Strategy gamers hoping to kick off the new year by exploring Thallan woke up disappointed today, unable to connect to the authentication servers for Ubisoft’s Might and Magic Heroes VI for at least the last twelve hours. It’s a system much like the online component of Anno 2070, tracking Achievement progress and unlocking potent character upgrades that grow more powerful as they’re used. There’s just one small difference, though: they also control access to your saved games.
If you play while connected to the internet then your saves will be stored in a cloud, giving you access to them on various computers. However, if you choose to play while online then your saves won’t be saved locally. Further complicating this setup is the fact that if you lose your internet connection your game will close, which means that any work you put into the game will not be saved. Thus you just wasted a bunch of time. I personally never had this happen to me, but plenty of people have reported it happening to them. You do have the option of saving and playing exclusively offline, but then you lose any DLC content you may have and you don’t get access to some of the game’s best weapons.
There’s never a good moment to tell your paying customers they’re not allowed to continue playing their games, but with Heroes VI just finishing its turn as part of Steam’s high profile Holiday Sale, the timing of this outage seems especially damaging to the surge of new players who would otherwise be streaming in right now. Games started in offline mode can never gain access to their Dynasty Weapons, including gear awarded in the story mode as significant plot points, leaving would-be strategists to choose between restarting from scratch whenever the servers are restored or patiently leaving the game untouched until it can be played as intended.
The outage currently seems exclusive to the authentication servers governing Heroes VI, nicknamed “the Conflux” in the game’s parlance, while other Ubisoft properties like Assassin’s Creed, R.U.S.E., and Anno 2070 remain unaffected. Ubisoft has made no official comments about the situation on their main site, the Heroes VI home page, or their Twitter feed, so there is currently no estimate on when it might be resolved.