Giving the fans what they want in Might & Magic: Heroes 7

In the newly unveiled Might & Magic: Heroes 7, fans can vote on two of the six factions to be included. In other words, they get to have a direct say on what is certainly an important component of a turn-based strategy game. As creative director Erwan Le Breton told me at Gamescom, Ubisoft and developer Limbic Entertainment are concentrating on giving the fans, many of them longstanding, a quality entry in this venerable series.

According to Le Breton, fans on the series' VIP forum were unanimous about particular key changes they wanted from Heroes 6, such as the separation of spells from other skills, the revamping of the skill system, and the move from five factions to six. Le Breton said his studio's goal with Heroes 7 was twofold: make sure the higher-ups internally at Ubisoft are happy with the game, and make sure the fans are happy, too.
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Might & Magic: Heroes 7 (Announcement)

While juggling those goals may be tough given Ubisoft's status as a major publisher, Le Breton is realistic about Heroes' niche status. Could the nearly 20-years-old series ever go mainstream?

"Heroes, no," Le Breton replied without hesitation. "Might and Magic? Definitely."

Might and Magic probably showed the most proof of that potential back in 2009 with Clash of Heroes. Its match-3 take on the fantasy series proved enough of a success for Ubisoft to eventually port it to PS3, Xbox 360, PC and mobiles. When it comes to Heroes, with its interface-heavy strategy and complicated combat interactions, Le Breton believes the diehard fans have no real desire to see the series go beyond PC.

"We've discussed a console version of Heroes several times over the past years," Le Breton said. "We could do it, but it would not be exactly the same game. [Exactly the same game] would not be a console experience that's satisfying, in our opinion. There are too many interface things, the pace of the game... it's better if you play it on PC . With our community of PC players, when we ask them do you have a console [shakes head]. Even have a 3DS? Do you play on smartphone? So really they're PC hardcore players."

That doesn't mean Heroes won't ever come to consoles in some form.

"Doing a Heroes game on consoles which would be the spirit of Heroes in a different form or different shape? Sure, why not?" Le Breton said.

"Like Civilization Revolution?" we suggested.

"Exactly. We'd have to adapt the formula, so... that could happen."

In a brief demo, Le Breton showed us some of what we can expect in Heroes 7. The game's grid-based combat - with squares rather than hexagons and resembling a chessboard - offers bonuses for flanking and backstabbing enemies - a first for the numbered Heroes games. Meanwhile, resources go back up from four to seven, offering more variations for requirements in building up your towns and cities.

As for the story, Heroes 7 is set between Heroes 6 (before) and Heroes 5 (after), within a period Le Breton called a "shift of dynasties." The rising champion of this tumultuous time is Duke Ivan of Griffin, and the game will depict six advisors coming together to convince Ivan to form an alliance. Their pleas are told through the campaign, as each faction recalls its past struggles and its journey to the present day.

There's plenty of time for more details to emerge, though. Heroes 7 isn't due on Windows PC until sometime in 2015. In the meantime, you can get on with the voting on the game's site.
[Images: Ubisoft]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.