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Might & Magic Heroes Online Preview

Ubisoft are most definitely pushing their free-to-play titles into the forefront of their offerings this year. Already we’ve had Ghost Recon: Online and even Anno Online has been announced that it’s coming to a web browser near you, but Ubisoft aren’t done yet. The publisher wishes to bring its key franchises to a new audience, and in doing so craft a new way to play, and that means that they’ve now brought the immensely popular Might & Magic series to your computers web browser in another F2P game known as Might & Magic Heroes Online.

Taking place in the same canon as previous Heroes titles, Ubisoft are inviting you back to the world of Ashan once more; and once again that F2P mechanic is tweaked into the buzzwords of “fair-to-play”, meaning you won’t be expected to pay to level up, or to pay to win. Interestingly everything will be accessible to anyone, regardless if they are paying or not – paying players will however get the benefit of troop building and movement being faster, allowing them to amass armies quicker than those who would rather play slowly and for free.

As this runs in a browser, your first thought may be one of disdain – after all why would a browser title be worthy of your game playing gaze? Well, it’s probably best you scrapped those preconceptions and woke up to the world of modern web browser games, as Heroes Online not only looks fantastic, it seems like a fully fleshed out entry into the series. As it runs in Flash 11 it’s got super silky smooth animations and looks like an absolute beauty – utilising 3D models and lush isometric views to create a game world you definitely can’t resist exploring.

Some tweaks to the Heroes model have been made though, and mostly so it works better for online play. This doesn’t mean that Ubisoft, BluyByte and Related Designs have gone in and torn apart the rule book, it just means that now things are just that little bit more streamlined. While turn-based gameplay still exists and the hex squares of yore have returned, ranged attacks now come with restricted ranges, you’ll be able to get behind foes and deal damage without fear of a counter-attack, and boss battles are now altered by the environment they’re fought in – all of which is done to encourage more tactical play.

While there are no attempts to launch with PvP enabled – although it’s quite probable that it’ll come in as a feature later on – you can team up with other online players to work together to dispatch bigger foes and larger armies with your squad of men. There are also lots of reasons to keep coming back for more as Ubisoft reckon that around 1000 hours of gameplay is present in Heroes Online, and only one small slither of it is the story mode.

With the promise that towns, dungeons and raids being in the final build of the game, Might & Magic Heroes Online is already looking like one sweet package for fans of the Heroes series of games. It’s also bearing the torch for high-quality, big name games being moved into the free-to-play web browser realm, proving that if it’s successful then there really is a market for these games. I for one hope that it really gains all the attention it deserves, and that when the beta comes around you all jump in and snap up your chance to explore the world of Ashan again.

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