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Might and Magic Chess Royale is a refreshingly pared-down take on an emerging genre

On the face of things, this feels like the kind of game that should never have been made, an amalgamation of ideas and franchises that should barely occupy the same publishing house, let alone be drawn together in the same studio. But for all the ways in which Might & Magic: Chess Royale seems like an affront to everything that led to its eventual creation, it’s a refreshingly pared-down take on an emerging genre.

It has all the trappings of an autobattler, apart from the 99 other players sitting behind duplicated avatars. This, as far as I can tell, is the only thing that supposedly makes this a bit like a battle royale. But instead of sprawling across an appropriately sized map picking each other off, we’re a sea of faces squeezed into a single screen that is far too small for us. The intimacy of other autobattlers is lost in this attempt to impose an arbitrarily chosen hallmark of a totally different genre.

Instead of going with the established eight-player format, they are going full battle royale mode with 100 people in a match. At the time of writing it wasn't quite clear how long the matches would last in such an environment but it appears that most players will be around for roughly 10 minutes, be it a loss or a victory.

For a game made for mobile release, Chess Royale looks pretty good, at least on PC. The character models of the various warriors and monsters you can recruit are interesting to look at and rendered pretty well. Ubisoft did a good job of making the creatures easy to identify at a glance, even in the chaos of the battlefield. It's also pretty easy to determine power levels based on how powerful each character looks when compared with the others, which can assist in making snap decisions in terms of troop placement. This can still be a bit of a gamble though, and if one has the time it's always worthwhile to check the stats.

There’s no expectation of your commitment, and while I can imagine the appeal of such a game in helping mobile users unwind, it’s not a good fit for PC. Those that want the strategic challenge of an autobattler, the thrill of  battle royale games, or to return to Might & Magic’s rich setting will be disappointed.

As a response to the hyper-complexity of the MOBAs that spawned it, the relative simplicity of the autobattler as a genre seemed to have achieved all that it needed to. Yet Chess Royale has emerged as a streamlined, fast-paced alternative, each match finishing in half the time I might spend despairing over my Teamfight Tactics line-up. The dalliance with battle royale adds little to the conversation, but the pick-up-and-play approach is a welcome change to a genre that was never really about actually playing anyway.

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