I haven’t been able to scrape up the $30 to buy into Blizzard’s newest attraction, Heroes of the Storm, but I was invited to the closed beta. After playing it for several hours, I find that it’s a refreshing take on MOBAs – even though Blizzard calls it a “brawler.” However, the game itself has a great deal of merit especially from those that enjoy PvP with less grieving involved.
Still in Beta, But Has Potential
While I was playing, there were a few options that were unavailable to beta testers. One of these was the league setup. Since I am very new at Heroes of the Storm, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to look at the league stuff anyway. I still need to learn how to play the game.
The tutorial is well developed and features the terran, Jim Raynor from Starcraft. You learn how to target enemies, increase your skill level and basic strategies regarding play. Using a bit of comedy in the dialogue and including the lore of Starcraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft, the script was very well developed and a pleasant surprise for those that enjoy Blizzard’s games.
Same Theme, But Very Different
The game is set up much like League of Legends and Smite. You pick your character and battle it out on various maps and control certain lanes. However, each map has a unique “mission” to it and can be a game changer if completed. This includes everything from NPC towers and cannons doing direct damage to the enemies or debuffs rendering enemy minions to just 1 life.
No Gear, Just Skill
Instead of purchasing items in the store in order to beef up your character, Heroes of the Storm relies more on the skills you get as you progress through the battle. Combining your skills with those of your team could create unstoppable combos increasing your capacity to win.
Instead of each player being concerned about levels, Heros of the Storm uses group leveling. This should reduce the arguments from players referring to “kill stealing” since all experience gained throughout the match is attributed to all team players. It doesn’t matter who gets the kill because everyone benefits equally.
Experience Gained for Playing
Each character you play gains experience at the end of the match increasing their levels. From one through four, each level adds more skills you can choose from in-game for that particular character. I’m not sure if there will be more buffs and abilities with higher level characters, but it creates many possibilities.
Enhancing the Experience
Two of the most aggravating aspects of League of Legends and Smite is individual experience bonuses from kills and gaining gold to buy better items. In Heroes of the Storm, these two aspects are eliminated as it focuses more on a team effort instead of individual play. This enhances gameplay in three major ways.
Carrying the Team
As experience is shared, there is less team carrying by superior players being matched with beginners. In other MOBAs, it’s possible to have level 18 characters while a new person may be limping along at level 10. This allows everyone to benefit by increasing everyone’s level simultaneously.
In other MOBAs, weaker players can “feed” better ones by getting killed a lot. As each takedown provides an experience and gold bonus, opponents can become so powerful that the opposing team would have little chance of success. This is reduced as no single good player will become untouchable. However, it’s still possible to become a much higher level than the opposing team by repeated kills.
As there is less chance of individual profit from playing, this could theoretically reduce grieving in battle arena games. One of my biggest complaints regarding multiplayer online battle arenas is the incessant complaining, bickering and grieving that goes on from unsportsmanlike players. Blizzard seems to agree as many of the factors that play into this process are removed from the atmosphere. However, people still complain and harass weaker players – but that will continue in any MOBA regardless if you call it a brawler or not.
Heroes of the Storm has potential to be an excellent game and I am looking forward to seeing what else Blizzard adds to the experience. As time permits, I am definately going to put more time into this game and write a more full review at a later date. Until then, you can catch my live stream on Twitch and see for yourself what kind of goodies are developing.