Might & Magic Heroes VI is a turn-based strategy video game for Microsoft Windows developed by Black Hole Entertainment and published by Ubisoft. Some patches and downloadable content were developed by Limbic Entertainment, while the standalone expansion Shades of Darkness was developed by Virtuos. It is the sixth installment in the Heroes of Might and Magic series, and was released on October 13, 2011, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Might and Magic franchise. Heroes VI acts as a prequel to Heroes of Might and Magic V, occurring almost five centuries earlier, and is set in the fictional world of Ashan. The story follows the five heirs to the Griffin dynasty in their quests to repel a demon invasion and assist or impede Michael, a legendary Archangel general plotting to revive an ancient war.
As in previous Heroes of Might and Magic titles, the player can choose between single-player or multiplayer modes of play, and controls a number of heroes and towns associated with various factions, commanding armies of creatures between tactical overland exploration and a turn-based combat system to satisfy each scenario’s victory conditions. Heroes VI alters some of the series’ long-standing conventions, overhauling its chance-based skills system as well as removing the old “magic guild” spell system and replacing both with a hero-based “talents” tree. The game also reduced the number of resources from seven to four in its economics model, and introduced new mechanics, including a points-based reputation system, army-less hero travel, and increased area control by faction-affiliated towns.
Heroes VI has been received positively, attaining a score of 77 from the aggregate review site Metacritic. Reviewers praised the title’s replay value, visuals and improvements to the Heroes formula, but were critical of the numerous bugs and glitches in the release version and its intrusive DRM system, which requires players to maintain a connection to the Internet to avail several features.
The gameplay of Heroes VI mainly follows in the same vein taken by its predecessor, i.e. hero-based faction-affiliated development. As such, every faction has two types of heroes, every unit has an upgrade and turns affect combat as they affect the general gameplay. There are substantial changes, however, and these include the replacement of magic guilds by the creation of the spells/abilities wheel, in addition to the skills wheel. New affiliations called “Tears” or “Blood” appear and play a major role in hero development, notably influencing their skills. For instance, a “Tears” affiliated hero will have more defensive/beneficial buffs and his or her reputation will allow for more peaceful negotiations between potential enemies. A “Blood” affiliated hero, on the other hand, will profit from destructive/dark abilities and gain bonuses in adversary combat aimed to hurt the opponents.
The player’s possessions are still regrouped in “Kingdoms”, though now they are not just an overview, but also a part of the map “owned” by that player. The presence of a town determines who owns the land itself. All forts, mines/deposits and occasional goods givers now automatically replenish the army and the wealth of this player even if another player’s heroes “flag” them. This situation lasts as long as the player is the owner of this given town. Only a few buildings within the area still remain neutral to whomever visits them. The feature was reported as a big improvement of the gameplay since the previous games, as players no longer need to garrison their mines and dwellings located outside towns for protection, even though it was also criticized as being “too easy” by some older fans.
Finally, the game now features only four collectable resources (instead of the classic seven): gold, wood, ore, and blood crystals. The wood and ore are more common and serve to build the player’s towns as well as keep the flow of the marketplace. The gold is less common and serves to purchase goods and armies. The crystals are rare and valuable, and are required for otherwise unaffordable content (like Champion creatures, for example). There is also a new mode called “kingdom conquest” in multiplayer, in which the players must capture as many towns as possible, and maintain their hold of their “kingdoms” for a certain period of time. It is similar to the “king of the hill” feature in many first-person shooter games.