It's an expansion, not an overhaul, so our 20 minutes or so of hands-on time with the game essentially played out like a quick spin on Heroes VI. We did manage to island hop a little bit, and witness the diverse conditions and environments that Ubisoft have stuffed into the game. We were just getting stuck into a chapter that saw an imprisoned Crag Hack fending off the violent attentions of a bunch of nagas when a rep came over and booted up the "Hero Demo" save file that pimped our barbarian's stats out to maximum and set us up on a completely different island.
"Prepare yourself for a boss fight," he said mildly. WARNING: Spoilers imminent.
After ridding the island of gold, sticking our flag in a bunch of mines and sawmills, and adding another ten cyclopes to our ranks just for good measure, we booted a Haven hero out of their town and set off for the top of a nearby mountain. We found ourselves greeted by a heavy storm, and a fat cutscene.
And then the Thunderbird appeared.
Forget your evolved Rocs with hit points in double figures, this moody whirlwind was packing several tens of thousands. Others around me fell by the wayside, unable to deal with the bird's chained lightning attacks, and disoriented by the Thunderbird's irritating ability to conjure up a tornado and change a player's unit placements. More a battle of attrition and endurance rather than anything else, I'm still left unconvinced by single boss battles, but it was nice to receive the Thunderbird as a pet afterwards, even if the victory cutscene basically suggested that you'd quested for ten hours because an overgrown electric eagle basically got bored.