GameSpot has also an article about the game here. There are two new movies and a truckload of new visuals.
Old Brand in New Hands
What to Expect From Heroes V?
The Might and Magic universe has changed its mastermind and the first title from the new creators, namely Heroes of Might and Magic V, is soon to hit the shelves. To increase customers' awareness and interest, Ubisoft gave a small group of fans and journalists a nearly final version for previewing. While it requires more than a few days with a semi-final preview version to learn and evaluate such a complex game, I did my best to highlight the good and "not so good" parts of this game.
The new fort structure
On Aesthetics and Game Control
Everyone who bothers to read this preview already knows that the game has been converted to a full 3D engine. This increases the system requirements to new heights but, in conjunction with the musical score, gives you a pure aesthetic pleasure. The graphics and music of Heroes V are without question on the level of the best Heroes games (which for me is Heroes II). But wait, the primary idea behind a Heroes game is not to please your eyes and ears, but to challenge your brain. When I noticed the 3D conversion from the very first screenshots a year ago, I strongly opposed it. I was afraid that the good strategic overview had been replaced with tedious camera rotation and a hunt for hidden objects. It does take a little time to get used to the camera, but after hours of play, the visibility is not significantly worse than in previous games. Compared to the beta versions, the final product uses efficient highlighting of important objects and semi-transparency of obstacles, which! makes things easy. The only major failure in the graphics and gameplay department is, in my opinion, the user interface. First, its graphical appearance does not blend with the rest of the game as well as it did in its predecessors. Second, extracting the wanted information is more cumbersome in a couple of cases. It gets the job done, but it could be better.
Zoom out during a battle and you'll see that the battleground is part of a larger world
At first glance, one could say that Heroes V has "less of ..." and fill the space with "factions", "spells", "adventure map objects", "difficulty levels" or something else. It is true that in several areas, Heroes V is not shining with raw quantity except perhaps in the skills and abilities section. However, in other areas like race special skills (for example necromancy for necromancers) make the 6 factions offer more diverse gameplay than the 9 factions of Heroes III. Quality and novel solutions balance "lack of ..." quite well. The number of potential strategies in Heroes V is easily superior to Heroes III and perhaps even comparable to Heroes IV. The town and hero build-ups are much less linear than before, creating several potential alternatives even more effectively than the Heroes IV dwelling choices. How well they are balanced is of course a question in itself, which would require more testing than I had time to do. Therefore I would not comment it more than "looks promising".
In the duel mode, you do not only choose the armies to fight, but also the situation
The world is new again. Old stories and familiar faces are gone. Replaced by Dragon-gods and familiar, but yet alien races. The first two campaigns that we had a chance to complete promise a different and very complex world. The story is certainly on the level of Gaudolth the Half-Dead or Pirates’ Daughter, but longer and with more unexpected turns. Certainly worth playing! During the campaign you will also realize why I said "familiar, but yet alien" races. The humans, elves, demons and others are not exactly as a long time Heroes fan imagined them. The new styles are kind of rebellious for a traditional mind and hats off to Nival/Ubi for that brave and in my opinion very good move.
During the distribution of the preview version, we were warned that the AI was still under construction. The unfinished adventure AI is not truly on the level of the Heroes III AI, but it already offered some serious challenge. It is safe to say that the Heroes IV disaster will not be repeated. The combat AI is certainly even closer to the final version. Occasionally it makes some illogical moves, but in general the AI fights better than a beginner-level human.
When multiple human opponents are involved, the game shows its greatest achievements. Turn-based games have never been particularly multiplayer-friendly. Heroes V has not taken a common attempt for simultaneous turns, but it has implemented other ideas. First and foremost, the "ghost mode". You can spend the time of your opponents’ turn exploring and influencing the map with an otherworldly ghost, adding a whole new dimension to your strategies. Additionally, there are more steps taken to reduce the length of turns. Optional real-time battling, gaining experience even from fleeing monsters, limited availability of heroes on first days, etc. To top that there is a plain new multiplayer mode. Heroes has always been a game of preparation for one or two epic battles, which determine the winner. The new Duel mode skips the preparation/exploration process and offers a single battle with pre-made heroes. A fast (less than 30 min) and intensive play for everyone who considers the traditio! nal game too long and complex, but loves to play chess once in a while.
The horse cursor is back on the adventure map!
To summarize it briefly, Heroes V has enough similarities with its predecessors and enough novelty to carry its name. Not all old and novel ideas will please everyone, but that can hardly be expected anyway. I do not like every detail myself, but my general impression is very positive. The most questionable issue left is the post-release support. Patches for balance (no strategy game is perfect on its release), quality of the map editor and random map generator (if any). Without constant flow of fan-made high quality maps and balanced templates, the game may be a two-week enjoyment, while with support it may very well become the most popular Heroes game thus far.