Shades of Darkness, the new standalone expansion for Might & Magic Heroes VI, adds a new faction (Dungeon) and two campaigns. Still, it doesn’t really feel like there is much content here, at least not compared to its price tag. It adds a lot of hours of gameplay, but not much has changed from the first game. It feels less like an expansion, and more like standalone DLC.
While the game runs on its own, it really feels like you’re missing out without the base game. The story feels a bit weak, even compared to recent Heroes games, possibly a casualty of the demise of original developer Black Hole. Development of Shades was done by contract studio Virtuos, after Limbic Entertainment handled the previously-released adventure packs. The game sticks to the series’ typical, well-trodden formula, and the story feels more like an excuse to make the new campaigns rather than using them to tell an interesting tale. The two follow both the new Dungeon faction and the Necropolis, sticking heavily to the darkness theme.
Launch woes are becoming all too common, and Shades of Darkness is no different. Broken cutscenes, missing sound, and many other issues have made this game’s first week a bit of a lost cause. It took a few days before I could really say this game was in a playable state, though thankfully many of these issues have been ironed out. I was somewhat surprised, as Ubisoft has had a pretty good track record lately, since dropping always-on DRM has eliminated the overloaded servers the company’s games have been plagued with in the past.
Despite these faults, the gameplay is what I have come to expect from the Heroes series, and the new faction adds interesting new units. The Dungeon’s units largely consist of Dark Elves, and they distinguish themselves from the existing Necropolis underworld faction with their use of stealth and other generally-unscrupulous tactics. Whether the AI really is better is debatable, but there are a few new things to see. The formula remains: fight neutral enemies, capture resources, build your forces and confront the enemy. Those expecting further iteration beyond this release should note: Ubisoft says it concludes “the Heroes VI experience.”
If you want more Heroes maps to play, I would still suggest this one, though only if you’re craving new content. I would still wait for a couple patches and wait out the launch bugs. Might & Magic Heroes: Shades of Darkness offers more gameplay, but still doesn’t come close to the earlier games in the series when it comes to overall quality.
Pros: More Heroes gameplay
Cons: Weak story, many bugs