked like HOMM3 from back in the day. A quick google search later and I find there are 2 versions being worked on — 1 is by Ubisoft and is called Heroes of Might and Magic Kingdoms Online, where the other is being done by a company called “TQ” and is simply “Heroes . . . Online” without the word “Kingdoms” in it. Kingdoms’ website says it’s got a way to go yet, but the TQ one says “Sign up for the Closed Beta!” and gives you an activation key instantly.
I’m not sure how closed a beta it is. From reading up a bit, it seems that the games been out “for real” in China for over a year. Their forums are completely open – I was browsing them yesterday without logging in to the site or anything. I also don’t recall seeing any kind of NDA anywhere and I looked pretty hard yesterday (it was why I was on their forums in the 1st place. . . ). Still, if this post ends up being in violation of one I’ll take it down.
All caveats about “still in beta” etc apply, but here’s my experience:
- The Good: It’s pretty much HOMM3 in an online format. HOMM3 was definitely my favorite of the series.
- The Bad: Holy Grindfest, Batman!
- The Ugly: Where to begin . . . . ?
To elaborate –
The 8 cities and all their creatures are there, the 2 hero types for each city are there. It’s turn based. Yes, a turn-based MMO. Who’d have thought it possible? The maps I played through were fairly inventive, though extremely easy. Frankly, if this was the whole game I’d rather enjoy it, just would like a bit more challenge in the early scenarios .
Bad and Ugly:
Grind. And when I say grind I mean the utter and complete soul-sucking kind. And it’s various types of grinds to boot. There’s the typical xp grind to level, and tbh I got to level 34 in a few hours of play, so that wasn’t bad so far, but apparently there are something like 200 levels and I’m told it slows down significantly after level 40.
But then: Creature Upgrade Grind. It’s kind of double edged. You see, as you get in to battles your critters gain xp also and eventually level up themselves. Getting them to “Star Level 3″ changes them into a more powerful creature altogether, and then you can keep leveling it up from there too. But…… I made 34 levels on my “hero” and in doing so I got my highest critter to 20% of the 1st level. If a critter dies and you replace it, the new critter brings the “Star XP” down for the stack of critters you add it to. Meaning you never want to lose any critters at all if you can help it. But to enable you to recruit higher star level critters you have to let your critters die and then go “turn in their soul” at the recruitment building. And not just a few, I’m talking TENS OF THOUSANDS of critters have to die to gain even 1 star level. Yeah, to improve your critters you have to deliberately fail your missions, and a lot of them to boot. It’s said for the “Tower” faction that it’s actually faster to level up your hero to gain the ability to recruit the level 7 critter than it is to upgrade the level 1 critter.
Leadership Grind: This is also double-edged, but in a different manner. As you level your hero, you gain “leadership” skill, thus enabling you to recruit larger stacks of critters. For example, if your leadership is 90 and a critter has a leadership rating of 3, then you can recruit 30 critters in a stack (up to 7 stacks). A critter with a value of over 90 can’t be recruited at all until you level up more. But then there’s the 2nd stat: Creature Mastery. This stat governs how many total critters you can recruit. You raise it by going to the trainer and talking to him and then *standing still for at least 8 hours.* And yeah, that gets you 1 level of mastery and it goes to 10. And you have to do it for all 7 critter types in your army. It’s already being called “overnight training.”
Spell Mastery Grind: Each spell you learn at level 1. To get it to level 2 you have to a) have “mastered it” by casting it a certain number of times, b) be a certain hero level, c) used some of your level-up skill points in the “Scholar” skill, and d) find the place in the battlefields to learn the level 2 version. But here we go again: You have to cast it THOUSANDS of times for most spells. “Magic Arrow” only needs 360, but in the 34 levels I obtained on my hero where I cast it at least once in nearly ever battle, I managed to get that to a little over 200. Haste needs 3900 casts to gain level 2. There is a work-around in that you can do the whole “go stand in place for many hours overnight to gain mastery without needing to cast” instead, but even there you can only gain up to 100 casts at a time before it makes you reset by being at the keyboard.
Of course, there is a way to get around all of this: The cash shop. Yeah… you can buy your way past all this grind, and it looks like it was deliberately set up to be so grindy that virtually no one would be willing to do it.
There are a ton of bugs (including a very easily repeatable crash bug for a commonly done command that affects EVERYONE when they do it), a lot of the translations (where they exist at all) are into “Engrish” and don’t make much sense, spelling errors galore. . . . . I didn’t do any “group quests” or anything, but from what I read about them on the forums they are “races to the finish” not “cooperative play.” And yeah, there’s open world pvp without level limits, so a level 200 with fully upgraded T7 critters could gank a level 40 and steal all his loot and wipe out all his army. Did I mention it’s stuck in 1024×768 and doesn’t get any bigger than that? That the map is useless? That you click to move but the screen is so small you can’t see where anything is anyway, so you click the waypoint menu and it just auto-runs you over instead? (This is “in town,” not in the battlefields — the battlefields are like HOMM3 and easy to see/navigate and are turn-based to boot.)
Yeah, I know. Still in “closed beta” so give it time to get polished and whatnot. And yeah, I only played it for a total of about 8 hours over 3 days so this is “Eurogamer Quality,” but: I uninstalled it and will not be reinstalling it even when it’s “officially released.”
Still…. it did have its moments, so if anyone reading this is interested in it: Heroes of M&M Online will take you to the site to register for the beta and download the client.