Gamespot Academy Preview

GameSpot: From what we can tell, the Academy town and its inhabitants seem very similar to the original Wizard town of Heroes II and the Tower town of Heroes III. Why was the decision made to keep the town similar to its original versions?

Alexander Mishulin: As Heroes of Might and Magic V continues the famous series, each game faction has something similar and familiar about it, and the Academy is no exception. This is an evolution, not a revolution, so fans of the Heroes of Might and Magic series should feel comfortable in the fifth game, yet have something new to explore. Besides, the Academy has always been differing from the other factions with its tactic focus on ranged attacks and magic, thus making it unique and interesting from a gameplay perspective. Plus, the titan is one of the all-time favorite creatures of the Heroes of Might and Magic series, so the world of the fifth game would not be complete without him. Still, we changed this faction a little bit, to make it more cohesive. Now the Academy is the hometown for mages, who summon or construct other creatures: djinns, titans, golems, and so on.

GS: Could you tell us about how the unit upgrade system will work in Heroes V? Will players be forced to choose between two separate unit types of the same tier of development, similar to Heroes IV, or will they simply be able to build all units in a town, provided they have the buildings? Will existing units have to be upgraded manually by visiting a town? Will individual creatures earn experience points to gain levels instead, like heroes?

AM: For the unit upgrade system, we chose the proven scheme of the previous games of the series. You need to upgrade a dwelling in your town (for which you need to meet certain requirements, such as owning enough resources or having built smaller buildings), after which you can buy upgraded units from this dwelling. To upgrade already acquired units, you need to enter the town which has a corresponding upgraded dwelling or to enter a special building on the adventure map, the hill fort. There is also a specialization that is exclusive to Haven heroes, who can upgrade any human-based Haven units to any other human-based Haven units (which of course requires godly amounts of recourses). Creatures do not get experience. Yet, you can increase the creatures' parameters by other means. For example, Academy heroes have the unique ability to create "miniartifacts" for their creatures, granting them better offense, defense, or speed.

GS: Could you explain how unit generation will work? Will new units become available from unit-producing structures daily, like in Heroes IV, or will they only be available weekly, like in Heroes I-III? Will there be random astrological weeks that will cause certain unit-producing structures to produce extra units, or "plague" weeks that will cause fewer units to be produced, like in the earlier games?

AM: Unit generation happens weekly, as it produces an additional inside cycle in the game. Of course, some may say that visiting town every week in order to get new units is not convenient, but this provides for a better balance. Weekly generation better fits the whole concept of the series: traveling, adventures, and fights. This way, after a big army defeat, you will have to plan your actions, say, whether you should stick around to the closest city, gathering the resources and waiting for the next army to generate, or whether you should ride full speed to another town.

The number of units "being born" each week depends on many factors: the buildings in the town (not only dwellings themselves, as there are certain buildings affecting unit generation), the captured buildings on the adventure map (say, if you have a peasant dwelling on the map, it will also slightly increase the number of the peasants in the town), and "astrology." If a week is announced to be a week of a certain creature, the generation of these creatures will increase. There are also other pleasant and not so pleasant events associated with the beginning of a next week.

GS: Seeing the different factions raises the question for us--how will morale and other factors affect different units in the game? Will armies still receive morale bonuses if they contain only units from the same town, such as all Academy units? Will morale bonuses still give units additional turns, and will luck still grant units critical hits?

AM: Heroes of Might and Magic V will certainly incorporate morale and luck like previous games, although they will also face some changes. The gradation of these parameters will increase (in the previous games they had gradation of 3 maximum and -3 minimum). If an army consists of units of one faction, its morale increases. If there are units of different factions (or under a hero of a different faction), it will have some penalty on morale. The amount of penalty depends on the relations between the factions. For example, an army mixed of Haven and Inferno units will have relatively high morale. Morale can also depend on other factors. For example, Undead units are generally not influenced by morale.

As there are certain changes in the game mechanics, morale does not give an additional turn; it affects the unit's initiative, giving it the ability to move sooner next time (it kind of gives an additional half of a turn). And luck grants units critical hits, allowing them to make much more damage than usual.

GS: We see from the screenshots that Academy heroes will have the very colorful distinction of riding a caparisoned war elephant. Will Academy heroes have any other kind of distinctions? Will they still be might or magic heroes that start out with either combat bonuses or a spell book, or will they have some other unique abilities?

AM: All our heroes have colorful distinctions, both in their appearances and in their gameplay characteristics. We don't divide the factions into "strictly might" and "strictly magic." They are more likely to be "more magic" or "less magic." And sure enough, an Academy hero, being a native of a mage town, is "more magic." For example, the hero has a rather high knowledge parameter that gives him more spell points. There is also a unique ability for heroes of each faction. I have mentioned the ability of Haven heroes to retrain the units into other units. The unique ability of an Academy hero is to create small artifacts (we call them miniartifacts) for his creatures, increasing certain parameters of his army. There are also some special abilities that are available only for heroes of a certain class. For example, Academy heroes can increase the spell points cost of their opponent's spells.
We really tried to reflect each faction's profile in the way it's played, and we feel that this really increase the depth and consistency of the whole game--both from the gameplay and universe perspectives.

GS: Thank you, Alexander.

Gremlin Concept Art Gargoyle Concept Art
Golem Concept Art Mage Concept Art
Master Djinn Concept Art Rakshasa Raja Concept Art
Titan Concept Art

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Thanks to ThE_HyDrA for creating and looking after the Heroes 5 section of Age of Heroes!