Ubisoft Barcelona has been working on bringing the hardcore strategy gameplay of Might & Magic to mobile platforms. Elemental Guardians is a new take on the legendary IP, bringing strategic PvE and PvP duels, hundreds of collectible creatures, and even augmented reality content to the world of Might & Magic. The game is designed to broaden the IP’s appeal to a broader audience as befitting the change in platform, and it’s got plenty of now standard mobile RPG features like auto-battling, fast forward modes, and customization options.
The game does have a lengthy PvE campaign that allows you to create your own character, a young Wizard apprentice at Akadimia: The Academy of Magic, because that’s how naming works in the world of M&M. As an apprentice wizard, you start a great journey across the lands of Ashan, discovering ancient lore and collecting epic fantasy creatures to help you fight off enemies. Your task then becomes training and evolving these creatures to create the most powerful combination.
As a young Wizard apprentice at Akadimia: The Academy of Magic, you will begin a great journey across the enchanted lands of Ashan, discovering ancient lore and collecting epic fantasy creatures. Training and evolving these creatures, you will unlock their true might, forming a team of powerful warriors to battle by your side and advance on the path to becoming the ultimate champion of Ashan. Because the young apprentice is your avatar in game, you get to customize it, and work through a progression system to customize your wizard abilities.
The game features Live Events that switch up every week, and boasts over 2000 achievements for players to go ahead and work toward.
I got a chance to demo the game just before launch with an unlocked dev build of the game. The main point of the demo was to give us free access to test out the various features, including the auto battle system, the PVP, AR, creature evolution, and character progression system. While Elemental Guardians is certainly a functional game, the most interesting aspect of it has nothing to do with gameplay, customization, progression, or story. Much of the gameplay is very, very similar to other strategy RPGs available on the mobile market. So the big leverage there is the Might & Magic IP. However, because a mobile game will never have as much deep strategy (no matter how fun it is to work out the most powerful team with the best auto-battle capabilities), that IP might not work so well.
After all, the hardcore Might & Magic player probably isn’t going to find much to love here. It’s the first time PvP has been available in the series, and also marks the first time the series has been ported to mobile. It’s going for a broader appeal and therefore needs to be more accessible. Which is a whole lot of change. And gamers don’t always love change.
What Elemental Guardians does bring to the congested strategy RPG market is some really interesting prospects for Augmented Reality.
The game’s AR feature will be available on all “high-end” smartphones. Chatting with the Barcelona team at the official game launch event, it was clear that AR was not something they’d intended to do going into the game, but working with Google and Apple on getting the game hosted to the App Store and Google Play, it seems the app teams on both sides of the operating system aisle were keen on putting AR features into games. However, once the mode was dropped into Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, it seemed much less gimmicky than the dev team was worried about. In fact, not only can you drop your favorite creatures into photos, you can also take part in PvP battles in AR.
So it gives you a way to envision PvP as a board game. Like Wizard Chess from Harry Potter, just use your phone instead of a wand. And being able to put any creature in AR, being able to move around it, scale it, and look at new details — as well as photograph it — is pretty unique for a strategy game.
This means the fact that there’s “something interesting” coming to the game’s AR mode in the future can only be good news.
If you’re interested in this new take on the familiar franchise, you might want to take a gander at the launch trailer below.
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