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Heroes of Might and Magic 3 - Horn of the Abyss

ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
edited November 2017 in Off-Topic
Ladies and gentle Azure Dragons,

I'd like to present Heroes of Might and Magic 3 - Horn of the Abyss to you.


What is it?
HoMM3 HotA is an unofficial, fan-made add-on to Heroes of Might and Magic 3.

While in the Wake of Gods (WOG) turns the gameplay upside down with
experience for monsters and rebuilding towns and many more things,
Horns of the Abyss stays very true to the original game and its expansion.
(Don't get me wrong, WOG can be a lot of fun, too!)

In truth it feels like the original developers of HoMM3 could have created this.

What's new?
You can check out at their forum for complete information on this.
What I have discovered so far:

- Support of very, very, VERY large maps
- Graphical fixes for towns (for example castle gate in Inferno was visually blocked by magog building)
- Hommage to HoMM2: Mansion, Red Tower, Ivory Tower, graveyard and Black Tower are back!
They're buildings on the adventure map where you fight monsters to gain armies, res or artifacts.
- Warehouses of ressources. Like warehouse of Ore where you can fetch a small amount of ore
once a week.
- Magogs and Liches can shoot their AOE attack now at any hex field they want!
(Except for the hex field they stand on and the adjacent ones)
- Finally the mechanism of having "bad luck" works!
- A whole new faction: Cove Town! (pirate themed)

- many many more things, check out their forum!

The campaign
I'm not far in the campaign yet. It does feature a lot more text than the original campaigns.
The first one is about Jeremy Albatross, a pirate, who strands on a island between Eeofol and Nighon.
It introduces the new Cove town.

Where can I find out more?
Visit the official thread about Horn of the Abyss.
There you can download and install it easily enough.

Any downsides so far?
The game does crash occasionally, so better save often.
(By the way WOG did this also to me...)

My opinion:
I'm so excited about it that I've decided this will be my new standard version of HoMM3.
I cannot praise this game enough for being so true to the original game!
When you install it and you feel like you want to play without it you can still do that!
You can switch between Horn of the Abyss and the Complete version
without any need to uninstall and re-install anything.

For me, "Horn of the Abyss" would qualify as a "Heroes of Might and Magic 3 Enhanced Edition"
And it's for free. I'd totally spend money on this if it wasn't.

Other HoMM3 related stuff on our forum:
Heroes of Might & Magic III HD Edition
Poll: Your favorite Heroes of Might and Magic 3 faction
Fan project: Baldur's Gate meets Heroes of Might and Magic 3

Post edited by Shandyr on


  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 19,433
    What a wonderful post! In a single post you've managed to advertise the product better than most companies do.

    All I have to add is that in order to further expand your pleasure from playing HOMM 3, you should try VCMI Project -

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited February 2015
    bengoshi said:

    What a wonderful post! In a single post you've managed to advertise the product better than most companies do.

    All I have to add is that in order to further expand your pleasure from playing HOMM 3, you should try VCMI Project -

    " About VCMI

    The purpose of VCMI project is to rewrite entire HOMM 3: WoG engine from scratch, giving it new and extended possibilities. We hope to support mods and new towns already made by fans but abandoned because of game code limitations.

    VCMI is fan-made open-source project in progress. We already allow support for maps of any sizes, higher resolutions and extended engine limits. However, although working, the game is not finished. There are still many features and functionalities to add, both old and brand new.

    As yet VCMI is not standalone program, it uses Wake of Gods files and graphics. You need to install WoG before running VCMI. "

    That sounds very interesting indeed. I do support new mods for HoMM3.

    However the reason I chose to present Horn of the Abyss here is, that it is so outstanding in being so true to HoMM3. There are many mods out there that alter the game, so it feels different (to me anyway, I'm only talking about my perception here).
    Of course those mods can still be fun! I've had lots of fun with WOG actually.

    But Horn of the Abyss feels like an original add-on. If I didn't know otherwise I could believe that this was
    an official add-on. It captures the atomsphere of the original game, stays true to it.
    It does not feel different. It's still HoMM3, enhanced.

    The team of Horn of the Abyss have a very high quality standard. And you see and feel that ingame. It's hard to describe for me. But when I play Horn of the Abyss I do feel deep respect and love of the developers for HoMM 3 and that makes me very happy.

    For me WOG is a mod, whereas Horn of the Abyss is an add-on.
    Both are great and fun to play. But I'm just so excited and astonished how well the developers of Horn of the Abyss have captured the spirit of HoMM3.

    They treated it with utmost respect and love and enhanced it based on these feelings.

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    This may be a silly question but does it work with the official expansions?

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited February 2015
    Tresset said:

    This may be a silly question but does it work with the official expansions?

    From their forum:
    "Platform and installing
    The whole modification is created by reverse-engineering Shadow of Death files. So, HotA is to be installed on top of clean Heroes III: SoD or Complete edition. We do not guarantee stable work on any “optimized builds” or with mods that can change original game files (except for HD mod, which is 100% compatible)."

    So the official expansions are a requirement even.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited February 2015
    nik312 said:

    Wow. As a member of HotA team I'm glad and even proud to see such flattering description of our project). It's always a good feeling to know that people love your work and share it with others. :smiley:

    However, the part about crashes seems a bit strange. Did you experience any crashes on the latest version? If so, all crashes are to be reported in this thread ( with a crashlog (from HotA_logs) attached and preferrably with some description of a situation, that lead to crash. Let's make the game even better together :wink:

    You have done an excellent job which needs to be praised! :D

    Concerning the crashes, okay I'll report them if they happen again. I'm just used to them by WOG so I don't mind thaaat much. They were rare anyway.

    On the other hand I should contribute in whatever small amount I can.

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    I think I am going to try it out. I usually don't like to mod my games much, but Shandyr makes it sound so good.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited February 2015
    Tresset said:

    I think I am going to try it out. I usually don't like to mod my games much, but Shandyr makes it sound so good.

    Once you have installed Horn of the Abyss you can always choose if you want to play that or rather
    the original game. You can always choose which version to play: Original Complete version of Horn of the Abyss without any need to delete and re-install anything.

    I don't regard Horn of the Abyss as a mod, even if it may be one technically speaking.

    This feels far more like an add-on than a mod and I share your sentiment about modding games.
    I almost never ever use any mods of any kinds. The only exception so far has been "In the Wake of Gods" for HoMM3.

    Post edited by Shandyr on
  • AedanAedan Member, Translator (NDA) Posts: 8,246
    I had a HOMM3 overdose months ago, so I am playing other games at the moment :)
    Looking forward to read some reviews though.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,410
    @Shandyr, I haven't played HoMM 3 in many years, so all the campaigns are totally fresh to me - I don't remember any of the maps, so it's like a new game. I don't know how long I'll play this time around before I start to overdose, like @Aedan.

    Right now I'm in the next to the last campiagn in Restoration of Erathia, on "Song for the Father".

    I figure I've got at least a week of play left before I finally finish up, maybe a bit longer. Then, I'm wanting to replay Armageddon's Blade for the continued story of Queen Catherine and Roland Ironfist in it, which will also be a new story to me, since I played it so many years ago that I don't remember a thing about it detail-wise. Elven sharpshooters? Sudden appearance of conflux towns and elementalists? Trying to get the Blade before it can destroy the world? (And having HoMM IV make the entire mission a failure and destroying Enroth in one fell intro movie?) That's about all I remember.

    Then I've still got all the Chronicles stories I could replay. All I remember from that is that each Chronicle campaign focused on one hero type, and added all manner of new colors of dragons, like fairy dragons and azure dragons. That, and that all the maps were extremely hard.

    And then, now there's this new fan-made pirate cove campaign available. Wow, that's a lot of HoMM 3! And I'm also wanting to replay HoMM V. At least I'm aware of the new fan-made expansion now, and I will probably try it eventually, but I'm just not sure when.

    Thank you for promoting it and making sure all of us HoMM fans know about it. :)

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    I'll have to take a few days to think on what to say about it. I will tell you now, however, my review will be quite positive.

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    I never did get around to thinking up a review, did I? I should do that... Eventually...

    So, Shandyr, what do you think of the Cove town? My brother (who I find to be rather nit-picky at times) tried HotA a bit and he came to the conclusion that he didn't really like it. His main reason for this is that he thinks they re-balanced (and nerfed) a lot of the original content while introducing a new town that was in his opinion incredibly OP. I must admit that the Cove does seem to be rather... strong... but I am not sure I would go to that extreme quite yet.

  • batoorbatoor Member Posts: 677
    I have never completed the Dragonslayer campaign from Armageddons Blade=P

    I have tried and given up a number of times though^^

    I've known about this expansion for awhile now, I haven't gotten around to trying it yet though.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited October 2015
    Tresset said:

    I never did get around to thinking up a review, did I? I should do that... Eventually...

    Yes, and I have waited for your review ever since you announced you'd make one :(

    Tresset said:

    So, Shandyr, what do you think of the Cove town?

    The Cove Town is indeed very strong. However it is not stronger than any of the other strong towns, especially Castle comes to mind. I recently played Castle and boy, there isn't a single unit that is not very strong with regard to its level.

    So if someone thinks Cove is too strong, then so would Castle be.

    I have not read about the balance changes they made. I only noticed a few ones myself:
    Stronghold cyclops cave does not cost any crystal anymore (except the upgrade I think). So you don't have to decide anymore whether you go for cyclops for behemots - a change I welcome - although they could have just reduced the cost of crystal and not remove it altogether.

    The other change is for magogs. They can choose a position now where they want to fire at.
    That is a very welcomed change too! Magogs tended to be more of a nuisance than a help!

    I've heard that they nerfed necromancy ability though Necropolis is still one of the strongest towns.
    I cannot confirm this change because when I played Necropolis it still felt very strong.

    The other change concerns Conflux town, they finally fixed the Phoenix birth rate which I like very much too.
    And instead of removing it altogether they allow the player to increase weekly Phoenix growth by one with a new special building.
    But the original game has +4 Phoenix growth and that is insane in my opinion.

    I like HotA very much, and it has become my default version of HoMM3.
    The only downside for me is that it crashes sometimes, so I have to save after every turn ingame.

    Does it crash for you too?

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    batoor said:

    I have never completed the Dragonslayer campaign from Armageddons Blade=P

    I have tried and given up a number of times though^^

    I beat it once. I was very proud of myself.
    Shandyr said:

    Does it crash for you too?

    Huh... No, not really. At least not often enough that I notice it. I made a wineskin of it for my aunt's old mac book so she could play it and I know that crashes frequently, but it rarely crashes on my computer.

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    edited November 2015
    I am not sure I am good at writing reviews, but here we go anyway...

    There may be some spoilers to follow , depending on what you consider a spoiler...

    [spoiler=Thoughts on aesthetic changes]
    There were a lot of changes made to the aesthetics of the game. They obviously put a lot of effort into this area and it shows. I will only cover several of the changes here. There are now new backdrops for the scenario choosing screen, each themed after one of the towns. The only town to not get a backdrop themed after it was the cove oddly enough. The only thing I don't like about these backdrops is that I can't see the whole thing because the menu is always in the way covering at least half of it. The appearance of the towns on the adventure map was redone. They now look different depending on what stage of fortifications they have (i.e. none, fort, citadel, or castle). The shots of several ranged attacking creatures now have an added animation that plays over the spites of their targets when the shot hits. My favorite change was to the Implosion spell. At long last, the animation of Implosion actually looks like an implosion and not like you are casting Diarrhea on your enemies. All of these changes and the additions made by the new content shows both the incredible attention to detail and how hard they worked on this mod. Everything looks nice and it all blends well with the original content.[/spoiler]

    [spoiler=Thoughts on gameplay rebalancing changes]
    (note: I have never really played this game with other humans, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.)
    I have some mixed feelings about this. I like some of what they did here but I am not sure all of it was for the best. I liked how they lowered the phoenix growth rate a bit... The phoenixes may have been weak for a level 7 creature, but I don't think double growth made sense... The ghost dragons are almost as weak (possibly weaker even) and they have an ordinary growth rate. What I didn't really like was the massive nerf to necromancy. Necromancy seems rather weak now without artifacts or numerous necropolis towns to give boosts to your skill. I suppose some thought necromancy was OP? I am not sure... Maybe it was, but I don't think it needed that much of a nerf. Most of the time you don't even raise enough to cover your losses from a battle, let alone bolster your troops. This doesn't make much sense to me but I suppose it could be worse.[/spoiler]

    [Spoiler=Thoughts on the cove town]
    It is a very neat town overall and works quite well with the rest of the game for the most part. The creatures are quite nice overall. Almost all of them have some sort of neat special ability which gives them a niche to fill. The nymphs and oceanids can teleport a fair distance which is kinda neat. The crew mates and seamen are the most unimpressive unit IMO as they are slow and somewhat weak and lack any unique ability to make up for this. The most unique creature in the town has to be the pirates, corsairs, and sea dogs. That's right, there are TWO upgrades to this unit. They are one of the more powerful creatures in the cove town with each upgrade providing an additional special ability. They start off with a ranged ability and no melee penalty as pirates, then gain no retaliation as corsairs, and then gain accurate shot, an ability which functions like the mighty gorgon's death stare, but slightly weaker and at a range, as sea dogs. I am a bit concerned that the sea dogs may be somewhat OP, but I still like them. The stormbirds and ayssids are the fast fliers of the town. The Ayssids have an ability which allows them to strike twice, similar to a crusader, provided they kill at least one creature in the stack in their first attack. The sea witches and sorceresses are the second ranged attackers of the town. Their ranged attacks also cast harmful spells on their targets, starting with weakness and then disrupting ray if the target is already weakened. The nix and nix warriors are the slow and strong tanks of the town. Their ability ignores a certain percentage of the opponent's attack stat, much like the behemoths ignore their opponents defense stat. This makes them very tough to kill by just about everything except spells. They are somewhat slow compared to the rest of the creatures in the town and usually don't get to act much. The highest level creatures in the town are the sea serpents and haspids. They are both poisonous (like a wyvern monarch) and the haspids also have an ability that makes them do a percentage of bonus damage based on how much damage their stack has taken. The town also features a new war machine: the cannon. The cannon is basically like a ballista that can also attack town walls. It also seems to be a bit more powerful than (and twice as expensive as) a ballista. The cove town is practically the only place you can get a cannon which makes it a unique feature of the town. The cove can also build several other unique buildings such as the grotto and the thieves' guild. The grotto is basically an alter of sacrifice that is in a town, allowing you to sacrifice artifacts and/or creatures for experience. The thieves' guild improves the information you get from the thieves' guild in the tavern. This town can also build a shipyard. The grail structure has the unique bonus of making all terrain native to cove creatures (both allies and enemies). Overall the town fits well with the other 9 while also bringing its own unique flair. My only concern is that the town may be a touch too strong and too unique, but I am not sure if this is the case or not.[/spoiler]

    [spoiler=Thoughts on new adventure map objects, new artifacts, and other stuff]
    Most of the new adventure map objects that were added are banks of some sort where you get rewards for fighting the guards. There were many new water objects added as well, such as shrines of magic, taverns, seer's huts, and even a water monolith two-way. The water monolith is a very good option for water traveling since whirlpools have the annoying side effect of killing some of your troops. Another nice addition is that there are now shrines of magic that can teach level 4 spells. Likely added to facilitate the larger map sizes, there are now many more monoliths (both one-way and two-way) as well as several new subterranean gate models. Mostly for aesthetic reasons, there are now many snow covered versions of objects which look better in snowy terrain.

    There are several new artifacts that were added to the game, including four new combination artifacts. Now there are artifacts that lower morale or luck for your opponent which is a very nice feature. The new combination artifacts are, for the most part, not as potent as the original ones from SoD, but can still be quite powerful in the right hands. Most of these were things that I thought should have been a set (and things I tried to combine when I first got SoD). The Diplomat's Cloak, made from the Ambassador's Sash, Statesman's Medal, and the Diplomat's Ring, gives you the ability to retreat or surrender when defending a town under siege and when fighting neutral armies (although there seems to currently be a bug with the latter) and multiplies your army strength by 3 for the thieve's guild and neutral armies. Not the most powerful artifact out there but it does make just about all neutral armies flee from you. The Golden Goose, made up of the Endless Purse of Gold, Endless Bag of Gold, and Endless Sack of Gold, is the counterpart to the Cornucopia. It provides your kingdom with an additional 4750 gold per day on top of what its components give you for a total of 9000 gold each day. Simple enough. The Ironfist of the Ogre, made from the Crown of the Supreme Magi, Ogre's Club of Havoc, Targ of the Rampaging Ogre, and the Tunic of the Cyclops King, is similar to the Armor of the Damned. It casts Haste, Bloodlust, Fireshield, and Counterstrike on all your units at the beginning of combat. The Pendant of Reflection, made from the Garniture of Interference, Surcoat of Counterpoise, and the Boots of Polarity, gives an additional 20% bonus to magic resistance of all your troops for a total of 45% magic resistance with its components. The artifacts were always one of my favorite parts of the game and the additions to this area have impressed me quite a bit.

    I usually tend to prefer large maps so the larger map sizes seems like a nice touch. The larger maps are actually quite staggering in size though, and I have yet to try one out since they are so big. There are also very few scenarios available in the much bigger map sizes that come pre-loaded with the mod. I suppose that there is a place I could download more scenarios though.

    One thing I have noticed about this mod is that it was obviously translated into English. This is a new experience to me since I have not really played a game that had noticeable issues with the translation before now, so I am not really sure what to say. There are quite a few moments where I have to stop and think about the meaning of certain things or where I get the feeling the meaning has been lost in translation. The worst that this does for me, however, is simply break the immersion a bit, which I can live with. Overall I am actually quite impressed with the translation as I get the feeling it could have been much, much worse.[/spoiler]

    Overall this is a very impressive mod and I like it very much. It is now my preferred way to play Heroes 3 and it will likely remain as such for a long time. I would highly recommend it for just about anyone who likes the game.[/spoiler]

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 19,433
    That review was well worth the wait of 8 months. A good job!

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited November 2015
    Ha, well done @Tresset

    I just discovered the Golden Goose yesterday by accident :D
    A nice surprise and a nice hommage to HoMM 2

    And what a way to describe the old animation for the implosion spell...
    (You're right though...)

    Anyway what I noticed by reading your review is that I do not perceive some features as new anymore. I guess I have played HoTA long enough already and gotten used to it.
    It's amazing how this unofficial add-on blends in so well with the original game.

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    Looks like they updated the mod and added some new stuff.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    :open_mouth: What? Where? When? How?


  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited November 2017
    Yay, I got HOTA running again!

    It had stopped running on my native PC. So I was using a virtual box and at some point I messed up the configuration of that virtual box and I couldn't play HOTA there any longer either.

    But I reinstalled the virtual box now, with the latest version! AND I CAN PLAY HOTA AGAIN! YAY!
    Notably HOTA did not work until I also installed the HD Mod! So first I installed HoMM3 Complete, then HOTA, then HD-Mod, everything inside the virtual box.

    But anyway, HOTA IS BACK FOR ME! Me loves HOTA :heart:

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,424
    Shandaxx said:

    Yay, I got HOTA running again!

    It had stopped running on my native PC. So I was using a virtual box and at some point I messed up the configuration of that virtual box and I couldn't play HOTA there any longer either.

    But I reinstalled the virtual box now, with the latest version! AND I CAN PLAY HOTA AGAIN! YAY!
    Notably HOTA did not work until I also installed the HD Mod! So first I installed HoMM3 Complete, then HOTA, then HD-Mod, everything inside the virtual box.

    But anyway, HOTA IS BACK FOR ME! Me loves HOTA :heart:

    I've never added these mods to the Complete Edition, but I'm going to do so this afternoon.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263

    Please do! And let us know what you think about HOTA :)

  • beauregardbeauregard Member Posts: 7
    edited January 2018
    Horn of the Abyss expansion has been updated to version 1.5.0 with many improvements and lots of added features. Feel free to check it out!

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263

    Thank you a lot! Just in time when I have started to create a new map! I'm looking forward to incorporating the new features into my map!

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,687
    I found out about this update when my mom asked me what her computer was doing. Turns out it was telling her about the update. Took about an hour for her to download though.

    I haven't played Heroes in quite a while actually... but that spell research change made me rather interested. I just have to transfer it to this computer.

  • beauregardbeauregard Member Posts: 7
    @Shandaxx note that spell research is switched off for all old scenarios, and you can choose to not allow it for any maps/templates you make or want to play. It can be turned on and off in the map editor on a town-to-town basis. You should also keep in mind that spell research isn't free, and new spells are offered at random, so it's not going to be like "press C to get Chain Lightning" :smile:

    Orb of Inhibition and Recanter's Cloak were banned to promote the use of magic in online play, where these artifacts were already often off limits before. In hardcore online play, running into a warrior hero wielding one of these trinkets as a squishy mage is not a challenge, it's game over, which is actually not much fun for both sides :smile: However, you are free to alter these restrictions for any scenario you make or play by yourself or with your friends. It's just that the online community arrived to the point when some strong decisions have to be made to keep it fun. This said, there's no single "strictly right" way to play HotA, and there are tools in place to make your game enjoyable however you prefer to slice it.

  • Ludwig_IILudwig_II Member Posts: 222
    I'm so happy that Hota is still being worked on. And the new features look amazing, though I wasn't able to update it to the latest version via the client to test them. And the installer seems to be removed from the official website. Anyway, I'm sure it will come again soon.

    I've been playing Hota non stop for a long time for now. And I can easily say Shandaxx's descriptions are so accurate. I won't go into detail as it's been described here perfectly, but in short I can say it's an amazing project. I even forgot that I've been playing Hota. It feels like a very comprehensive official expansion to Heroes 3. I can easily say it is a much better expansion than Shadow of Death itself.

    With the balance changes that Hota brought, the factions are much more balanced now. Maybe Castle could still use a little bit nerf, and Inferno could still use a little bit more help. But not too important. But I'm not playing online, so I am not the best person to comment about the balance. However, the new faction, Cove, was really overpowered. I'm glad they introduced some nerfs to Cove. It might still be a bit overpowered even after these nerfs, but I'll need to try and see.

    Now that we know Hota is still in active development, I guess I can start expecting another new faction in the future. That is what I'm really looking forward to. Considering the awesome job Hota team have done creating Cove faction, I'm sure that another faction would be amazing. Though I can imagine it would involve a lot more hard work. What do you guys think? Is it reasonable to expect another faction in the far future maybe?

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