Sunday, October 30, 2011

Might & Magic Heroes VI Dynasty

I passed on the beta, and only recently started playing Might & Magic Heroes VI. In many respects this is very much a classic Heroes of Might & Magic games. Gameplay, strategy, and tactics work pretty much like always. And if it would just be prettier graphics and the new talent tree, I probably wouldn't even write about the game. But there is one other "modern" addition to the venerable HOMM series, and I think it is worth discussing: The Dynasty.

Normally in HOMM you start a map at level 1 and level up while you beat the map. If the map is part of a campaign, you might be able to keep your hero's level from one map to the other. Heroes VI goes one step further: You are playing the members of the Griffin dynasty, and with every map and campaign you do, you level up the dynasty as well. You gain xp, levels, and ranks for your dynasty, resulting in points which can be used to buy dynasty traits on other extras. You also find dynasty weapons, which level up too when carried by a hero and then give various bonuses.

Heroes VI has 7 campaign: A tutorial "prologue" campaign, an "epilogue" campaign at the end, and 5 parallel campaigns in the middle. At least these are supposed to be parallel. Only that by having the dynasty traits and weapons it suddenly matters very much in which order you play them. Some traits are extremely powerful, like getting 3 more creatures every week from every building. Playing a campaign late in the game with 5 traits and a fully leveled dynasty weapon will make it much easier than your first campaign where you only got 1 trait. You can even have dynasty bonuses turned on in multiplayer games.

I'm not really sure I like the idea. How do the developers balance difficulty of campaigns when they don't know what kind of dynasty bonuses players will have when they play them? And the dynasty stuff turns Heroes VI into yet another game where the more you play, the more advantages you get. That is part of the business model for online games, where in both subscription games and Free2Play games the developers want to make people play for a long time to get a maximum of money out of them. But do we really want those features in single-player games as well?

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