Bringing this (warning: rather huge) review back with a few changes. The review is still mainly aimed for those who are unfamiliar with Ubisoft's shenanigans and the whole Uplay business
. Feel free to skip the first few paragraphs if you are. So, without further ado, let's break it down:
- So what exactly is so WRONG with this game? Why is everyone complaining about Uplay? Did Uplay burn down your parents' house, steal your girlfriend and replace your cat's litter with pop rocks? Who's this Uplay guy anyway?
Well, my dear blissfully ignorant friend, the answer is simple: it's a piece of dung DRM that's been haunting Ubisoft titles since 2009 that previously required a constant internet connection, but said requirement has been long lifted. Nevertheless, you're still going to have to install the Uplay client (yes - alongside Steam) to be able to activate the game. Once you're done logging into Steam, logging into Paypal, logging into Uplay, you'll get greeted by Conflux, a Heroes6-exclusive online system that will provide you with all sorts of goodies, from heroes to artifacts and additional hero traits. Sounds fun, right? Oh, but it doesn't end there! Here's the catch: it requires a stable internet connection to function. Hm. Deja vu.
Let's say you do have a stable internet connection, like me. You invest some hours into the game and you think, "Oh, it's not all that bad after all!". But then out of nowhere, Conflux decides that it's time to shut itself down because Ubisoft's servers are apparently made of cardboard and are powered by potatoes, all while being administrated by a bunch of one-armed drunken chimps. So what happens? If you're truly "lucky" like me (and hundreds, if not thousands more people - just google it), you'll lose all your saves, your hero levels, companions, plot-acquired weapons and thus will be unable to finish the game without starting the campaign over. My advice? Either play offline, or disable cloud sync in Uplay because you don't need it. Trust me, you don't. I wish I knew that before.
- Okay, but what about the game itself? It can't be that bad, right? It looks pretty nice. Wait, is that a talking shark?
Yes, it's a talking shark. Welcome to Heroes 6.
Good things about this game? Plenty, actually. The visuals, for one thing, look incredible; there are some truly talented artists behind them that I love and admire, even if I do find some of the designs questionable. Yes, like talking samurai fish. If you're willing to overlook that (or simply don't care), there's plenty of stuff to satisfy your eye-candy cravings. Besides that, the game is rather huge. Completing a single chapter will take you several hours, or a dozen, depending on whether you are a fan of spelunking and pointless gold hoarding. Although, even if you aren't one, progressing through the (average at best) story can get somewhat tiring. Voice acting is a mixed bag; it's dodgy at times, but on occasion it can be pretty darn good
(D. C. Douglas? Albert Wesker or Legion in ME series? Woot.). Same goes for music.
- I heard the game's been crawling with bugs since the beta release, is that true?
Unfortunately, it is. I'm one of the unlucky people who struggled through the pre-order version, just to get mad and disappointed, uninstall, then hop back into it 2 years later and discover that some bugs are still present
. Thankfully though, nothing particularly gamebreaking, but annoying regardless. Apparently people with NVidia cards also experience freezing/crashing issues, but I've tested the game on both (aged) NVidia and ATI and only had a few crashes. Do research on that if you have to.
- So how does Heroes 6 compare to, say, HoMM 3?
Only 4 resources instead of 7. No Academy, Fortress or Sylvan factions. No mages guild, instead you get a skill system complete with ability trees, which is the only way to learn spells. There's global creature growth, meaning you can access your troops from any town you're in. A new Reputation/Alignment system that grants additional hero skills. Square grid layout instead of hex. You be the judge.
And by the way, Townscreens are back! But they're in 2D. Better than nothing.
- Pet peeves?
Stupid, predictable AI that suffers from occasional unexplainable mood swings. Always having to chase AI heroes that pop out of portals (that are scattered all over the map) away from your forts and towns is not fun, not fun at all. There are also some balance issues concerning faction abilities and employment of swarm tactics that will likely ruin your day.
- Wait a moment, you actually recommend this? Are you mad?
Yes, yes I do. And no, no I'm not, unless you attribute "madness" to "not agreeing with a popular opinion", unlike a mindless sheep. No offense to sheep. For what it's worth, I'm not rating Ubisoft here, or Uplay, or even Conflux which is, in the end, not the essential part of the game at all and can be avoided altogether. If you like what you see, then by all means, get this game, but... Do try to get it on sale.