TB: Which brings us to the second large-scale change: Morality. My first thought was that the developers had played a Bioware game and thought that the morality mechanic was what made their games so good. I was extremely cynical. However, this mechanic does expose some interesting genre-challenging ideas. In classical fantasy settings (such as the Might and Magic universe) you can tell the good guy, because he wears shiny armour, and the bad guy is a demon. In HOMM6, your play style, rather than your choice of race, sets your alignment, and rather than good or evil, the alignments are ‘tears’ and ‘blood’ respectively: the Tears of Asha (the game’s diety) representing purity and good, while the Blood of Asha represents those willing to dirty their hands in Asha’s name.
Every time you cast a damage spell, or run down fleeing enemy troops, you acquire blood points. Every time you cast a healing spell or allow fleeing troops to run, you acquire tears points. It’s perfectly possible (although difficult, seeing as healing spells do nothing for you) to be a tears-aligned necromancer. What’s more interesting is that you can over time turn your virtuous knight into an utter knave. And when you get down to it, it makes sense. Just because your enemy is a demon it doesn’t mean that summoning vast magical energies to commit genocide is an act of good. Just because you happen to be a demon, doesn’t mean that if you care deeply about the wellbeing of your demonic horde, you are a bad person... er, demonlord.
By pursuing a path of blood or tears (which, when you say it like that, doesn’t sound like a good or evil dichotomy at all) you gain racial abilities which allow you to improve your troops, or hinder (or destroy) your enemy’s troops. As you go down the path one way or the other your powers that match that alignment become more potent, while those that oppose it become less effective. There are a wide range of abilities both magical and mighty that are considered neutral, and have no effect on one or the other.
Gharph: Bioware first came to mind for me as well, however we've seen this evolution emerge slowly over the past few years, so it's not really surprising here. This isn't a bad or unoriginal thing, however, but instead is a great addition that gives players more customisation over their character, where as the old way seemed to be more on rails.
Closing this off with some final thoughts however I expected to be somewhat alienated with this game because, let’s face it, it's the sixth game in the series. Instead I'm quite surprised at the subtle changes the developers have made to stay true to the series and at the same time, welcome new players. HOMM6 is looking quite good even at the beta stage that it's at now.
TB: The Developer (Black Hole Entertainment) has taken some big steps to revitalise this cherished series. Not all the changes will be popular, but the changes have obviously been made with an eye toward streamlining gameplay without losing the features that made it great to start with. Fear not HOMM fanatics, the game you know and love is very much alive and kicking, it’s just getting a spray tan and having a few unsightly game-design hairs waxed.
Gharp: Keep an eye out for this title.