WHERE DO YOU EVEN BEGIN!
When I think about Blizzard, the first thing that comes to my mind is the sheer amount of heavy handed criticism they receive across the World Wide Web. So when I first heard about their upcoming MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, I knew it wasn’t going to go down very well. Today I am going to be talking about Heroes and attempt to provide an accurate representation of why Blizzard think Heroes of the Storm will be a success and whether I think it’s any good
Now you have to have some massive cojones to do what they are doing. I mean, attempting to break into the overly saturated MOBA scene is often dubbed as crazy talk, if not plain and simple throwing money down the drain. Just picture this, both League of Legends and Dota 2 completely dominate the market, meaning those gamers left are constantly being thrown from one new release to another. They have seen Dawngate, Smite, Infinite Crisis, Strife and many more. Hence the challenge of capturing and keeping those MOBA nomads or even trying to acquire players from LoL or Dota 2 is very daunting…
I’d say it’s almost poetic to watch Blizzard begin a journey that resembles those who attempt to create MMO’s.
SETTING THEM APART
The biggest differences spottable in Heroes of the Storm are the lack items & gold, talent rewards per level, no jungle, team based experience bars, and how the main game features different maps unlike Dota2/LoL that only has a single map. It would be frivolous to expand this preview into something more in-depth due to the nature of the Alpha and the amount of changes upcoming, so I’m going to stick to the most visible differences and talk about them for the time being.
Items, gold and the like
Most would agree MOBA’s normally feature a last hitting mechanic, it rewards the player with currency to spend at the spawn for items that increase the characters power. Heroes of the Storm however opted for zero gold, items and the need for last hitting. To take its place, the only need to kill or be near creeps is to earn experience for your team or to stop large waves pushing and destroying buildings. Simply put, Blizzard removed laning in favor of a more objective based gameplay that doesn’t punish leaving your lane for periods of time.
Team based experience bars
Before I talk about objectives, I want to explain that the only reason to be near creeps is to earn experience that counts towards a global team based level. The entire team will always be at the same level, so if you push your opponent out of lane, or catch them off guard somewhere, they won’t get mega behind in levels since their team share the same level. It’s a double edged sword, you can’t effectively destroy a single character or get insanely strong and start snowballing out of control. From what I’ve played, the only possible difference between teams are composition or being 1 or 2 levels behind, although, they will start to earn increasingly more passive trickling exp to remove large advantages. Blizzard seem to always shy away from anything that isn’t soft & forgiving.
As mentioned a lot above, Blizzard has really advocated heavy objective based gameplay, rather than the traditional early, mid and late game style of play like Dota 2 or LoL. In its place we have got a decent selection of maps that embrace running around doing little things to earn powerful rewards such as:
- collecting gold coins to pay a pirate ship to bomb your opponents base
- collecting seeds to spawn and take control of a giant plant golem
- collecting tributes to curse the enemy team that stops towers attacking & creeps have 1 hp
- collecting skulls to spawn a giant undead golem that walks towards their base
- holding control of two runes and activating/controlling a dragon knight to wreck the opponents base
As you can see they share the same theme of fighting and collecting little things that give you a small power boost to push into their base or take control of the map. Of course each map also feature a slightly different layout, bush positions and artistic theme. Additionally each map includes mercenary camps that work almost like a jungle, but instead of giving you a buff or exp, they are killed & captured from which they then walk to a lane and help push into your opponents base. While Dota 2 and League of Legends both have a boss type monster that can turn around the game, Heroes does have a golem boss on most maps, but it is just a little bit more stronger than the normal mercenaries and often doesn’t turn around a game.
Most MOBAs tend to give each character 3 abilities and one special. Each level then rewards you with 1 additional ability point to either upgrade an existing spell or learn a new one, for example, In League of Legends you start with zero ability and a single point to pick the first spell you want to start the game with.
In Heroes of the Storm you start with all 3 of your abilities learned with only the ultimate locked until level 10. You don’t earn ability points to upgrade your spells but instead at levels 1,4,7,13,16 and 20 you will earn a single talent point to spend on 1 of the 4-5 talent choices for that level. You will also unlock the choice of two ultimate’s at level 10, from which felt very Kha’zix-esk. The choices you make are permanent for that match and each level has its own talents, you cannot learn two talents from level 4 for example.
Since each character has their own set of unique skills, you can imagine Blizzard need to be very creative with what kind of talents are available. I’ve tested about 15 characters and while not all them feel great (ITS ALPHA!!!) the talents did provide me with a good amount of customization per game, although it took a long time to get used to not having items and spending points on abilities like other MOBAs.
WHO CAN I PLAY
While the MOBA market is mega busy, Blizzard do have a huge leg up because they are using characters from their very well established universes known as Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft. So if you ever wanted to play as Illidan and win a 1v1 with Arthas or overthrow the Queen of Blades as Zagara, then now is your chance! In all seriousness the character pool has to be Blizzard’s biggest advantage and they already have a decent selection to pick from. Below is a lovely picture I handcrafted showcasing some of the current characters in their respected categories.
Assassins tend to be very high damage, low hp and squishy. Warriors often end up being very tanky but can still do decent-ish damage. Supports like to provide heals and shields while also providing much needed CC’s. Specialists are the basted child of all three categories since they don’t fit a playstyle per se, but have really cool mechanics associated to them. The next thing I want to say will really vary from player to player, but in my opinion, Blizzard has done an amazing job at turning a character from a different genre into a MOBA styled character. They truly retain all the flavour that makes me love them while giving me full control of their destiny!
HOWEVER I CAN’T STAND ILLIDANS BLOODY YETI WALK… WTF IT LOOKS SO LAMMMMMMMMEEEE!!!!!!!!11!!1!!
WHAT DO I THINK
The future of Heroes of the Storm will solely depend on Blizzard’s ability to adapt to what the market wants. I currently do not foresee the market asking for a more basic version of what they’ve already got. The MOBA giants League of Legends and Dota 2 both have items, last hitting, a jungle and lots of other things (massive understatement). I personally will never enjoy playing a MOBA style game without those additions. I’m only one gamer and the world is a huge place, meaning there will be plenty of gamers who will love the removal of those and really prefer Blizzard’s game, or maybe another MOBA that will undoubtedly be announced/released next week!
I’d say it’s almost poetic to watch Blizzard begin a journey that resembles those who attempt to create MMO’s – Thomas Adams.
I can’t stress enough how important this is.