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Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD Gameplay

A Somewhat Nostalgic Intro

Heroes of Might and Magic is a legendary game that ruined so many computers and nerve cells. I want to start the overview of this iconic game with an anecdotal reference that happened to me 15 years ago. My parents presented my elder brother with our (actually, his, but that’s another story) first PC. Oh, the excitement! The machine came with only a set of standard Microsoft games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. Soon enough, my brother got hold of a disk with HoMM3. I had no idea what it was, but seeing the excitement in his eyes, I understood that I was about to witness something awesome, no less than the leading technologies of computer gaming.

I believe we should have stopped when the predicted installation time popped up. The message showed something about two days. My brother decided that the computer was slow, but the game promised to be awesome enough to wait, so we agreed to proceed anyway. Can you guess what happened next? I don’t remember the exact traumas of our poor PC, but I believe it was either the power supply or the central processing unit that failed first. This thrilling situation marked the beginning of my eternal love for this game.

General Information

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is a turn-based strategy game, released for Windows in 1999 by the 3DO Company. Though the game was technically third in the series, it was the first one that gained critical acclaim, and later – worldwide fame. The gameplay is similar to its predecessors.

gameplay screenshots The player controls a hero – a great warrior or mage with a set of skills and abilities, who runs a castle and commands an army. The gameplay is composed of two parts – a tactical exploration of the map, gathering resources and artifacts, etc., and turn-based combat with opposing heroes or mobs guarding paths.

As for the plot, the gamer can either:

  • Choose to play a series of seven interconnected campaigns telling the whole story
  • Choose random scenario against the computer or other players

Due to its huge fame, the game received two extension packs, a series of introductory games called “Heroes Chronicles,” and a HD re-edition. Ubisoft made an official announcement about releasing HoMM3 HD edition in December 2014. The updated version was released at the beginning of 2015, featuring better graphics and wider screen compatibility.

The game is famous for loads of user-generated content. It was one of the pioneers regarding modding and altering game content. Some of the custom HoMM3 HD maps became as popular as the game itself due to their complexity and the wit of the creators.

Towns, Resources, Map Exploration  

There are seven playable factions in the HoMM3:

  • Conflux
  • Stronghold
  • Inferno
  • Rampart
  • Fortress
  • Tower
  • Castle

playable factions Modded Heroes 3 have a larger set of factions and playable creatures, but since they are fan-made, we are going to omit them. Each faction has a unique town, which acts as a stronghold for your hero. The hero can learn spells and recruit troops there, as well as increase their skills and sometimes even buy artifacts in unique buildings depending on the type of town. However, you need to build corresponding constructions first.

The main goal is to develop your town to such a level that allows you to recruit troops of the highest level. If your hero is a mage, building a Mage Guild during the early stages of the game is also a must. The town earns you some gold per day (from 500 to 4000 depending on its level), which is an important factor, as you need to spend money on recruiting creatures.

You can also hire other heroes to serve as assistants to your character. This is almost mandatory while playing L or XL maps, as returning to your hometown to renew your army and learn spells will take ages, so these side heroes are often used as couriers and gatherers. To sustain your kingdom, you need resources, and assisting heroes is the best way to gather them. Sometimes, you can see piles of wood or precious stones, but on the harder levels of the game, this is a rare occurrence. You need to capture at least one mine for every type of resource (wood, ore, mercury, crystals, sulfur, gems), as developing your town and buying high-level troops requires them.

During the first stages of the game, you are most likely to explore the map with your main hero. Or, to put it another way, the hero you are exploring the map with will become your own, since he or she will earn the most experience and skills unless you are playing a campaign. In some campaigns your previous character is transferred to a new mission, tied to the whole plot, so you are starting off with an impressive level.

Heroes, Creatures and In-Game Races

What does the level of the hero mean? First of all, the higher your level is, the higher stats (abilities) you have.

There are four main abilities each HoMM3 hero possesses:

  • Attack
  • Defense
  • Spell power
  • Knowledge

Three other important characteristics include:

  • Morale
  • Luck
  • Mana level

main abilities You can raise your stats by earning XP in combat or finding treasure chests. After you gain a sufficient amount of XP, your level and one of the stats automatically increases by 1, and you see a dialogue box offering to choose a skill. You can either pick a new one, but no more than eight skills per hero, or upgrade a skill you have already learned.

Also in HoMM3 HD, a hero can’t walk without any troops under his command, and vice versa, though these mechanics were changed in Heroes IV to the great dismay of the series’ fans. Every town has a set of unique creatures, mostly inspired by myths and legends associated with it. Describing the characteristics of every town and creature will take ages, so we are going to cover just the basics.

Depending on the map or campaign, you start off with a town of the first levels and a few structures that allow you to recruit the first-level creatures. However, if you have chosen the hardest difficulty level, you start with zero basic buildings and have to develop everything on your own. The creatures you can recruit range from one to seven, the last one including the most powerful troops like dragons, angels, etc.

Every level has two types of creatures:

  • Basic creatures
  • Upgraded creatures

A creature’s profile includes its HP, attack, defense, damage range, speed, and price. The attack, health, and defense stats can be modified with artifacts or corresponding skills of the hero. For example, if your hero has a “Marksman” specialization, the attack of all marksmen in their army will increase by 1 point every time the hero gains an even level. Every creature also possesses a unique ability, such as resistance to spells, 50% chance of a critical hit, 50% chance of a miss when attacked by long-range troops and so on.

To lead your hero to victory, you have to plan all the actions of your creatures and take into account their unique abilities. Careful arrangement of troops and calculations of their stats helped to win a lot of battles that seemed helpless at first – and that is why gamers love Heroes 3 HD despite its age and less-than-brilliant graphics.

The Great Random

This is one of the features that generated heavy criticism towards the game. Some say that random skills set when you have a level-up is what makes the game challenging and fun to play, and even claim that this characteristic makes it closer to real life. Others argue that missing one important skill you have no control over can ruin the whole campaign and make you replay it dozens of times.

Here’s another piece of anecdotal evidence for you. Heroes of Might and Magic 3 HD features a mission for a Stronghold hero, a barbarian called Yog. He’s a wizard and a half-genie by birth with a “Chain Lightning” specialization, a powerful spell capable of taking down several units in one strike. However, it turns out that this hero can’t use any other spells, because, as his backstory suggests, he abandoned magic in favor of swordplay. However, your opponents didn’t give the same oath, and if you didn’t get “Magic Resistance” at the early stages of the game, well, your campaign just became ten times harder.

If your hero doesn’t have Logistics as his or her specialization, and the Great Random won’t let you acquire this skill during the early stages of the game, well, your match is going to be hard and boring. While your allies and opponents are fighting fascinating battles, collecting resources and artifacts, you WALK to your hometown to get troops, and then WALK from the castle to find someone to fight, and it takes ages. This is probably the most annoying feature in the game. Though various HoMM3 mods fix this, allowing you to choose the amount of MP each hero receives at the beginning of every match, despite their skill set, the original game at the latter stages can be purely walking.

System requirements

Here are the Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition system requirements (minimum)

  • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E4400 @ 2.0 GHz or AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ @ 2.0 GHz (or better)
  • CPU SPEED: Info
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 – both 32/64bit versions
  • VIDEO CARD: nVidia GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD2900 (256MB VRAM or more with Shader Model 4.0)
  • SOUND CARD: Yes
  • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon64 X2 5600+ @ 2.8 Ghz
  • CPU SPEED: Info
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 – both 32/64bit versions
  • VIDEO CARD: nVidia GeForce 9800GT or AMD Radeon HD3870 (512MB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0)
  • SOUND CARD: Yes

Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD is a legendary game with a unique spirit, and if you somehow still didn’t try it (have you been living under a rock?), you definitely should. Though opinions about sequels differ drastically, most gamers agree that HoMM3 is a must-play if you want to be a true member of the gaming world.  

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