Impressions: Heroes Of The Storm Steals BlizzCon

By Nathan Grayson on November 10th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

After Blizzard’s own community invented what is now considered the MOBA genre, the lumbering blue giant finally has one of its own. Again. Heroes of the Storm was originally conceived as a StarCraft II map editor showcase, then reinvented as a slightly more robust standalone, then renamed, then consigned to more than a year of worrisomely silent obscurity. But now, at last, it’s slowly but surely trundling down the danger-laden lane to completion. And it’s good. Really, really good. Heroes strips the MOBA genre – or “hero brawler” according to Blizzard’s sweaty, desperate attempts at renaming the genre – down to its basest essentials, and they just… make sense. Matches are quick, convolution is minimal, and there are even some fairly unique heroes mixed in with a handful of DOTA/LoL re-skins. Read all about it below.

Some of you will probably hate Heroes of the Storm.

If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool DOTA player – a taut mass of fast-twitch muscle fiber and synapses that light up like Christmas trees to the most arbitrary of systems – then you might even feel insulted. See, here’s the thing: Heroes of the Storm makes sense almost immediately. There’s still lanes and leveling and relatively complex heroes, but Blizzard has reached under the hood and ripped out all the haphazardly duct-taped-together bits.

Maps are small and tight, jungling is so direct as to nearly be non-existent, and items have been replaced by character-specific skill choices every couple level-ups. (You don’t have to go back to base to pick them either. That part is utterly marvelous.) The arbitrary minutiae other MOBAs force players to constantly keep in the back of their heads is gone. That stuff just happens. You still make similar choices, but a slick-as-an-ice-lake-on-a-planet-where-lakes-are-made-of-tanning-oil interface serves up all of your options on a silver platter.

If you enjoy keeping a tight grip on all those tiny, wriggling complexities, you may well find Heroes of the Storm to be MOBA sacrilege. You thought LoL simplified the formula? Heroes leaves it damn well naked, crucial mechanics wafting gently in the breeze – lean and shameless.

Heroes is not, however, barebones, and therein lies the beauty of it. It’s just sleek, streamlined, and smart. Its pace and flow are so much lighter and faster than LoL and DOTA that it feels less like an alternative and more like a supplement. Something genre neophytes can dive into without fear, and hardcores who measure their DOTA 2 prowess by how many other MOBAs they’ve physically eaten for breakfast can play when they’re looking for less of a commitment.

I first tried out StarCraft Ghost’s StarCraft ghost, Nova, and she played like a fairly basic ranged fighter – in line with LoL’s Ashe or Ezreal. Her Q was a high damage skill shot, while she could slow opponents with W and create an exploding clone with E. In line with the character, however, she auto-cloaked if out of combat for a couple seconds, and the R I selected (you can pick between two when you hit the appropriate level) called down an orbital strike within a fairly wide radius. It was best for AOE on creeps, though bunched together heroes also made for tempting targets.

The first thing that really struck me, though, was the rhino-herd-like cadence of action. Carelessness was immediately punished by the other team banging down our doors because, again, the map (in this case, the spoooooky Cursed Hallow) was teensy tiny. Distance between lanes was nearly negligible, and bases may as well have been the houses of passive aggressive neighbors who, one day, up and decided to assemble armies and murder each other.

The other twist, meanwhile, was a level-specific chain of tide-turning events involving tributes to a fickle Raven Lord. If a team managed to collect three of the intermittently spawning emblems, the stuff of Edgar Allen Metzen Poe’s nightmares would manifest and curse the other team, stopping towers in their (complete lack of) tracks and dropping all creeps’ health to one. As you can imagine, teams fought tooth-and-nail for each tribute.

There ended up being some pretty good back-and-forth, but the match still ended in the blink of an eye. 20 minutes later, it was all over, with the other team’s main structure crumbling into dust and disappointment. Only not, because the match was only 20 minutes-long, so who really cares? Also, my opponents were robots, incapable of emotion or even the most half-hearted of “GG’s.” I thought one insulted my culture, my family, and all that I stood for in a single screeching breath, but it turned out to just be a loose ceiling tile. AI wasn’t going to cut it. I needed mooooooooooore.

So I went down to BlizzCon’s show floor to take on human opponents. This time, we played on a different, more complex map (the dual-floor Haunted Mines) and I picked a far more unique hero, zerg DNA sausage Abathur. The map was definitely interesting, but Abathur was entirely brilliant. He’s a support with no direct attacks. Instead, he can possess almost anything friendly – other heroes, minions, creeps, structures – and give them three new abilities which he controls directly while the object of possession otherwise controls themselves. Q is a weak but rapid ranged stab attack, W is a 360 melee strike, and E tosses up a quick shield. His eventually unlocked R, meanwhile, clones an ally outright, giving Abathur full control over a perfect carbon copy for a few seconds.

He can do most of this from anywhere on the map. Meanwhile, he spits out zerg grub minions of his own at regular intervals and can lay down pulsating organic mines that damage and slow unwitting foes. Used in conjunction with his ability to burrow through gigantic swathes of land, he can essentially form a network of warp points across the map. Simply go to place, hide a mine were no one will step on it, let it keep fog of war at bay, and tunnel to its position whenever you please.

Abathur is such an excellent fusion of MOBA mechanics and Blizzard lore, an intoxicating sniff of the potential simmering in Heroes’ cauldron. He really shined on Haunted Mines, given that the bulk of his abilities could be instantly effective above ground or – when undead creeps spawned and their golem-empowering skulls needed collecting – in a subterranean mine area. Used well (which, admittedly, I wasn’t perfect at) he could be a deciding factor in skirmishes. I’d leap into, say, Diablo on the front lines, boost his already formidable tanking prowess with a shield, and then lay waste with a barrage of ranged attacks and creep one-shotting melee stomps. And then, if our skull collecting efforts were lagging behind, I’d drop my possession, click over to our underground team, and give them a nice, black-and-oily-as-death helping hand. I even held off a base assault entirely with NPCs while the rest of my team sledged down our opponents’ last remaining structure. It was a close one, but we pulled off the win in the end.

All that said, I do have some concerns. Obviously, there’s far less potential for variation in hero builds, given that you simply select from three skills every couple of levels. Other mechanics involved (for instance, a team XP system that takes some pressure off individual skill in the early game) collude to make that element of the game even more convenient, but long-term depth could wind up lacking. I’m sure there’ll be an explosion of interesting tactics and schemes when Heroes first charges into glorious battle, but what about a few months or years down the line?

Matches also felt extremely direct, and while that was in many ways extremely refreshing, I’m hoping that well-designed maps can eventually offer more variety – fundamental shifts in player priority or even hero roles. As is, the to-the-point nature of the proceedings kind of minimizes the empowering character arc games like LoL and DOTA offer. When I began as Nova, she felt more or less effective. As matches wound down, she continued to feel… more or less effective. I never sensed much of a dramatic shift. But then, the match moved quickly and both teams leveled almost in sync. There wasn’t much room to grow.

Speaking of heroes, while more inventive, precision-necessary options like Abathur and Illidan were great, most of the demo roster was composed of instantly-comprehensible melee and ranged mainstays. Think the sorts that are generally recommended for beginners in LoL and DOTA, only they made up most of the lineup. Diablo go chargeboom whambam. Rawrsmash blorgmoo.

At this point, however, Heroes of the Storm’s simplicity largely works to its advantage. Time will tell how exactly it all shakes out, and since my name is not Timethan Timethaniel Timeson (or Tim for short), that falls outside my purview. I really enjoyed what I played during BlizzCon, and I’m itching to jump right back in as soon as the beta starts up. I think that’s as good of a sign as any after only a few hours with your pinky toe in this bottomless deep end of a genre, so fingers (and toes) crossed that Heroes delivers in the long run.

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103 Comments »

  1. Mercykiller101 says:

    The problem with this type of game has always been the community. If the community is toxic, the best gameplay in the world won’t keep this game from falling apart.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t think the community has ever been responsible for any of these games ‘falling apart’.

      • ch4os1337 says:

        Every competitive game ever will have this problem unless there is a referee, which is only for organized tournaments. Even if you are the best player in the world you will get trashed talked, might as well learn how to handle it or stick to co-operative games.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Have you played a competative game other than DOTA?

          • Corrupt_Tiki says:

            Here are some of the competitive multiplayer games I have played;

            * Counter – Strike 1.5/1.6/Source/Global Offensive – Community varies wildly, most servers have trash talk, to some degree. Good servers will have regulars on who have trash talk which is more banter than insulting. ~1000s of hours invested.

            * Quake 2/3 – Didn’t play for a terribly long time, but there was trash talking, again varied server to server.

            * Warcraft 3 Dota – A fair bit of Trash talking, but this also varied fairly wildly. ~100s of hours invested.

            * Warcraft 3 – Honestly didn’t play much of this competitively, but from what I experienced there was little to no trash talk. Not much talk at all to be honest.

            * Dota 2 – Trash talking, again varies wildly, the majority of games I have had (Mostly pub games) have been very good, with little trash talk. Have been some complete fuckwits too, but this isn’t unique, there were a few [I encountered] in CSS/CoD etc ~693 hours invested

            * COD2/MW1/MW2 – Trash talking, I dare say that MW2 had more so than others, but It’s been a while since I played, and I honestly can’t tell if it was more or less than the others. (Inclined to say more) ~ 400 hours invested in MW2

            * Natural Selection 1/NS 2 – Trash talking, was hit and miss with who was on the servers, most games were pleasurable though.

            * Team Fortress 1/2 – Trash talking, again hit and miss. I managed to find a good server that was pretty free of trash talkers.

            ————————————————————————–

            I think maybe it is because you don’t have a dedicated server set up, which is why you have no admins to police it. Also, it’s highly competitive (More so than NS2 etc), has a steep learning curve (It takes a few bloody noses before you start to get the hang of vsing human opponents), and is very much a team game.

            Unlike CS or CoD or even to an extent WC3 you don’t normally have games where one player can carry the whole team start to finish. Especially in well matched up games (Sadly the Dota 2 matching system is a bit broken I think. Though I think this might be on purpose, as a way to try and ‘bleed’ new players into the competitive part by pairing them with Dota 2 vets [100s of wins etc]. Which is usually just annoying for all involved.

          • rockman29 says:

            CorruptTiki summed it up well.

    • Soulstrider says:

      I guess this being 20 minutes help. I always felt that one of the main reasons why the community is toxic is that if someone screws up a little you could be trapped in a game for 40 minutes to an hour, also from the what I read in this articles it’s hard for an hero to get really an advantage since the teams more a less level at the same rate so a feeder will have way less impact in the game,

      • maximiZe says:

        Yeah right. A feeder in Hot Storm will give a level advantage to the _entire_ enemy team as opposed to one or two of their heroes you could then proceed to take down in a coordinated play. At least on paper this makes it even worse. Same for the match duration, anyone getting vocally upset at a bad player will do so, be it 20 or 40 minutes. Maybe the flames won’t go as deep, but 20 minutes is still a long time and the rager is still ‘losing’ this time. If matches were five minutes on average I might agree.

        Also how about you all stop with these generalizations? “The community is toxic” means little and you’re not smart for pointing that out. In this genre there’s a bunch of jerks and there’s a bunch of players occasionally made into jerks by the game’s systems – but then there’s a ton of people who are friendly, teaching or simply don’t say anything unless absolutely necessary, and dozens more of different player types.

        • Soulstrider says:

          Well dunno, after reading this ” never sensed much of a dramatic shift. But then, the match moved quickly and both teams leveled almost in sync. There wasn’t much room to grow.” I felt the game was balanced in a way that it made difficult for a team to overpowered the other through sheer leveling.

          • Ruffian says:

            ?….how would this make any sense when all there is to be had is lvls?

    • mr.ioes says:

      And this has always been wrong. It’s not the community that’s the problem, it’s a non-working report system coupled with non-working matchmaking. Private platforms for wc3 DotA had awesome communities because there were clear rules everyone had to abide to.

    • Alealf says:

      You are from LoL… 100% :D

      • Mercykiller101 says:

        Not sure how that’s relevant, but yes, I play LoL, among other things.

    • Mr.Snowy says:

      Agree wholeheartedly. I now avoid pretty much all competitive online gaming purely because I have no desire to be spattered with the effluent of that lowest of all forms of intellect, other online gamers.

      Simply put, I don’t need the random bigotry, race-hate, and rabid homophobia that seems to be the de facto norm.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        I am assuming you have played MAYBE one game of Dota 2/LoL. Because the only hate speech I see in game is people complaining about Russians. There is next to none of this sexism/homophobia that people claim in all or team chat. Players only tend to get mad about losing if there is something happening that clearly could be avoided.

        I’m sure it’s nice to think that you are better than all these people enjoying their free time though so carry on.

        • dE says:

          So according to your own argument, there is rage in every match. Since there is a winning and a losing team by design and the loss is always a result of the culmination of avoidable mistakes. The team that has accumulated the largest amount of avoidable mistakes, loses out.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            That isn’t what I am arguing at all. I have played out countless games that resulted in losses where nobody is bothered in the slightest, you just shrug your shoulders and move on. Avoidable mistakes are players that dive into fights, often that they will decide on and create at a distinct/massive disadvantage and die repeatedly (i.e: feeding) to multiple members of the enemy team while disregarding the advice/desperate pleas of teammates. Or solo pushing with a huge deficit only to get destroyed again and again. This is what I mean by avoidable mistakes, the function of giving your opponents more and more gold as they do this again and again will lead to frustration. Unfortunately this is a team game that actually requires quite a significant amount of teamwork to win in unless the skill gap between the teams if colossal, in which case you just have fun.

            Comebacks in DOTA are very common with several mechanics built into the game to encourage them, including huge gold/exp bounties on ending long killing sprees and tower gold. There are countless games I have been involved in where a massive deficit has been turned over, just last night i had a game where we lost 2 towers and were 10-1 down on kills by about 12 mins, we pulled together and won the game. If someone on our team decided they didn’t want to play with the rest of us and did their own thing this wouldn’t of happened and we would of all died horribly, again and again.

            Sometimes a team will have a far superior lineup, vastly better players and subsequently; much better teamfights. You cannot be upset if these are the factors behind a loss and you can likely learn more from these games than a crushing victory.

            I took issue with the implication that people that play games online are some sort of lesser mortal compared to the commentator I replied to, I also questioned how much first hand experience of this behavior he/she has witnessed since I see very little of it in my unspeakable amount of hours spent in DOTA2. I also thoroughly enjoy playing with Russians which I cited as one of the main targets of complaint.

          • dE says:

            You say things like “You cannot be upset if these are the factors behind a loss”, yet people ARE upset about it and will spew hatred. If you’re not seeing this, it’s either a timezone thing and a question of different people playing at different times or that you’re just better at blending out the hatred.
            But you can’t claim it’s a non-issue when obviously so many people consider it an issue. Companies (including Valve) are actively trying to contain these communities through various measures. They wouldn’t do that if the community were all nice and fluffy. On Playdota, there are countless threads about the toxic community. LoL and Dota2 communities are frequently seen arguing which one of them is the worst. When even google comes up with the following most relevant searches, don’t you think there actually IS an issue?

            Dota 2 Community _
            _worst
            _unfriendly
            _is awful
            _bad
            _toxic

            5 out of 10 are in reference to the bad community. I know you love the game, that’s cool. I don’t want to take that away from you. But it’s actually a very healthy stance for a human to stay away from what is harmful to them. In this argument:

            “I took issue with the implication that people that play games online are some sort of lesser mortal”
            That was not the implication. But rather that he does not want to deal with the angries. And that he considers the amount of angries large enough to not want to deal with your community, or any online community for that matter, at all. That’s smart human behavior. Stay away from what is harmful to you. If the toxicity isn’t harmful to you, more power to you. Enjoy a great game.

            /very late edit:
            If you want an example, just hit ctrl+f and enter jonjonjon on this site.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            Yeah my eyebrows just raised a little bit reading his responses. Quite funny but unnecessarily rude!!

            I will argue that part of the problem is fighting your way out of the ‘trench’ of matchmaking, when people have a better understanding of these games they generally get less angry at things going wrong because it is easier to see why if that makes sense. I have also seen people complain about the community/their teams behavior in a match while also being one of the most abrasive personalities in the game.

    • Naug says:

      In LoL I just mute everyone from which I catch even a whiff of douchebaggery(and the enemy team is muted by default) and then I communicate almost entirely with the 5(6?) different pings. This makes me win more and leaves it at quite a pleasant experience.

      • Hieronymusgoa says:

        same here. works perfectly. and i did that with Demigod and every thing else online (MOBA or not) as well. if you can’t talk without using swearwords then it can’t be relevant. so you’re muted.

        • Apocalypse says:

          While I can understand that attitude I hope you both get your bans soon, because you are toxic players and need to be reformed. :)

          Making others even more mad with just refusing to communicate at the smallest incident will case ripples affecting hundreds of players in the long run. It is not good behavior. I still can understand you guys.

  2. subedii says:

    If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool DOTA player – a taut mass of fast-twitch muscle fiber and synapses that light up like Christmas trees to the most arbitrary of systems – then you might even feel insulted. See, here’s the thing: Heroes of the Storm makes sense almost immediately. There’s still lanes and leveling and relatively complex heroes, but Blizzard has reached under the hood and ripped out all the haphazardly duct-taped-together bits.

    Speaking as someone who was a novice to these games until I recently tried DOTA 2 (and is now just a novice), this opening kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

    Dota 2 isn’t a complex game, at least when you’re starting out. The basic rules are everyone has a hero with special abilities, and you attack the other dudes until you get to their base and destroy it.

    High end Dota is a complex game, but most of us never get there. Personally I don’t care to be “the very best like no-one ever was”, I just care that the matchmaking works (and that there’s enough of a community) to give me largely even matches and zeroes in my win/loss ratio to around 50%.

    Maybe it’s just that I came from a background more in RTS’s, but this genre (which I shall not name) felt relatively straightforward to me entering into it. You only really control one unit, and there’s MUCH less requirement to split your focus. The meta-game (Macro) at low to mid levels basically consists of “team up before you attack”. Most of the existing systems you flat out don’t need to know (pseudo random distribution anyone?), but you can as you get deeper into the game.

    I guess what I’m saying is, that a game has systems in place that allow for high level play doesn’t really mean too much to me if I can safely ignore them whilst playing at a low level. I feel that what hurts these games far more in terms of accessibility (as Mercykiller101 already said) is the toxic community,

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s funny you mention DOTA2 as your example, because “reached under the hood and ripped out all the haphazardly duct-taped-together bits” is the game I expected Valve to make.

      • Andrigaar says:

        Not while Icefrog still the lead designer and making Dota1 and Dota2 parity with duct tape and bondo.

        Cross your fingers he considers how to evolve the game away from Warcraft 3 once he finally abandons Dota1 and the War3 engine. Otherwise it’ll be the same game until the end of its popularity, whenever that is.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Indeed. Still kinda suprised Valve didn’t have the cultural force to either push him out of that approach or starve the cloning project into a TF2-like Valve-time start-over-later coma.

          • dmoe says:

            Valve couldn’t balance much less design a game (to save their lives) as complex as what Icefrog has cultivated here himself for years. This isn’t something that IF did overnight and both Dota and Dota 2 don’t just sit there becoming flat. Dota 2 is constantly changing between the role meta and the item combinations. I think people who expected IF to somehow “change” Dota with its sequel are out of their minds. This IP finally has Valve money behind it along with their support and you want them to dismember a design that everyone’s copied for their own? Much less actually do it right?

            That’s a wild goal there, silly even. They have a lot of real estate to conquer with Dota 2 and they’re doing it well. Especially between the content patches, The International and actually having the pro community’s involvement with the pub players being closer to them thanks to things like the Steam Workshop and Compendium. This game will not change in any drastic way where it’s a “new” game. If you want that, you have LoL and now HotS to look forward to.

          • Slaadfax says:

            Additionally: though many are still migrating, WC3 Dota still has a fairly large playerbase. No source on this, but estimates suggest a consistent 2 million, with something like 5 million total players. Keep in mind this is after large number of individuals migrated over.

            One thing that was very important in the production was that it changed little to nothing from the WC3 Dota formula, aside from fixing some of the more strange interactions that came about from using the WC3 engine (Kunnka with quelling blade, although this one may have been ironed out). This also meant keeping a fully open hero pool without the whole summoner spells, runes/glyphs (I’ve been out of LoL for a long time so I forget what they’re called), and so on.

            Now, whether or not this is a good thing is anyone’s best guess. However, the nice thing about Dota, and soon suspected to be added to Dota 2, is the presence of custom maps. Probably a lot easier to edit, I imagine, and now there will be the ability to bring back old classics (Pudge Wars) as well as experiment with the formula in new and interesting ways.

        • Shepardus says:

          Well, if it means anything, the most recent balance patch (6.79) was the first one that came to Dota 2 before Dota 1, and one of the changes transcended the maximum movement speed of 522 that was originally set by the Warcraft 3 engine. Somehow through some arcane sorcery Icefrog managed to implement this change in the Dota 1 map (which is still in public beta testing at the moment) but even then it’s a bit buggy. So it does seem that at least Dota 2′s become the higher priority and changes to Dota 2 are being ported to Dota 1 instead of the other way around (though Dota 2 is still missing heroes from Dota 1).

          • shaydeeadi says:

            Not to mention increasing base gold gain and making it easier to get experience,

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          They won’t do that with Dota 2, look at the official forums, every time something was done with the game during beta that differed slightly from original Dota there was a mass outcry of Dota 1 fanboys blasting the changes, they chose to use the name Dota which pretty much means they are at this point locked into replecating the original with better graphics.

  3. maximiZe says:

    You don’t have to go back to the base to pick up items in Dota.

    • Bull0 says:

      No, you need a carry or a mule or whatever. You have to do *something*. You clearly know that.

      • maximiZe says:

        Your hero still doesn’t have to move an inch so there’s no downtime which is the thing that matters here. I guess you could call pressing 3-4 keys to get your items “arbitrary minutiae”, but then why even play a game that involves thinking at this point?

        • Corrupt_Tiki says:

          Don’t know how much public games you play, but there is some planning or at least forethought that goes into using a courier. (Unless people were noobs or not paying attention and now you have 2/3 couriers – useful, but expensive)

          ‘Re-crowing’ the courier when someone else is trying to use it is a dick act.

        • Bull0 says:

          No downtime, and one less thing to worry about that isn’t directly associated with fighting the other players, etc.

          • maximiZe says:

            My point still stands.

          • Bull0 says:

            Not really mate, you were oversimplifying the issue

          • maximiZe says:

            What rubbed me the wrong way is that Nathan’s sentence sounds as if not having to go b2b to pick up items was a new thing in the genre when everything from the Dota school (i.e. Dota (2) and HoN) has couriers. I can’t remember how Demigod handled it. I’m glad that someone at RPS at least occasionally covers the genre, but having every article from this LoL-only perspective doesn’t really do it justice.

            Maybe I wasn’t clear enough about that, I do realize that Nathan was using it as an example for the ‘clutter’ Blizzard is trying to remove with Hot Storm. Originally it was just a small remark.

          • Nevard says:

            I don’t think Couriers really change the tone of his remark at all though, in this game there’s no delay or micromanagement at all. The Courier is a mechanic in dota which does need a bit of care sometimes as they’re juicy targets for the enemy team if you fly them out of position by just brainlessly going “I bought an item and now it is coming to me”.
            Plus there’s the “secret” shop and all that, which you can also send the courier to but it isn’t instant.

            This is still much different to dota’s system and I don’t think it really needed a specific mention that this was the case because it should be obvious to you anyway.

          • Ringwraith says:

            The point is, there is no delay between buying an item and getting it. No matter where you are.
            Thus, no need to fiddle with a physical ‘shop’ where items are dispensed from.

  4. 2helix4u says:

    No items, I called it! Blizzard will never let you break a character in the same way that LoL and DotA 2 are pretty much about breaking your character through items then becoming unstoppable in your role. Yeah this sounds like I’ll play it a bit, but for me half the fun of LoL is item builds so it’s not gonna be a replacement.

    E: to clarify i think this will be a good game, but I have doubts about Blizzard being able to make a MOBA because a lot of the quirks of MOBAs run counter to their “accessible and controlled” gameplay design.

  5. Niko says:

    With Awesomenauts it might make 2 MOBA games I’d play.

    • Ibed says:

      Yeah I was wondering, Nathan, have you played Awesomenauts? And if so, how does it compare?
      Because (aside from top-down vs. sidescrolling) this “(insert genre name here)* but smaller” (i.e. shorter matches, smaller maps that are centered around an idea, simpler progression, less lanes/turrets?, less people on a team?, simpler/no real jungling) sounds a lot like Awesomenauts.

      *: I prefer Competitive Tower Offence, but I’m not sure anyone would agree there.

      • jrodman says:

        I like your name. It’s clever, and it co-opts a standby acronym of the land of soul-sucking corporatism.

    • _Nocturnal says:

      Super Monday Night Combat was similarly fun and streamlined, probably the best game of that type, but unfortunately got abandoned by the developer. My problem with both SMNC and Awesomenauts was the terrible matchmaking and lack of consequences for leavers, which turned the otherwise brilliant games into a nightmare.

      Also, Ibed, it’s Lane Pushing Game. Saw it here first, it’s the best description and yet RPS authors still tend to use MOBA…

      • Ringwraith says:

        Because everyone knows what MOBA is, although it’s a horribly non-descriptive term. Somehow ‘Hero Brawler’ sounds worse.
        Lane Pushing Game is a much better alternative, but it’s difficult to get something to adopt a name.

  6. neolith says:

    That must be the worst cinematic trailer for a game I’ve ever seen.

    • Soulstrider says:

      Dunno, I grinned a lot I think it was it intentionally cheesy.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Was the whole of HOTS meant to be cheesy as well?

        • Fenix says:

          I’ve been thinking about this. When I was a teenager, I played Starcraft and Brood War, and I loved them immensely. For me, they had the coolest stories ever, and I loved everything about them.

          But when I played SCII WoL and HotS, I felt the story was cheesy and predictable. Upon further reflection though, it wasn’t “worse” than the original stories, it’s just that my standards have raised.

          In other words, Blizzard is making stories that teenagers in the late 90′s would have loved, but its main audience is made of people in their late 20s/early 30s. And it’s 2013.

          • Xocrates says:

            Dunno, I still maintain the original starcraft remains amongst the best RTS stories I’ve played.

            Mind you, the bar is so low that it doesn’t mean it was actually good, but it was overall fairly solid stuff.

            Brood War is when things started getting silly though.

    • RedViv says:

      That’s a really weird way to spell “best fecking” you have there.

  7. RedViv says:

    Hero Brawl? SAUSAGES, dammit. I thought it was cleared up!

  8. yogibbear says:

    That trailer actually looked really really bad.

    See the thing is the complexity is what keeps people interested in the game. DOTA 2 is damn near addictive as some sort of super heroin due to the complexity that keeps every game different even if you played 20 games in a row as the same hero, the games can and more often than not will run completely differently (assuming you’re not picking someone to jungle for 20 mins+ before joining in on the action).

    This to me sounds like the same sorts of mistakes that have been done and failed before on “casual” FPS, “casual” RTS, casual “RPG”, etc. you suck the soul out of the game, and the community does not build up around the game, suddenly there’s no one to play with, and you are not addicted and interested in the complex mechanics and gameplay.

    However, this is Blizzard… so I’m sure they’ll find a way. Especially Activision-led management support for bland repetitive simple mechanics…….. that community hasn’t died off yet… and yet I haven’t played a game of that since MW1.

    Luckily the DOTA 2 community is awesome and I have made heaps of friends to play with and play against, and we all happily do our thing. Even when I’ve had someone add me, specfically to yell at me on steam chat, I’ve been nice back to them and they’ve instantly caved and then wanted to play more games with me. The “vitriol” that outsiders have for MOBA communities is just all FUD and the typical minority ruining things for the majority. (Like the ghastly VOLVO DIRETIDE mess… yes… the community easily makes themselves look a tad silly).

    Anyway… off to play more Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut (OMG GAME OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    • maximiZe says:

      But haven’t you heard that the community is toxic?

      I jest, good post.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Best description of blizzard ive heard. I love the sc2 casters but the game is pretty meh and they do their best to hype up anything blizzard does which is a shame really , when you think about it.

    • Stupoider says:

      Getting rid of the complexities (and subtleties) is just going to make it immensely repetitive. Not only that, it’s going to be an absolute bore to watch at a competitive level.

      I’ve only ever had problems with the DOTA2 community once in every 5-10 matches? Then one of the ways to circumvent that is to just play against bots. “Toxic community” is a smokescreen, an excuse to get out of explaining a lack of patience for this complex, inaccessible type of game.

      But once you break through you’re hooked. I don’t think Heroes of the Storm will ever have that kind of hook, beyond Blizzard making it.

      The fact that there are people in DOTA2 rating me and many others “friendly” and “forgiving” just goes to show that there AREN’T as many bad eggs in this game.

      Someone up top was calling Valve to give DOTA2 the TF2 treatment. Well, here’s hoping the removal of the Alpine Ursa set puts a complete stop to THAT ever happening.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Not really mobas are easier to pick up and play compared to other comp games sc2 etc and do have pretty poor communities and trolls due to the team based nature of the game.

        • Stupoider says:

          Wasn’t it one of Riot’s studies that showed that the “trolls” were just players having a bad day, who went on to give other players a bad day etc etc? I can’t for the life of me understand this black and white analysis that most dota-like detractors have. Perhaps the misappropriation of the term “trolls” has become more infuriating than the “trolls” themselves.

          I guess emotions run higher because there isn’t really any other style of multiplayer where the actions of one player can impact the whole team. If you’re playing TF2 with randomers, you can easily make up for the shortcomings of your teammates, but in DOTA2, poor performance can directly benefit the enemy team.

          • Ernesto25 says:

            Without seeing the survey id doubt riot would come to the conclusion “our fanbase is made of dicks ” but i take your point.I would rather not discuss tf2 as old tf2 teamwork was a must , but i understand that how the game(mobas) is set up makes people angrier. Ive seen this in other games i have played css, csgo, sc2 amongst ther but still not to mba’s extent but i also refer to the twitch community etc which is pretty toxic at best for most games not just LOL/dota. Maybe its due top the sheer numbers who play these games that alot of bad experience is had . In time i guess you learn to deal with it though

    • WarOnGamesIndustry says:

      People claimed that about CTGs and MMOs and now we have WOW and Heartstone more well know than MTG and EQ.

      • jrodman says:

        Hearthstone has a long way to go to be better known than Magic the Gathering. I’ve had people talk to me about Magic who don’t play any games and don’t even know what World of Warcraft is, let alone any computer game beyond some form of solitaire.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Good post, my thoughts exactly. I’ll try it though. Reminds me a bit of the awesomenauts mechanics, and that can be good fun once in a while.

  9. Ny24 says:

    So you’re saying Blizzard is about to release their first good game? So maybe they fuck up the release then.

    • Soulstrider says:

      Their first good game?Wait what?

    • Fenix says:

      Really now? I know hating Blizzard is what all the cool internet people do now (and Blizzards record hasn’t been the best lately) but… “their first good game”? Fuck off

    • Jenks says:

      I’d agree if you said first good game in 10 years.

  10. Heavenfall says:

    I love the sound of this. The CGI trailer actually made me smile a bit, but the no-item thing really will make me try it. It’s the worst aspect of the MOBA genre in my opinion, and yet one of its most beloved ones by its players! What would Dota be without recipes? Demigod tried it, just straight up items, didn’t go well either.

    I hope that this game can be fun to play for casual players as well as being deep enough to provide for an interesting high-skill game. LoL didn’t make it, Dota2 didn’t make it. Will this? I’m about to find out.

    • yogibbear says:

      I’m not sure you understand say why in Dota 2 you have recipes. I’ll just point out that without recipes given the economy of reliable and unreliable gold, without recipes, it would be almost impossible for squishy chars, newbies, supports, etc. to build decent items as they would never amass enough gold. The point is you spend all the gold you have on the best cost/benefit item for your character depending on opponents, free farm, game time, tactics, lane position, etc. and that by spending all your money always, then you minimise risk that the unreliable gold you were holding disappears when you get ganked. Only the carries / late game supports can start holding huge sums of gold for those etc. special items that are risk vs. reward of going for a higher purchase price single item as part of the recipe vs. piece mealing out for something not so good. This makes the economy interesting as you have very expensive items that can be built from say 5-6 things that are good for supports / or when you are losing / getting ganked, and super luxury items for when you are in a position of never dying / and or high risk of going for them when your team is losing and you are not being protected. This is just a very very very small nuance and I’m missing out lots of other details, but this is why recipes are so important to the fundamental game. Without recipes many items on certain characters would be almost unobtainable and the end result would be a smaller percentage of players would finish games with their basic items. The other benefit of recipes (talking specifically about DOTA [not sure if it’s the same elsewhere, it probably is at least similar[) is that you can then “break down” items into their original pieces and change upgrade paths i.e. economy of item slots vs. cost/benefit of items that you can afford at the time. Hopefully you were already aware of this, but this is my take on why recipes are so fundamental to the current meta game for DOTA at least. I’m sure there’s a bunch of other viewpoints on this, but if you took recipes away you make the game lose a lot of tactical strategies e.g. checking enemies items and guessing what they are building and then building the counter-item before them. Or changing your strategies of fighting them if you see they have a hex/silence/stun item etc.

      • Heavenfall says:

        I completely understand what you’re saying, the problem is that all that item-handling sounds boring as fuck to me. That’s why I don’t like it. I respect its contributions to the meta-game and the increased depth of choice in the economy of a player. But saying that “without recipes the game would finish with several players using just basic items” is using flawed logic, because there are other ways to approach issues like that, most importantly balancing the game accordingly.

        • SomeDuder says:

          In my case, I “get” why the items are there and how they add a whole ‘nother layer of depth to a game, but it’s just that I can’t be bothered to look all the shit up and make a fine-tuned build that will do such-and-such in a specific situation. BORING! Just attack-move everywhere and let auto-attack sort them out.

          When I occassionally played DotA 2 I just did whatever, sticking with the basic items that raised attack damage, attributes, more mana, etc, only dicking around with the more complex stuff when our victory was near.

          HotS might be interesting, signed up for beta.

          • Cheradanine Zakalwe says:

            @ someduder.

            Dota players don’t memorise 120 various item builds for each hero and select one according to memorisation. What you do is that you have a rough ‘core’ build that varies in bits and pieces depending on your analysis of how the game is going. Early on, the analysis you can do is fairly simple – like if they have a lot of stuns, its a good idea to build a black king bar which grants magic immunity for 10 seconds. As you play more, you’ll begin to see the utility of a much wider array of items and see how they are effective against given lineups.

            Most of the time (particularly when you’re learning) just following the reccomended item builds will set you up just fine. As you learn, you can begin to make choices here and there (actually, I want a bottle for this hero/I’m farming well so I’ll grab a midas). Eventually you won’t even look at guides and will just pick items depending on what you feel is right (flash analysis). In short, don’t look at item builds as a memorisation thing, they’re more of reading and understanding you an the enemy teams respective strategies on the fly and building something thats reflective of that.

        • Cheradanine Zakalwe says:

          @ heaven Recipes are just a balance point. Some items are too good for the price with just the componenents, so they chuck an additional gold cost on top. That additional gold cost is whatever is required for the item to be balanced.

          Items as a whole are just another layer of customisation and depth. The playstyle of you hero (and your team) is determined by your item choices. If you think of items as just another ‘skill’, it makes more sense. The difference between dota and other rpgs is that there are far more external factors affecting your item selection. The cost of items, your teams heroes, their heroes etc can and should change your item selection. Its also a necessary component of the scaling aspect of dota – different heroes are flat out stronger than others depending on how much experience and gold they have. This allows you to have many different intesecting timing windows depending on your hero selection.

  11. Chalky says:

    How many MOBAs can this genre’s player-base sustain? I’m sure it’s cannibalising itself at this point and given how good this game appears to be, will this be the last successful MOBA? There are a whole load squeezing their way through the kickstarter pipes at the moment, or otherwise in development. I imagine we’ll be seeing a whole bunch of failures now that the current lineup is so crowded.

  12. PsychoWedge says:

    I’m confused. I thought they’ve been making Blizzard All Stars DOTA for the last 20 years and just reached da point where it was near a releasable state?

    • Ibed says:

      I believe that this is that game, only renamed to Heroes of the Storm.

  13. DerNebel says:

    What I immediately thought of while reading this article is that it has potential to be the closest thing we’ve yet seen to a fighting game – dota like hybrid. The dota mechanics, boiled down to their naked bones, matches quick and to the point, all players levelling up almost in sync meaning they have equal amounts of tools at all times and the different power curves o heroes being comparable to meter management.

    I really like the fact that maps are small, which, if done correctly, will allow for quick movements, stabs in the blind and poking different lanes before returning home. It really seems like it could have as much in common with Street Fighter as Dota 2.

    Another thing that further likens it to fighting games are the characters. FGs are basically a study in character creation, beloved figures boiled down to their very essence in 20 or so moves. Heroes of the Storm is poised to do what multiple fighting games have done in the past, the Marvel vs Capcom series being most prominent, take well known characters and pit them against each other in a brawl that doesn’t make sense but still feels perfectly natural.

    The only thing that bothers me is that this is Blizzard developing it, and their output in recent years haven’t been astonishing, to say the least. Buuuuut, Hearthstone is looking like a well produced, if a bit redundant on the gameplay side, game that oozes style out of every alien orifice the various races of Warcraft posseses. Maybe, just maybe, if they get the fun just right and the balance just tight enough and the character design absolutely spot on, then we could be seeing a Blizzard rennaisance with boiled down, character heavy, fast paced competitive games. Now THAT would be something to look forward to.

    • Stupoider says:

      DOTA2 already shares elements of fighting games; the timing of last hitting, the attention to animation frames and stopping them when possible, control of the playing field, something as simple as turnspeeds etc. DOTA2 just has more RPG/RTS-style elements on top of that.

  14. Tei says:

    I am the most stupid person ever. The cinematic video made me cry. I don’t know what the fuck. I am not even a fan of blizzard. Seeing Kerrigan pre and post zergitification really got me. Blizzard, you win again. Theres platinum bars somewhere in here.

  15. CaptainHero says:

    I’m looking forward to trying this out. My friends and I played LOL for quite awhile – until one day we just started getting absolutely stomped on by everyone we played. We quickly realized that we were getting put up against people with 3000 hours+ of play time, which is the equivalent of playing LOL as a full-time job for 428 days.

    I like competitive games, but only to a certain level. I don’t have the spare time to play 6 hours a night to improve my play. Ultimately, is it really worth it? A MOBA which a playtime of 20 mins and pick up and play approach could be perfect. I’m sure it’ll have a pretty toxic community and plenty of people who play it like a full-time job, but hopefully it’ll be more bearable overall.

    • jonjonjon says:

      wahhh people are too good and I always lose because they have no life. wahhh. stop crying you just suck.

      seems like this is the perfect game for you and your friends. a mindless moba that requires very little to no skill or knowledge.

      • CaptainHero says:

        Haha – very funny. Nice parody of a illiterate Dota / LoL fanboy. You’re right – I suck at a computer game. I told my girlfriend about it and she dumped me on the spot. My boss found out and he sacked me too. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope…

        You’ve obviously already played HOTS too? I’m impressed. But why did you take time out from Dota / LoL to play it?

        • SeismicRend says:

          Yeah the intelligent matchmaking has its drawbacks. I know if I ever play with casual friends I need to log onto an alternative account for that purpose. Otherwise my main account with a higher matchmaking rating would queue us as a team against equally skilled opponents who just wipe the floor against beginners.

      • HypercaneSanvu says:

        Remember folks, LoL doesn’t have a toxic culture! They are all great people and will murder your dog if you say otherwise.

        • maximiZe says:

          Now it’s not only a community, but an entire culture of toxicity? Interesting how you drew that conclusion from a single post.

          • jrodman says:

            Do you really not see why that post deserved the mockery it got? Because if not, you deserve mockery also.

          • maximiZe says:

            Never said it didn’t.

          • jrodman says:

            If you knew it was mockery, you shouldn’t have responded as if it was serious.
            That was basically an attempt to make a conversation seem more antagonistic than it was. Which is kind of typical toxic behavior.

  16. rockman29 says:

    Looks fun.

    Also find it funny people are mad that they turned Nova “into a girl who blows kisses.” I don’t think HotS has anything to do with the StarCraft storyline…. lol.

  17. jonjonjon says:

    is the author a blizzard and lol fanboy? i was hoping this would be good but the more i hear about it the less i want to play it.

    • Nevard says:

      It’s possible he could be interested in both Blizzard or LoL, calling him a fanboy is a strange decision because having opinions about video games is literally his job and why you read his posts on this website about people having opinions about video games.

    • maximiZe says:

      I don’t know about his feelings about Blizzard but Nathan is an avid LoL player, and if I’m not mistaken exclusively, thus sadly lacking insight into the genre as a whole.

  18. SnowCrash says:

    I would love to play this if it was like the cinematic

  19. Mark says:

    Definitely interesting. Might give it a bit of a play but the lack of depth is probably going to keep things casual/non competitive which is such a big part of Dota/LoL.

    Maybe Blizzard are hoping people who play other Moba type games will play this on the side casually for a bit of a break, rather than expecting people to transfer across and play it full time.