Might & Magic Heroes VI Preview

GameSpot offers an "updated" hands-on preview for Ubisoft and Black Hole Entertainment's weirdly-titled installment in the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise, Might & Magic Heroes VI. Here's a sampling:
Similar to Heroes V, Heroes VI's campaign will put a stronger emphasis on story and will include numerous cinematic cutscenes (as well as brief audio conversations among key characters) to break up the action of exploring and conquering the overworld map. As we've discussed in our previous coverage, your primary goal on most Heroes VI maps, like in every other game in the series, is to explore and conquer the map by seizing resources in the form of small caches that give you a one-off bonus, and production nodes (gold mines, sawmills, and so on) that give you a continuous income, while hacking through any neutral monsters or enemy heroes that dare oppose you.

Most of the resources and map features you recall from previous games--gold, wood, ore, and crystal, as well as learning stones that grant bonus experience and rally flags that grant morale bonuses for a week--return in Heroes VI, though the game also has interesting new tweaks to the basic Heroes formula. For instance, even though the game still considers each passing turn on the overland map to consist of a single day (with seven turns composing a week), each week brings with it a bonus not to individual unit growth (such as the week of this or that unit that gains a growth bonus), but rather to a more-abstract concept that will benefit a specific strategy instead. One of the more-interesting weekly bonuses we saw was the "week of blood," a temporary, weeklong bonus in which all abilities along the path of blood gain bonus effectiveness.

As we've mentioned previously, Heroes VI introduces a new concept of ethical alignment in the form of two "paths" you can follow, the path of tears (a peaceful path that grants mostly defensive bonuses) and the path of blood (a more-aggressive path that grants mostly offensive bonuses in battle). Taking more-aggressive action in certain situations will unlock more slots along the path of blood, while taking a pacifist's approach will unlock more slots in tears. In each case, every time your campaign hero gains an experience level by either slaughtering enemies in battle or converting treasure chests to experience points (rather than keeping the gold for himself--a classic Heroes of Might & Magic choice), you'll have the opportunity to advance one additional slot into either path. However, at least in the early goings of the campaign, you'll actually be able to advance equally in both paths, since each one is divided into tiers with multiple skills in each, and subsequent tiers are locked out until your hero gains a certain experience level.so at least in the early part of the campaign, which we played, it won't be possible to specialize entirely in tears or in blood. In any case, each time you gain a level, you can pick up an additional blood or tears hero ability that you can use once per round in the game's board-game-like tactical combat mode.