Might & Magic is making a return, according to a new listing from Ubisoft. Its Shanghai studio is hiring for a brand new AAA entry in the long-running classic RPG franchise.
The job description for the Brand Manager position states:
"Ubisoft Shanghai is looking for a Senior Brand Manager to champion the brand marketing and product marketability of a new Might & Magic AAA game. Under the management of the Brand director, join an ambitious team and help reinvent one the biggest Fantasy franchise in video game history."
Considering this is a PR/marketing position, the job requirements do not offer any clues about the game's technical nature. However, it could suggest that they're gearing up for a reveal soon - perhaps this year, at E3?
What is Might & Magic?
It's a series of (mostly) turn-based fantasy RPGs, with a heavy focus on dungeon crawling. Starting with Might & Magic: Book One in 1986, the franchise was considered one of the early pioneers for the RPG genre back in the day. But now it has been forgotten to the sands of time - just like its peers, The Bards Tale and Ultima.
The entries throughout the 90s were well received, however newer entries that were released towards the start of the 2000s were criticized for being lackluster and technically shallow. The franchise is now under Ubisoft, with the latest main entry being 2014's Might & Magic X: Legacy - which also saw mixed reviews.
Ubisoft Shanghai will have to at least match Dark Messiah: Of Might & Magic (2009) to to make a positive impact
Amidst all of these installments, the gaming world saw a fresh spinoff from an unexpected developer. In 2006, Arkane Studios - of Dishonored and Deathloop fame - launched Dark Messiah: Of Might & Magic. First released for PC and later ported to the Xbox 360, it also saw mixed reviews and critics frowned at technical issues, subpar plot and repetitive combat.
While those criticisms may hold true, the game was a stark departure from what the series was known for. Dark Messiah was fully real-time, with a focus on hand-to-hand combat and spells. Powered by Valve's Source engine, physics and ragdoll mechanics played a key role in combat.
Players could freeze the ground using ice spells, causing rushing enemies to slip and fall (often to their deaths if the trap was placed near a pit). The game also encouraged players to incorporate the environment to take down enemies, like kicking enemies into spikes or chucking barrels at them.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Dark Messiah was ahead of its time given how organic its combat is - and frankly it sets a standard for future entries as well.
So this begs the question: will Ubisoft Shanghai's upcoming game be as memorable as Arkane's innovative effort? The studio originally started off with porting games, such as Beyond Good & Evil HD. They soon started developing full fledged experiences too, like Beowulf: The Game to co-developing experiences such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.
Ubisoft Shanghai admittedly may not have a track record as impressive as Arkane's but their portfolio does show potential. Considering this is the publisher's debut in-house take on the RPG franchise, the variness from gamers is understandable. There's no clue about the game's direction yet so fans will need to wait longer to see if it turns out to be promising or a disaster.