Heroes of Might and Magic Online Review
By Jerrico Tan (JetSet), OnRPG Journalist
Meant as a browser game for the Chinese market in 2008, Heroes of Might and Magic Online (or HoMMO for short) arrived to western shores as a standalone client game last June 2010. TQ digital, a Chinese game studio, based this game on Ubisoft’s best selling franchise – Heroes of Might and Magic III but this time added an MMO spice to it.
For those who are unfamiliar with this long running franchise, this game is generally about the player being a hero of their race who sets out to become the ruler of their land with tactical prowess and castle management.
Choosing the Right Faction and Creating the Perfect Leader
Each faction displays its strengths and weaknesses to help you decide who to join
When logging in for the first time, the game lets you select one of 8 factions. Each faction has its own town design with a unique set of racial units to choose from, and each of these units have their own tactical styles, thus spicing up combat quite nicely. For example, choosing the ‘Castle’ gives you human units that offer straightforward attack bonuses while the ‘Necropolis’ gives you undead units that specialize in devastating debuffs (one of these units even has a skill that can cut an enemy’s HP in half!).
After choosing a faction, players must next create a hero that will provide commands to the selected faction units. They can choose from spell caster or melee type of hero. Both classes can choose the same illustrations/avatar pictures in the list, but their starting hero appearances are the same. You can customize your hero’s hairstyle and equip class specific armors later in the game.
A Different Kind of “Might and Magic”
As I have said earlier, this MMO spinoff derived most of its elements from Might and Magic III. The classic hexagonal turn based battles are still here, but TQ added new kinds of exploration elements to it.
The new exploration system makes this game feel unique from previous Might and Magic titles
The new kind of adventure element that separates this game from previous HoMM titles is the real time exploration. That means you can explore the beginner city of Harmondale and the rest of the world with your hero as an avatar. The realms outside the city are filled with wild creatures that can be farmed for items. There are also grinding types of quests that should be completed outside the city such as killing 8 wild beasts or reaching NPCs located at places in the middle of nowhere. You shouldn’t worry about finding the quests though because just like other Chinese MMOs (like Godswar Online), you can use the autopath feature to let your hero easily get to its required destination.
The classic turn based world travel system is still here, but is now part of Episodic Quests that have to be completed for rewards. These quests can also be completed with friends through co-op. Supply items can also be collected here (all supplies that you have collected in the quests can be deposited when you’re back in the city).
The City of Harmondale and Your Very Own Town
The city of Harmondale is the heart of the game. This is where you can sell and trade items, deposit looted supplies in quests, change your hairstyle and assign members for your army. Some special events (like trivia quiz contests) are held in the city daily. The main city is also the only place where you can gain access to your town.
Your very own town is the only place where you can upgrade units, and each of them has their own respected houses. Players can only gain access to the higher-level units when your town has reached its house requirements. Fallen units from previous battles can also be used to upgrade its squad’s star level (raising star levels give great bonuses in the unit’s stats).
Combat, Spells and PVP
Just like Might and Magic III, battles take place in a small arena with hexagonal tiles. Each player represents squads of visible units on each side of the screen. Ranged units can fire across the arena while melee units need to reach their opponents’ units first in order to attack. Heroes are on the side of the battlefield but can play an active role. They can only use spells learned in their spell-books (spells vary from powerful nukes to support buffs that can help your squads last even longer in battle).
Another unique element in this MMO is its spell learning system. Proficiency points (which can be achieved through in-game battles) are needed to level-up your spells. Unlike the usual MMOs, higher spell-books are required to master spells.
And lastly, through the game’s matchmaking system, TQ has perfected its PVP feature. Thanks to this, players are assured of having an even match against their opponents. Tournaments and ranking matches are held daily and winning players are greatly rewarded. These and many other features sum up to an MMO worth playing.
But amidst all the features mentioned, there are still noticeable flaws and drawbacks. It takes a long while for a player who is new to Might and Magic to learn the game’s basics. The user manual is also misleading. The game was poorly translated in English and some game dialogues were difficult to understand (Gibberish characters always appear after texts which can be annoying). The graphics is outdated for its time (2008) and making it 2.5D clearly wasn’t enough to compete with other MMOs in the market. Non-paying players are also at a large disadvantage as there are no opportunities to obtain cash items, unlike other MMOs
In conclusion, TQ did a great job in making this a special MMO spinoff of Might and Magic III. Unfortunately, hardcore fans of the franchise might get disappointed about this one. The MMO elements that were added made it lose the Heroes of Might and Magic feel. Plus, the game itself is more about the growth of your hero and spells instead of town and unit management. Nevertheless, this is still certainly commendable since this game was developed by a totally different team and the game itself is meant for another audience.
But despite all those issues, this unique Heroes of Might and Magic game is still one of the best strategy games around and is definitely worth a try.
The Verdict: Good (7/10)
*Based on a highly acclaimed franchise.
*Wide range of factions and tactical gameplay.
*Great matchmaking system.
*Easy to manage buildings and units.
*Confusing game basics and misleading manuals.
*Poorly translated interfaces/scripts.
*Outdated graphics (for a client game).