I still remember getting the game for Christmas and just reading the manual for hours on end. It was one of those classic games where the manual was a treasure on of its own. Not because it was like Civilization 2 or Falcon 4.0, where the manual was large enough to qualify as a short novel, but because of the amount of intricate detail within.
That game was Heroes of Might and Magic 3. And, lo and behold, I woke up to the the news that the game is still getting patched.
It’s not a patch from the original developers (New World Computing), although in many instances that’s fine because they collapsed many moons ago and some of their decisions weren’t entirely beneficial to the franchise. I’m referring specifically to their decision to introduce the Conflux town, a response following the shortsighted fan backlash to the Forge. The Forge would have had cool creatures such as zombies with chainsaws, ogres with shoulder-mounted rockets, naga tanks, minotaurs with jet packs, Warmachine-esque juggernauts and humans with flamethrowers.
But fans and online forums can be fickle, and most of the lost Forge content has been re-added to the Heroes franchise courtesy of mods. It’s the latter that’s been patched recently, although it’s a mod that is one of the largest and most essential to download for any Heroes of Might and Magic fan.
It’s called Horn of the Abyss, which functions as an add-on for the complete edition of Heroes 3 (not Ubisoft’s HD re-release, which is based off only the vanilla version of Heroes 3). Apart from continuing to develop the game in the spirit of the developers as much as possible, Horn of the Abyss also comes with a HD patch, adds new towns, campaigns, units, balance fixes, map objects, buildings, triggers, artifacts, units, neutral creatures, AI improvements and more.
In short, if you’ve ever been interested in the Heroes series, the best thing you can do is to ignore the Ubisoft remake, get the version from Good Old Games, and then install Horn of the Abyss. And once you’ve done that, you can patch it now. Version 1.4.0 moves on from general bug fixes and gameplay tweaks by expanding the fan-made campaign, which is broken up into several smaller campaigns (in the style of the Heroes games).
There are some bugs still to be ironed out and corrections that need to be made to the AI (teaching it to utilise new objects, for instance) but it’s an exhaustive addition to one of my favourite games of all time.
When I went home for Christmas I actually came across my original HoMM CDs, and when GOG launched its storefront the Complete Edition of HoMM 3 was the first purchase I made — so I knew I’d always be able to have a copy of the game. My CDs were so badly scratched, and I didn’t want to lose the game to the annals of history.