The Heroes 6 beta was released yesterday, and I was able to spend 60 minutes with it (exactly, according to Steam). Consider this a complete review. Basically. If you enjoy EG.
Graphically the game looks/feels like a Heroes game, but one brought into 2011. The world map looks great while still keeping all intractable items clearly visible (very important). The units during combat have a ton of details, and small touches like only zooming in on the combat for critical hits add some flavor. The crit-hit animations for the units I’ve seen are also very cool. For example, on a normal melee hit the crossbow guy pulls out his dagger and just stabs with it. Pretty standard and quick, as it should be. On a crit-hit, he flips the dagger out of its sheath, catches it in mid-air, and strikes the enemy with more force than a normal hit. The zoom-in to watch this lets you catch all the little animation details happening. The whole thing is still rather quick, so the pace of combat is maintained, but it does bring some flair and variety, and adds a little extra reward to something good (more damage) happening.
One improvement I noticed right away is that the city view is now a large window rather than a totally separate screen. This not only reduces loading time, but also speeds up the entire process of going in to upgrade a building or to buy new units. It’s not a “set the world on fire” change, but it’s a positive fix that streamlines the game and shows that the devs put some thought behind even the most basic functionality of the Heroes series.
In that hour the game did not crash and I did not see any bugs or errors. Considering the state Heroes 5 shipped in, so far so good on that front considering this is just the beta and release is still a few months away.
Finally, what little I saw of the first scenario/map was solid, but more on the actual content as I get further in. I’ll also hopefully get a chance to play some hotseat multiplayer this weekend.