When I read most threads of this forum, I see 90% of the posts bashing at the 4th in the series. The things is, I don't expect everyone to agree on one thing, or even saying they liked it (which is better than just saying it is bad btw ), but I do have that strong impression that it has become kinda "cool" to say HoMM 4 is ****, without so much as an argument (not saying that for everyone ), or maybe even one should be ashamed to like the game.
What started this thread from me is me wanting the HoMM 5 devs to know that there are people who actually liked ideas from HoMM 4, and it would be a good thing to put some of them in use in the 5 - at least consider its advantages vs HoMM 3 for instance in a general thinking about how the game should work.
I played HoMM 3 and 4 both extensively, and I like both. I do however tend to like HoMM 4 a little better, for some reasons. I like both games for different reasons, they have both flaws and huge qualities.
Let's get practical:
<LI>graphics: we're talking about different generations of games here, although HoMM 3 is by no means completely outdated (I played it yesterday, so I have a pretty clear idea of what it looks like ). I, for one, found HoMM 4's graphic style very pretty, with a feel a "magic" about it. Just about everything on the map view is nice for the eye, and fits so well with the HoMM spirit. It has a downside, though, the game being increasingly system-heavy as the number of things displayed on the screen does as well. Anyway, this is just to make a point here, but it is not relevant for HoMM 5, the game being in 3D and all
<LI>musics/sound FX: this is ONE strong point of the series in my opinion. I like musics in both series, with maybe a slight preference for HoMM 4's, but maybe that's because I heared them more of late HoMM series is actually one of the few games where the music plays so much part in the game, and one of the very few where it actually IS good.
<LI>Being a huge RPG fan, I liked the RPG side in HoMM 4. It was taken to higher heights, with good and intricated stories in the campaigns. Please, keep the stories (and it seems it's going that way)
<LI>Caravans/units moving independantly: I think everyone will agree with the caravans system. Using heroes as means of transporting troops was not the best option, and it really didn't help with the game immersion factor. It was really one feature that was missing from HoMM 3.
As for the units being able to move without a hero, it really depends on how the game is done. I liked using units as scouts or ressource gatherers, but in some ways in shifted the focus from the heroes to the units themselves. It does make more sense to allow the units to move freely on their own, but both ideas can fit in the game.
<LI>Heroes on the battlefield: I am one fervent believer of heroes on the battlefield. I think it added much more strategic options. Having your heroe(s) killed on the battlefield for instance could have disastrous effects on the whole battle. However, what I didn't like was the god-like stature of those heroes from, say, level 20 on. Although heroes should be mighty opponents, they shouldn't be invincible gods. I would really appreciate at least the heroes being stronly involved in the battles (which is where it seems to be going to).
<LI>Skills/classes: I liked the ways heroes evolved depending on the skills you chose for them in HoMM 4. It added another dimension to the heroes. However, except for the classes, HoMM 3's system was pretty good, too
<LI>Units: I kinda liked to have to make a choice in the units I chose to create in a town in HoMM 4. Will I make Nightmares or Efreets ? I also liked that ALL units were very distinct and had their own specificities, even the low level and most basic ones.
However, I loved upgrading units in the 3, and the 4 should have had more units. I think a mix of 3 and 4 on that point would be best
<LI>Towns: towns were definitively better in HoMM 3: more of them, more disctinct (HoMM 4's kinda all look the same), more things to do in them. I don't know if having the same kinds of buildings at the same place in the different types of towns was good or not - it was practical should be say, but I for one didn't mind having to look around a bit to find the building in the 3; plus after a short while you know where it is.
I prefer having a few units available each day rather than a whole bunch every week. It doesn't really make sense to have units available only every week, and it doesn't make sense either to go from a puny army to a mighty force over one night. It affected the way you built your town: in HoMM 3, you planned to build all unit producing buildings before day 7, and tadaa, you had a plethora of units available the day after.
I liked some minor improvements in the 4, like being able to buy all units in the town at once.
<LI>Combat mechanics: two different approaches really. I talked about heroes before, so I won't go over that point again here. Actually, this probably is where the main difference between 3 and 4 shows: 3 was more strategy than 4, whereas 4 had a stronger RPG side. In that light, the combat grid, center of many disputes, is not really an issue. I mean, I like the grid in the 3, but I didn't miss it in the 4. True, the 3 had more strategic options, but 4 wasn't focused so much on that. There was still much strategy involved in the 4, but it was not focused so much on the grid, but rather on spell choice, unit choice, and heroes development. It seems like 5 will be going more towards strategy, and therefore should probably have a grid. But I say it is not a must depending on how the game actually plays.
I liked the simultaneous reply from other units. I never understood why units could go and attack a stack, and not take any damage, just because they acted first. This made some units (or rather stacks) virtually invincible in 3 for instance, where you could wipe out an entire army without so much as a scrach, just because you had a better morale. Simultaneous reply makes more sense, and you have to rely on other strategic options to minimize damage in your ranks: missiles, spells (initiative for instance), unit capabilities (no reply). However, I would not apply simultaneous reply for range units as it was for HoMM 4: I would go for attackers fire, then defenders reply.
There are other issues about combat mechanics, of course, but I really think there were just different in the two games, that does not mean one was better than the other overall.
<LI>Siege was definitively much better in HoMM 3: citadels and castles gave a true advantage, catapults (and their related skill) were an important element. Siege was as it should be: very hard for attackers.
<LI>I liked being able to see if a map had an underground part like in the 3. Really missed that in the 4
<LI>I liked the random generator for replayability purposes, although it should be largely improved
<LI>And...ok, HoMM 4's AI was not...brilliant, to say the least [/list]
So, as a conclusion (at last !). This thread is not here to start a war between HoMM 4 haters and HoMM 4 fans. It is merely to show HoMM 5 devs both sides, and show different ways of thinking the game, which may seem opposed, but that I would rather see as parallel.
Also to say that there are people who love HoMM 4, too, and that elements of its gameplay were great, so they should not just be dismissed because HoMM 3 is better (they say ). Both are great, both have elements worth being drawn upon. I, for one, don't expect HoMM 5 to be all HoMM 4, or all HoMM 3, but rather a unique game which has strong inspirations from both or other worthy titles. I do expect though HoMM 5 to have that unique feel, because this is what had me come back to those games again and again. HoMM games are among the few which are always installed on my harddisk.
So please, don't start flaming, warring, etc on this thread. Do bring great ideas and comparisons for the devs, so they can see why people like that or that better, and build a HoMM 5 for the whole community
PS: Sorry I was so lengthy