This time I'm gonna elaborate some comparative stuff regarding our beloved franchise Heroes of Might and Magic, particularly a face-to-face between HoMM V (5.5) and HoMM VII. If you're a long-term or a so-called hardcore fan, most likely you'd say somethin' like: "hey pal, there's nothing to do here, move on: HoMM 5.5 is far superior!" Yeah, I agree with you, mr know-it-all, but I'm afraid that the question is faaar more complex than that. Let's begin, ready?
I'm ripping open Might and Magic Heroes 7 (v. 2.2.1+Antalyan's UCP+Libertad's townscreens) .
Above all, do not buy the game in full price: Complete Edition (49,99 €), 'cause you'll become a victim of scam. Simple as that. Wait for a good sale. On the face of the negative reviews seen at Steam and Heroes Community, I think is safe to assure that you'd be scared of getting a game full of bugs, clunky animations, moronic AI, awfully-done visuals, slow-paced, as well as poorly optimized and balanced... Nah. Upon releasing the game was actually THAT, but that's not the case anymore. That's the main reason why I've waited for so long to write down this review. Fuck, because I know Ubisoft very well, so back in 2015 I decided not to invest any money on it until the first reviews came out... so they did, confirming my worst expectations. Even more, I think Ubisoft should be issued for fraud, since it's been selling an early-access game at full price, a common practice that cannot be allowed. Period.
Currently HoMM 7 (aka. HoMM 6.5) is a 'standard', solid, classy and revamped version of Heroes III, however it claims desperately to be purified from bugs (partially eradicated by Antalyan), as well as modded (I mean, expanded). If it were not enough, HoMM 7 found an additional BIG hindrance on releasing: the appearance on the stage of magnomagus's great opus: HoMM 5.5. This excellent mod made by a skilled fan devoted to make Nival's offspring great again, finished HoMM 7 off, by putting it automatically to the test in every single way you can think of. Ergo when it comes to review our game, we just can't avoid comparing it with its big brother. Sad, isn't it?
What HoMM 7 does better than Heroes 5.5:
1. HoMM7's global map is far superior. Arguably the editor. And for a guy like me, who maintains that the global map plus the map editor constitute, at least, a 60 % of a Heroes game, that is not a minor thing. Why is it better? Easy: we (i. e. our Heroes) can reach more distance per turn, so the consequences are self-evident: we are able to do more stuff in less time, ergo our experience is increasingly dynamic, enriching and fast-paced in the long term. But that's not it: the graphical engine (I insist, from the 'global' perspective) is understandably better (2006-2015): for instance, orography is a pain in the ass in HoMM V but it feels smooth in HoMM 7.
2. This leads us to the second point: the visuals. I'm aware that not everybody would agree with me, but the graphics à la Warcraft provided by HoMM 5 weren't exactly within my taste. On the contrary, HoMM 6 and HoMM 7 made the grade, setting the bar above Nival's generic pretensions. Bravo on that.
3. HoMM 7 is faster. Sure, you'd say it's because AI is ridiculously implemented and yeah, you'd be right about that, but still, for a casual player like me that's not even an actual issue. A Heroes game, fellas, must be relatively fast if it doesn't wanna ruin the whole game experience. I'm not willing to accept more than 8 seconds between turns; everything above that it's unthinkable for many players, at least playing solo (the hot seat experience is pretty much other). Moreover, we're living in 2018 CE, fellowmen: why in the hell is this even an issue at all?...
4. The campaigns. I recall Heroes V campaigns to be dull and ridiculously written. Not that I care too much since I'm not particularly interested in them, but it's something to be aware of.
In what elements HoMM 7 is as good as Heroes V (even 5.5):
1. The skill wheel. To be fair, I'm not sure whether skill system in Heroes 7 is better than Heroes 5.5, but I do like it very much. Having the chance to decide how our heroes will grow is fun, so it's in Heroes 5.5. Again, not everybody would agree with me (definitely not the 'hardcore fans', for sure).
2. Those praised features inherited from Heroes VI and Heroes IV: converting towns, controlling zones, choosing different ways for developing our towns, etc. These are extremely valuable features, shared or not with magnomagus's mod, that enrich our gaming experience an awful lot.
What HoMM 5.5 (and HoMM 6) do better than Heroes 7:
1. Everything related to the game system. HoMM 5.5 is better balanced, tested, fixed and polished than HoMM 7 in regard to the skills, the combat, the factions synergies, etc. I've been witness of extremely fruitful debates at Heroes Community on that particular area and men... you just can't compete with these keen nerds. HoMM 5.5 is a machine extremely-well lubricated while HoMM 7, on the other hand, it's still in a raw stage.
2. The townscreens. What the fuck were you thinking, Limbic fellas? The townscreens in HoMM are no more than glorified smartphone screens that can't be compared with the 3D beautiful environments built in HoMM 5 or the well-crafted 2D landscapes of HoMM 6 (actually my favourite saga-wise). No debate: HoMM 7 is clearly below the two previous instalments in that particular area. Anyway I can live with it: it's not a game-breaker. except in the case of the goddamn 'spider' necropolis, otherwise fixed by Libertad's townscreens mod.
3. The overall animations: HoMM 5 and HoMM 6 are far superior than HoMM 7 when it comes to the combat. It isn't true that HoMM 7 animations are THAT bad, but they're not good either. The experience in-combat is a bit disappointing while in the previous two instalments is so exciting. If it wasn't enough, some sound effects are missing at sieges... Once again, HoMM 7 is the true offspring of a rush and sloppy development.
4. There's no inferno faction in HoMM 7, nor even Sanctuary. Yeah, we're missing, at least, one more faction to it. Modders, get to work!
5. The ARMG is a Heroes 5.5's powerful tool that clearly overcomes HoMM 7's generic map generator.
6. You must own a cutting-edge machine in order to run HoMM 7, in exchange for a few more than an enhanced 'indie' game. Really? Poorly optimized.
7. HoMM 7's multiplayer is still in development. Again, not that I care of: I'm not playing a Heroes game for it.
8. HoMM 5's AI, revamped by Quantomas, is clearly superior, as I already stated it.
9. A loyal fanbase's following HoMM 5 over the years, however it seems that HoMM 7's an early abandonware, only supported by relatively few good chaps.
Verdict: 6/10: Properly modded, HoMM 7 might become the best Heroes of the franchise, in my humble opinion. Nevertheless, in its current state it's merely a wannabe.
The future of HoMM 7
HoMM 7 might have a future if projects like these are going through:
1. Global Modding: Ashan to the trashcan edition.
2. Unoffical Community Patch (UCP).
3. Umbramancer. Wryn Pendragon.
I can picture what Ubisoft-Limbic might thought when they were developing both Might and Magic X: Legacy and Might and Magic Heroes VII. Somethin' like: hey guys, let's release some oldies's reeditions by introducing few innovations here and there... In the end that's what the hardcore fanbase is waiting: they wanna see the same old shit wrapped up in fancy graphics, don't they? Well, in a way that's what we want, fellas, but it's not so simple. First of all, you must learn from the smartest fanbase and then try to make a good Heroes game, whatever it takes in terms of time. But above all, don't laugh at us by releasing an unfinished product, for fuck sake!
Who am I?, you may wonder: I've started to play the saga right from the start, with the release of Heroes of Might and Magic I, more than two decades ago. I like Heroes games because of the cartoonish, naive and relatively simple mechanics conceived long time ago by JVC. I'm basically a map-maker and a casual player devoted to HoMM 2 pixelated magic world, so I'm not particularly good at stats, skills and stuff like that. Am I a 'hardcore' player? That's up to you to say.