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Monday, 2 December 2013

Heroes of The Storm: What to Expect

A long expected game is closer to its release. The game known as Blizzard DOTA, later Blizzard all-stars, is gaining more popularity with each day. We've seen a small gameplay preview on BlizzCon, we've read and watched many people talking about it, how it's different from other games, the style and everything known about it. You can even sign up for the public Beta test. But will Heroes of The Storm be worth it?

Heroes of The Storm Poster with Logo

The Differences

Right now there are two outstanding MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games out there - League of Legends and Dota 2. LoL has a huge fandom and is the most played online PC game in the World right now. Dota 2 is newer, but is quickly gaining more and more players. It's only logical to compare Heroes of the storm with those two giants.

But Blizzard say this is not a MOBA. They tell us it's a Hero Brawler or Action Real-Time Strategy. However, we don't believe them. You have every element typical for the MOBA genre - controlling one hero, upgrading it, having bases, creeps, lanes, teams fighting each-other, you have to destroy the enemy's base. I think you have all the elements.

Yet, it's different. Team fights are not as important. Blocking creeps, pushing with your heroes - not as important. They are not meaningless, but there is a bigger goal.

The Map

It's not your basic three-lane map. Yes, you have your own base and you have to go to the other side, but you won't go to the enemy using your familiar methods. First you have towns, which are quite new for the genre. Now you have towns and each settlement is protected by walls. Friendly units can pass through these walls, but the enemies can't. Also, these barriers will have towers with ammunition. Once they are out of ammo only a friendly hero can restock it. You'll have to remember that, because a ammunitionless tower is of no use.

There are jungle creeps, too. However, here they don't respawn like they usually do in Dota, Instead, when defeated, they join your rants in the battle against the enemy. Still, you should know you can't control them.

There are four announced maps (battlegrounds) so far - Blackheart's Bay, Cursed Hollow, Dragonshrine and Haunted Mines. Each map has different objectives. This will make it interesting, because you have a variety to choose from. Whether you'll collect coins or tributes, your main objective will be to destroy the enemy base and win.

The objectives on every battleground will help you push - they'll buff you up or give some advantages in lane pushing. So basically, it's better to do the map missions, instead of just fighting the other team. 

For example - when playing Haunted Mine at one point of the game the mine will open and you and your team will go down and fight with enemies. Every killed troop will give you a skull to collect. Your objective is to collect as much skulls as possible. When the time is up a Golem will spawn and start pushing together with your creeps. The more skulls, the more powerful the Golem is. And when it's destroyed you can start collecting skulls again. It will respawn at the same location it was killed. 

Oh, and Blizzard said they'll change the maps from time to time, so we wouldn't get bored.

The Heroes

In DotA every hero was taken from some game in the Blizzard universe (the skins at least). For legal reasons Dota 2 and League of Legends can't use the same skins, so they were modified or completely changed. In LoL all of the heroes are a big mixtures of skills based on original DotA characters. In Dota 2, however, the heroes are almost the same and have the same abilities as the original.

Heroes of the Storm is different. They can use the Blizzard characters and even more - the names, too. So far there are ten official heroes you can play with - Kerrigan, Tassadar, Raynor, Valla (demon hunter), Naziba (witch doctor), Diablo, Illidan, Gazlowe, Malfurion, Arthas. But as we've seen from gameplay videos characters such as Tyrael, Stitches, Abathur are also available. 


There are four classes here - Assassin, Warrior, Support and Specialist. 

Heroes of the storm classes
All The Classes

Assassins - they are basically like Carries. A hero with a lot of damage and not much defence. So they are the ones who need protection and the ones who have to be in every battle, otherwise you are likely to fail.

Warriors - in other words a Tank. Diablo will probably be the most played warrior here (just my opinion, since he is badass and the option of playing with him is pretty sweet). They have a lot of health and probably armour. You can go directly in the middle of the melee and take huge amounts of damage.

Support - support. No need to explain it. But there is a difference here. We saw Abathur in a video where he is absolutely unable to fight. He hasn't got any fighting skills, so he is of no use in direct combat. Instead he stays in the back lanes and possesses a friendly character. This gives a huge buff, which can come in handy in teamfights. He can also "teleport" which will be useful in some modes.
Edit: according to a Reddit user waspocracy you can take over a creep with Abathur and fight with them. So even if he can't fight directly, he is still can participate in a combat in more than one way.

Specialists - pushers and others of the sort. They are used to demolish buildings fast and to push lanes.

Gaining Levels

Here is the big surprise - there is no individual levelling. We are used to fight for every last hit, to kill as much heroes and creeps as possible, so we can gain levels and money fast. By doing this you can get really buffed and kill the enemies more easily. But Blizzard has decided to change the game.

There will be no more imbas and weak links. Everyone is important and everyone is gaining a level together. This means even if you are the biggest feeder you'll gain levels, because your team is doing fine. Of course, if you are doing all the work there will be some benefits for you. You get experience even if you are dead or on the other side of the map.

Stores are something of the past. Players won't be able to buy items. Instead you'll have to choose from different abilities. You can interact with your talent tree in several levels - 1, 4, 7 and 10. On lvl 10 you choose your ultimate. So, on those levels you can pick another skill or upgrade a previous one. It's all made so you can make everything according to your playing style. 

When you start the game you have to choose 3 active and 1 passive skills. Some are common for all characters, while others are unique. So if you don't like your ultimate, you can change it at level 20.


Apart from the option to individually customise the ability set of your characters, you'll have even more freedom to make your hero more unique. You'll have different Visual Skins to choose from. Probably it will be something like in League of Legends - you can buy skins (this is where the money will come from) and personalisation items (like in Dota 2). 


We don't know whether the game will be better than the present MOBAs or if it will take away some of their fans. It looks like a completely different type of game, even if it has the same characteristics.

Blizzard is aiming for a different audience, too. They don't want an hour-long battlers. Their goal is for the game to be no longer than 20 minutes. The complexity of the game is not very high, either. This means even people who rarely play games, also known as noobs, can actually have fun.

Obviously, Blizzard wants a game which can be played by everyone, it's not for hardcore gamers, you don't need months and years to practice so you can become better and better. You don't need years of experience in order not to suck at this game. All you need is a good team and basic knowledge how to use your keyboard and mouse.

It's not for the big strategists. Of course you'll need to think smart so you can combine your characters, but that does not mean it'll be as complicated as in Dota 2. 

Blizzard are making something really revolutionary - Heroes of the Storm won't have a chat. A rather brilliant way to stop flaming, right? It will be generally more pleasing to play. Instead of having a 10-year-old Russian, calling you "p*zda" and telling you how bad you are, even though he can't even push the right mouse button properly, you'll just be having fun.

If you are a hardcore fan of your current MOBA game, you'll continue playing it. But Blizzard doesn't need to steal someone's audience. They already have a huge fan-base. And it's a fact most of their fans like playing Diablo as much as Starcraft. Which means they'll play this one, too. Who wouldn't want to play with Kerrigan (hehehe) or The lord of Terror in an entirely different game?

And we know Blizzard are a company which likes to win and make a lot of money. They'll make a game that will be really played, it will get popular fast and people will spend huge amounts of money on it (if possible). But like every other one of their products - we will have to wait A LOT to see Heroes of the Storm finished and out of beta. This will probably be in Q1 of 2014.

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