Heroes First Impressions

I was lucky enough to get a lot of hands-on time with Heroes of the Storm at Blizzcon 2013. I’m an experienced MOBA player (mainly LoL and DotA), so I was extremely excited to get to play test their demo. I got to enjoy 8 rounds or so of the game, playing heroes like Tassadar, Abathur, Raynor, Diablo, and Illidan. A lot of the changes from “traditional” MOBAs have caused concern among people who haven’t gotten to play yet. I was skeptical at first too, but the changes ended up being executed really well.

Complete Lack of Items

I’ve had a decent amount of questions asked about this like, “Doesn’t that dumb down the game?” In a way, it does, but items are replaced by their talent system. During almost every match I played, I didn’t even have a chance to think about items, as it was non stop action. I was very worried that having no items would make the game feel very stale when replaying different heroes, but the talent system brings out enough customization to make every game feel unique.

Objective Based Maps

Every map had different objectives that would either assists your team or harm the other team. For example, on one of the maps if you captured altars, it would curse the enemies towers, making them unable to attack and reducing their HP. These map objectives were extremely contested and I’d say most of the action happened while trying to obtain them. This did a great job of getting away from what I find is the very boring “laneing phase” of traditional MOBAs.

Global Experience

Instead of each hero leveling individually, the heroes level as a team. I was very skeptical about this, but I ended up really liking what it did for the game. The whole game feels very team oriented. Everyone has to work together, instead of one person just becoming all-powerful and dominating everything. In a way though, it’s a double-edged sword. While having good players on your team will raise the team’s level and help out less skilled player, less skilled players will also somewhat hold the team down. However, if a team can efficiently get map objectives, levels aren’t as important as in other MOBAs.

Hero Abilities

I’ve had a couple of people ask me whether hero abilities were more like League of Legend’s low mana cost, low cooldown, low impact abilities or more like DotA’s high mana cost, high cooldown, high impact abilities. In my opinion, it’s a mixture of both. The heroes’ normal non-ultimate abilities feel a lot like LoL’s. They were generally short cooldown, and I can’t remember a time where I was mana starved. However, the ultimate abilities made a HUGE impact, way more so than LoL’s. I’ll use Raynor (and “Easy Difficult” ranged hero) as an example. His basic moves consisted of:

Q – A medium-range skill shot projectile that did damage and knocked back enemies on ~8 second cooldown

W – An AOE move speed and attack speed buff on ~15 second cooldown

E -A passive ability that would automatically heal him by X amount when he was below 30% HP on ~30 second cooldown

R – (Ultimate) Called down a battle cruiser that strafed across a very long distance, firing in a very large radius on all enemies and all structures on ~120 second cooldown.

I can’t overstate how awesome and battlefield dominating this ultimate felt.

Talent System

This was by far one of my favorite things about the game. Every few levels, you’re assigned a talent point that is put into a tier of bonuses or new skills (Heroes have two ultimates to choose from!). It works a lot like World of Warcraft’s talent system. When you got a point to spend, a little menu would pop up in the bottom left of the screen, displaying your options (usually 2-3), and you can just click it and go. The talents made a huge impact on gameplay. For example, you could choose between three talents such as: “attack damage”, “attack speed”, or “cooldown reduction.” Often you have to choose about an ability you want to improve instead. For example, Abathur is able to put a shield on allies. One of his talent tiers has:”Shield heals X amount of HP” or “Shield grants movement speed”. This completely changes how you’ll use this ability.

Conclusion

Heroes of the Storm is a ton of fun. It’s familiar enough to appeal to anyone who enjoys the MOBA game style, and different enough to keep those same players from getting bored. I can’t wait for this game to release so that everyone can enjoy it as much as I did. If you have any interest in the game at all, I highly recommend signing up for the beta at http://www.heroesofthestorm.com/en-us.

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