View Full Version : A sober word on music, environment, animations, and towns

10-02-2015, 05:36 PM
In most games I've ever played, there is always a weird and misguided debate about "gameplay vs graphics." It's as if people think they are two different things.

Lately we PC games have witnessed a generation of games that seem to have regressed. Graphics are uneven at best, sometimes flat out worse than their predecessors, and yet still manage to have terrible performance as IF they had new, shiny graphics. It's hard for us to understand as consumers, yet we play the games because we still love them. I started playing HoMM2 when I was about 9 years old. I've been playing each HOMM game ever since, including H7 (I'm writing this at 22hrs gameplay thus far).

And I want to say this as a long term HOMM fan: "graphics" matter. Not just how good they are, but the overall environment that they provide, along with the music and the animations. What happened after the deep beauty of the environment of Heroes 5? The gorgeous 3d towns, each faction had it's own music, spells had sensory impact and were a marvel to see happen. The combat animations and abilities had a lot of thought put into them and plenty of visual flare.

Then dropped H6. With no town screens. And the entire community's jaw collectively dropped as we politely informed the devs of H6 that no towns in a Heroes game was unacceptable. Full stop. I had never been so flabbergasted in my life regarding a game release. It would be like if they released Mario Kart with no Karts. Battlefield with no guns. Resident Evil 2 with no zombies. So they wisely, for their own sake, put in 2d town screens. These were nothingh compared to H5 towns, yet they themselves were beautiful, and at least restored that sense of "I'm playing Heroes." And the game itself was pretty, not quite as engaged or polished as H5, but it had the right idea. Both of them had simple, pretty, and legible UIs.

And finally to Heroes 7. So far, I've had no technical issues, but I play skirmishes, not the campaign. The graphics are... frustrating. On the one hand, many of the units look really good. So far I've thought Stronghold had very detailed units, as does Dungeon. But also, many units are very underwhelming (cough Sylvan and Necro) and just sort of confusing. Maybe it's due to the almost complete lack of combat animations for some units and spells. Pixies and Dryads (which are the same unit, where did that come from?) just sort of stand near enemies, and do a little sign language. That's it. The Hero attacks are barely even visible. Just make the "ghost swords" or whatever they are 10 times bigger so we can see the attack. Many spells and ranged attacks have very minimal graphical effects, which sometimes is good... because the effects that are in it look like they are from the 90s. And the towns manage to be pretty awful.... they're just so visually confusing and muddled. They are very low rez and you cant tell where the buildings are, if they had just copied H6 towns it would be better. And worst of all... the music. To me, music is very important when playing long sessions of a Heroes game. For starters, each faction should have it's own music in campaign AND town. And we need new battle music badly. Reusing H6 music during battles is cheap.

I'm not insulting the devs and I appreciate their hard work, I just hope to reach out to other people, devs included, who feel H7 deserves more attention in that oft dismissed area of "graphics." H6 did the right thing and added towns. I hope there is thought being put into releasing an improvement patch for music, battle animations, spells, and a few units themselves. Also, we desperately need new skirmish maps, preferably large ones, like Rise to Power.