The Lost Vikings Roll Out In Heroes Of The Storm

Sail away.

Blizzard are continuing to bounce merrily around their history with crossover throwdown MOBA Heroes of the Storm [official site], this time digging up a new character from before their 16-year stretch of Diablo, Warcraft, and StarCraft. Or characters, I should say. Sorta. But not. Kinda. The latest addition, see, is The Lost Vikings from ye olde puzzle-platformer of the same name, and they’re technically one single ‘hero’ but you can control all three independently.

Choosing The Lost Vikings as your hero will give you three units – tanky Olaf, splash-damaging Baleog, and zippy Erik. They can all round around by themselves, fight by themselves, and die by themselves, with their own health bars, respawn times and whatnot. You have three units. Do you see? That’s the point: you get the lot of them. Three. There are three of them. Am I over-explaining this? THREE (3). THREE MEN. THREE. Wait, three men and a boat – as bringing ’em all together lets you use their heroic skill of hopping in a longboat to spew cannonballs and mortar bombs.

I’m a Doter not a Stormer (defs real words) so this is a bit alien to me, but still pretty interesting. The Lost Vikings look to me like a permanent Brewmaster ultimate with extra combining powers, which which be mighty and terrifying in the hands of a skilled-enough player. Blizzard pitch The Lost Vikings as a difficult hero for skilled players, obviously.

Here, hit this announcement and this description for more info.

The Lost Vikings aren’t in the current free hero rotation, so they’ll cost you £7.49 (sez Eurogamer) if you want a go now. It sounds pricey to me, but I’m spoiled by Dota mostly selling wizard hats that I can pick up for pennies on the Steam Community Market. The £30 charge to buy your way into the beta is fairly typical for Dote ’em ups, but the hero unlocks are a bit oof. Still, Rich Stanton had a bash and enjoyed it as a way into the MOBA world.

27 Comments

  1. Kitsunin says:

    I’d be interested in buying the founder’s pack, if I didn’t have to lock it to the SEA region with that being where I live now. I’ve got no interest in re-buying crap just because I move.

  2. Herbal Space Program says:

    So ditch last hits, items, warding and denying but bring micro intensive heroes?

    • Arathain says:

      Yup, basically. The heroes have a broad range of complexity. Lost Vikings sounds like they’ll be right up there, but there are plenty of easier ones if you don’t fancy the micro, as well as plenty in between.

    • Xocrates says:

      HotS is really weird, in that it’s a “casual” MOBA that only makes sense when played competitively.

      Those aren’t even close to be the most contradictory things about it. I honestly can’t figure out who the game is supposed to be for.

      • lasikbear says:

        Yeah, I feel like the design is based around a goal of being more casual, but the shared experience pool means it’s harder for a single individual to standout. Even more so it seems like its very easy for one person to bring the whole team down, and team communication and coordination seems much more important since everyone on the team is always as important in teamfights (more or less).

        I feel like in DoTA or LoL a single standout player is able to positively affect the team in a significant way, while I feel the converse is true in HoTS, where a particularly “bad” (or often just miscoordinated) player is much more capable of negatively affecting the team.

        This is not a game where you win a 2v5 (which I totally did once in DoTA2 and yes I am very proud of that).

        • Xocrates says:

          Yeah, and bizarrely, despite being so Team oriented, the game neither has your team-mates health in the UI, and the kill/death notification is incredibly subtle. It’s more or less impossible to know at a glance how the a battle is going unless you’re 5 man roaming all the time – which isn’t always the best strategy.

      • Arathain says:

        I think the word casual is misapplied (full disclosure: I mostly hate how gaming communities use the word). Heroes of the Storm is not a casual game. It’s an intense 5 vs 5, with many diverse characters requiring hours to learn to effectively play with and play against. The arenas are large and have many objectives and elements to interact with, such that just figuring out what you and your team should even be doing right now is a skill that takes a great deal of experience and good judgement. It’s a big, complex game requiring time and commitment.

        The only reason we’re even having this discussion is the strange nature of Dota and LoL. Those games have all the above, and layer on top dozens of items, even more characters, skill and item builds, and all the weird, arbitrary rules that make those games what they are.

        What HotS shows is that the foundation of the genre- 5 vs 5 diverse characters, lane pushing, all the basics- is enough on it’s own to make an enjoyable, deep, interesting game.

        There’s no contradiction there. I think there’s a pretty good audience for people who want to play these sorts of games and have fun without the deep commitment that Dota and LoL require.

        • Xocrates says:

          I’m fully aware that casual doesn’t apply to it, which is why I used quotes.

          But the contradiction isn’t that it’s a skill intensive game with low entry, it’s that it’s a Team intensive, complex game presented as a drop in and play game, which it very much isn’t. The solo experience in HotS is actually worse than in games like LoL.

          The game is designed for having a lower barrier of entry, the game is designed so you pick your hero and play, the game is also designed in such a way that doing so is a terrible idea.

          I’m not contesting any of your points, I very much agree with them, this does not change the fact that how HotS presents itself, how it plays, and who it targets, are vague if not outright contradictory.

          • Arathain says:

            Thanks for the clarification. I’m not sure I entirely agree about the solo experience, but then it’s been a few years since I played LoL. I’ve been enjoying this as a relative new player more than I did LoL. Shorter games helps a lot, I think. Still, I think I see what you’re getting at. Team fights in this genre have always been confusing to parse and difficult to correctly execute, and HotS has more team fights starting earlier. Since the laning phase is short enough that you might actually miss it altogether co-ordination becomes that much more important.

            I also disagree that the game is structured against comebacks. Teams trailing in levels get an XP bonus, which means a couple of kills and you can be right back in the game. I’ve done it and had it done. I would say Dota/LoL, are the ones unfriendly to comebacks, since a farmed and fed carry can become pretty much unstoppable. Of course, it happens in those games too.

          • Xocrates says:

            A farmed and fed carry can become unstoppable, yes, but he cannot single handedly be everywhere and protect every objective, so it’s still possible to either play around him or shut him down.

            By comparison, HotS is the equivalent of the entire team being fed. Not so that they could 1v5 you, but enough that they will always win 5v5 and the objectives (barring any major mistakes), which, depending on the map, they very much can fully control.

            Also, LoL has a surrender option, which HotS desperately needs.

            However, I should probably note that I play LoL almost exclusively in ARAM and the featured gamemodes. Which are generally shorter games and more casual. In particular I got into the HotS alpha more or less simultaneously with LoL’s run of Twisted Treeline Hexakill, which played almost exactly like HotS in terms of game progression and flow but under LoL’s mechanics, which exacerbated whatever problems I may have with HotS by comparing it with a game with vastly more experience in the area – there are a lot of things LoL learned the hard way that HotS completely ignores.

        • thepanzer says:

          Normally I’m against “casualizing” games and stripping complexity out (I’m looking at you Beyond Earth), but in this case it works. I think a good analogy is the refinement and streamlining old Blizzard did to EQ when they created vanilla WOW. They cut out a lot of the wonky bits, polished it up, and focused on more of the fun aspects. Same for HOTS…

          I bought the founders pack after reading some stuff here on RPS about it and it was worth every penny. The DOTA itch had been coming back but between the toxic players and sheer work involved in playing DOTA i’d been resisting. HOTS was the MOBA i’d been waiting for… Now that I’ve done without last hitting, gold, and items I have no desire to ever go back to them. It’s just extra, un-needed stuff.

          As for some of the other posts on telling who’s winning or losing it always seems straightforward to me. How may towers are up on each side? Which team is winning the objective fight? Who’s winning the teamfights? (though it’s possible for a team losing the teamfights to steal a win by focusing objectives). WHich team is claiming more mercs? Which team is winning at crisis points?

          As for people standing out it seems the same as DOTA to me, it’s obvious when a teammate is either new or incompetent (Raynor players I contend…), it’s equally obvious when someone is really, really good. (and even MOAR obvious when you fight a premade and they know what they’re doing.) In game, you pull up a score screen which shows kills/deaths, xp gain by player for seige damage as well as hero damage, and overall xp earned similar to DOTA. You can glance at it mid-match and it definitely shows the weak and strong links on both teams.

          Another thing i’m enjoying is the gulf between “Carrys” and “Support” isn’t so huge. In DOTA I liked to play supports but they always felt kinda useless near the end aside from plopping observers down, at least compared to a geared up hard carry. In HOTS the supports scale well and when they use their skills right can take down a specialist or melee character in 1 v 1. (which is immensely satisfying)

          So far the community doesn’t have the toxicity issues as DOTA which is a plus, however the monetization for characters is definitely a minus. Having said that I’ve already bought a few skins…even after the cash for the founders pack.

          When I played DOTA it was always about 50/50 pain and pleasure… With HOTS i’m just having fun, and though losing still hurts it’s not the same as in DOTA where sometimes a win felt like a punch in the teeth after listening to an angry russian teammate scream at everyone the whole match. : P

          • Xocrates says:

            Telling who’s winning or losing is easy, telling whether a battle you’re not part of needs your help is difficult, which is the problem. Especially if you’re playing support.

            But crucially the problem that makes the game frequently un-fun to me is knowing WHY you’re winning or losing in the moment to moment. If your team falls behind, it’s possible for you to not know when, how, why, and how you could have prevented it. Compounded by the fact that shared team experience makes comebacks borderline impossible (unless you’re on a premade, which I feel defeats the point of making a more accessible game), and most games you’re either curbstomping or being curbstomped with very little to do to change that.

    • Kitsunin says:

      It makes a buttload of sense to me. You remove a lot of the mirco-centrism of the competition, and that gives you leave to add very complicated and interesting heroes. Somewhat experienced players don’t have that mandatory baseline complexity, so they won’t have a problem, and, as long as it isn’t too complicated figuring out how to counter them, it’s 100% optional whether you want to deal with such a difficult hero.

  3. Ross Angus says:

    Right, so as I see it, you get one character in the base game, and you have to buy the other two as DLC?

  4. darkath says:

    I reckon that the way that blue viking is dressed is degrading for the image of men

  5. XhomeB says:

    Why… do they look so bad? The SNES/Amiga Vikings used to have much more charm and personality.

  6. Underwhelmed says:

    So hurry up get Blackthorne in there already.

  7. magogjack says:

    Those character designs are racist.

  8. Geewhizbatman says:

    Awesome–Whatever else HoTS is I don’t think anyone can fault Blizzard for actually being innovative in the genre. I’m all for having a discussion about the actual success/failure of these character designs but I think we should give Blizz props for taking the game that was birthed from ’em and being bold enough to do new things with it. Since, let’s be fair–none of the other successful mobas out there are willing to fiddle with character designs this much now that they are locked into the stagnation that remaining a competitive e-sporty scene leads to.

    Also–Pajama Party skin waaaaat!!!!

    • thepanzer says:

      HOTS is so much fun. Between it and Fallen London my wife doesn’t see me much anymore. : P

      New blizzard may do a lot of boneheaded things but HOTS is going to be a money press for them. And not in that “Hearthstone-pay-to-win” kind of way that drives me crazy.

  9. MrFinnishDude says:

    That game was such a huge part of my childhood man. Everyone is all about Mario or Sonic or stuff but I was all about the lost vikings. The amount of nostalgia i’m experiencing right now is insane.

  10. Frank says:

    “a permanent Brewmaster ultimate with extra combining powers”

    As someone who has only played HotS among MOBAs, I have no idea what you’re on about.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Actually, HotS’s Chen has an ultimate which does almost the same thing as Brewmaster, minus the elementals controlling individually. Makes sense, since Brewmaster is based on Warcraft Chen.

  11. Randomer says:

    Anyone know if there are plans to open the beta any time soon? I opted in ages ago and still haven’t heard anything.

    • Kitsunin says:

      The most irritating thing is hearing people talk about how they got in, oh you just have to participate in the invite giveaways. I have been on top of things trying to get in, but it’s been over a year now…maybe I’ll get one on the 20th from that giveaway, like a birthday present. Probably not.

  12. xfstef says:

    wait, so … will there be three playable characters ?

  13. archcorenth says:

    I have never been so disappointed. I thought this was going to be a new Lost Vikings game.