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Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians review - Not your parents' Might & Magic
Welcome to Akadimia
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: fans of the original Might & Magic games (or even the Heroes spin offs) shouldn’t expect anything similar from this mobile release. Like the earlier titles released by Ubisoft since they acquired the rights to the franchise a few years ago, Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians doesn’t do much with the popular M&M IP. In fact, it pretty much discards it.
Elemental Guardians doesn't do much with the popular M&M IP. In fact, it pretty much discards it.
Instead, you play as a young student in the unfortunately named “Akadimia” school of magic. After some introductory dialogue you’re dropped right into the game, which is based around collecting and leveling a team of creatures in order to overcome more and more difficult challenges. Neither the creatures nor the main character resemble anything from the Might & Magic universe.
This might be disappointing to some who were expecting a return to the strange medieval sci-fi origins of the series. However, if you manage to approach Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians as a completely separate game, it’s actually a really well made game. That is, as long as you like grinding.
The first thing that really stands out about Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians is its rich and detailed visuals. The scenery is bright and colorful, and the creatures are also well designed. For Android users who pre-registered, there’s even a special gift creature called “Andy” that looks like the iconic Android robot that our own Android Authority logo also pays tribute to. iOS users get a similar creature, and you may come across it in PvP since they share a common server.
These freebies are a nice touch, even if they aren’t very useful as you progress. It’s the small details that show the difference between a well polished game from a big studio like Ubisoft and one made by a smaller company on a tighter budget.
The style of Elemental Guardians is more like World of Warcraft than Might & Magic. Creatures for the most part look like monsters, with a few humanoids thrown in to mix things up. It might look a bit childish for those who prefer grittier style games, but that’s more of a personal preference so I can’t fault the developer’s choice.
Character animations are also smooth. It’s easy to tell what’s going on in a fight, with buffs and debuffs clearly displayed. My only complaint is that at first it takes a while to get used to blinking red heath bars, since sometimes it looks like a creatures health is empty when in reality it’s still at 30% HP.
In the settings you can choose between a higher framerate or better battery life, as well as the level of detail in the shadows and a few other details. This should allow it to run on lower spec devices, with the added benefit of not draining your battery when performing repetitive tasks.
Although there are several game modes, including both PvE and PvP, all of the gameplay in Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians revolves around team based battles. If you’re familiar with Summoners War or any of the more recent titles in the same genre, this title is remarkably similar.
Elemental Guardians definitely doesn't break any new ground in the gameplay department
A bit too similar, in fact. There are a few small changes to the combat system, most notably that the player character takes part in the battle alongside your creatures, but Elemental Guardians definitely doesn’t break any new ground in the gameplay department. At this point, there are countless gacha games available in the Android ecosystem.
Although there is an energy system that limits the amount of battles you can enter into, the main limitation is how much time you have to play. And by play, I mean watch your creatures pound away at your enemies in auto mode. You can take full control of combat, but considering that most of the gameplay consists of grinding for levels and materials, you’ll want to make full use of automation.
Grinding and progression
That might not sound like it provides a ‘sense of pride and accomplishment’, but Elemental Guardians is much better than its peers in the mobile genre in this regard. For example, when your creatures reach max level and you rank them up, their level resets but they’re still more powerful than they were before.
It’s the same with evolution, which changes the appearance of a creature and provides a noticeable spike in power, even for low-rarity creatures, without undoing any of the hard work you’ve already put into it. Compared to other titles that take a two steps forward, one step back approach, this is a major improvement.
Even though there is a lot to keep track of, the game's interface is clean and easy to use.
That said, it’s going to take some time to start seeing major gains. If you enjoy that style of grind-heavy progression, you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians. It features a level of polish that’s rare in mobile games, and unlike Summoners War, it has a big studio to keep the content flowing. Just a few days after release there’s already a new training mode coming out, as well as other teased updates like a system for making use of duplicate creatures.
It’s also worth mentioning that although there is a lot to keep track of with creature level ups, evolutions, glyphs, and so on as you progress through the game, the game’s interface is clean and easy to use. Compared to the complicated menus of another recent gacha release, Dungeon Hunter Champions, it’s clear that a lot more care was taken in getting things right.
Free-to-play model that’s not too limiting
In this day and age, many gamers have learned to run for the hills at the first sight of a free-to-play mobile game. Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians has many of the same pitfalls of other freemium style games, with in-app purchases up to a hundred dollars. However, it’s implemented in a way that prevents it from falling into pay-to-win territory, and there are no annoying ads to be found anywhere in the game.
The game’s premium currency, called seals, are the main benefit to spending money on the game. They allow players to open boxes with random creatures, purchase resources and energy, and generally speed things up. Fortunately, the game is quite generous with rewarding seals for free, especially to new players. There are quests with handsome rewards for literally everything, even changing your name.
Rather than fearing the unmatchable strength of whales, you should be more worried about the players in Australia, Canada, and other soft-launch countries that have been playing since last April. PvP is a relatively small part of the game though, and if you can get into a guild with some of these stronger players, it can even work to your advantage.
Even for players with deep pockets, there’s no guarantee of a big payout. Like other gacha games, you’re at the mercy of the draw, and unless you’re lucky you’ll end up with creatures no more powerful than the ones you already have. Free players can progress just fine leveling up a couple of particularly strong two-star creatures. There are no indications of which creatures are useful and which ones are just food, so you’re basically left to your own devices when it comes to making your team.
That’s one area where the game could use a bit of improvement – tutorials. Combat is simple and straightforward, but knowing what you should be working toward or even which creatures to level up can be difficult to figure out. Fortunately the game’s community is pretty helpful (many players are coming over from Summoners War), so you can ask for advice in your guild or global chat.
Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians review – Conclusion
At the end of the day, even though Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians isn’t hugely innovative, it takes the best elements of what’s already out there and improves upon them. It’s not clear whether it will reach the same level of success as Summoners War, but it will undoubtedly attract the same profile of player. If you enjoyed Summoners War, or have been playing it for years and are looking for something fresh, look no further than Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians.
Just don’t expect it to be anything like the Might & Magic from your childhood. Maybe someday we’ll see another true M&M release, but today is not that day.