When a good series runs into serious trouble, the results feel especially ugly.
Might & Magic: Heroes VII offers the worst game yet in a venerable turn-based strategy franchise. Not only does the game itself disappoint, but it’s painful to watch the hopes of long-time fans turn into the realization that they played the best installments of Might & Magic long ago.
The games have knocked around in one form or another for two decades, passing from developer to developer. I reviewed the original DOS version of Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest in 1995, and my love of turn-based and real-time fantasy-themed strategy has only grown since.
But I will admit that if another version of Might & Magic: Heroes ever hits the streets, I will not volunteer to review it.
Check out our Reviews Vault for past game reviews.
Might & Magic: Heroes VII is available now for Windows PCs via Steam and Uplay for $50 from developer Limbic Entertainment and publisher Ubisoft. I tested it using a Windows 10 PC that far outstripped the recommended configuration.
What you’ll like
The length of the campaign
You follow the exploits of Ivan Griffin, who considers a nearly impossible battle as he listens to his advisers. They are seated around the council table, representing the game’s six factions, and each one offers to tell him a story, illuminating a different type of strategy or battle outcome.
These “stories” become what you play out in the campaign mode. While each of the half-dozen tales offer only a few long missions, the result is a campaign that takes dozens of hours to complete — which you then follow up with Griffin’s own battles.
I found this approach pleasant, especially because you could pick and choose which story you wanted to play through next. The end result is well over 50 hours of gameplay.
Turn-based 3D strategy with many moving parts
Might & Magic: Heroes VII combines a bit of light city management with venturing heroes, who amass resources and collect additional armies of different units to tackle your foes.
A skill wheel gives you choices of buffs to your units’ exploration, diplomacy, and power. Heroes can attack enemies directly or boost the power of their armies using spells. You can recruit more heroes as you go, creating a small pack of armies roaming the countryside.
It gives you a satisfying number of buttons to push here and plenty of things to collect in the countryside. They combine to provide a pleasant feeling of depth, though you may not always use all of these parts for any real purpose.
Duels (aka, skirmish mode)
Heroes VII offers a fun duel mode, allowing you to leap immediately into battle (no resource-gathering required) with maximum power and abilities versus a similarly equipped A.I. foe. This may have been my favorite part of the game: Good matches were frenetic and fun, and playing with high-level units and spells from the start was a good insight into how things would go later.
I would have liked to battle other players in these, but I ran into technical issues (more on that later.)
Factions that feel truly different from one another
The six varied factions you can play offer their own units, maps, and abilities. Their stories wind differently through extremely varied landscapes.
One minute you’re playing the light-themed Haven, with hero spells that can simultaneously heal or hurt; the next, the player-chosen semi-evil Dungeon faction, with its slippery Dark Elves. It gives the mechanics a fresh take each time you swap.