Heroes of Might & Magic III: The Shadow of Death was released in April 4, 2000 and is a prequel to both Restoration of Erathia and Armageddon's Blade and follows Gelu, Gem, Crag Hack, and Yog as they come together to defeat Sandro before he can conquer Antagarich. The story is much more developed than in the previous games and the characters are given backgrounds and personalities which I really enjoyed. The biggest negative is that the heroes don't transfer over from their individual campaigns so you need to restart until you get the secondary skills that you want.
In addition to the 7 campaigns which consist of 37 maps the other improvements The Shadow of Death gives are adjustable difficulty settings, 12 combination artifacts, 8 terrains (clover fields, evil fog, fiery fields, holy ground, lucid pools, magic clouds, rocklands, and favorable winds), a 5th miscellaneous artifact slot, 10 teleporters, and access to Conflux troops.The seven campaigns are as follows.
- New Beginning consists of four maps and is Gem's campaign as she flees Enroch trying to get away from war only to use her military knowledge to help Sandro get artifacts from some Necromancers. Gem can be a solid magic hero with her biggest weakness being her specialty in the First Aid tent.
- Elixir of Life consists of four maps and is Gelu's campaign as he graduates into the Forest Guard and then retrieve the components of the Elixir of Life before the Necromancers can. Gelu's specialty is turning ordinary shooters into sharpshooters which are extremely letha.
- Hack and Slash consists of four maps and is Crag Hack's campaign as he scours the land looking four four artifacts for Sandro. This is a tough campaign because you can't conquer all of the enemy towns which means you'll always have enemy heroes running around. Crag Hack's specialty is offense which means that he can make even low-level troops a force to be reckoned with.
- Birth of a Barbarian consists of five maps and is Yog's map as he leaves Bracada hoping to become a barbarian in Krewlod and then delivers the components of the Angelic Alliance as his first mission. Yog is unique in that he is a true might hero since he can't use a single spell. I'd bet that most people gave Crag Hack both Wisdom and a spell school so to completely ignore magic is quite a shocker. Speaking of shock, Yog's specialty is Chain Lightning which is useless since Yog can't cast the spell.
- Rise of the Necromancer is Sandro's campaign and can only be played after the first four campaigns are finished. Sandro starts out with the two combination artifacts that Gem and Crag Hack acquired which turn Sandro from an ordinaru Necromancer to something scary. The Armor of the Damned casts Mass Slow, Mass Curse, Mass Weakness, and Mass Misfortune on the enemy and the Cloak of the Undead King boosts the Necromancy ability as well as changing what gets raised depending on the Necromancy level. At basic level it raises Walking Dead, at advanced level it raises Wights, and expert level it raises Liches. Sandro uses these artifacts to make his way to Deyja to become a true Necromancer.
- Unholy Alliance consists of twelve maps and can only be played after the fifth campaign is completed. You play from among the heroes from the previous campaigns as the heroes begin to figure out Sandro's goal while learning about each other as they decide to team up defeat Sandro. Then you switch over to Sandro as he uses his artifacts to soundly beat up the heroes which leads them to acquire the very same Angelic Alliance Yog spent his campaign splitting up and giving to various people. Finally, with the Angelic Alliance in hand, the heroes defeat Sandro and go their seperate ways.
- Specter of Power is a bonus campaign and consists of four maps as Sandro decides to make alliances with Lord Haart and the Kreegans, and is a nice preview to Restoration of Erathia. There are some tough battles and playing without the artifacts is considerably harder.