The Round Table Proposal

Part 1: The Story
by Sir Timotheus

The issue of the story of Heroes V was hotly debated at Celestial Heavens’ Round Table forum. Should Ubisoft continue the storyline of the previous Heroes and Might and Magic titles, reference it a bit but not center on it, or start with a completely clean slate? Each viewpoint was represented, some in greater numbers than others, making it clear that no matter what is ultimately decided upon, some fans will be pleased, others dissatisfied. Of course, that is to be expected no matter the topic, but storyline is an integral part of Might and Magic and its spinoff series. It’s what defines Heroes.

Out of the three main viewpoints, the most commonly held was to keep some reference to the previous games of Might and Magic and Heroes, but not to focus on them. The main argument there is that Heroes IV’s storyline was lacking, especially in the expansions, and the whole premise of blowing up the word of Heroes 1 to 3 and Might and Magic 1 to 8 was a horrible idea. But the old tales of Erathia, the Ironfist dynasty, and Sandro still need to be around to make it a true “Heroes” game. The forum member ‘Campaigner’ said on the Round Table, “I too want the story to continue from where NWC left off. If there’s no mention of the Ironfists or Gryphonhearts, then it will NOT feel like a Heroes game to me. About Hexis and the expansion [characters], I don't care as I didn't play those expansions. But there must be some mention about the Gryphonhearts or Ironfists.” Ubisoft has already made it clear that at least Sandro would remain in Heroes V, and some preliminary artwork leads many to believe that at least the concept of an “all-human” town, like Heroes II’s Knight town, Heroes III’s Castle town, or Heroes IV’s Haven town, would stay. Does this mean that Ubisoft is sticking with this viewpoint?

Others want a more direct tie to the series. One proposal is to advance Axeoth’s plotline from Heroes IV, utilizing interesting but underdeveloped characters like Gauldoth Half-Dead or Emilia Nighthaven, and tie all the new storylines together. One thing Heroes IV lacked was bringing together its campaign stories. Every fan wants unity and a sense of togetherness. Those who support strong ties to previous Heroes games want unity throughout the entire series. ‘Khaelo’ from the Round Table said, “Storyline is very important to me; it's one of the major reasons I'm hooked on the series. If the old story and characters are trashed, there'll be no motivation for me to buy the new game, quite frankly … A continuous history makes the world more realistic and adds depth.” A related viewpoint involves a sort of “prequel” mindset – if the cataclysm occurred on the planet with Enroth, Antagarich, and Jadame, what about other worlds? What happened to the Ancients and the Kreegans? What about Might and Magic VII’s “good” ending (the “evil” ending’s storyline was used for future reference)? Some suggest Heroes V to tie up some loose ends from earlier in Heroes/Might and Magic history. ‘Dragon Angel’ says, “[Some] people see Axeoth as a 'stained' world (a world associated to the decay of the series that Heroes IV represents), and therefore won't like to see a new game in the same world.”

Finally, some simply say to scrap everything and start anew. To them, there simply is nothing else to expand upon, or there are too many inconsistencies to try to correct or keep up with. ‘Da Vane’ of the Round Table wrote, “I think the there should be a new world, with a new story for HoMM V. It would be nigh on impossible for Ubisoft to keep things together using the previous history, and even if they did, they would inevitably bring back the inconsistancies that filled those games.” New World Computing tried in some respects to create a clean slate for Heroes IV, but they felt the need to save some of the basics (particularly specific Heroes and creatures) to appease fans. However, the lack of development of Axeoth may facilitate the axing of the other worlds. How important is it to keep the old ways of Heroes?

Well, there are the three main viewpoints of Heroes V’s storyline. The slight majority rules in favor of a primarily new storyline with glimpses of NWC’s former works, while a good number of people want either strong, direct tie-ins or just the opposite. Whatever is ultimately decided, all fans agree on several points. Heroes V, Might and Magic X, and everything beyond should tie with each other, following the tradition of New World Computing. Also, a strong, coherent storyline is a must for the new Heroes game. A weak, stereotypical “I’m a power-hungry lich who wants to take over the world!” just won’t do for most players. ‘Svetac’ says, “What we need in the story, though, are strong and complete characters. Ones that will let us associate with, and take us through, the story.” Based on Ubisoft’s reputation and willingness to work with fans, I believe that whatever the decision, we will all learn to love it.

Check out the full discussion about the Heroes of Might and Magic V storyline here.