Might and Magic X : Steam Pre-Release

I have made mention of an all time favorite game series of mine called Might and Magic in this previous post.  Since then a pre-release of a new title to the series has been made available on Steam.  This pre-release package costs $29.99 and comes with both Might and Magic VI and a modding package to play around with.  I’m excited to re-play Might and Magic VI for the first time in a decade, but have not messed with the modding utilities yet. [I’ve never been very good at modding and I’m sure all I’ll accomplish is building a square room with a crate, a skeleton, and a bunch of cats.]

For those who are not familiar with the series, Might and Magic was around about a decade ago with several classic releases.  You may have heard of Might and Magic in regards to the more well known strategy series of the same universe/lore, but the games I am talking about are early 3D open world RPGs.  Might and Magic 6, 7, and 8 are usually the most loved among the fans of the RPG and are my personal favorites as well.  Unfortunately Might and Magic 9 was not very good due to a lack of development (3DO, the company in charge of M&M as well as titles like Army Men went under), and other releases under the Might and Magic name also fell flat to fans and newcomers alike.  So, ten years later I see Might and Magic X and naturally I feel as if a unicorn has vomited rainbows of happiness into my intestines.  Another chance for such a wonderful series!

Before I start depicting my opinions of the pre-release, I must emphasize the fact that what is available to play right now is indeed just that:  a pre-release.  Beta.  Unfinished.  A work in progress.  So, I will refrain from commenting on any broken mechanics of the game and focus only on what seems to be most intended.

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In game UI hasn’t changed much. Simplicity appreciated.

Might and Magic X – Legacy does feel like the older games for many reasons, but there are some shortcomings I noticed almost immediately.  My biggest problem with this game is the movement system.  While I understand that the previous installments were technically based off of a tile system (imagine using only your up, down, right, left arrows to navigate most of the game), Might and Magic X has you walking on predetermined rails with very little mobility of your own.  Literally just turning yourself around is about as adventurous as this tile/rail based system gets.  This sort of movement was fine in the earliest installments, such as the Might and Magic Xeen series, which was played on PC, Mac, and SNES in the late 80s and early 90s, but in the case of Might and Magic X it feels more limiting than it is fluid.

There is also a complete lack of an Y axis, so while you will never have to worry about falling off of a ledge, there will likely be no puzzles, hidden secrets at hard to reach spots, or recreational adventuring that spells like Flight or Jump brought us.

Over all, the reason I feel like the movement system in this game lacks in comparison to its 20 year old predecessors with the same tile based system is that it feels unnecessarily clunky in combination with the combat system.  Its even more complicated when the pathways you are given to walk down are very narrow and a knee-level rock next to you can completely obstruct your ability to fight a monster.  Just give that cave troll a whole sixty seconds to maneuver itself around 3 tiles so it can swing its club at you and maybe you can get a chance to shoot it with a bow before dying of boredom and charging it when its your turn to move.  It really makes me wish the developers decided to base the gameplay off of 6, 7, and 8 and incorporate things from the Xeen games instead of the other way around.

Speaking of turns, the combat system is turn-based.  In 6-8, turn base combat was an option.  This had its own set of issues, such as the game becoming way too easy for power nukers by enabling your party to blow through enemies before they could even fire a lightning bolt at your cleric, but damnit, you had the option!  The lack of option further makes me feel claustrophobic in Legacy.  If a monster was approaching me from an awkward tile in one of the previous games, I could take off turn-based and give it a chance to get around its corner before being distracted by the blinking lights on my router.

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C’mon lil guy, you can do it… just one more strafe and we can exchange some dice rolls.
I CAN SEE YOU BUT I CANNOT SHOT YOU.

The main township in Legacy is instanced, too, which further takes away from the open world feeling I loved so much in 6-8.  No more can I “accidentally” drag territorial swarms of dragonflies into town and watch “helplessly” as they overpower the guards and murder villagers that “coincidentally” had necessary quest items on their bodies.  This wouldn’t be such a drag if you could at least flee into a city when something you are in combat with is stuck ramming itself into a boulder five tiles away.

Regardless of these flaws, Legacy is still reminiscent of the older games in many other ways.  Its party creation screen and UI are a given–not that they are as intuitive as they could be (as of yet anyway), but starting a new game did bring back some memories for me.

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Alan’s a pretty powerful guy with all of those starting skills. Too bad he’s a mana potion sinkhole.

Exploring town from house to house to gain quests, gossip, and training is still very essential to the game.

Gossip:  Uh, so I heard they call you "bear"...

Gossip: So, uh, I hear they call you “bear”…

The Lighthouse dungeon had a low-key navigational puzzle to it that was also reminiscent of the older games, and I admit it took me a few “re-loads” to beat the boss at the top of the tower.  “A Dangerous Cave” is possibly my favorite dungeon name so far.

Like in the older games, you get to listen to your party occasionally exclaim redundant things such as “ERRGH, I KILL YOU!”  or  “I FEEL STRONG!”  and I would not have this any other way.

Most of all, I have enjoyed stumbling upon and raiding mini dungeons in my travels.  Raiding dungeons and adventuring leads to only one thing for me: treasure.

Any time this object appears in a video game, eliminating entire groups of people or creatures in their own dwellings becomes justified.

Any time this object appears in a video game, eliminating entire groups of people or creatures in their own dwellings becomes justified.

I am still excited for the final release of Might and Magic X, but I am not sure I would recommend it to someone who has not played any of the previous games–at least not without giving the previous games a play first (Might and Magic VI is free with the Might and Magic X pre-release package on Steam). The movement and combat issues may make it a hard sell as a full blown PC game marketed at full price for people who are used to similarly themed games with more refined mechanics and gameplay freedom.  Contrarily, I feel like what I’ve played of Might and Magic X would make a solid mobile phone/tablet game; I cannot imagine it would take much to run, and its simplicity seems perfect for touchscreen devices.

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