Do you love turn-based strategy-based games? Are you looking for a timeless game? Do you like magic, monsters, and battles? Then Heroes of Might and Magic is for you! But which game in the series should you play? The best Heroes of Might and Magic game has been up for debate since the first game appeared on the market all the way back in 1995.
Countless articles, threads, and debates across the internet have argued over which installment of the series is the best. While it is safe to say that there is a consensus as to which heroes game is the best, in this article we will explore all the installments and give you our take as to which Heroes of Might and Magic game is the best, beginning from the worst to best.
Heroes of Might and Magic VI – The worst game in the series
Starting with the worst in the series, HoMMVI. Released in 2011, Heroes of Might and Magic VI uses more realistic yet simplistic 3D graphics. This installment acts as a prequel to the previous game (5), taking place almost five centuries earlier, on the continent of Thallan in the world of Ashan. The story follows five heirs to the Griffin dynasty in their quests to fight a demon invasion. The developers altered the skills system, reduced the number of resources from seven to just four (gold, wood, ore, and blood crystals), and introduced army-less travel.
The reduction in resources means that it became easier to upgrade buildings and structures. Some players complained that this was less challenging compared to the previous games which led to mixed reviews from critics, such as 67/100 on Metacritic. The hero’s skills are based on an ability tree that players need to level up. This gives the player more control over how their characters evolve. However, this change kills the risk factor of the previous games where skills were given randomly upon leveling and there was always the risk of attaining a skill that is not favorable to your build.
All in all, the changes in this installment made the game less challenging and not true to the overall spirit of the series. As a result, this game is rated the worst in the HoMM series.
Heroes VII – Second worst game in the series
Heroes of Might and Magic VII is arguably the most visually impressive game in the series with beautiful high-definition features. The story follows Ivan Griffin in his pursuit of the crown, following on from the previous game (6). The resources have increased to ten, there are a great variety of multiplayer maps – something the HoMM series had been lacking since the third installment and somewhat decent campaigns. Unfortunately, this installment has changed so much from the much-loved original 2D graphics of the first games that it left players and fans confused and not impressed.
In addition, battles in this installment are exceptionally long which killed the fun and the game was and still is infested with bugs.
As a result, this game was not rated very highly and is considered to be the second-worst game in the HoMM series.
HoMM IV – Not great, not terrible
This game was the first in the series to move away from the 2D graphics of its predecessors, to full 3D gameplay. Released in 2002, this game marks the point where things began to go “south” for the series.
The game introduced several changes, such as bridges which were featured over water and chasms. Caravans have also been added to help transport heroes and troops. Players were able to use caravans to hire monsters from dwellings without physically accessing them, which made things slightly less challenging and the monsters available for recruitment in towns were reduced from seven to four, which was disappointing and town alignments were reduced from eight to six.
The traditional hexagonal battle map with a higher-resolution square battle sequence and the heroes were moved from the side-lines and begun taking an active role on the battlefield. An interesting idea that was purely utilized because the longer the game lasted the more overpowered your heroes became. To make matters worse, you could field entire armies made of heroes which made short work out of everything.
The changes in graphics were not as well-received, with many calling them clunky. Rated as 84/100 on Metacritic, this is still a popular contender for one of the best heroes of might and magic games but just cannot manage to beat the better games as described below.
Heroes of Might and Magic I – Third best
Game designer Jon Van Canegham decided to merge the original games ‘King’s Bounty’ which was first released in 1990, with ‘Might and Magic’ released in 1986 to create the very first Heroes of Might and Magic I. Released in September 1995, this game is still regarded as one of the best Heroes of Might and Magic games. It is simplistic, yet beautifully coloured with 2D hand-drawn graphics. Back in 1995, this game was nothing short of revolutionary and is as charming now as it was when it was first released.
This instalment has many die-hard fans who remember playing it back in the nineties. For a game that was released more than twenty years ago, new players are still drawn to its quirky graphics, interesting gameplay and immersive soundtrack. Featuring hard to defeat enemies, monsters, and a clear objective of winning back the throne, Heroes of Might and Magic I is a game that you could dedicate many hours into. Rating wise, this game is rated as a tie with the second instalment below, as they are both so enjoyable and feature great gameplay.
Heroes II: The Succession Wars - Third best
Heroes of Might and Magic II was first released in 1996. It increased the diverse cast of towns, characters, monsters, and maps compared to the first installment. With the same designer on board, Canegham kept the simplistic but much-loved 2D graphics from the previous game which fans loved and appreciated.
HoMM2 follows on from its predecessor, which ended with Lord Ironfist’s victory and successful reign. After his death, his two sons Roland and Archibald battle each other for the throne. There are two major campaigns to complete – one with the opposition and the other by the royalty. The goal remains the same as with the previous game, where the objective is to find the opponent’s castle and conquer it.
During the campaign, players decisions can influence the story and slightly alter the missions, giving the game some replayability value. In Addition, two new classes of heroes were added, a Wizard and a Necromancer.
This installment has improved the gameplay of the first HoMM as well as the graphics and music. We rate this game as the third-best, same as HoMM I, as it is also a fan favorite that’s well worth a play even today.
Heroes of Might and Magic V – Second best
The second-best game in the series, Heroes of Might and Magic V increased the use of 3D graphics to be completely 3D. Contrary to different 3D games in the series, Heroes of Might and Magic V actually got it right!
Featuring eight factions – six from the base game and an additional two from the expansion packs Hammers of Fate and Tribes of the East, the game offers an impressive variety of units as well as an interesting choice of heroes and theory crafting. In addition, each castle has its own unique gameplay mechanic. For instance, the Fortress faction from Hammers of Fate utilizes Runelore spells instead of normal spells. To cast them, Rune mages consume resources instead of mana.
In the image above you can see the square-based chess-like battle scenarios that appear once you find an opponent.
Overall, it is a fun game with balanced skills and abilities. The fantasy elements are good, the soundtrack is impressive, and many fans enjoy the immersive experience this game provides. We rate Heroes of Might and Magic V as the second-best game in the franchise.
Heroes of Might and Magic III - The Best Heroes of Might and Magic Game
The last game designed by Jon Van Cagenham in 1999, number three in the HoMM series is a fan favorite and is regarded as the top Heroes of Might and Magic game. It is well-rounded with beautiful graphics, an immersive soundtrack, and impressive gameplay which puts to shame many modern games. It is consistently rated highly among players and critics and it is widely praised.
This game has two major expansions, Armageddon’s Blade and The Shadow of Death. The base game, The Restoration of Erathia, picks up after King Roland has disappeared and his wife, Queen Catherine is left to rule in his absence. Unfortunately, her father the King of Erathia is assassinated, leaving the kingdom vulnerable. Queen Catherine returns to rally the people against the evil threatening the land.
Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon’s Blade picks up right after the events of the base game while The Shadow of death acts as a prequel to The Restoration of Erathia and breaches the gap between the second and the third game.
There are nine available towns, and the player is given a lot of freedom in developing their hero’s abilities and skills. There is a meta for sure, but in general, this game allows you to go nuts when it comes to theory crafting and to come up with crazy and sometimes broken builds. It has a lot to offer for those who are willing to make the effort and learn its mechanics. With gameplay like that, it isn’t a surprise that any of the modern games in the serious couldn’t reconstruct its success.
In Heroes 3 you can do and explore both lands and seas. Some maps even have underground sections which greatly expand the map. Some maps are so massive that they could take several days of excessive gameplay to complete. Playing through it does not feel like a hassle. On the contrary, it’s quite addictive many players claiming it’s addictive having spent 10,000 hours in the game.
The original company that made this Heroes 3, 3DO, does not exist anymore. However, the game has a very loyal fan base that keeps the game up to date with additional expansion packs. If you ever get tired of the base content, you should definitely look up In the Wake of Gods and Horn of The Abyss. Both expansions should be played at the same time, you will have to pick one. In the Wake of Gods drastically alters the core mechanics, but in a good way while Horn of The Abyss keeps true to the original spirit of the original game.
HoMM3 is a great starting point if you are new to the series and chances are that it will ruin your ability to play its successors because it is so good. If you are looking to get into the series, you should start with this one.
Will there ever be a Heroes of Might and Magic VIII game?
There have been plenty of fan requests for an eighth installment of the game series, with many providing their own plans including creatures, campaigns, and map ideas. However, Ubisoft is yet to announce anything. And even if they are, judging by their recent history it is very unlikely that it will capture that audience for long. Which is a shame.
Overall, the Heroes of Might and Magic saga has dedicated, loyal, and passionate fans, with thousands still playing the games today. In our opinion, the best heroes of might and magic game will probably forever remain the third installment. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference.
If never played any of the heroes games and you feel like giving the third one a try, you can buy both the complete and the HD editions on GoG.