Heroes of Might and Magic 3 HD Edition is a poor adaptation of an excellent turn-based strategy game. While the original Heroes of Might and Magic 3 continues to be a masterpiece of the genre, this version lacks important content such as the two expansions and the random map generator.
But, though it doesn't live up to the glory of the original, is this HD edition worth trying for newcomers to the franchise? Let's find out.
Heroes without expansion
Heroes 3 quickly became a masterpiece of its genre upon its release in 1999. For starters, the game has all the ingredients of a good turn-based strategy game: you must create and manage an army of legendary creatures or mighty heroes to defeat and conquer your enemies. But that's not all: you must also explore vast maps full of secrets and different missions.
The overwhelming depth of its content was what made Heroes 3 rise above other games in the genre. It did not only include casual campaigns or a great local multiplayer, but also every click of the mouse gave way to a new exciting, decisive, or unexpected situation.
Exploring the map stopped being a routine process to become quite the adventure. Any discovery was a chance to improve your army or your heroes. A fountain will increase your strength in future combat, an underground tunnel will hide mines that you can conquer to get good materials... Complete missions, explore unknown territory, gather artifacts... sweeping through the entire map is a pleasure, not a duty!
The combat mechanics are easy to understand but include many variables that will keep you hooked. For instance, every terrain has its own rules and every enemy unit has its special ability. Other strategy games that were released after this one just copied its style. And still, it is admirable that no other game in the genre has managed to beat Heroes 3 in this aspect, and it came out in '99!
A wide array of campaigns are available, and their stories advance as you fulfill objectives. Heroes of Might and Magic 3 focuses on going beyond your typical "defeat your enemies in a battle" objective. Sometimes you will have to defeat a specific monster, capture a city or accumulate a certain amount of resources. Campaigns also have unusual conditions for defeat, such as ending the game if a specific hero dies. All this encourages you to keep going and find out what the next surprise is.
Every issue with the Heroes 3 HD version is inherent to this edition. To begin with, Heroes of Might and Magic 3 HD Edition is missing both original expansions (Armageddon's Blade and The Shadow of Death), added content which aside from including more adventures also brought important changes in the gameplay. An so, we get less artifacts, less maps and one less faction.
The online mode didn't work properly during our games; many games would freeze soon after starting. LAN games, one of the original version's strong points, is gone. Local multiplayer was one of the reasons to play Heroes 3 back in the day, since games are usually very long and it is unusual to keep a stranger's interest going in an online campaign.
Lastly, we didn't get a random map generator, a feature that prolonged the duration of the original version ad infinitum. There wasn't a single reason to remove random maps.
In an HD remasterization, updated graphics are the most important element. Unfortunately, Heroes of Might and Magic 3 HD disappoints. The graphics have not been properly updated and some characters or settings are blurry, lacking in details, or surrounded by strange black borders. Unit animation remains the same. In 1999, the original animation had a pass, but nowadays it looks very outdated.
We have trouble focusing on what is happening during map exploration because the colors have been oversaturated. After a while, it tires the eyesight, unless you decide not to focus too much, or take a break.
Heroes 3 HD Version lags at times, especially in online mode. This shows that the game must not have been optimized properly. Regardless of the reasons behind this issue, it should be fixed as soon as possible.
Hotkeys have also disappeared for no reason. In a complex strategy game such as Heroes of Might and Magic 3, hotkeys were very useful because they allowed you to accelerate or simplify management, exploration or combat processes. This disappearance is as bad as that of the expansions.
We would have a hard time recommending this edition of Heroes of Might and Magic 3. The game itself is great, but the changes, not so much: missing content, graphics remodeling gone wrong... We give it a pass because we cannot bring ourselves to fail a masterpiece.