'Might & Magic Heroes Online' from Ubisoft.
A series familiar to computer gamers is about to take its next evolutionary step as the free-to-play online PC game Might & Magic Heroes Online is currently in development at Ubisoft's Blue Byte game studio.
Might & Magic Heroes Online takes the 18-year-old turn-based strategy game and puts it on the Internet as a browser-based MMO, powered by Flash. Like in the six previous incarnations of the game, Heroes Online has players control powerful Heroes and their armies as they do battle throughout the fantasy world of Ashan. Unlike the previous games, however, the overworld portion of the game will be played in real time.
Most of the rest of what will make up Heroes Online will be features that should be familiar with franchise fans, including Ashan itself. Players will quickly notice that this fantasy world includes a diverse map that ranges from the glorious temples of Elrath, the Dragon of Light, to the undead lands of Nar-Heresh. It's in this world that players will search for treasure, artifacts and long-forgotten secrets, travel to glorious capital cities and earn the favor of the Dragon Gods, and unravel the mystery of the Order of the Void and their enigmatic leader.
Like in previous Heroes of Might and Magic games, no hero is more powerful than their army and no weapon is mightier than a keen strategic mind. Players will be able to recruit their troops from a variety of differently-affiliated factions, only this time around they will have the chance to prove their skills in heroic boss battles with multiple successive stages. Also, Heroes Online's MMO capabilities allow players to invite friends into the fray, offering assistance through the game's co-op features.
While Might & Magic Heroes Online is Ubisoft's attempt to take its long-standing (mostly) offline computer game into the free-to-play MMO space, the game plays much like a standard Heroes of Might & Magic game. Those accustomed to the overall gameplay setup of those offline games might find the lack of overworld turns awkward to get used to, but it doesn't take too long to grow accustomed to the new way the overworld plays. Luckily, while other Heroes will be traversing the world map at real time along with the player, independent bands of enemies look like they will remain static on the map.
While Ubisoft has stated that Might & Magic Heroes Online is still a ways off from public release, it appears that it will be more of a Heroes of Might & Magic game that just so happens to be an MMO rather than an MMO trying to be a Heroes of Might & Magic game. Should, come launch, the former prove true over the latter, Might & Magic Heroes Online should have little trouble finding a stable foothold in an increasingly crowded and competitive free-to-play MMO market.