Might and Magic VIII is based on the Might and Magic VI engine, and many of its elements are strongly similar to the previous two titles in the series. Unlike the previous two games, however, Might and Magic VIII introduces a new party management system that allows all but one of the five possible player characters to be hired, dismissed or re-hired at any time during gameplay. The character class system used in the previous two games has similarly been overhauled, with only the cleric and knight classes remaining. The experience, spells, levelling and skill system present in both previous Might and Magic titles is retained, with only minor updates.
In place of the traditional class system, Might and Magic VIII features non-archetypical playable races. Aside from human knights, clerics and necromancers, available classes include minotaurs, dragons, vampires, dark elves, and trolls, each of whom possesses traits unique to their particular race. As with its two predecessors, the game world is divided into fourteen "regions", including five Elemental Planes, each of which contains a varying mix of explorable towns, dungeons and wildernesses. Enemies are fought in either real-time or turn-based combat, depending on the player's preference.
In typical Might and Magic fashion, the game is fairly non-linear, so quests can be completed at the player's own leisure, though the completion of storyline quests is essential for progression. Dialog, lore and exploration are important to progression in the game, with some dungeons involving relevant puzzles. In addition, side quests and dungeons can warrant rewards if completed, but are not vital to the main storyline. Also, promotion quests can increase the capabilities of particular classes of character.
Like Might and Magic VII, the game includes a system of choices which affect fundamental aspects of gameplay. Throughout the course of the storyline, the player is given opportunities to side with either dragons or dragon hunters, and either sun priests or necromancers. This choice is permanent and affects several quests, NPC reactions and available recruitable characters. However, unlike its prequel, the game's ending sequence is not affected by the outcome of these choices.
Might and Magic VIII takes place on the fictional world of Enroth, upon the continent of Jadame, and acts as a sequel to Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor and Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade.
- Catherine Ironfist: I fought alongside elementals in our campaigns against the Kreegan. I found them stalwart and loyal. I know Roland disagrees, but I cannot call their hostility here a case of fickleness
- Melian: Their attacks against the empire of the Ancients disrupted the network of shipping and communications that held us all together, causing the Silence that marks the first year of our modern calendar. Without support from the homeworlds, our fledgling technology failed, bringing us to this sorry state.
During the millennium since, the original colonists and natives of that world built their own society and culture from the ruin, the stories of the Ancients and the Kreegan having long since passed into legend. Ten years ago, as depicted in Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, the Kreegan invaded the world. The heroes of Might and Magic VI destroyed the Kreegan Queen, and the last of the Kreegan were wiped out over the course of Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia, Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor and Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade.
- Escaton: I am aware that the king and queen of Enroth have rid your world of Kreegans. Still, your world is to be destroyed. Once I am called, I must perform the Convocation. Once the Convocation is begun, it must continue. I was called while Kreegan still lived on your world. It matters not that they were dust by the time I arrived.
The Ancients, however, anticipating disaster should the Kreegan manage to gain a foothold on the world, had already enacted a scorched earth plan: rather than let the world fall into the hands of their ancient enemies, they would see it destroyed outright.
- Escaton: Your world has fallen so far--it seemed certain you would not be able to defend yourselves against my enemies. Though I underestimated your abilities, and the Kreegans were ultimately destroyed, I still feel that I was right to err on the side of caution.
A servant of the Ancients, the planeswalker Escaton, arrives in the village of Ravenshore on the continent of Jadame. Approaching the center of town, he summons a giant crystal which unleashes an elemental storm across the continent. There is widespread destruction and the boundaries to the four Elemental Planes are breached. Now elementals and monsters from beyond the boundaries are threatening to invade, fulfilling Escaton's plan to draw the powers of the elements toward the crystal and destroy the world, and the player must assemble a party of heroes to prevent this.
The game features several recurring characters from previous titles in the series, including the Elemental Lords from Might and Magic II, the Ironfists from Heroes of Might and Magic, and the necromancers Sandro and Thant from Heroes of Might and Magic III.
The continent of Jadame is first introduced in this game, previously unmentioned in the series. The four elemental gateways appear in the four corners of Jadame: the Gateway of Earth on one of the Dagger Wound Islands (southeast), the Gateway of Water in Ravage Roaming (southwest), the Gateway of Air in the Murmurwoods (northwest), and the Gateway of Fire in the Ironsand Desert (northeast). In each case they cause an environmental disaster: a volcano in the Dagger Wound Island chain erupts and the tremors destroy the bridges that link the islands, the minotaur undercity in Ravage Roaming is flooded, the trees in a large area of the Murmurwoods are uprooted by the winds, and much of the troll settlement in Ironsand is destroyed by an explosion of fire. Escaton raised an enormous crystal in the centre of the city of Ravenshore, which acts as the portal to the Plane Between Planes, where the Destroyer resides.
The first character created by the player remains with the party for the entire game and is referred to as the "Acknowledged Champion of Jadame". This character leads the party through the adventures in the game.
- The initial character begins on the Dagger Wound Islands with low-level equipment, as a caravan guard employed by the Merchant Guild of Alvar. The pirates of Regna have used the cataclysm and resulting chaos to raid the Dagger Wound Islands. The pirates pose a threat to the player but are being continuously held at bay by native lizardmen.
- The characters must find a way to leave the Dagger Wound Islands and reach Ravenshore, the capital of Jadame, where their duty is to inform the Merchant Guild branch of the cataclysm. More evidence is required, so the party is commissioned to 'persuade' the smuggling ring in Ravenshore to send boats to gather more information. The smugglers are required as the Regnan pirates and their navy pose an increasing threat to other ships.
- The characters are next sent to the Merchant Guild of Alvar, in Alvar City. Here, Bastian Loudrin, the High Guildmaster, recruits the party into his service and requests that more evidence be brought to him of the lake of fire which allegedly formed in the Ironsand Desert. He asks that a witness be brought to Alvar.
- In the Ironsand Desert the characters locate a witness in the troll-inhabited town of Rust. This witness will not accompany the party to Alvar until his deceased brother's ashes are placed in the family tomb, which is also now infested with hostile creatures.
- When the characters return to Alvar with the witness, a doomsday prophecy is explained - that the destruction of the world is imminent unless the land stands united. The party must attempt to make alliances with the various 'factions' of[Jadame, many of which are at war with one another.
- The minotaur city of Balthazar Lair has become flooded and in order to gain an alliance with the minotaurs, the characters must succeed in unflooding the lair. This must be done whilst fending off hostile water elementals.
- A choice must be made between allying with the dragons of Garrote Gorge or with the dragon hunters; the latter are at war with the dragons. This must be done by retrieving an egg from the ogres in Ravage Roaming that contains the unborn heir to the King of the Dragons, Deftclaw Redreaver. Returning it to the Dragons ensures their cooperation while entrusting it to the Dragon Hunters will gain their trust.
- Finally, a choice must be made between the Necromancers of Shadowspire or the Temple of the Sun in the Murmurwoods. To ally with the Necromancers, the characters must take with them the double-agent Cleric, Dyson Leland, who poses as a Necromancer, and steal the Nightshade Brazier, hidden in the Temple of the Sun, returning it to the Necromancers' Guild. To ally with the Temple of the Sun, the player, with Dyson Leland, must destroy the Skeleton Transformer in the bowels of the Necromancer's Guild.
- When this is accomplished, it is learned that the king and queen of Enroth are on their way to help, but are hindered by the Regnan fleet. The characters must find a way to sink the fleet.
- When the fleet is sunk, king Roland Ironfist and his wife, Catherine Ironfist, arrive at Ravenshore with their sage, Xanthor. Xanthor says that he is able to fashion a key to gain access to Escaton's crystal and hence the Plane Between Planes, but that in order to do this, he must use Heartstones of the four elemental planes.
- The characters are sent to the elemental planes and battles his way through hordes of raging creatures to take the heartstones. Upon the completion of this quest, Xanthor is able to fashion a 'Conflux key' to Escaton's crystal.
- In Escaton's crystal the party battles creatures constructed from crystal, which are difficult to destroy. At the end of the crystal, the player must complete a puzzle to operate the portal to the Plane Between Planes.
- The Plane Between Planes is a place of utter chaos, which has the effect of driving weaker creatures mad. The characters battle creatures which are capable of causing insanity in the party members along with other hostile creatures.
- The characters must seek out Escaton in his palace. When there, they learn that Escaton has imprisoned the Lords of the Elemental Planes. The player must answer three riddles in order to receive the keys to their four prisons.
- When the lords of the planes have been freed, the characters return to Ravenshore to witness the destruction of Escaton's crystal and the restoration of peace to Jadame.
- Main article: List of Might and Magic VIII monsters
- Might and Magic VIII: Day Of The Destroyer (MobyGames article)
- Flamestryke's Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer site Extensive maps, walkthrough, hints and tips
- Sergey Rozhenko aka GrayFace Homepage Unofficial patch repairing various problems and adding few new features
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