Somewhere along the way it seems Russian development team Nival Interactive got its signals crossed. What we wanted after the promising mess that was Heroes of Might and Magic V were fixes, and after the fixes, an expansion with a campaign worth playing. Not just a hodgepodge of features that frankly should have been in the original or dished up alongside the patches.
Well, at least they got the fixes part right. Unfortunately the rest of the meat here is rather undercooked, and in terms of the new campaigns, of which there are three, completely out of order. Following a dippy, punitive convention in which each campaign must be unlocked in sequence, you’re forced to play the Haven faction for five tedious HoMM5 wrap-up missions using same-old units on oppressively serial maps.
If you don’t give up entirely and slip away for the superior multiplayer experience, you might actually reach the second campaign starring the new dwarf faction. You might even find them interesting. That is, until you realize they’re just a modestly tweaked version of the Academy with swarthier mounts (bear riders), grunts with braided beards, and stylized magic skills: instead of mana, you employ runes powered by resources. Six in one hand or one-half dozen in the other? Yep, more or less.
The bigger dig though, because it’s a genuinely desirable feature, is that they put the random map generator which belonged in the first one here instead (the editor was released a while ago for free). Which means that if you’re into impromptu multiplayer games, you’re kind of stuck with a $30 bill whether you want the other stuff or not. Upside? Endless cartographic variety. Downside? It desperately needs more than four config settings (size, underground, monster level, players), and sometimes it bugs out with broken structures that describe one effect yet render another.
Otherwise Hammers of Fate is essentially a stew of can’t-miss features and less appetizing filler material. You already own it if you’re a Heroes diehard. It’s just too bad, for all Nival’s hard work and lovely animations, that its legs couldn’t be a little longer.