BlizzCon Keynote: Heroes Of The Storm MOBA Detailed

Blizzard Convention Two Thousand And Thirteen Anno Domini Year Of Our Metzen is upon us. Shortened to “BlizzCon” despite the svelte elegance of its full name, the show is Blizzard’s favorite place for new announcements. I am sitting in a very prickly chair in gaming’s most cavernous convention hall, and I’ll be writing about and recording what happens all weekend. First up, Blizzard’s repeatedly reinvented MOBA Heroes of the Storm.

Blizzard’s Dustin Browder introduced the mashup MOBA as “Blizzard: The Game.” It includes heroes from every mainstay series, including Diablo, Kerrigan, The Lich King, Jim Raynor, and the like. A gameplay video drove that home, with all manner of folks in uncomfortably pointy shirts and pants duking it out from a top-down perspective. Basically, it looked like a MOBA.

More details will drop in a panel soon, but for now Blizzard is saying the big difference between HOTS and, say, DOTA or LoL is unique, lore-themed maps. Each have their own special objectives and game variants. For instance, Blackheart’s Bay will see you collecting treasure and giving it to an evil pirate lord so that he’ll rain down demonic cannon fire on your enemies.

Dragonshire, meanwhile, will see you battle to open a dragon altar, which will transform a hero of your choosing into The Dragon Knight, who I guess is a pretty big deal. He is apparently nearly “unstoppable.”

Sounds interesting, but not particularly genre-shifting. I’ll get to play it soonish, and I’ll let you know if anything else stands out.

The keynote is still ongoing, so look for more news soon.


  1. Smashbox says:

    Acronym Crisis: Revelations

    • RedViv says:

      Cans of Dotas: Mostly Weak

    • BooleanBob says:

      Blizzard should have called it Heroes Amid The Storm, a) to distinguish it from Heart Of The Swarm and b) to better reflect their core monetisation strategy for the game.

  2. lautalocos says:

    can someone please tell me why everyone seems to like MOBAs that much?

    i tried playing dota 2 and LoL and i didn´t like either.
    and why do we keep hearing of a new MOBA coming up every week? really, they seem all the same to me.

    i just want someone to tell me what is the appeal of these games.

    • RedViv says:

      The best I could come up with is this word and number combo: Wrestlemania VII

      Essentially everything I personally like in these games is in there.
      Yeah this does not help much if you are not round 30 or up.
      Or do not enjoy play fighting.

    • particle says:

      It’s like asking why do people like FPS’s so much? It’s just a different genre.

    • Zankmam says:

      Can someone please tell me why everyone seems to comment like this so much?

      I tried reading this comment and others similar to it and I couldn’t comprehend the stupidity of none of them.

      And why do we keep getting these whiny comments from these close-minded people every week? They all seem the same to me.

      I just want someone to tell me what is the reason that so many people exist who can’t comprehend different tastes, likes and dislikes and opinions.

      • lautalocos says:

        i understand different tastes. but i expect people to explain what is the appeal of a game or genre.

        as an example, i don´t like point and click games, but i understand why people like it. the humour, the world, the story, the characters, those are the reasons.

        i just want to see what does this genre do to get so many people to play MOBAs. im not insulting anyone tastes or anything like that. im just asking for an explanation

        • Leb says:

          Easy to learn, tough to master.

          Probably one of the best “team based” genres out there. That said, I cannot stand to play MOBAs “solo-qued” – e.g on a team of random matched up comrades. Best enjoyed with a team of friends you coordinate with. Pulling of power plays as a team has a level of satisfaction no other genre can bring IMO.

          While I have been out of the MOBA scene for a while now, as they require quite the time investment to master – as not knowing what abilities an enemy champ has is easily signing your death contract, and LoL kept throwing more and more champs for me to get stumped on, it’s undoubtedly one of the better genres to play with friends.

        • Ernesto25 says:

          I actually understand i don’t love LOL but for ages i was confused by the MOBA’s popularity as i played sc2 so playing LOL and the like just seemed easy to pick up and play . I think that’s the appeal and the thrill of successful teamwork that changes the tide of a game. It’s still strange and having tried dota2 i have no real desire to play more than 1 moba unlike other games genre’s. But i understand why you don’t see the appeal

          • lautalocos says:

            and now i undertand why you see the appeal.

            i just wish that the new MOBAs bring new things to the table. hopefully with time new things will be added to the genre to make it more interesting.

          • neurosisxeno says:

            You’re in luck because Heroes of the Storm looks to be unlike every other MOBA/ARTS on the market. It maintains the 5v5, but the games are either times or just happen to last at most about 20 minutes. The heroes are easy to understand but difficult to fully master, there are options when it comes to skill builds and what have you but nowhere near as decision intensive as DotA. The maps are drastically different, one of them featured an underground mine section that was part of a meta-game for that map that involved harvesting resources for an NPC to help your team out. If anything it’s more like LoL in that the mechanics are not insanely complicated (No Invokers here) and you can have the same hero on either team.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Lots of people enjoy competitive games in all shapes and sizes. These are just a different flavour.

      I play League of Legends, and personally I like the fact that teamwork is fundamental to the whole thing, compared to most FPS games I’ve played online. My gaming preference has always been playing something competitive with friends or in clans. And there’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes from learning them. That’s what makes the time invested feel worth it.

      And something MOBAs have going for them is the persistence of the game allows for the community to really grow, the same as MMOs. They’re not fractured every few years with a new iteration, they just continually update and move forward, so it’s easy to feel invested in where they’re going. You spend as much time outside of the game, reading articles and learning new mechanics, as you do actually playing. The strong professional scenes play into that too, it’s like a whole extra layer. Basically, much like WoW, they get so big they can feel like they’re own separate world, with all the good bits and all the horrible bits.

      As for the sheer numbers of people playing, I think that simply comes from how easy it is to start. You don’t need a high end PC and you can try them without committing any money. It counts for a lot if you can make your game playable on a crappy laptop and cheap to get in.

    • BockoPower says:

      It’s a team game genre. You need friends to share and like it. If you play alone it loses 95% of its power.

    • donweel says:

      I play Smite because it is a quick and dirty multiplayer experience. You don’t need a guild or really to know anybody to get a game in 1 to 5 minutes time and have some fun for 15 to 30 minutes. MMO games take a great deal more time and energy. MOBAs are a quicky. I don’t like the isometric games like DOTA or League either that is why I play smite it is 3rd person more like I am used to playing.

    • 2helix4u says:

      LoL has actually gone to some lengths to expand the moba genre, there are 4 different maps which are essentially different “games”. So now you don’t just have to like 20-40 minute slog matches of farming and occasional, critical attacks.
      There’s Howling Abyss if you want fast money, random champions and constant teamfights, a great way to learn the roster and their roles at endgame as well as items and what they can do for you. There’s Dominion if you want to play a quick, high-stakes take and hold game where every second counts and defeat is never certain. There is also twisted treeline which is a smaller version of the main map with some new differences such as strategic points that grant gold and a new array of monsters and buffs, it is useful if you only have a couple of friends and don’t want to worry about not being able to go the position you want in 5v5.
      All of these maps encourage very different styles of play and optimal champions, so as long as you can control a guy and cast spells you can avoid any difficulty curve you wish.

      I can’t speak for DotA 2 but seeing as its Valve published I don’t doubt they will be adding their own twists too if not now then in the future.

  3. SkittleDiddler says:


  4. Jomini says:

    That logo looks like it was made by a preschooler in MS Paint.

    • Brigand says:

      Yes yes. It’s not the official logo, don’t you fret a second more.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Yeah, don’t even know how RPS got that, let alone why they’d use it.

  5. Horg says:

    I’m hoping that after the negative press received by Diearhbleau 3, Blizzard wont simply assume this title will succeed ”becasue it’s Blizzard”, and produce a lackluster entry into the isometric lane pushing genre. They done good with Hearthstone, although it’s a much more simple concept to get a CCG working.

    The new game variants sound like a good idea, but if Valve ever get around to releasing the Dota 2 editor it might be irrelevant. Blizzard wont be able to keep up with the volume of new game modes coming out of Dota if the modders get their hands on it.

    • Ditocoaf says:

      From what I’ve heard, this is going to be in a different mold than LoL and DotA. The basic arrangement of “pushing down lanes with weak AI characters and level ups and stuff” will be there, but a lot of the core MOBA mechanics will be different.

      For instance, there won’t be any “last hitting”, which I understand is a pretty big part of the strategy in those games. Maybe people who are used to LoL and DotA will immediately react to a change like that with shock and disgust, but a new game built around that could be a neat twist, and importantly: more accessible. God knows I haven’t been able to get into MOBAS because some of the core strategies seem… arbitrary and counter intuitive. Maybe this game will fix that for me! Maybe not.

      • jrodman says:

        To be clear, last-hitting isn’t a strategy component, it’s a localized skill-goal. If you last-hit well, your character advances more rapidly than if you last-hit poorly. It’s one thing to try to do well among the other things that are jostling for your attention.

        There’s no strategy aspect of last-hitting other than possibly deciding who on your team should be receiving the biggest money boost of those who have the opportunity to do so, at any given time.

        Still, because it’s just one of the many things that jostle for your attention, mostly during the opening movements of the game, there’s plenty of design room to remove it and replace it with other things that fill up your brain-space.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Serrit says:

    Reading the terms “Blizzard” and “HOTS” in the same context, I immediately thought I was familiar with this – “Ah, this is Heart of the Swarm, that enjoyable Starcraft II expansion”. But then I did a double take, and saw HOTS as “Heroes of the Storm”? That a working title? /confused.

  7. Nevard says:

    I thought I’d be skipping this one but the more I see of it the more excited I am

    They want games to last 20 minutes, mechanics like last hitting and denying are gone, when one teammate gets experience they all do so they can have dedicated support heroes, all the maps are stuffed with gimmicks
    This is the casual moba game that I want, and they’re clearly enjoying themselves making it too

    Plus the team size is exactly the size of my friend group who are also likely to be interested

    • jrodman says:

      I’m a little doubtful that you can get all the richness of the concept of mobas into a 20 minute structure.

      That said, maybe you don’t need it.

  8. 2helix4u says:

    MOBA nerd chat incoming:
    link to

    This is actually really interesting, there is no last hitting and all gold for player kills is shared across the team. This is a HUGE streamlining, it goes with Blizzard’s current direction of essentially removing all obstacles to the player within the set gameplay loop. It will be really interesting to see whether playing HotStorm (this is the perfect moniker) makes veteran MOBA players think that this is a great idea and something that was holding all the other MOBAs back without us even really knowing it, or whether the MOBA formula requires some of its harsh quirks to retain its soul and what attracts us to them.

    For me I came to LoL after my friend finally got me to install it, before LoL the multiplayer game I was probably best at was WoW PvP, what immediately attracted me was the idea that health didn’t regenerate and killing a player was both a buff to myself and a debuff to them, they wouldn’t get the chance to just spawn 1 second after I kill them because the spirit rez timer was up. I would hate this in any MMO setting but within the confines of this single map that just creates this whole game of careful feints, hit and run attacks and intuition.

    One thing I don’t really trust Blizzard with is MOBA-style balance. My second major attraction to LoL was how the aim of any match is essentially to break your character and become imbalanced, the art being in what counts as imbalanced against the champions you’re facing. Blizzard wouldn’t even let us break our characters in their single player ARPG. I don’t see them adding the ridiculous item combinations that LoL does, I imagine items will have lower overall effect; I would love to be wrong though, I want to play this game!