Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia (also known as Heroes III or HoMM3) is a turn-based strategy game developed by New World Computing for Microsoft Windows and released by the 3DO Company in 1999. An Apple Macintosh port was released by 3DO, and a Linux port was released by Loki Software, both later that year. It is the third installment of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. The game's story is first referenced throughout Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven and serves as a prequel to Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor. The player can choose to play through six different campaigns telling the story, or play in a scenario against computer or human opponents. The gameplay is very similar to its predecessors in that the player controls a number of heroes that command an army of creatures inspired by myth and legend. The gameplay is divided into two parts, tactical overland exploration and a turn based combat system. The player creates an army by spending resources at one of the eight town types in the game. The hero will progress in experience by engaging in combat with enemy heroes and monsters. The conditions for victory vary depending on the map, including conquest of all enemies and towns, collection of a certain amount of a resource, or finding the grail artifact.
The game's story unfolds primarily through a series of seven playable campaigns, all set upon the continent of Antagarich. During the campaigns, the story is told from alternating points of view, giving players the opportunity to play as each of the town alignments.
Following her marriage to King Roland Ironfist of Enroth in Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, Catherine becomes a Queen. In the meantime, her father, King Gryphonheart, is assassinated. Without their beloved King, the kingdom of Erathia falls to the dark forces of Nighon and Eeofol. Queen Catherine returns home seeking to rally the people of her homeland and lead them against the evil that has ravaged their nation.
Erathia's capital of Steadwick is sacked by the dungeon lords of Nighon and the demons of Eeofol. Catherine's first task is to establish a foothold in the conquered kingdom by enlisting the aid of allies. The wizards of Bracada and the elves of AvLee answer her call, and together they push towards Steadwick and eventually retake it. In the meantime, the necromancers of Deyja, having been responsible for the assassination of King Gryphonheart, plot to revive his corpse as a lich. They plan to use his wisdom in leading their own armies of the undead. However, King Gryphonheart's will proves too much for the necromancers even in his corrupted state, and he becomes a rogue lich. Having little other recourse, Queen Catherine is forced to ally herself with the necromancers and together they set out to destroy the lich of King Gryphonheart before he becomes too powerful.
There are also two campaigns that do not involve the main storyline. In one, the two neutral town alignments feud with each other over territorial disputes. Another campaign, accessible only after the main campaigns are complete, tells the story of separatists living along the border between Erathia and AvLee. Tired of the border skirmishes that bring unrest to their homelands, they join together to fight for independence from the two large kingdoms.
Gameplay consists of strategic exploration on the world map and tactical turn-based combat. As with the series in general, the player controls a number of "heroes" who act as generals and command troops comprising various types of creatures inspired by myth and legend. The player can complete or "win" a map by completing the objectives set out by the creator of the map. Objectives may include conquering all the towns in the map, gathering a set amount of resources, or piecing together a puzzle to find the Grail artifact. If a player loses all their heroes and towns, they will lose the game.
There are two "layers" to the world map - the aboveground and the underground. There are typically subterranean gateways that lead to and from the underground. Maps are filled with a huge variety of buildings, treasures, monsters, mines and so forth that reward extensive exploration. At the very least, a player must locate mines and flag them (whereupon they provide constant resources), since these resources are required to develop towns. The player must also develop his heroes' skills, both by battling creatures (and enemy heroes) and by acquiring artifacts or visiting special locations. For example, the Witch Hut can give a hero a random skill and the Learning Stone provides 1000 experience points.
Heroes are given a choice of skills to upgrade upon levelling up, as well as becoming better at combat or the use of magic. The skills must be chosen carefully, since they are permanent and only a limited number of skills can be learnt. Examples include a damage bonus by all archery units in the hero's command, the ability to walk further across the map each day or specializing in an elemental school of magic to make the associated spells far more effective.
The player's towns serve many functions, but most importantly they allow recruitment of creatures to form armies. Towns also provide funds, new spells and a safe location to make a last stand against an invading enemy hero. To build new structures within a town requires gold and usually one or more type of resource. Wood and ore are needed for most structures, but more expensive buildings will also require rarer resources (mercury, crystal, gems or sulfur). All factions require a disproportionate quantity of just one of these special resources, making the acquisition of a corresponding mine essential to victory. This same resource is also needed when hiring the most powerful creatures available. Each faction also has a handful of unique structures available only to them.
If a player finds the Grail artifact, they can deliver it to a town to make that town the Grail's permanent home by creating a special structure. The Grail bestows greatly increased creature growth and weekly income, in addition to a bonus unique to the town, such as the Skyship in the Tower town, which reveals the entire world map and gives defending heroes a knowledge statistic bonus in the event of a siege.
There are eight different factions available in Heroes III: three "good" towns (Castle, Tower, and Rampart), three "evil" (Inferno, Dungeon, and Necropolis), and two "neutral" (Fortress and Stronghold). Another neutral town, the Conflux was added in the Armageddon's Blade expansion pack. Each town has seven basic creatures, each of which can be upgraded to a more powerful variant. Each town also features two associated hero types: one that leans more toward might (combat), and one that leans more toward magic. Some towns have a predisposition toward might or magic, and the leanings of the hero classes may simply be a matter of degrees.
The Castle army is made up predominantly of humans, represented as traditional medieval troops, supplemented by the addition of mythological griffins and divine angels. The might hero is the Knight and the magic hero is the Cleric. The kingdom of Erathia is of the castle alignment.
The Tower is associated with arcane elements of fantasy, and armies are composed of wizards, magical beings, and animated constructs. Towers are at home in Arctic environments. The might hero is the Alchemist and the magic hero is the Wizard. The kingdom of Bracada is of the tower alignment.
The Rampart army is composed mainly of sylvan creatures from Germanic and Greco-Roman mythology. Accordingly, their home is in the grasslands and forests. The Rampart town is also host to "good" dragons. The might hero is the Ranger and the magic hero is the Druid. The kingdom of AvLee is of the rampart alignment.
The Inferno is a hell-like castle built on smoldering ground. Its armies consist of dark creatures, such as devils and demons. The might hero is the Demoniac and the magic hero is the Heretic. The Kreegans of Eeofol are of the inferno alignment.
The Dungeon houses monsters that live in underground caverns, including the "evil" dragons. The might hero is the Overlord and the magic hero is the Warlock. The kingdom of Nighon is of the dungeon alignment.
The Necropolis is a ghost town of the undead, borrowing inspiration from the classic horror genre. The might hero is the Death Knight and the magic hero is the Necromancer. The kingdom of Deyja is of the necropolis alignment.
The Stronghold is populated with brutish, tribal creatures associated with barbarism. Goblinoids and organic giants make up the bulk of the army. Stronghold units are at home in the deserts and wastes. The might hero is the Barbarian and the magic hero is the Battle Mage. The kingdom of Krewlod is of the stronghold alignment.
The Fortress is built in marshland and is home to numerous reptilian creatures. The might hero is the Beastmaster and the magic hero is the Witch. The kingdom of Tatalia is of the fortress alignment.
The Conflux creatures and heroes are mainly elementals.The might hero is the Planeswalker and the magic hero is the Elementalist. The heroes and buildings focus on magic specialties, as well as most creatures having innate magic resistances and immunities. (you can play for conflux only in Armageddon's Blade)
<<Insert list of campaigns here>>
Two official expansion packs were released for Heroes III. The first of these expansions, Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade, introduced a ninth town alignment, the Conflux; a random scenario generator, a variety of new creatures, heroes, and structures; and six new playable campaigns.
The second expansion, The Shadow of Death, was a standalone expansion that included Restoration of Erathia and added seven new playable campaigns and a variety of new artifacts, including Combination Artifacts. Combination Artifacts were extremely powerful items assembled by collecting a specific set of lesser artifacts.
Neither Armageddon's Blade nor The Shadow of Death were released individually for Macintosh or Linux. Heroes of Might and Magic III Complete, a compilation of The Restoration of Erathia and both expansion packs, was released for Windows and Macintosh.
A third, unofficial fan-made expansion pack, entitled Heroes of Might and Magic III: In The Wake of Gods, was released on November 20th, 2001. It introduced a brand new scripting language to the game, enhancing the potential for future modifications. In addition, the release added a large variety of new creatures and structures, balance changes, and several new campaigns. Wake of Gods is only available for Windows.
Additionally, there were eight stand-alone releases using a cut-down version of Heroes III - the Heroes Chronicles.