Heroes Of The Storm Enters Beta In January

“Blizzard: The Game” as Mike Morhaime named it marches ever on toward release. Heroes of the Storm will be entering closed beta on January 13th. The difference between this and their current technical alpha, which is also invite only, will be a ramping up of frequency of invites and more polish in various areas. This was the most major of Blizzard’s announcements for the game during Blizzcon, but they detailed some other upcoming changes.

Competitive play spent the most time being discussed. They’re gearing up to include both a draft mode and ranked play. The draft mode functions similarly to other MOBAs, two teams picking from a shared pool of all the heroes in the game and allowing no duplicates. One differences is there’s currently no plans for a banning phase, due to the size of the HotS roster. This was rightly questioned by an audience member during Q&A, pointing out that tournaments have a 1 ban per team system. Lead Designer Dustin Browder reiterated that they’ll keep tracking it and that this is only for their online ranked modes, rather than a global rule for tournaments.

That ranked play was another announcement. It comes in the form of leagues which are most closely styled after Hearthstone’s ranking system but with an ELO-like player rating that governs how many points teams will earn. There are two seperate leagues, one for solo players and teams smaller than five, and another just for 5v5 matches between pre-constructed teams. You’ll advance from rank 50 up to rank 1, seperated by tiers of points that are earned and lost via matches.

Also mentioned quickly and playable on the show floor were four new heroes including Warcraft’s Jaina, an ice mage, Thrall, an orc shaman andĀ the undead elf ranger Sylvanas. Last was The Lost Vikings, the titular protagonistsĀ of one of Blizzard’s older games. They operate as three separate characters on the battlefield and can split up or team together as necessary, similar to Dota’s infamous Meepo. There were also new battlegrounds shown off, which can be seen in the below trailer:

4 Comments

  1. WhiteHawke says:

    Blizzard lost me on this one when they added rune pages.

    • ersetzen says:

      At the start I was like: Having progressions as mechanics instead of statistics sound pretty cool, actually. Maybe not the most competitive of the bunch but most people are kinda terrible in these sort of games anyway. And it sounds awesome with friends.

      Then it was kinda like: So you make a game where progression is about meaningful mechanics and then add meaningless statistics that lock you into roles? Also, force you to buy these statistics instead of interesting heroes to have an equal chance? That sure totally sounds fun…

      Then: Oh great, you have to play a bunch of games with to have something resembling choice for ingame progression. FOR EACH HERO SEPERATELY. I am totally confident this isn’t a money making scheme…

      Edit: Thinking about blizzards past I really hope Overwatch is a full price release. Otherwise I am not looking forward to their payment model.
      …It’s going to be terrible, isn’t it? :(

    • Brigand says:

      Well you’ll be happy to know they took them out after everyone said how terrible an idea it was.

    • Nevard says:

      They removed them again pretty sharpish, actually.