Reviewed: April 2, 2003
Released: February 25, 2003
3DO is not afraid to put out more products that sell, and the Heroes franchise has been selling very well for them. We've already had one expansion pack since Heroes 4's 2002 release, and now 3DO has put out another expansion pack called Winds of War.
This expansion pack is really more of the same quality campaigns and maps that we've come to expect from New World Computing. It does not make any major changes to the tried and true gameplay of the franchise.
The Winds of War expansion pack includes:
This meat of the new expansion pack is its six new full length campaigns. In the first campaign you play the role of a mad kind Spazz Maticus. You have to love the humor of the Might & Magic series and this campaign doesn't disappoint unless you're trying to take it seriously. Humorous or not, the campaigns in Winds of War are challenging and entertaining. But are they really different enough to warrant their asking price? For the fans of HOMM4, probably so.
There are five named heroes, one for each of the campaigns. Mongo the barbarian from another continent is trying to obey his kings command to take over the new land of Channon. Mysterio the Magnificent is the greatest magician in search of immortality which he believes he'll find if he can conquer Channon. Erutan Revol is the protector of nature and he must wipe out the scourge of humankind in Channon. The lich Baron von Tarkin wants to kill all life in Channon, and of course, all the mad king Spazz Maticus wants is peace, er, piece, as in the whole piece of Channon.
There are three new creatures in the game. The first is a level 4 Life aligned unit, the Catapult. It costs 3000 gold, 6 wood, and 2 ore. It has the special abilities of ranged, siege capable, mechanical, and Greek fire. Of course, its best use is in taking out fortresses. There is the Frenzied Gnasher, a level 4 Might aligned unit that is immune to magic and can berserk. This unit is 4000 gold and 2 crystals to make. Lastly, there is the most powerful unit in the game, a level 4 Chaos aligned Megadragon, which has 50% magic resistance and a ranged area of effect breath weapon attack that is devastating. This unit is pricey at 8000 gold and 4 sulfur, but it can beat any other unit in the game one on one.
There are also some new map locations that generate creatures. Goblin Armory generates Goblin Knights. Ward of Sorcery generates Evil Sorceresses. The Gargantual Dell is where you can hire Gargantuans. You can get Dark Champions at the Dark Knight's Sanctum. The Catapult is built at a Siege Workshop, and lastly, the Beast Pen is where they keep the Frenzied Gnashers when they aren't berserking.
The gameplay is still the same basic gameplay from the original Heroes 4 game. Sure, it's got more stuff in it now and the difficulty bar has been raised some, but there's no new gameplay elements to the game. The map editor has been given an overhaul, though and it now has some good options for generating quasi-random maps. We're not talking about hidden random maps that you can play for a new surprise, but we're talking about the ability for map makers to generate maps much more rapidly and still give the attention to detail that makes a good story and challenging map or campaign.
Some of the new units and buildings look fantastic and of course the graphics are just as good as they were with HOMM4, which is to say, very nicely detailed and artistic 2D artwork with great animations. Nothing new for the expansion pack, really, but more of the same goodness from the original game.
There is some new music in the game, but it all seems very familiar. Still, the music is one of the highlights of the HOMM series. If you loved the music in the original game you'll love it still in this new expansion pack.
Winds of War features all the same great sounds from the original as well. Again, more of the same, but you can't go wrong with more of a good thing.
Unfortunately, Winds of War does not feel like a good value for its list price. Sure, it has a lot of new material in the 6 new campaigns, but they all feel like the same games you've played before only with slight differences. There isn't a ton of new content and there are no new gameplay elements to make you have to rethink your strategies. You just have to be more efficient and better due to their higher challenge level, but there's not a whole new game here.
If you crave more of the same then you'll get what you are looking for with Winds of War. As a game player, the main reason you might want this expansion is for the new editor features that will be used by other people to make cool scenarios you can play.
If you're into making maps and campaigns for Heroes 4 then you've probably already gotten this expansion pack and are loving the new features in the map editor which are very easy to use and powerful enough to make some really innovative stuff. And if you really enjoyed playing the campaigns of the original game and the Gathering of the Storm expansion you'll probably love the new campaigns in Winds of War.
On the other hand, if you were disappointed with Heroes 4 this new expansion pack is not going to change your mind about it. It is more of the same great game that was in the original, but nothing revolutionary.