Might and Magic franchise has a long rich history, starting with the release of Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum in whopping 1986 and arguably reaching its peak with Heroes of Might and Magic III. When Ubisoft bought the rights to the franchise following the release of HoMMIV and the subsequent collapse of 3DO, it marked a modern era for Might and Magic.
For a few years, many have considered the series largely dead until the arrival of Heroes of Might and Magic V developed by Nival Interactive and published by Ubisoft. From this moment on, the franchise got revitalized with a number of games across a variety of genres: Dark Messiah (2006), HoMM Online (2008), Clash of Heroes (2009), Duel of Champions (2012), Might & Magic X: Legacy (2014) as well as Might & Magic Heroes III HD Edition (2015) not to mention the classic TBS Might & Magic Heroes VI & VII.
Of course, the rapid expansion would mean developing more titles for mobile devices as well. That brings Ubisoft – and us – to Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, Might & Magic Heroes: Dynasty, Might & Magic: Chess Royale and the center of today’s attention Might & Magic Heroes: Era of Chaos.
Era of Chaos is a mobile retelling of Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia/Might & Magic Heroes III HD (which is the same thing with a fresh coat of paint). The premise of the game repeats that of its predecessor word for word: Queen Catherine Ironfist of Enroth returns to Erathia following the news of her father’s sudden death only to find the kingdom in ruins and besieged from all sides by former allies and new enemies.
It is up to you to gather the land’s greatest heroes and fiercest creatures into an unstoppable army and lead them to restore Erathia and find the killer of late king Nicholas Gryphonheart.
With the exception of some familiar heroes from HoMMIII making an appearance in Era of Chaos as well as a few tunes, this is where the similarities end.
The very first thing you notice in the game is, of course, its visual part. At best, it can be called a mix of Might & Magic Heroes VI style with the existing characters and assets from HoMMIII sprinkled heavily with anime juice – loading screens, character portraits, etc. Even then, the portraits of female characters suffer heavily from the same face syndrome – I could only tell Adelaide and Catherine apart by their clothes.
At worst, and you will see it a lot, it is the degradation into sexualized loli. In fact, one of the very first things you see in the game is a helpful Fairy demonstrating you the marvels of jiggle physics.
If you have expected at least a modicum of tactical gameplay with a game boasting itself “Might & Magic Heroes”, I will have to disappoint you. The battles in Era of Chaos happen automatically, the only things you as a player can adjust are the placement of your troops as well as control over the army’s special abilities and your hero’s spells. The latter two might sound exciting, but, gameplay-wise, it amounts to tapping at a character’s portrait when it starts to shine.
Outside of combat, you can get more forces and upgrade your existing units. That, of course, requires a bunch of currency that will be trickling into your palms as you explore the world and advance the campaign. Orrr – and the game will point it out to you helpfully within the first 5 minutes – you can simply purchase the currency in question with IRL cash! There are even very helpful buttons that will allow you to do it at 10 loads at a time so you have to click less!
The first dozen or so levels will be a breeze – you and your army are in absolutely no danger whatsoever as you slaughter the local demon population and collect your shiny stars and army upgrades. However, soon you will find yourself struggling as the artificial ramp-up kicks in and prevents you from advancing further down the line.
Sure, you can spend a few hours at a time grinding for resources to level up your army orrr you can remember the helpful fairy and slam the upgrades onto your troops by spending a handful of cash. Era of Chaos does not even attempt to hide its manipulation.
Look, I am not a fussy mobile gamer. All that I ask for in a game is to be entertaining in short sessions and try to not milk me too obviously – or at least give me a way to go around that without having to grind too much. Even if you put aside that Era of Chaos is the latest game in the Might & Magic franchise, it fails to do even that bare minimum. At best Might & Magic Heroes: Era of Chaos is a very average cash grab that features stale gameplay and predatory monetization tactics.
However, when you look at it with the knowledge of the full story of the franchise it belongs to, it becomes disrespectful and shameful to the legacy of many great games before it. I understand fully why the publishers/developers go for the mobile market, Ubisoft is far from the first – just look at the reception of Command & Conquer: Rivals! – but there has to be a better way than that. For all the criticism received by Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Blades and Blizzard’s upcoming Diablo Immortal, at least those actually resemble the franchises they originated from and try to bring something new to the mobile gaming.