Heroes of Might and Magic IV is a turn-based strategy game developed by New World Computing and published by the 3DO Company for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers in 2002. An Apple Macintosh port was subsequently developed by Contraband Entertainment and released by the 3DO Company. The fourth installment of the popular Heroes of Might and Magic franchise, it is the sequel to Heroes of Might and Magic III, and was the last to be developed by New World Computing.
Following the events of Heroes Chronicles: The Sword of Frost, Gelu, the leader of AvLee's Forest Guard and wielder of Armageddon's Blade, attacks Kilgor, the Barbarian King of Krewlod, in an attempt to claim and destroy the Sword of Frost. As foretold by a prophecy, when Armageddon's Blade and the Sword of Frost clash in battle, the result is a massive explosion (known as the Reckoning), which destroys the world of Enroth. Many of the inhabitants of the planet, however, manage to escape through mysterious portals that appear during the Reckoning which lead them to another world, called Axeoth - also the setting for Might and Magic IX. Included among the refugees are many of the heroes of previous installments of the series, and many return to their old ways shortly after arriving on their new home.
The story of Heroes of Might and Magic IV unfolds primarily through the game's six campaigns, each of which establishes how the major kingdoms of one of Axeoth's continents were forged in the wake of the Reckoning, and the arrival of the Enrothian refugees on Axeoth. Each of the campaigns centers on a faction leader, and tells the story of how that leader came to prominence. Unlike Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia, all of the six campaigns are accessible from the beginning, and each unfolds as a stand-alone tale.
the true blade
In the Haven campaign, The True Blade, Lysander, a loyal knight formerly in the service of Queen Catherine Ironfist, rules over the nascent kingdom of Palaedra, inhabited mainly by refugees from the kingdom of Erathia. His command, however, is challenged by a usurper named Sir Worton, who claims to be the only surviving heir to the Gryphonheart dynasty. Many of Lysander's generals are drawn to Worton, forcing the lord to expose Worton as a fraud or lose control of his kingdom.
Glory of Days Past
At the start of the Stronghold campaign, Glory of Days Past, Waerjak, a barbarian chieftain, despairs over the changes that have come over the barbarian community. In the wake of Kilgor's death, his people have descended into interfactional strife, and are in danger of wiping themselves out. Intent on restoring the barbarian kingdom to its more peaceful state before Kilgor's ascension, Waerjak sets out to prove his strength and to subdue his rivals, guided by his mentor, Tarnum (previously the protagonist of the Heroes Chronicles series).
The Price of Peace
The game's Academy campaign, The Price of Peace tells the story of Emilia Nighthaven, the peasant daughter of an Enrothian glassblower. On Axeoth, however, she finds herself taking command of a community of frightened refugees and forging them into the kingdom of Great Arcan. Queen Emilia's success, however, attracts the attention of Gavin Magnus, the Immortal King of Bracada from Heroes of Might and Magic III and Might and Magic VII, and his genie servant, Solmyr, who seek to prevent Axeoth from meeting the same fate as Enroth (i.e. being destroyed) by magically depriving its entire population of their free will.
Elwin and Shaera
In the Preserve campaign, Elwin and Shaera, Elwin, a simple elf from the Elven kingdom of Aranorn (mainly populated by survivors from AvLee), is in love with Shaera, but their romance is threatened by Lord Harke, a powerful rival for Shaera's affection. Elwin's continued pursuit of his beloved plunges the region into internecine war, and whoever emerges the victor will not only win Shaera's hand in marriage, but the throne of Aranorn, as well.
Half-Dead, the Necropolis campaign, relates the tale of Gauldoth Half-Dead, the half-human, half-lich victim of a necromantic spell that he cast to save his life which went horribly wrong. Tired of living on the scraps of food he can steal from fearful villagers, Gauldoth unites the forces of the surviving Necromancers and demonic Kreegans from Colony's old kingdoms of Deyja and Eeofol into Nekross, a powerful and feared kingdom, but he is forced to act as a protector for both the living and the dead when a powerful being from another dimension arrives with plans to end all life in the universe.
A Pirate's Daughter, the game's Asylum campaign, introduces the only daughter of a famous pirate, Tawni Balfour. Tawni inherits her father's ship and crew following his unfortunate death. Sailing down the coasts of the Gold Sea, fighting feared buccaneers, sea monsters and mermaids alike, Tawni intends to claim her father's mantle as Axeoth's most feared pirate captain, all while having to face her own shady past.
Heroes of Might and Magic IV introduces a number of major changes to the series. Unlike previous games, where they had little active role in combat, heroes are now present on the battlefield with their troops. It is now possible to have armies with more than one hero, or with no heroes at all, although armies without a hero are incapable of performing certain tasks, such as capturing enemy towns or structures. Both the adventure and combat maps have been converted to a fixed-view isometric 3D display. The traditional hexagon-based battle grid has been converted into a much higher-resolution square-based grid, making it easier to feature units of different sizes. However, the lack of the easy to visualize hexagons has been criticized for reducing the ability of the player to use terrain to a strategic advantage (especially tricky is anticipating the paths of ranged attacks, both offensively and defensively). Non-hero spellcasting units are now given proper spell selections. Retaliation now occurs simultaneous with the attack, and ranged units are now capable of retaliating against ranged attacks. Each individual troop unit now has its own movement allowance on the adventure map, and units can be split off independently of the main army; however, the tradeoff is that troops can no longer be "shuttled" from hero to hero in order to move an army large distances in a single turn. Logistics have further been restricted by the elimination of the "Dimension Door" spell, as well as "fly" and artifacts that allow flight, with the only remaining long-distance movement spell being "Town gate," which only takes an army to the nearest town. This, in turn, is partially compensated for by the elimination of the need to revisit resource-producing structures each week, and the introduction of a new Town structure, the Caravan, which can be used to move troops and Heroes invisibly and rapidly between towns, as well as bringing troops produced at external dwellings directly to a town.
The skill system has also undergone a significant overhaul, and all Heroes of a given class start out with the same skills; the player has slightly more control, though, over the development of the Hero than in previous versions of the game, and Heroes can "evolve" into over 40 different specialized classes, based on which combination of skills they select. There are 9 different skills (5 of them magic-based), each of which has 4 sub-disciplines, which in turn have 5 levels of progression, and an individual Hero is limited to a maximum of 5 of the 9 skill sets. A small number of these skills are shared with earlier versions of the game, and some of the new skills can dramatically affect strategy (e.g., a Hero with Grandmaster Stealth is invisible to all hostile or neutral Heroes and creatures). Troop units can no longer be upgraded, and the number of unit levels has been reduced to four. Every level has two possible units, but each town can only build one creature dwelling per level. For example, an Order-aligned town can build either an Altar of Wishes (produces Genies) or a Golden Pavilion (produces Nagas), but because Genies and Nagas are both level three creatures, both structures cannot be built at the same time. The exception to this involves level one creature dwellings, both of which are allowed to coexist within the same town. The creature dwellings themselves now accumulate new creatures every day, as opposed to the start of each new week.
A number of Heroes IV innovations raised controversy among old players; this can be said about daily creature growth, simultaneous retaliation, lack of creature upgrades previously found in Heroes II and Heroes III, the new castle siege system (which gave far less advantages to the defending player), and the treatment of heroes as units with no unique specialties for each individual hero. Other issues of disappointment were the reduced number of towns and creatures, alignment revisions (e.g. merging the Necropolis with Inferno), the addition of "Death" aligned Venom Spawn, the treatment of Ballistas as a separate unit, and the increased limitations of spellcasting (while previously available for any town, most town spells were made exclusive to each town).
Eventually, Heroes V disregarded almost all new features of Heroes IV, reverting to Heroes III-style gameplay, but then the game was criticized for the removal of useful features like caravans and flaggable windmills and water wheels. Later some features, such as caravans, were revived in Heroes V's expansion packs.
The nine town alignments of Heroes of Might and Magic III: Complete have been reduced to six. Five of these alignments correspond to a particular type of magic (life, chaos, nature, death, and order). The sixth alignment (might) emphasizes physical combat over magic. Another change is that not all the creatures aligned with a town are possible to recruit from it due to there being no way to build certain creature structures in towns (for instance, the peasant's dwelling can only be found on the adventure map.) Each town provides four levels of creatures. Two types of creatures of the first level; for levels two, three and four only one type of creature dwelling may be built depending on the choice of the player (Nature towns may recruit extra creatures apart from the four levels via the Creature portal).
The Haven town is aligned with Life magic, is composed mostly of humans and makes its home on grass terrain. The creatures that can be hired are, in ascending order of level with two creatures per level, Squire, Crossbowman, Ballista, Pikeman, Monk, Crusader, Champion, and Angel. The level 1 Peasant is also associated with life (as the level 3 Catapault).
The Academy town studies the magic of Order and are native to snow terrain. The monsters available are Halfling, Dwarf, Mage, Gold Golem, Genie, Naga, Titan, and Dragon Golem. No other creatures are associated with order.
The Necropolis is aligned with Death magic and live upon volcanic terrain. The creatures available are the Imp, Skeleton, Cerberus, Ghost, Vampire, Venom Spawn, Bone Dragon, and Devil. The level 1 Zombie, level 2 Gargoyle and Mummy, and level 3 Ice Demon are also related to death.
The Asylum is native to swamp terrain and studies Chaos magic. The creatures that can be hired are the Orc, Bandit, Medusa, Minotaur, Efreet, Nightmare, Hydra, and Black Dragon. The level 1 Pirate and Troglodyte and level 2 Evil eye and Troll are also connected to chaos.
The Preserve allies with Nature magic and is native to grass terrain. The creatures are Sprite, Wolf, Elf, White Tiger, Griffin, Unicorn, Faerie Dragon, and Phoenix. It has no "unbuildable" creature dwellings, but only because the "Creature Portal" (a special building) allows you to get 8 creatures: the level 1 Leprechaun, the level 2 Satyr, the level 3 Earth Elemental, Fire Elemental, Water Elemental, and Air Elemental, the level 3 Waspwort, and the level 4 Mantis.
The stronghold is based primarily on Might, rather than magic, and makes its home on rough terrain. The creatures are Berserker, Centaur, Nomad, Harpy, Ogre Mage, Cyclops, Thunderbird, and Behemoth. The special creatures are the level 2 Mermaid and the level 4 Sea Monster, and they have no dwellings.
Two expansion packs were released for Heroes IV: The Gathering Storm (2002) and Winds of War (2003), both for Microsoft Windows only. The Gathering Storm offers six campaigns, more than 20 maps, 16 additional artifacts, four new creatures, and a multiplayer update. Each of the first five campaigns features a new specialty hero. The Gathering Storm also features an upgraded editor, which allows full access to new heroes, adventure objects, artifacts and creatures. A new music soundtrack is also included.
Winds of War introduces three new creatures and six new campaigns, which collectively tell the story of the invasion of the kingdom of Channon by the leaders of its five neighboring kingdoms. Winds of War was the last installment of the entire Heroes of Might and Magic series to be developed by New World Computing. Afterwards, the bankruptcy of the 3DO Company led to the sale of the Might and Magic franchise to Ubisoft.