Friday, April 8, 2011

Long Live The Queen

I like the way Heroes III structures its campaigns as a single, connected storyline. After you completed the initial maps, more campaigns become available, allowing you to experience an epic war from multiple angles.

This is noticeably different from earlier Heroes titles which had players choose between conflicting scenarios that canceled each other out. In Heroes II, for example, You could either help restore good king Roland to the Enrothian throne or help his evil brother Archibald crush the rebellion. Either way, one of the campaigns entered canon and the other became apocryphal. Based on Archibald's status in Might & Magic VI, it's clear that Roland's campaign was the canonical one.

In the mid-late-90s, many scenario planners adopted similar styles of cohesive storytelling while abandoning the practice of providing players with 'what ifs.' Compare Warcraft II to StarCraft, for example.

But I digress. The premise of Heroes III is that Roland has a wife named Catherine who apparently sailed across the ocean to marry him after he reclaimed the throne. When she hears that her father, King Gryphonheart of Erathia, has died and the kingdom is in danger of being taken by evil forces, she quickly returns to her homeland to kick some ass.

As mentioned earlier, there are three initial campaigns to tackle. In Long Live The Queen, Catherine's forces successfully land on the continent and prepare to raise an army. In Dungeons and Devils, we switch to the perspective of the evil Kreegans (space demons) and their allies, the dungeon overlords. The bad guys dig a tunnel into Erathia and steal the throne from under everyone's nose. In the third campaign, Spoils of War, two neutral factions decide to be opportunistic dicks and join the war for a quick land grab.

Although Dungeons and Devils precedes Long Live The Queen in the storyline, I'm going to start with the latter because it's the easier of the two.

Another thing I remember from these campaigns is that heroes often carry over from scenario to scenario. This means if extra care is taken to increase a hero's primary stats in early scenarios, it will make the late game easier. The downside is that the game forces a level cap to keep the game's difficulty level stable.

The number of heroes that can be carried to the next map changes depending on the scenario. Sometimes, you can carry over all 8 heroes. Generally, I just keep 2-3 heroes around. One ends up with the super-army. The others flag mines and find treasure. Having to develop 8 heroes and continually raise their stats is not only time-consuming but ultimately unnecessary.

Well, I've said enough. Time to jump in and play.

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