Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm (previously Blizzard DOTA and Blizzard All-stars) combines the worlds of Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft into a MOBA of epic proportions.
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Playerbase: N/A (Development)
EXP Rate: N/A (Development)
Filesize: N/A (Development)
Pros: +Familiar cast of heroes. +High production quality. +Maps with differering objectives.
Cons: -Limited information available.
Heroes of the Storm Overview
Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA/ Hero Brawler in which the worlds of Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft collide in a battle for dominance. Each hero will have its own unique play style and set of skills, which players can choose from (even their ultimates) to adapt to each battlefield. Meanwhile, each map has its own unique objectives and challenges. Blizzard has also made attempts to eliminate many of the MOBA barriers or challenges, including last-hits, to offer a definitive twist to the genre.
Heroes of the Storm Screenshots
Heroes of the Storm Featured Video
Heroes of the Storm 2015 Founders’ Beta Impressions
By Mohammad Abubakr
Co-Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
Heroes of the Storm is a ARTS/MOBA game developed and published by Blizzard. Formerly known as Blizzard DOTA or Blizzard All Stars, HoTS offers unique features to set it apart from other games in the ARTS genre such as Dota 2 and League of Legends. With so many games in this genre popping up, it is essential that HoTS gives gamers a reason to pick it over other games on the market. In mid January, the extremely exclusive beta test was opened to a larger community of lucky beta key recipients and Founder Pack purchasers. Read on for a look at our thoughts on the current stage of Heroes of the Storm’s beta and learn about what sets it apart from other ARTS/MOBA games on the market.
As you would expect from a game in this genre, Heroes of the Storm revolves around the idea of 5v5 battles to destroy enemy buildings and bases. Maps are based on the traditional three lane layout with waves of creeps marching these lanes hoping to take down enemy bases. Instead of farming these waves of creeps for gold and XP, players just gain experience from dying creeps, you do not need to last hit. Furthermore, experience is shared with the team and the entire team levels up together. I have heard complaints from some players that this system causes teams to snowball but I feel it has the opposite effect. With the entire team being on the same level, it is easier to catch up even if one player is not playing well. This also adds some additional tactics in choosing talents as some are more or less beneficial depending on if you’re on the winning or losing side.
With these changes, games are much more action packed from the beginning, there really isn’t a farming phase. Even the traditional early, mid and late game phases are different in HoTS with the lack of gold and items. Instead, each map has its own cycles which change the flow of the game. That’s right, maps. There are multiple maps available in HoTS with more to come. While all of these maps, called battlegrounds, revolve around the three lane layout, they have their own unique objectives and mechanics that set them apart. These battlegrounds live up to their name, resulting in action packed games at all points of a match.
For example, Sky Temple allows teams to control temples that fire lasers at enemy buildings. These areas must be controlled and enemies can take them over if you leave. My favourite map so far is Garden of Terror. In the night, players can kill plants to obtain seeds. If your team collects enough seeds, one player can control a Garden Terror which is essentially a giant siege monster. This monster can easily take down buildings, kill players, and even disable building attacks. Quality audio and special effects make the objectives of each map not only necessary to obtain, but satisfying to see in action.
Gather skulls in the mine to summon a golem for your team.
The battlegrounds feel more alive thanks to these changes and their designs. A friend watching me play the game commented on how the map looks like it has some story or background, they are not just like other generic arena maps. Blizzard also advertises the buildings as bases and not just towers. Lanes are protected by walls and two towers which must be destroyed to move on. It’s great to see maps that feel alive and similar to the battlegrounds MMORPG players are more acquainted with. Games also tend to be shorter than other MOBAs, both in actual time taken to destroy enemy bases, and because the game is a frantic rush for objectives from start to finish rather than featuring a drawn out early farming phase.
You have the choice between many heroes to play on these battlegrounds. These heroes come from all of Blizzard’s games such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft. If you ever wanted to see who would win, Kerrigan or Illidan, HoTS has the answer. Having played all of Blizzard’s games, I instantly came to love these heroes, their skills, and characters. Somehow heroes from different universes fit into one game, it never felt like a hero was out of place thanks to Blizzard’s art style.
Thankfully if you’ve never played Blizzard titles, a simple role categorization will give you a briefing of what to expect from each hero. Assassins offer bursty kits for setting up or securing kills. Warriors soak up damage and often put pressure to push enemy damage dealers out of a fight or objective. Support offers a variety of utility from heals to CC reduction to movement speed bonuses and everything else you’d imagine in this role. Specialists tend to be middle of the road, offering elements in the middle of these more defined roles. As a result some of the heroes seem odd compared to typical MOBA’s more defined characters, such as the High Elf Priest Tyrande falling somewhere between a ranged hunter and support.
Heroes are equipped with three basic abilities, one trait (passive ability), and the choice between one of two heroic abilities (ultimate). Only the ultimate skill must be leveled up, all other skills are available for use at level one and are only improved through this talent system. In order to provide some sort of customization with the lack of items, heroes use a talent system similar to that in World of Warcraft. After leveling up players can improve certain aspects of their heroes such as skills and basic attacks.
Once again, Blizzard’s art style looks amazing.
I am OK with this leveling system as it lowers the skill curve for newer players and avoids scaring them away from the complex nature of ARTS/MOBA games we have come to expect from games such as Dota 2. However, I am not a fan of the additional hero leveling system outside of individual matches. At the end of each match players gain experience towards the hero they were playing. Leveling up heroes unlocks additional talents or heroic abilities. This system puts players that have invested more time into certain heroes at an advantage over newer players. What I love about the ARTS genre is that in each match all players start at a level playing field and use their skills to get ahead. You should not be able to get ahead from the beginning of matches just because you invested more time into your hero, this is not an RPG game. Even if you believe it can be balanced, we all know as the number of heroes available grows, this will become an ever growing nightmare for Blizzard.
Another problem I have with this game is that heroes need to be purchased from the shop! There is a weekly rotation of free heroes but if you want to have a hero available at all times, you must purchase them with either in game gold or real cash. It can take a long time to obtain heroes with in game gold as they cost anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 gold. You gain 10-30 gold per game depending on the outcome, but you can also gain around 1000 gold by leveling up heroes (only some levels). If you would prefer to use real money, you are looking to spend around $5-10 per hero. You should not have to purchase heroes, I really wish all heroes were available for free.
I remember you from Warcraft…
Players can also purchase skins and mounts. Heroes can ride mounts when out of combat to speed up moving between lanes or from base. With proper timing, the mounts make an ideal way for slower melee heroes to get good ganks on unsuspecting opponents. All players start with a basic mount but additional mounts with cosmetic differences may be purchased. This is an acceptable form of monetization but having to purchase heroes is not in a ARTS/MOBA games, it creates imbalance before the game has even begun.
As you probably know, the game is currently in its beta stages. However, it runs and plays a lot better than many games past this stage. You can always count on Blizzard to publish well made products. I have not encountered any bugs with gameplay or other server issues while playing. I did hear reports from some players that there are server issues at times, but I was lucky enough to avoid these. I think Blizzard is waiting to publish a Diablo map before releasing this game as the game looks like it is ready to be opened to the public.
Killing neutral camps can help to push lanes.
In conclusion, I had a lot of fun play Heroes of the Storm. I have spent thousands of hours playing multiple ARTS/MOBA games on the market. Even for an experienced player, the casual nature of HoTS was not a turn off. It’s a great game you can play with all your friends even if they are not good at other games from this genre. With the relaxed game mechanics, anyone who picks up HoTS can contribute to their team.
I hope that the monetization model will change to improve balance but I do not see this happening. Even with this flaw, I recommend everyone to at least try out HoTS. It is a great game for players afraid to climb the steep learning curve in games such as Dota 2 and can even be used as an introduction to the genre. I’m looking forward to seeing what the full release holds!
Once again, Blizzard shows us that good graphics are not just about realism. The game looks amazing and runs great. I encountered no graphical bugs or frame rate issues. The art style in HoTS allows heroes from multiple universes to fit into one game, nothing looked like it was out of place.
It is essential that games of this genre feel responsive. The controls are really well done and I was never limited in my ability to play because of lackluster controls.
I am used to playing games of this genre on just one map. However, Blizzard has so many maps to offer that the gameplay is always changing. It will be a while before players get bored of the content offered in HoTS. At that point, Blizzard can just release more maps. The number of hero choices is already quite large, and the traits feature makes each of them feel like they have many diverse ways to play.
In order to simplify this game, Blizzard had to cut out a lot of the customization we have come to love from games of this genre. Teams level together, you cannot purchase items, and the skill system is simplified. This is great for casual games but results in there being an overall lack of customization. On the positive side, their clear focus on cosmetic customization already shows surprising quality for this stage of development.
From my experiences in this game, both solo and with friends, the beta community has been mature and helpful. This is not what you would expect from a ARTS/MOBA game, or any team game for that matter, but this might change upon full release. There are looking for party features and incentives offered to players queuing together in place to improve the community. It is hard to comment on community until the game has been released as the beta community is almost always better than the release community. But hopefully the unified experience system removes some of the typical MOBA toxicity in the future.
Heroes of the Storm Alpha Technical Demo
By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Stay A While, And Listen
Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s answer to the variety of MOBAs in the works or already out. Dawngate, DOTA2, League of Legends, and Infinite Crisis – these are all examples of games in the niche field of the MOBA, which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. In this type of game, your goal is to defeat the other team’s base, and complete a variety of objectives to assist your team. However, each MOBA tries to do something a little different to stand out from the growing crowd. SMITE uses a different perspective and requires skillshots to do virtually anything. Infinite Crisis uses the DC Comics Universe, and a variety of maps that can be battled upon.
Heroes of the Storm also uses different maps, unlike League of Legends, which has one primary map and a few other sub maps. Heroes of the Storm seeks to make its mark in two crucial ways. The first is in its array of differing maps. The second would be the addition of bonus objectives such as the Mercenary camps; stronger minions inhabit these, but defeating them adds a temporary boost of attack power to your side of the field. However, caution should be exercised: after defeating the mercenary camp, you have to capture the actual camp, and an opponent can kill you and take credit for all of your hard work. Another unique element of Heroes of the Storm is the cast of famous characters from the Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft franchises. It’s definitely a plus for a Blizzard fan. And turns out there’s quite a few of them out there.
This is No Time to Construct Additional Pylons
In Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard worlds collide via a Nexus, and their powerful heroes and villains come to unite and battle to prove their might. You pick a character from this varied roster and join a team, with the ultimate goal of defeating your opponents’ altar hidden at the end of their fortress. To get there, you must fight through towers and walls, past waves of enemy minions, and against the team’s own champions. As of this writing there are four maps, and it is imperative to know them in and out, including their mercenary camps and bonus objectives. These objectives are crucial, and ignoring them means your team is almost certain to lose. Each map also has its own set of lanes. Traditionally there are three lanes and a jungle in a MOBA map; these change significantly in Heroes. The loading screen offers the important parts of the map, as shown below. The maps however are as follows:
Blackheart’s Bay: Blackheart the Pirate’s ship sits in the middle of a series of planks and boardwalks, and your goal is to pay off the Blackheart pirates to bombard your enemies’ fortifications. Each time you succeed in paying them, the price goes up; greedy pirates . . . Defeating mercenaries and breaking gold chests gives you the coins, and if you can kill a player holding them (indicated near their health bar), you can steal theirs!
Cursed Hollow: My second favorite map. The Raven Lord of this forest demands tribute, which periodically spawn during the match. You must try to acquire these, and if your team gains three, the Raven Lord will curse the other faction: minions will have 1 health, towers and walls have lowered health, and the towers will not shoot you for the duration of the curse. This is the time to attack! Press the advantage with the blessing of the Raven Lord!
Dragon Shire: This is easily my favorite map. There is a lot to be said for taking control of the Dragon Knight and punting an enemy hero across the map, away from the teamfight. There are two shrines located at the north and south of the map, the Shrines of the Sun and Moon. Controlling both when they activate will allow your team to grab the Dragon Knight and use him until his health drops to zero. A great deal of coordination is needed, as the enemy will undoubtedly try to snatch a shrine so you cannot gain the edge you need.
Haunted Mines: The Haunted Mines is the first multilayered map that exists in the game; I have a feeling more will follow. Periodically, the Haunted Mines will open, and you and your enemies will rush down into them to kill undead and collect skulls. The skulls will form a golem, which will accost the enemy team; the more skulls you collect, the stronger the golem becomes. I had a bot match where somehow, the bots had 90 skulls to our 20. It was incredibly disheartening. This map requires more strategy and communication than the others, from what I have seen.
Even Frostmourne Has A Price
Heroes of the Storm is a free-to-play game, like most MOBAs. Blizzard is already raking in money off their other IPOs. Does that mean they won’t find a way to make money? Of course not. You can pay real money for champions, for skins, and for custom mounts for your characters. However, this is not the only way to acquire characters. There are, of course, a regular rotation of free to play characters, which always contains a variety of archetypes so you can play something you’d like. Winning player vs. player matches gives gold, which is the currency used in game. As you continue playing through the ranks, you’ll eventually unlock Daily Quests, much like Hearthstone, to earn bonus XP and Gold. It might be a little slower than one would like, but patience is a virtue! Or if you are like me and decide to buy anyway, take heart. Even if the champion you wish to purchase is not on the free-to-play list, you have the opportunity to take them into a test match and see if you enjoy the play style and abilities they bring to the table. This is something I have yet to see, and it is thrilling to be able to try the champion first, in the event you do not want to waste money.
Players on the American server can use real money to purchase heroes, skins and mounts in the Alpha, and those who do are given a mount when the game goes live. They will also be reimbursed with in-game currency for what they spent. So while you do not get cash back, you can repurchase things you spent money on to begin with. There are several things to buy, none of which affect the actual game balance: champions, skins for that champion, and different color palettes for the skins themselves are up for grabs. Even the mounts themselves have purchasable skins, letting you decide between a cybernetic wolf and unicorn to further accentuate your MOBA individuality.
This is a game that challenges convention, with many differences between it and its sister-MOBA titles. Mounts are one obvious feature that do so. Hitting the “Z” key will mount you and give you more movement speed to get into the game. Some characters cannot use them, however. Sgt. Hammer the Siege Tank obviously cannot, nor can the Fairy Dragon Brightwing. The other mounts are purely cosmetic; all of them provide 40% movement speed, and cannot be used in combat. Taking damage will dismount you immediately. So far the only mounts I have seen are purchased in the shop, but there is nothing to say that will not change.
The biggest difference in Heroes as opposed to other MOBAs is the lack of item builds. You heard me: no Bloodthirster, no rushing Blade of the Ruined King, no Aganihm’s Scepter to buy. Traditionally you kill creeps, get gold, and buy items in the hopes of bumping your power levels up faster than your enemies to give your team a little sway should a fight not go exactly as you planned. However, killing minions in Heroes only gives exp, and all players on your team level at the same time. This is unique and, in many ways, terrific. You cannot fall behind your team, but the enemy team can still outlevel you. At certain levels your character is given choices of skills: active skills, passive traits, extra skills (such as a poison attack or a storm shield for all nearby allies), and ultimate attacks. You get two of those to choose from on each character for different situations. Your skills also get different options as the game progresses, such as Malfurion getting an option for increased area of effect on Moonfire, or choosing to lower the cooldown on multiple casts.
I have to say, the team leveling system is probably one of the greatest changes to me. The notion of not being outlevelled by my own team is terrific. When I play MOBAs, I tend to pick the support role, which typically suffers from gold and exp starvation in other MOBAs. No longer! The real strategy comes from picking the appropriate traits and powers to match the situation you are in. The entire game could revolve around picking or not picking a trait. Mercenary camps are also new and interesting. Instead of jungle camps, which just provide exp, these provide more attack power for your side of the game. These control points have a visible respawn time when used though, so be aware of when you need (or someone on your team) to be ready to reacquire these packs of monsters.
LEEEEEROOOOOYYYYY’s Game Status Report: Steady Progress!
Come on. Did you really not see that coming somewhere? Heroes of the Storm, for a game in Technical Alpha, is a fantastic piece of work. There is a great deal of good going on here, with some new and exciting things. It is my sincere hope that it sees competitive play, something different and fun from the stagnant MOBA play we are seeing at this particular moment. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, I fear.
There are a few terrible things that I would like to see fixed; luckily there is a great deal of time, and I hope other players point it out to Blizzard. The in-game chat is terrible, absolutely terrible. There is scarcely a chat box, and it fades off the screen rather fast. If there is a way to scroll back, I have yet to find it. This is not conducive to teamwork, since without voice chat, typed chat and map pinging are necessary. A MOBA without teamwork and communication is Bronze V on League of Legends.
In addition, you have no idea what will be on your team in random matches. This is good and bad; mostly bad, though. A large part of this style of game is strategy, team-building, and communication. If I cannot see what my team wants to play, how am I going to pick something to complement them? With this in mind, your opposing team might be better equipped for combat and victory, and you might get multiples of a type of character that you simply only need one of. I imagine this will be something that changes, but for the interim, it could make gameplay unpleasant to say the least. I feared Heroes of the Storm would simply be a fanservice money-sink by Blizzard, but there is a great deal of quality work to experience. While there is more to come, I am positive in thinking that this will be a big mover and shaker in the MOBA community.
Heroes of the Storm Screenshots
Heroes of the Storm Videos
Heroes of the Storm – First Look
Heroes of the Storm Cinematic Trailer
Heroes of the Storm Sneak Peek Blizzcon 2013
Heroes of the Storm Developer Interview (Blizzcon 2013)
Heroes of the Storm Links
Heroes of the Storm System Requirements
Heroes of the Storm Articles
- BlizzCon 2015 Details Announced - Posted on March 12, 2015
Blizzard Entertainment today announced that its ninth BlizzCon® will be turning the Anaheim Convention Center into community central for all Blizzard games.
- Students Battle for Free Tuition in Heroes of the Dorm Tournament - Posted on March 6, 2015
. Today, Blizzard Entertainment and TeSPA revealed plans for Heroes of the Dorm™—the ultimate Heroes of the Storm™ college tournament.
- PAX East 2015: 10 Reasons To Be Hyped - Posted on March 5, 2015
PAX East is my first time visiting one of these expos as a member of the press, and the level of excitement I am feeling will only be paralleled by the level of exhaustion I will feel by Sunday's end.
- Heroes of the Storm: The Lost Vikings Have Returned - Posted on February 10, 2015
The Lost Vikings are back! While they briefly considered retirement after defeating the emperor Tomator, there were only so many polar bears they could wrestle before falling into a Nexus portal seemed like a solid life decision.
- Heroes of the Storm Founders’ Beta Impressions - Posted on February 5, 2015
As you would expect from a game in this genre, Heroes of the Storm revolves around the idea of 5v5 battles to destroy enemy buildings and bases. Maps are based on the traditional three lane layout with waves of creeps marching these lanes hoping to take down enemy bases.
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