Website content – M&M Chronicles Celebrating 25 years of Might & Magic

Part 2: The Heroes Saga

After Might & Magic V, Jon Van Caneghem imagined a spin-off game to the main Might & Magic RPG series. This new title would mix together turn-based strategy, city building and role-playing elements to create a unique and addictive formula: in 1995, Heroes of Might & Magic – A Strategic Quest was born. As the name implies, the characters of this game were taken straight from the various Might & Magic RPGs, pulled together in a new world: Enroth. Four lords warred to rule this land; their respective factions were the ancestors of the Haven, Stronghold, Sylvan and Dungeon factions we know today. Heroes also marked the arrival to the series of composers Rob King and Paul Anthony Romero, who were instrumental (excuse the pun) in creating the unique atmosphere of the game. Rob and Paul will be back to score Heroes VI.

Image description: Heroes of Might & Magic – A Strategic Quest Heroes of Might & Magic II – The Succession Wars followed the next year and was primarily a refinement of the original game, thrusting two more factions into the fray: the Wizards and Necromancers. Set 25 years after the victory of Lord Ironfist in the first Heroes, the game told the story of his two sons, the good Roland and the... not-so-good Archibald, fighting for the crown.

Image description: Heroes of Might & Magic II. Notice how the interface changes slightly if you choose the side of good (left) or evil (right).

The sci-fi elements present in the RPG episodes were completely left out of the Heroes games, but they returned with a vengeance in Might & Magic VI – The Mandate of Heaven, wherein the kingdom of Enroth was invaded by the Kreegan devils – in actuality a race of star-faring aliens, and the old nemeses of the Ancients. While featuring familiar mechanics, Might & Magic VI marked a huge overhaul of the classic Might & Magic formula: the world was now rendered in 3D and the game introduced a real-time mode (but it was still possible to switch to turn-based combat at any moment).

Image description: Might & Magic VI featured a cover art drawn by fantasy legend Larry Elmore.

The chaotic Kreegans would return in 1999 in the legendary Heroes of Might & Magic III – The Restoration of Erathia, in the form of the new Inferno faction. Old factions were revamped and new ones emerged, including the lizardmen of the Fortress and the Conflux of elementals (in the Armageddon’s Blade add-on). Still to this day Heroes III is considered one of the best games of all time.

Image description: Heroes of Might & Magic III – The Restoration of Erathia.

Might & Magic VII – For Blood and Honor and Might & Magic VIII – Day of the Destroyer were released shortly thereafter, as were new add-ons for Heroes III. The Shadow of Death cast Sandro into the spotlight and firmly elevated the scheming Lich to the status of fan-favorite, while the Heroes Chronicles represented an experiment in “episodic” gaming featuring Tarnum, the Immortal Hero, in his quest for redemption across the ages.

In the meantime, New World Computing had been bought by 3DO. 3DO would release new Might & Magic spin-offs such as Crusaders of Might & Magic, Warriors of Might & Magic, Legends of Might & Magic... though none of these games would achieve the critical acclaim and success of the two main series.

Image description: Might & Magic VII and VIII used the same 3D engines as Might & Magic VI: Horizon for outdoors and Labyrinth for indoors. On the right, you can see Larry Elmore’s art for Might & Magic VIII, where you could play as a Minotaur, Troll or even a Dragon!

The beginning of the 21st century proved to be a hard time for both 3DO and New World Computing. Released in 2002 and introducing a new world, Axeoth, Heroes of Might & Magic IV took a new direction, more centered on the heroes themselves, and as a result divided the fanbase. The controversy created by this game still rages on at the community boards – you either love it or hate it. The disappointing Might & Magic IX was the final entry in the series developed by NWC before 3DO collapsed, putting an end to both companies.

Image description: Heroes of Might & Magic IV introduces a new world: Axeoth.