Might & Magic Elemental Guardians - Mobile Review


The Might & Magic series has been around for quite some time through a variety of forms. From the action and dungeon crawling base of the pure Might & Magic to the more strategic elements of the Heroes of Might & Magic series, there’s something for everyone. Started by 3DO all those years ago and picked up by Ubisoft after its downfall, the franchise is seeing a new type of entry with Elemental Guardians.

While the series has already seen the light of a mobile device with Heroes 3’s re-release, Elemental Guardians is the first to be developed specifically for the platform. Free to play, this experience gives players an easy way in to try out what it has to offer before making one of two types of investments. The first is going to be your time, as I sit here having my hulking armies trying to go through various lands to level up, and the second will be real-world money. The first or the two isn’t an issue as there is an autoplay feature, more on that later, but the second is a much more conscious decision as you wrestle money from your own inner greedy demon.

Startin off, you are thrown into a few tutorials in order to show you the ropes. Later, and depending upon the difficulty and the situation, you can have up to five creatures on the field in order to fight alongside your “hero” that stands at the back with the ability to launch magical barrages against the entire enemy team once their gauge is filled. Working on a speed and turned based system, creatures of both sides will have their turns, as long as they are still alive, in order to unleash hell upon their enemies with standard and special attacks that come with cooldowns.


Once you’ve left the tutorial you become free to start setting up and leveling your team as you see fit. An element that I really appreciated in this respect is that units are not respectively locked to a particular element but instead exist within all of them. Really like the Ninja? A team of all four elements can be available to use if you get lucky enough to unlock them from their crystal cocoons known as Soulstones. Where things can get a bit tricky, and where your own personal luck comes in, is that the higher the initial rank of a creature, the less likely you are to get them off the bat or anytime into the near future. I’m still working on getting a Four Star from a Soulstone!

Soulstones themselves come in three formats. Green for basic 1-2 Star, Orange for advanced 2-3-”4” star, Purple for 3-4 star or a sparkly purple currently going on for the inauguration which is an automatic 4 star. The issue with this one? At the time of the writing I’ve got 24 days to summon the rest of the required amount, 43/150, in order to get this sparkly wonder waffle. Even then, I’ve no idea what could be inside which is the name of the game. You get these Soulstones and you hope for something good! Thankfully after a week and some I’ve gotten some interesting minions such as my Cyclops who thinks that he’s a showboating basketball player. With the damage he can do I won’t tell him otherwise.

So what do these stars even mean? In basic terms it’s power. In less basic terms the stars represent the creature’s rank meaning their overall power on the power pyramid. The obvious catch to this is that you would want a higher ranked creature earlier but if you don’t get one and like the ones that you have you can always rank them up by sacrificing others of their level in order to power them up further. Adding to this is the ability to evolve your units, if one is available, into something even more powerful but the materials required are insane, and again at the time of this writing, I’ve almost got enough for my main Air, Earth and Fire. For some reason Water is out to lunch on the material acquisition.


There are more to your creatures however than simply their level and their rank. The one last item to take into consideration are called Glyphs that can be just as elusive as your Soulstones. Glyphs come in a variety of different areas of expertise from Accuracy to Strength and Immunity. While alone these can be beneficial adding either straight values or percentages to attack, defense or hit points, if you match three of a kind they give an extra percentage on top of everything already set up. Making things that much better is that you can have up to six Glyphs allowing for two seperate bonuses or one hell of a single one!

What I've appreciated the most about Elemental Guardians is that for a mobile, free to play title, you don't actually need real money to move forward or to be able to acquire everything in the game. Instead, because of daily and lifetime achievements, all types of currency are readily available as long as you put the time into it. These currencies aren’t simply token gestures either, they come in a fair amount letting you move along at a decent pace instead of falling behind those with larger wallets than yours. Jumping on right now with the beginning launch and inauguration packs for extra daily influxes doesn’t hurt either.

Your currency itself falls into two categories. The first of the two which is more widely used for your units and your upgrades are crystals that come in heaping amounts. Crystals themselves are often used alongside other items that are picked up such as potions in order to inject experience more quickly into your units to level them up. Side to that, you can also use crystals with a variety of materials in order to rank up bringing a unit from a one start to a two, a two to a three, and so on. Finally in regards to units, crystals are used to upgrade your Glyphs which as mentioned can really change the game when a squishy healer becomes the biggest tank of the pack and is constantly your last one standing even at an elemental disadvantage.


The second of your currencies that carry a lot more weight are gold coins. These coins are used for either retrying a failed mission, unlocking extra slots in the store, buying a crazy amount of second level summon stones or refreshing the floating isle shop’s inventory in order to spend more coins or crystals. Both of these resources aside from being granted from rewards also have accumulators on your main screen. Four gold coins and a healthy dose of crystals can be picked up one that timer hits zero. Needless to say, it’s worth picking them up as soon as they are ready to be added to your treasury.

So with all of the above, Might & Magic does fall into the trap of severe repetition as whatever you want to do, you’re going to have to work for it. Upgrade materials are hard to come by even when they appear in your shop for 30k+ of crystals. Grinding for experience in order to move either forward in the main campaign or the secondary set of islands, which are more challenging but more rewarding, will take just as much time and a good portion of your daily energy. You’ll be seeing a lot of the same time after time which is where you at least have the ability to set combat to AutoPilot and hope that it does things right.

I’ll give Elemental Guardians that it does “Auto” fairly well. Instead of simply automatically attacking normally it’ll use skills fairly effectively in most situations. Creatures of opposing elements will often prioritize those that they can dispatch the fastest, your “hero” will wait until the next round in order to unleash their stash and they’ll even heal up as required. If your troops are really out to lunch however not capitalizing on an enemy being almost dead because they are “weak” to it, you can simply tap that creature as the target for your team's focus. Sometimes though, nothing beats taking direct control on your troops and showing the enemy who’s really king or queen!


Where Elemental Guardians lost a few points for me was in its menu designs. A lot of the elements felt very tiny for how important they were. Back, Home and a lot of the tiny spots that you can to click in order to advance through the menus such as making modifications to a creature’s Glyphs or leveling the Glyphs themselves. I wish these had been a bit bigger as I often found them hard to click unless I made absolutely certain that I was using the tip of my finger.

The other side of the menus that often drove me nuts until I stopped bothering entirely, was the creature management screen. It’s a thin long horizontal line that you have to scroll across to get from one side to the other, it’s not a wheel. The main issue is that while you can set up some favorites to make sure that you don’t merge them into another for ranking up or simply selling them because you don’t need them, the sorting functions only work “once”. What I mean by “once” is that after making your selection and then choosing a creature, everything resets making you have to do the choices again if you weren’t finished with that current line of thought. It got more tedious than it was worth so I simply stopped using what should have been a great function.

So all in all, Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians is worth checking out. The biggest bonus is that it is a free-to-play title that is easy to slide into and that it doesn’t penalize you for not inputting your own money into the mix. This doesn’t mean that you can’t, it just means that you don’t have to and it won’t mean that you fall behind the pack. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got dailies to take care of an arena fights to fight in.

Game Information

Platform:
Android OS
Developer(s):
Ubisoft
Publisher(s):
Ubisoft
Genre(s):
Strategy
Mode(s):
Single Player
Multiplayer
Other Platform(s):
iOS

Source:
Free to Play
Starting Pack Provided by Publisher



Article by Pierre-Yves
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