Blizzard’s foray into the MOBA arena with Heroes of the Storm (HotS) is an interesting one. Interesting because it’s not a direct copy of DOTA 2 or League of Legends, but rather a more simple take of the genre, getting rid of the many confusing aspects that are a part of it. Heroes of the Storm is also interesting because it’s probably one of the first times in which Blizzard has made a game in reaction to an industry trend, as opposed to just doing its own thing. It’s intriguing, I think, that the company who made World of Warcraft (a game that was cloned many times of the industry), is now doing the cloning. Of course you can say, World of Warcraft was a clones of the age-old MMORPG EverQuest, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say that WoW was and still is so successful as an MMORPG, that every other developer started to develop games just like it.
Calling Heroes of the Storm a clone though belittles a lot of what the game actually is. Gone is gold, itemization, and individual levels, instead the team levels up as a group and players can attack monster camps to get the monsters to fight for them. Leveling up gives you access to traits, which allow you to change certain things about your hero.
Minions still exist, and they still push towards the enemy base, however HotS requires players to capture objectives, which will aid you in getting to the enemy base and defeating them. So there is still very much the pushing aspect of the genre, however it is downplayed. Turrets protect gates; however they can run out ammo, meaning that they can’t just siege you forever, giving you a window to destroy them and push forward.
There are four game modes currently in the Alpha, all of which are objective based and all of which can completed fairly quickly (with each game taking around 20 minutes to complete). One of the game modes requires the players to curse the enemy team, which reduce the enemies minions HP allowing you push harder, with another mode requiring the player to get coins and then give them to a pirate. The objective nature of the game is refreshing, with several of the modes and maps reminding me of the Dominion and Twisted Treeline modes of League of Legends.
Indeed, the whole game is a more casual version of both League of Legends and DOTA 2, but maybe that isn’t a bad thing.
Players start off each round with a mount, you can buy more mounts for real money, which increases the player’s movement speed, allowing you to move around the map quicker. Your mount can be summoned at any time, however summoning temporarily roots you, and there is a small cooldown of a couple of seconds between summoning your mount.
As you progress through the game, pushing the minion waves and getting objectives, your team gains experience points and you all level up together. With every couple of levels you’ll be able to choose a trait for you hero. Traits can drastically improve your hero, giving them more range for example, or even more abilities.
There is a jungle, however I can’t foresee a player specifically focusing on the jungle. Killing a jungle creep, they can be quite tough, makes said jungle creep become your ally, with them fighting alongside you and pushing the lane until they die.
Fights, because they aren’t reliant on items, are more about skill and positioning, requiring players to understand their movement and ability usage.
Capturing objectives can typically put the battle in your favor, making hard for the enemy team to come back from losing. Having said that, if an enemy team captures objectives then they can easily bring back the match, with some good team coordination.
Due to the lack of items, and the lack of focus on last hitting, a good player can typically carry a bad one, creating a less toxic environment overall.
With regards to the payment system, Heroes of the Storm is a free-to-play game that uses the same system as League of Legends. That is, Heroes are stuck behind a pay-wall, requiring the player to either buy them with in-game gold, or real money. Of course, like most MOBA games that follow this method, the gold generation is slow and steady. Skins, as well as mounts, can also be brought with in-game money. Simply put, almost everything is monetized.
Much like League of Legends, all of the heroes are fairly well balanced, meaning that it’s all down to your personal skill as opposed to anything else. Also like LoL, there are free weekly heroes for you to choose from.
For those who wish to know, there are currently 22 heroes available to play. These heroes range from the familiar, to the not so much. This is very much so a game which requires the player to have at least some knowledge about the Blizzard universe and the world that surrounds it. If you don’t, then you might not have the desire to play the game. It’s definitely doesn’t have anywhere near as much depth as other games in the genre, something which makes these types of games very addictive, so a lot of love for Blizzard’s lore will definitely be one of the factors determining whether or not you play it.
That’s pretty much all there is to it at the moment. Heroes of Storm is currently in a technical Alpha, however it plays well and seems relatively stable. It runs on the Starcraft 2 engine, so make your mind up about whether or not it will have technical flaws.
Heroes of the Storm definitely looks interesting, whether or not it’ll be the right thing for a lot of players and whether or not it can capture the imagination of an already saturated market remains to be seen. I think, just because of the Blizzard name attached to it, the game might be successful. Whilst that may or may not be good, I can’t help but ask, do we really need another MOBA at this point? That’s the question many potential players are already asking themselves, hopefully Blizzard has a good enough answer for them.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Heroes of the Storm, MOBA, Review