The Might and Magic games have a long and storied history. It once stood with the giants that helped define the PC RPG genre; Wizardry, Ultima, The Bard’s Tale, Rogue and Wasteland.
The series has been through some great changes over the years, morphing into the turn-based Heroes of Might and Magic – a series that has as many core fans as it has detractors. And now it’s back with a new spin-off that takes Might and Magic in a somewhat different direction.
Might and Magic: Showdown is noble attempt to bring tabletop wargaming to life. It’s a real-time PvP strategy game that has you pitting painted miniatures against each other. Currently in Early Access, it’s something you can play right now in its unfinished, evolving state.
One of its more appealing features – particularly if you’re fond of the real stuff – is the ability to custom paint your warriors. There’s a bespoke painting Workshop available that lets you paint your own figures right down to the very last pixel, and then bring your artistic skills in to the game. I don’t possess those sorts of skills (And I’m way too impatient to colour things nicely) so I’ve been using the default paints, which still look quite nice.
As for the game itself? It’s a strange move to go from RPG to RTS, which nearly works. As an Early Access game, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You’ve got one hero slot, and up to three support creature slots with which to fill your 4v4 battlefield. Heroes work like traditional RTS units. Click on an enemy, and they’ll continue to assail using the selected spell or attack – each of which have a cooldown period. There’s a bit of micromanagement here, as you’ll continually have to cycle through attacks to make sure that your hero isn’t standing around, waiting for the cooldown timer to reset.
As you progress through the existing campaign (which starts with basic tutorials, progressing up to some rather trying challenges) you’ll unlock new heroes, new spells and buffing/debuffing runes. You’ll also unlock new creatures. Unlike the Heroes which you have almost direct control over, creatures act autonomously, using a set of pre-battle condition-based scripts that you set up for them. Want your healer to dash away and start healing themselves if they’re attacked and then start healing your hero if their health is below 50%? With the condition modifiers, setting up your creature behaviour is easy and vitally important to success.
There’s potential here, especially in the online arena where winning really comes down to how well you’ve set up your creatures’ scripting. Right now though, it all seems too simplistic for any sort of real longevity – because for the most part, the game plays itself.
There’s no real lore here, no real hint of the series RPG past other than its fantasy aesthetic. There’s also very little actual game, with most of the strategy relying on how you set up your minions before battles begin. Once you’re in a game, it devolves down to switching between your hero’s six abilities – giving you three to five minutes of pressing 1-6 on your keyboard.
And that’s really it. With it being in early access, that can andlikely will change. If you’re in it for the painting tools and figure collection, it might be worthwhile – but if you’re looking to grab it for the actual game, it’s probaly worth waiting.