The official blog has released some info about the skill wheel and warcries in Heroes VII.

The skill wheel
You may recognize this feature from earlier games. Remember Aurelain's skill wheel created for H5? Generally, the so-called "skill wheel" for H7 is simply an overview over a hero's gained and potential skills, viewable on a single screen. As your heroes gain levels, you can plan ahead to shape your perfect hero - the skill wheel feature makes this process easier. In H7, the skill's properties will appear in the right column when you select it.
As you can see in the image to the right (click for a larger version), skills are divided into "Major" and "Minor", with the levels "Novice" (giving the hero 3 abilities), "Expert" (another 2 abilities) and "Master" (giving 1 more). Three of the "Major" skills have another rank on top of these - the cherished "Grandmaster" level. The obtaining of skills is done in a way which should be familiar to RPG players, namely by the spending of skill points given when the hero levels up. Fans of the series will also be familiar with the general types of skills; some magical, some purely combat related and some to do with the adventure map and managing of the towns. Which skills are available to which heroes is fairly intuitive, but if you want to, you can read more about it in the blog article.

These are Might capabilities, used as an alternative to magic spells on the battlefield. Instead of casting a spell, a hero can use a warcry to boost his or her troops in different ways; increasing defence, ranged attack damage or initiative, for instance. Click the image on the right to see all these effects. As the hero levels up, the effects of these warcries also increase, making them a real alternative to magic. If properly balanced, I see this as a way to ensure that the game's title will indeed be a fitting description. It also underlines the fact that the heroes are on the battlefield themselves; these skills offer nothing in the way of direct damage, but bolster a hero's army.
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Today, Heroes VII has officially been made available for pre-order. Customers can choose between several different game versions:

1. Standard Edition (retail or digital) just the full game, no extra shinies.

2. Digital Deluxe Edition. In addition to the full game, it will contain a digital version of the soundtrack, some digital contents like the Solmyr hero and an extra map scenario, and on top of it all you get the new Heroes III HD game as well.

3. Retail Collector's Edition - which we are now able to confirm will be available in the US (order it from the Uplay shop). It includes, as we have seen from the votes on the blog site, a collector's box, a 26-cm Ivan figurine, a 96 page artbook, the soundtrack, two lithographs, a tarot game. There is also the digital extra contents mentioned above.

If you pre-order the game, you will get access to the Closed Beta test. Ubisoft also throw in "4 exclusive in-game portraits and 4 exclusive artefacts".

After years of ignoring North America in the release of special editions, we here at Celestial Heavens are very happy to see Ubisoft finally conceding that the US market is important; the dedicated American fans of the franchise will be glad to have the Collector's Edition box available to them.
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Good news for people interested in M&M games - have a time-limited bundle on Might & Magic items, including:
  • HoMM II Gold Edition
  • HoMM IV Complete Edition
  • Might & Magic 1-6 Collection
  • Heroes Online - Angel Starter Pack

  • Heroes of Might & Magic V
  • Might & Magic Heroes VI Gold Edition
  • Dark Messiah
  • Might & Magic Clash of Heroes

  • Might and Magic X-Legacy
  • Might and Magic X-Legacy - The Falcon & The Unicorn DLC
  • Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD Edition (RoE only!)
  • Might & Magic Heroes VI - Shades of Darkness
  • Might & Magic Duel of Champions - Starter Pack

More games can be added later. Jump on it to get some good deals!

Thanks Khalbrae for the info!
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Two of the designers working on Heroes VII will appear for another talk on TWITCH, May 21st at 7pm CEST.

If you want to see what they have to say first-hand, you can watch that stream live by tuning in at the right time. Make a note in your calender.
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The beta test commences on Monday.

Testers are allowed to post their impressions in public, so that's what we're hoping you'll do.

Once the beta opens, please participate in this forum topic and also make sure you send screenshots.
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Turns out it wasn't ready.

More info here.
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There is a report on (thanks Marzhin) about the new mobile studio that was launched by Jon Van Caneghem, called VC Mobile Entertainment. He hopes to apply his experience in the gaming industry in a market where RPGs and strategy games have been very popular:

"Never before has there been a way to get to so many consumers so easily and so many people who are actually playing games on mobile devices."

JVC compares the mobile development field to the early days of PC gaming:

"it's a smaller team, less of a giant budget and there's a lot more chance to iterate, there's a lot more chance to be creative. And that's why I view this as such an exciting time for game design and development. It's not a 200-person, four-year endeavour to build a product."

There aren't any details about the games this new studio is working on. But feel free to make some predictions!
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As promised, here is a video of my screen as I started up the closed beta. In the top left corner, you can see the FPS numbers. I will make more videos and I am taking requests: what do you want to see? Ask your questions and participate in the discussion here.

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So, let's try again.

As you can see here, the beta of Heroes VII opens tomorrow:
Might & Magic Heroes VII's Closed Beta will be available tomorrow (June 3rd) at 2pm CEST and will last until Wednesday 17th 2pm CEST!

For those of you who are playing it, I would like to invite you to this forum topic where you can post your impressions.
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