At one point in the late eighties and early nineties, New World Computing's Might and Magic franchise was about as good as it got for RPGs. But then the developer created a tactical strategy spinoff called Heroes of Might and Magic in 1995, and as that franchise skyrocketed in popularity, the RPGs deteriorated, culminating with the disastrous Might and Magic IX in 2002. New World Computing went bankrupt soon after that, and while Ubisoft bought the rights to the Might and Magic universe (leading to the "and" becoming an ampersand, which we'll use from here on out), they only kept the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise going. The Might & Magic RPGs looked dead in the water.
But that was then and this is now. The gaming industry (not to mention Hollywood) just loves creating sequels and rebooting franchises, and the Might & Magic RPGs are finally getting another chance with Might & Magic X: Legacy. Developed by Limbic Entertainment (which is also responsible for Might & Magic Heroes VI), Legacy is an attempt to take players back to the World of Xeen glory days of the franchise. Gone is the effort to make Might & Magic look and play like every other RPG out there. Back are turns and gridded environments. Thanks to Legend of Grimrock, we just saw last year that this sort of old school engine can work. But does it work here? Keep reading to find out.
Unlike most RPGs where you create a single character and then either play the game solo or gather up companions as you go, in Legacy you create your full party of four characters right at the start. For each character you can pick one of four races -- dwarf, elf, human, or orc -- which in turn unlocks three possible classes for them (one "might" class, one "magic" class, and one hybrid). As an example, if you pick the dwarf race, then you can choose between the defender class (with a focus on heavy defense), the runepriest class (with a focus on fire magic), or the scout class (with a focus on crossbows). Each race gets a couple of passive bonuses, and the classes define which skills you can pursue.
Nicely, although characters have limited skills, there are still enough options for them that you need to make some (sometimes difficult) decisions for them as you level them up. For example, with the scout class, you gain access to four weapon skills, two magic skills, and eight utility skills. So you don't have to use crossbows if you don't want to. You can focus on dual wielding axes, or using a mace and a shield, or casting fire or light magic spells instead. Or some combination of the above.
Characters have six attributes: might (melee damage), magic (spell damage), perception (ranged damage), destiny (critical and evade chance), vitality (health), and spirit (mana). Each time your characters gain a level, they get four attribute points and three skill points to spend. Attributes don't have a maximum value, so you can min-max there to your heart's content, but skills have a maximum rank of 25, so you have to spread those points around. There are also trainers you have to visit for skills so you can pass certain thresholds. For example, after putting 7 points into a skill you have to visit an "expert" trainer for the skill before you can add any more. There are also "master" and "grandmaster" trainers, and one of the more tedious parts of the game is remembering where all of the 75+ skill trainers are located. Some classes are also limited by which trainers they can visit. Scouts, for example, can only use the "expert" and "master" trainers for maces, which means they're probably better off going with axes or crossbows, where they can reach "grandmaster" status.
Characters can also be promoted once. These promotions require the character to complete a quest, but the reward is a pair of new abilities. For example, once promoted the scout class turns into the pathfinder class, and characters gain extra range on their crossbow attacks plus a "snaring shot" skill, which immobilizes an enemy for one turn. Promotions are also required for characters to reach the grandmaster rank in their skills, and are usually more important for that reason.
During your travels in the game, you can also meet some hirelings. These characters don't fight for you in the same way as your party members, but they give you some sort of a bonus. For example, you can meet a dog who sniffs out secret doors, a horse who increases your inventory space, a woman who increases your chances of finding gold and magic equipment, and a bodyguard who sometimes blocks attacks. Most hirelings cost you money up front plus a percentage of the money you find while they're attached to your party, but others travel with you because of quests, and they don't cost you anything.
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