For the 20th anniversary of the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise, we present to you the Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition Steam Review. Before we begin, a brief history of the path this game has walked to arrive in front of you here today. Might & Magic began as a video game for the Apple II personal computer and eventually made its way to many other platforms including the Commodore 64, TurboGrafx-16 CD (in Japan), and eventually even the Nintendo NES. The game was one of the most early role playing games to emerge in the industry and was mostly created by one person, Jon Van Caneghem. Knights, Clerics, Robbers, Sorcerers, Paladins, and Archers are created with tracked statistics that evolve over time, similar to a Dungeons & Dragons system.
After helping to give birth to RPG elements in the video game scene (alongside other emerging titles in the genre), the series went on to merit many sequels including the series Heroes of Might & Magic which first arrived in 1995 presenting the Strategy portion of the SRPG formula we see in the series, but many board games for tabletop setting, books, and other games were also created within the over-arching franchise of Might & Magic. Heroes of Might & Magic itself shares a bit of a series fatigue when part four hit since too much of the original formula was changed, and although later games got decent reception it was at this point that the original development studio New World Computing began to lose control of the project. Nival Interactive developed the fifth title in 2006 under publisher Ubisoft since they had purchased the rights for 1.3 million dollars from now defunct publisher The 3DO Company.
It later became revealed that the original creator Jon Van Caneghem had wanted to work on an online MMO version of the game but 3DO had decided to make 3 PlayStation 2 games for the franchise instead since they argued it would cost the same amount to develop and probably had shaky faith in the still very early MMORPG scene which existed at the time. Ubisoft has managed to maintain the good name and reputation of the series under their ownership, but just barely. Their online only DRM had been featured on some of the games, which players reacted to extremely poorly, and under their publishing house the series has suffered many more bugs than previously seen in the franchise. Eventually the series began to reach a franchise fatigue from Ubisoft’s handling but it has been given some time to rest and lay dormant as Ubisoft plan to publish an upcoming 7th entry called Might & Magic Heroes VII which we will reserve judgement for until release.
So there you have it, Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition is the result of a long road for a tired, but wise and well respected franchise who has walked over many mountains, through many publishing and development studios, and many various platforms to reach you here today on Steam in its Remastered glory.
As far as gameplay for those who aren’t already familiar with the series. I will go into a few of the details here and let you get the main feel for the game. This is one of the quintessential Strategy RPGs of all time and forever changed the game asserting itself as a legendary name in the genre. Based on a heavy amount of lore and background universe that gamers still have strong feelings for, Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition consists of exploring dungeons, completing quests, coming across treasures, and a lot of the main fodder found in today’s SRPGs (of course). What really makes this game solid is the very well thought out and intricate leveling and skill systems that players can master.
Battles take place on a grid and players can only move a certain amount of spaces each turn. Once each unit on the battlefield has been given a command then the enemy is allowed to take a turn and will also move and attack with their units on the field. Statistically tracked attributes for each character are the main focus that the gameplay revolves around. Throughout the game there are cities and kingdoms which can be visited. Some of these are evil places and others are considered good or neutral. Due to the missing expansion packs in this remaster, there are also missing cities and kingdoms, including neutral ones which had units to be recruited. There also appears to be some missing from the vanilla game for some reason with no real mention for these omissions in the marketing of this game. Players also travel between underground and above ground layers as well as discover artifacts across the gameworld. Overall, this game captures the feel of the old world and brings a lot of interesting lore for gamers to check out again as we all ponder the historical truth about reptilian-humanoid beings and other mythical creatures who star in the game.
It must be mentioned again that there is DLC to the original game which is not included in this Remastered edition. The story with that is the original developer supposedly lost track of the source code and therefore those will not be released at this time. Hopefully that doesn’t mean forever doomed to be excluded from the HD Edition, but currently that appears to be the situation. There are still 7 campaigns contained in the game with battles taking place on 50 skirmish maps.
The game looks very retro still, even with updated sprites, but runs great full-screen or even windowed so you can play while you work. Over 30 artists have spent a year contributing works to the title, but the actual environments and back drops in the game remain unchanged, so this has little to no noticeable effect for the modern user. Let’s be honest, this game’s visuals were already very well crafted and are probably some of the best pieces of Pixel Art ever done. It’s probably not easy trying to update something like that.
What DotEmu has drawn will be a nice touch though for returning fans of the franchise, and definitely was necessary for people in the mainstream market picking this up for the first time. It’s just that this is the minimal standard, not the full deluxe package, when it comes to Remasters. And, although the game looks great how it is, this is met with tons of valid criticism from gamers who would rather just buy the original which is still available digitally from Ubisoft through other non-Steam marketplaces. As some one who mainly uses Steam though, I can understand how many PC Gamers still simply refuse to do business outside of Steam.
Some of the actual benefits for those on the fence include Steam Achievements. There’s also new updates to the online multiplayer mode which now uses Steamworks, but the experience is horrible at this time and needs further patching. Luckily, this game has never been about the online, and the single player gameplay is left in its classic state so we won’t be punishing the game too much for that. If you really want to play online with folks, this is not the game to be doing it in anyways. Heroes of Might & Magic III is all about that statistical grind, immersion in a barbaric world of swords and daggers, magic and mayhem.
While this is supposed to be a serious entry in the Ubisoft portfolio paying tribute to a classic series, it ends up just being a decent purchase for newcomers and that’s about it. This release is getting treated as a slap in the face to fans by some of the most vocal PC Gamers in the press, and in a lot of ways this is justified because of the availability of the original and the lack of updates in this Remaster. That being said, reviews are perhaps going a bit too far with this. Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition is a solid and stable application giving my Steam account a piece of history that it previously did not have. To me, that’s something. Heroes of Might & Magic within its own right provides a masterpiece classic experience for the Strategy Role Playing Game genre and this Remaster doesn’t hinder that experience in any way.
Overall Score: 7 / 10
RGN Rating : Bronze Game
Original Developer: New World Computing
Remaster Developer: DotEmu
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
*(Does not require UPlay DRM, or this would be a very different review)
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.