Monday, March 6, 2017

Might & Magic: Heroes VI - 4/20 hours

Oh, for fuck's sake! I died on the second mission of the tutorial campaign. On easy mode. What are you trying to teach me Might & Magic: Heroes VI

It's startling how quickly and profoundly I've grown to hate this game. I think it's because I'm so close to loving it. I love commanding a whole menagerie of fun, fantasy creatures. I love poking around in caves for gold and magical artifacts. I love leveling up my heroes through a complex skill tree. I love getting side-quests that invite me to wander away from the main plot and search for extra rewards.

You know what I don't love? Being blind-sided by an enemy hero with enough tier-two troops to rip my tier-one army to shreds, despite being half my size. And even less do I love going online to read a strategy guide that tells me the solution is to "not lose any troops in run-up battles and to make sure I have my hero specialized for healing." Well, geez, thanks, I guess I'll just go back to the beginning of the campaign and play perfectly this time.

Easy mode is generally considered embarrassing by serious gamers. And the reason for that is that usually, on easy mode, you don't have to play well. You can just dick around smelling the flowers and trying out goofy, impractical character builds. This tolerance for sloppiness makes it laughable, but it's also easy mode's primary virtue. It's why I usually start strategy games in easy mode - the rules and nuances are usually so complex that it's worth scouting out the combos that yield the most dramatic victories as potential basic strategies in higher difficulty settings.

But as near as I can tell, Might & Magic: Heroes VI does not give me that ramp. The penalty for failing to learn is death, even in the easy-mode tutorial. I suppose, if I were a mature, responsible adult who reacted appropriately to setbacks I could just cope with the whole "learning through failure" thing. But a single campaign mission is close to two hours long. And if a mistake in the early game leads to me losing at the end, and if it takes me just three tries to get it right, then that's still six hours on a single mission.

Now, as it so happens, the tutorial campaign only has two missions (I looked it up), but there are five more campaigns with four missions each. If the pattern holds, we're looking at 24 hours per campaign, or 120 hours to get through them all. Yikes.

Realistically, this estimate is probably too short at the front end and too long at the back end. The skills you develop over the course of the first couple of campaigns will likely help you in the last couple of campaigns.

And it's not as if I despise long-running games in general. There are many games that I enjoy that treat the first few dozen hours as pure practice time. I mean, how many times did I lose in my first 20 hours playing Civilization IV . . .

Oh, wait, not that many, because its easiest difficulty level is actually easy!

I don't want to let bitterness consume me, though. I'm going to try and tough it out. Play the tutorial mission as many times as it takes to get it right. Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, and all it will take is a slightly different build order to set things right. Maybe my very next attempt will be a successful one. Maybe I'm letting my negative expectations cloud my perceptions and it's actually a lot easier than I thought, if only I could commit to playing with "good" strategy.

Regardless, I've still got 16 hours to go, so I'd better find some rapprochement with Might & Magic: Heroes VI or I'm going to have a very miserable week.

No comments:

Post a Comment