Wot I Think: Heroes of the Storm

Every time we talk about MOBAs on the C&C podcast, we get plaintive tweets from people so incensed by their mere existence that they demand timestamps marking the beginning and end of our MOBA talk so they can continue in blissful ignorance of this benighted genre. This doesn’t happen when we talk about any other genre of game - not even football games! And football games don’t even have goblins! What even is the point?

Heroes of the Storm [official site], which launches out of open beta today, is Blizzard’s take on the MOBA – and if the very mention of the ‘M’-word made you want to heave your monitor out the window then it may just be a game you should play.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas are popular in direct proportion to the degree with which they are hated by people who don’t play them – and there are very good reasons for both of these things. Blizzard have made a game that seeks to make peace with each side. I think, if given time by either party, it would succeed, even if these impulses sometimes leave the game in conflict with itself. I, personally, bloody love it.

Brass tacks: Heroes of the Storm is a free-to-play team game in which players on each side control five variously empowered characters, picked from a larger roster of unique heroes. They vie for control of a map, supporting respawning waves of AI-controlled minions as they plough down the lanes connecting the two teams’ opposing bases. Players knock down forts that hold up their minions’ advance, recruit other, more powerful minions to join the surge and scuffle with their human opponents. All the while, the team sucks up XP and, as they level up, players unlock new buffs and abilities to help them in battle.

The team that gets into their opponents’ base and destroys their core is the winner – which is a grossly reduced summation of a formula capable of so much thrilling dynamism, emerging not just from the choices of when, where and how hard you ram into your enemy’s defenses, but in the way the idiosyncratic skillset of the heroes combines with or counters others. It’s a genre that sustains both elaborate, grand strategies and split-second skills, as players slam together in almighty pyrotechnics. You surge and fall back, flee and turn, regroup and roam – the rhythm of these movements in symbiosis with the map’s own flow of AI and timed events.

There is an ecstasy to triumphant coordination here that exceeds most other competitive genres in the diversity of its roles, in the elegant interlocking of variables in play. That moment when Nazeebo the Witch Doctor, wounded and hounded by the sorceress Jaina, lures her away from her team with the prospect of an easy kill – and turns! Suddenly zombies erupt from the floor to encircle her. Brightwing, who is some sort of magic gecko, teleports to Nazeebo’s side, healing him and transforming his would-be assassin into a helpless squirrel, delaying her escape long enough for Valla, the crossbow-wielding demon huntress, to vault from the nearby undergrowth and deploy a rain of hellfire. A percussive blast signals Jaina’s demise and the victorious team rampage on to the thumping drumbeat of heroic deaths. Rarely, in any other genre, does winning feel so much like music.

But, so far, so MOBA.

Blizzard, for their part, don’t even like to use the term MOBA when describing Heroes of the Storm. It prefers “Hero Brawler”, and perhaps we should at least meet them halfway: HotS may fit well enough within the nebulous category of MOBA that we should all just agree to call it that, but I credit Blizzard with an attempt not to make a game which slavishly follows the genre as it has come to be defined by the likes of League of Legends and Dota 2. Instead, they’ve looked at the vastly intricate things these games have become, born of a mod scene and, over many years of iteration, barnacled with opaque traditions and abstruse, impossibly dense formulae – they’ve looked at all this and said, “What if someone, like, actually fucking designed this?”

Don’t take this as a knock, LoL/Dota fans. The games are evidently very good. Much brilliance and wisdom has been applied to balancing and shaping them. But beneath is something that is less the product of design than simple, unmitigated growth. You know, like a tumour – a gigantic marshmallowy tumour that you love, with teeth and hair in weird places, like Tetsuo at the end of Akira, grasping at you, pulling you into its hot pulsating core and consuming you. But in a good way.

Their bizarre inheritances have become the kind of esoteric knowledge on which social hierarchies thrive: people love Dota at least partly because it is hard to know Dota. It means you are always learning vigorously. It means you always know more than someone else. It’s this currency of knowledge which validates the vast time commitment to the game. It creates complexity and richness, too, of course – but, as an outsider, the very presence of a hierarchy predicated on knowledge that is so baroque, yet so viciously guarded by its adherents, is something that prompts a defensive disdain. Inferred from it or implied by it is the notion that you are somehow a lesser person for not celebrating what seems like unnecessary obscurity.

HotS takes to that arcane knowledge base like Kaneda with a laser rifle, slicing away things that might impede a new player’s access to the game. Off come the bulging scrotums of terminology referencing iterations of design long-since obsolete. There goes the strange, fussy-fingered appendage of mid-game item purchases. Matches that last the better part of an hour? Zap! Last-hitting? Get rekt, pedants.

73 Comments

  1. OpT1mUs says:

    This article has the Blizzard level writing.

  2. Serpok says:

    It was in HotS where for the first time I felt bad about winning.

    Not in the “We stomped them so bad” sense, but in the “we shouldn’t have won this – it wasn’t deserved”. And then it happened again and again. There is something weird about the precise way this game is balanced, it is not one thing, but the summ of power creep of heroes ,and of the minions, and increase of death-timeouts with level, and the rubberband modifiers on xp-rewards, that make the first 15-20 minutes of the game irrelevant and put the outcome on the one last teamfight.

    More than once I had a match where one team consistently dominated another, getting most objectives, being far ahead on forts, grabbing mercs on cooldown only to lose one last teamfight (possible thanks to the over-taut rubberband) and not being able to stop the winning march at their base, because deathtimers on lvl20+ are insane. Had done it and had it happen to me.

    Usually in MOBAs this kind of turnaround-comeback is the most treasured situation one can find himself in, the highest of the highs, the match that make all other matches worth it, but somehow in HotS those matches are the worst.

    • Arathain says:

      Fair enough, but I love the comebacks. I like them from both ends, because there’s a nice tension from knowing that you can still screw up and have it slip away. I don’t think early advantage is squandered as long as it is turned into leveled enemy forts and intact allied ones. If that isn’t the way you’re going into the end game then you didn’t have the advantage you thought you had.

      • Xocrates says:

        The problem (as alluded above) is that the respawn timers late game are so long, That I’ve seen games where a team busted through 2 forts and the nexus before the other team respawned.

        • tormeh says:

          Sounds like you are complaining about you not winning when you follow a strategy that allows you to win in other MOBAs. The rules are different in HotS and it’s ok if you don’t like them, but there’s no randomness here; the criteria for skill has just shifted.

          • wengart says:

            It doesn’t sound like they are complaining about not winning, but rather that they aren’t having fun. The match was a let down for them

            And really you can always adapt to a new strategy to win, but that doesn’t make winning fun or playing the game fun. A couple of weeks ago Dota 2 had a very strong rubber band metagame. If you got a lead you could very easily feed that lead to the opposing teams with a few bad fights. Especially when you were attempting to push the throne (nexus).

            People adapted, you wouldn’t push high ground until you were able to use your map control to get a significant gold lead. However, I don’t think it was fun, and Valve apparently agreed.

            Being able to change your strategy to win does not equal enjoyable, and that seems to be the complaint here. Not that they are angry they won or lost, but that the win or loss felt hollow and unfufilling.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Well, I don’t think the same is true of HoTS. There is significant room for catch-ups, and it’s true that a single blown teamfight can cost you a game which otherwise appears to be in the bag, but there are always advantages gained by skillful play, and so long as that skillful play begets similarly skillful play, they will always carry you to victory. The difference is that unlike other such games, failing to utilize those advantages can quickly and relatively frequently lead to a changing of tides, which in turn allows even stompy-er games to feel exciting, because you know a sudden boost of morale combined with some luck can always even the playing field. Considering the rounds are only about fifteen minutes long, and so a single teamfight might often take up 10% or more of the game’s length, this seems rather fitting.

            Unlike DOTA this does not lead to a forcefully cautious game, because using your lead cautiously only allows the other team to gradually catch up.

          • Kitsunin says:

            And when I say “Some luck” I don’t literally mean luck, I mean the other team making mistakes in their own play.

          • Unclepauly says:

            lol reading comprehension fail. How can they be complaining about not winning when he said “It was in HotS where for the first time I felt bad about winning” . The whole point of the post was that wins don’t feel good because it doesn’t feel earned, it feels given to them by the system.

          • wengart says:

            I didn’t mean to directly say that the play described is inherently bad.

            I haven’t played HOTS and don’t really intend to so I won’t comment on that, but what I wanted to do was to point out that having a winning strategy =/= fun.

          • Artificial says:

            Surely the answer to that then is to not die in the first place?

    • Unclepauly says:

      Seems in removing all the mechanics that a player or team uses to help build them up to be a force to reckon with, that in reality they just cut the balls off so everyone is equally useless or equally god-like. It’s like the NBA full of bench players or full of Michael Jordans instead of how it is now. I haven’t played it but this is what I’ve been hearing. To me it sounds like you can never be the star of the show like LoL/DoTA2, just a background character.

      • airmikee says:

        That’s funny that you used the NBA as an example, considering that the Lakers and the Celtics have almost half of the yearly championships, with one of those two teams winning 33 of 68 titles with a combined total of 52 championship game appearances between the two. Most sports are usually dominated by very few players/teams with everyone else appearing to be a benchwarmer in the background.

        • Unclepauly says:

          I don’t really see how that has anything to do with how the gameplay of moba’s are. I watch NBA occasionally and I don’t agree with that at all. Any given game can have a standout player and maybe in the past before all the regulations were put in place the lakers and celtics would dominate but it’s not like that anymore. LoL/Dota2 are exactly like the current NBA and HoTS removes the ability to be an allstar.

      • Apocalypse says:

        You can be the guy who screws up your whole team just fine. A single guy feeding will screw up your team just fine. Except when the other team has one of those too, then all things are fine and no one needs to rage.

        It actually is an improvement to the formula if you want to streamline the game and make it more casual friendly and less emotional. They do this with everything. Shared XP. no item builds, objectives all over the map, team fights never matter, except for the last one, etc

        Any source of negativity gets eliminated. Sure, it makes winning or losing a totally bland experience, but never frustrating. But that is the case for most Blizzard products these days, isn´t it?

        • Kitsunin says:

          It’s completely false that only the last teamfight matters. Now, if you lose the last teamfight you will lose the game, but that’s far different. Your strength in the last teamfight, and your ability to initiate or prolong the last teamfight, thereby giving yourself a massive advantage in the last teamfight which determines the ending of the game, is massively effected by your performance in earlier teamfights.

          The only difference is that the importance of earlier teamfights is less obvious because you’re used to seeing “+300 gold!” when you kill someone, so you assume without that popup getting kills is useless (and it is pretty useless, IF you’re too bad of a player to grab objectives while that player is dead)

    • vahnn says:

      tl;dr (and simplification for all the morons): Comebacks are too frequent in this game, and that’s boring.

      • Cerzi says:

        You have to think of HotS as a game with a serious of rounds, and winning a single round increases your chances of winning the next round, while losing lowers your chances. The only round that actually matters is the final one when a core goes down, but by winning as many rounds as possible you are maximizing your chances of winning that final round.

        For me, it’s a refreshing change. Ironically I stopped playing dota around 6.82 after they introduced huge rubberbanding, but in Heroes it just works so much better, probably largely due to the shorter, more intense games. It’s a game of preserving advantages, whilst the objective systems of each map tempt the winning team to take increasing risks.

        Generally, the higher the level of play is, the fewer comebacks there are. But at low levels, where players haven’t learnt how to preserve their lead, it can often seem a bit futile.

    • Vayra says:

      Seriously though, the writer makes us think Dota games are locked and decided when teams are picked or somebody gets First Blood, to strengthen how HotS allows for comebacks.

      It really couldn’t be further from the truth; I have seen many a game of Dota turn around at the last instant, I have turned games that were deemed lost by the entire team on my own, I have seen teams recover from a horrible start. It is all possible and plausible. The ACTUAL difference between HotS and Dota is that in HotS that opportunity for comebacks is almost a scripted event that players need to ‘walk into’. No real skill required. Just tick the boxes with your teammates and all is good.

      Kudos to Blizzard for trying something (it is not new to have map-based game changers, Guild Wars 2 anyone?) but HotS is nothing more than a glorified set of custom Warcraft 3/ Starcraft 2 maps with some mechanics built into them, with the generic set of heroes that has been done by the Battlenet mod community in every similar custom map prior to this release.

      Not impressed, neither by this review or by the game itself.

  3. Arathain says:

    I’m loving the heck out of HotS. I dislike accusations of being over-simple, as if 5 vs 5 highly distinct characters on a complex, multi-objective map could ever be anything other than complex. Simpler than Dota? Well, Dota is so complex it should not work, as delighted as I am that it actually seems to. I don’t think it’s sensible for other games to try to design that level of complexity in.

    I really like the talent system. I think modifying your existing skills in distinct ways is in some ways more interesting and diverse than picking from a generic item pool, and flows far better in game. I also really like the 20 minute matches, which means there’s actually time enough in my like to occasionally play the damn game. I even like the snarky map announcers.

    • Xocrates says:

      Honestly, the problem I have with the Talent system is how rigid it is.

      You have situational talents than you need to choose to take or not at points where it may make no sense to take them. If you were at least able to pick in what order to take them the system would be mostly fine.

      Awesomenauts had a much better approach to this, where the shop sold you the equivalent of the Hots Talents. Which solved both the item complexity problem from games like LoL and Dota, but unlike HotS actually gave you control over your character progression.

      • Cerzi says:

        Tiers are balanced so that later levels give more powerful talents, though. A common nerf is to simply move a powerful early-game talent to a later tier.

    • Vayra says:

      ‘Dota is so complex that it shouldn’t work’

      And that is exactly why it works so well. It is also exactly why some old limitations of the Warcraft 3 custom map version of this game have remained in the game (such as stacking camps). After more than 10 years, these things are unchanged, the whole feature set is unchanged, the meta is similar, the only real changes Dota has gotten over the years is a slew of new heroes and minor rebalancing.

      That speaks volumes of how strong the seemingly complicated mechanics and concept is. I won’t say people who don’t get it or dig it, are stupid, but in reality Dota is the MOBA remnant of ‘good old games’ that had depth and tactics, and craploads of subtlety built into them.

  4. BinaryDoubts says:

    I gave HotS a shot while taking a break from Dota but found it to be really just… not that fun. Even leaving aside the hugely stripped-out complexity (which I have no problems with, I think a MOBA could work with the talent system, no items, short matches, etc.) I think the basic gameplay just feels insubstantial to me. All of my skills felt like shooting water pistols at the enemy, and fights devolved into just hitting all of my skills and running in circles. The maps are so small that laning doesn’t really matter, you can just wander from lane to lane without any consequence. You have so much mana that using your spells doesn’t matter. I never saw a spell animation that felt impactful or was faced with an ability that did more than minor chip damage. Everything feels so… insubstantial.

    Laning in Dota, at its best, feels like you’re constantly on the edge of failure or death – and that either consequence is just one bad decision, one misused spell, one unwatched gank away. I know HotS takes after the League school of having much more spammable abilities, but even in League things move fast, as opposed to HotS’ treacle-slow awkward hit-trading. I dunno – I’m completely not opposed to a game that strips out some MOBA bullshit, but I really fount HotS to be simple to the point of boredom, and the more actiony gameplay focus didn’t add much when the action is so uninteresting. The analogy my friend used is that Dota is like a gunfight, League is a knife fight, and HotS is a pillow fight.

    (Also hero rotations and buyable heroes are amongst the worst forms of monetization you can do to an ostensible competitive game, why this model always gets kudos from games writers is beyond me)

    • Brigand says:

      “The maps are so small that laning doesn’t really matter, you can just wander from lane to lane without any consequence. You have so much mana that using your spells doesn’t matter.”

      If you leave a lane unattended you’ll fall behind on experience, do this and the enemy team will reach level 10 before you, which is a significant advantage. Mana management is also very important for contesting objectives. If you’ve blown all your mana in lane spamming abilities and turn up to a fight you’ll probably lose.

      It just sounds like you didn’t play long enough to understand it, which is weird for a game you found “simple to the point of boredom.”

      • Apocalypse says:

        Or it was too obvious to mention ;-)

        Naturally when you leave lane you want to gain something from it. There are plenty of objectives, ganks just seconds away and the amount of XP lost is rather small, compared to the amount of map pressure and lost xp for the enemy team even when your gank is unsuccessful.

        So basically if you don´t react to a miss and you are hurting your team often even more, which negates the whole xp loss mostly, except if you can manage to push the wave quickly into towers. But that is basic wave control and the only time in any moba that you should really not leave your lane. ;-)

        • Kitsunin says:

          The difference made by soaking exp is obviously far larger than you think it is. If you aren’t going to play the game long enough to really understand how its mechanics work, try watching some pro games to get a feel for it.

          • Apocalypse says:

            Ironically I hate actually watched the last hots worlds and is happend exactly what I described, ganks and team fighting all over the place, no lanning at all and only minor wave/lane control.

            It was all about objectives, map pressure and ganks. And the counter to that was reacting to ganks with map movement of your own team, which lead to the mentioned team fighting.

            In some of the more extreme cases we simply seen than 5-man single lane starts ignoring the other lanes completely and the other team, because both teams did the same on different lanes :D

          • Moraven says:

            Which have so many years of Dota, the laning phase has really boring. Its a fun 1v1, 2v2, and that is about it. Its the same thing nearly every game for 10 minutes.

            Constant movement and team fights are action packed and never dull.

    • Apocalypse says:

      I would rather say the faster more deadly and closer to the action dota is like a knife fight, while the constantly dodging and looking for cover mechanics in lol fit the gun fight analogy better.

      In either case, heroes of the storm stays in the pillow fight category, it is really silly.

    • Moraven says:

      Laning matters as people noted.

      Mana like in the other games is different for each hero.

      Play Jaina or many other heroes, do not take any mana regen talents. You will be running to the fountain often for mana. Some can spam more, but if you are not running out of mana, it means you are likely not using your abilities a lot.

    • SyKot says:

      I kinda agree on the lack of impact on abilities. They seem weak, at least animation wise. I just wish they would feel powerful even if they did little dmg. I think it lacks that bit of woomph. I guess it neeeds a bit of sound design.

      That said I still enjoy the game (I also took a break from Dota2, having limited time to play, like 1-2 hours per day, some games can be a completely frustating experience)

    • MikoSquiz says:

      It feels much like Diablo 3, that modern Blizzard feel of insubstantial cotton candy fluff polished to a blinding sheen. Bejeweled-y. You click on stuff and there’s sparkles and bright colours and you keep clicking on stuff for a while and then it’s over.

  5. Ashrand says:

    I’m glad there’s ‘dota for the rest of us’ and i say that as someone who liked dota, but i also dearly wish it was something more like dawn of wars last stand mode that had become the new flavor of the month genre.

    That’s not to say that competition can’t be fun, but the relentless grind of toxic idiots, and the need to be relentlessly aggressive to my fellow players (on both sides!) is something i can only stomach in the smallest of doeses, which is unfortunate.

  6. Herbal Space Program says:

    Not having all the heroes available from the get go is very sad in a moba, how can one be competitive or be interested by the meta when you miss 80% of the picks unless you painfully unlock/buy them.

    Then people choose to “main” one specific hero, maybe for those same reasons.

    “The analogy my friend used is that Dota is like a gunfight, League is a knife fight, and HotS is a pillow fight.” BinaryDoubts friend – 2015 spot-on !

  7. lowprices says:

    I’m really enjoying HotS. It feels like Blizzard have made a MOBA for (and I hate the term because of the value judgement, but can’t think of a better one) “casual” players. People who are interested in MOBAs, but don’t want to invest 100+ hours before they can feel vaguely competent. Players who don’t want to commit to unravelling a Chinese puzzle-box of items and stats. People who don’t necessarily have enough free time for a game where a single match can be an hour or more.

    It’s basically my ideal jumping in point for the genre, and I reckon it’ll swallow as much time as Hearthstone has, in the same small, manageable chunks.

    • lowprices says:

      I’d agree with the other criticisms about the free-to-play model though. Wish they’d gone with Dota’s hat economy rather than the rotating ftp heroes.

    • Hieronymusgoa says:

      I totally feel the same way. I played LoL for ages but never got as good as I would have liked and DOTA(2) was even more stress to get into properly so I skipped that entirely.
      At first I thought “Naaa, HotS is less complex than LoL, too easy (while LoL being too much for my free time at least)” but since you unlock the other skills of a hero quite fast in HotS it’s actually only slightly below the complexity I would like in a MOBA(-like) title. And all in all with the beloved characters everyone knows…the faster pacing than in other MOBAs it turned into the one I like most (together with SMITE).

  8. Lacero says:

    The two things I find weirdly missing are the combat log and the ability to look at other players skills (on your own team). I can see what talents they take but not the cooldowns on their basic abilities. Maybe that’s because they’re so short. Maybe.

    I can’t alt click to tell everyone my ult coolodwn. I can say where I’m going or that I’m coming or that we should retreat. But nothing to do with my hero itself.

    Together with unexplainable deaths, without a combat log I have no way to tell what I did wrong, I’m left thinking the game doesn’t want me to master it. It wants to be a stupid throw away experience, despite not actually being one, and it wants it so bad and it limits you so much to maintain this illusion that I just can’t take it seriously at all.

    Anyone actually taking it seriously in chat I just mute and charge into battle more. In dota I’d be mortified to behave like that, but here it’s not just ok it’s what the game wants you to do.

    and I know everyone will hate me for this, but my god the character designs are terrible and childish.

  9. Phantasma says:

    Guess i’m still not interested in this genre but this WiT was a blast to read.
    Thanks Marsh.

  10. stblr says:

    As much as I like the idea of an accessible top-down MOBA (I still think Smite is the king as far as accessibility goes), the glacial speed of unlocking heroes has made HotS pretty much dead on arrival for me. At the very least I’d like to try each hero once in a game to know what I’m up against, and the practice map just isn’t close enough to the actual experience of playing with other people to give me the information I feel I need to make intelligent choices in which heroes to unlock. A mistake or regretted decision in this area means literally dozens of hours of play before I can unlock another.

    If any other company made a similar game with this unlock scheme, it would never get off the ground. Blizzard has made a polished, fun product here, but I hate to see schemes that are so disrespectful of players’ time rewarded.

  11. TukkerIntensity says:

    Love the game. Love the article.

  12. Hensler says:

    I wonder what the guy who first came up with this gametype is up to these days? I know DOTA stands for Defense of the Ancients and refers to the Elf buildings (Ancients) in Warcraft 3, but it goes back further than that, at least to the Use Map Settings crowd in Starcraft. I can remember playing it hours in middle school. UMS games were the best.

    • Herbal Space Program says:

      Aeon64 is credited with the invention of Aeon Strife, dota forefather. No idea what he is up to.

      • Vayra says:

        OMG, AoS, I remember that. Had almost forgotten about that one, even though it didn’t hold a candle to WC3’s/Icefrogs early Dota Allstars.

  13. aircool says:

    Is there a single player turn based version? I fear my reflexes are way too slow for these ‘actions-per-minute’ type games.

    • Unclepauly says:

      its not actions per minute at all.

      • PhilBowles says:

        I actually tried it mainly as APM practice for games like CoH and Starcraft, that I’m rusty with having not played for a while. And I have to agree that this is not the game for that. There was once a Starcraft 2 mod in DOTA form, where you needed to be on the ball to use hero abilities in timely fashion, run back to avoid an attack or shelter behind ablative minions.

        While my experience to date is admittedly on the training levels, there seems to be none of that here, and I think that’s a function of the mechanics rather than the difficulty setting. Cooldowns are lethargic, giving you plenty of time to reposition before you next get to use your abilities, minions seem to hold up well in combat rather than just melting before heroes so you can stand behind them and shoot in near-perfect safety, and it doesn’t seem to take terribly good reactions to set up ‘stutter-steps’ where you move a short distance, stop briefly and fire, and then move again.

    • gealach says:

      I think SRPGS like FF: Tactics, Fire Emblem or Disgaea could fulfill that request.

      If Local Table Multiplayer is acceptable, I recommend Krosmaster:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

  14. Bioblit says:

    I play League mostly, and take it seriously. I barely played DOTA 2, so I have no comparison for that. I play HotS occasionaly, and don’t take it seriously. Normally that would mean I enjoy HotS more, but I just don’t. Everything in that game just feels ineffective and weak. There is little strategic depth, bewteen each character only having one role with little to no flexibility, and the fact that the first team to complete the map objective twice wins almost every time.

    Playing as a Warrior in HotS feels deeply unsatisfying, being a meat shield with no other effectiveness, struggling even to waveclear. Playing a Support (which is the role I main in LoL) feels better, but abilities do very little statistically. All the Special characters feel different to each other, and Zagara is one of the characters in the game I most enjoy playing, but they generally fail to properly fulfill any purpose for the team. The Assassin characters are the only ones that seem to be able to do anything; when teams are all full damage characters, they generally win. There seems to be little reason to be anything but a DPS in the game.

    Whereas in League, and Awesomenauts, and presumably in DOTA as well, the item choices are highly dependant on how the game is progressing, characters can generally do more than one thing (examles in League: Thresh is a support, but can also be an AD fighter; Kog’Maw was designed as a long-range AD Carry with built-in tank-busting, but can also go mid lane as an even longer range Magic damage poke machine), the neutral obectives are optional ways of empowering a team rather than the only real way of winning the game in a reasonable time.

    I only play Heroes when I feel that I don’t have much time, and only then because most of the other games I play really require an hour or more to play and get any feel for the game (Football Manager, Europa Universalis, Civ etc.). But I never really play it for fun any more. It’s partly the lack of strategic depth, partly the impactlessness of doing anything, and partly the lack of difficulty that turns me off playing the game most of the time.

    • Bostec says:

      I agree about the DPS. I’v been playing a warrior and I don’t seem to be doing much of anything but hit the mobs. Clearly i’m there to soak up the damage but theres something not quite right with it or i’m not getting it. Anyway yes, a whole team of DPS will almost certainly win. I played a match last night, 4 assassins, And we got utterly crushed, 12 mins I think it was. Also fuck Nova.

  15. supplyandcommand says:

    I love the fact that HotS removed the last-hitting element from traditional MOBAs and included a shared team XP system, opposed to each player having personal XP. This really makes the experience much more about team play (I have never seen someone complain about kill stealing).

    However, one place where the game is lacking (which was mentioned in the article) is the toxic group chat where you will inevitably be called a handful of derogatory names by your teammates (deserved or not) if your team begins to lose. This is the reason I stopped playing HotS, even after dedicating dozens of hours of playtime to leveling and buying characters; there’s just too much stress involved and the game stops being fun.

    Hopefully Blizzard will put a mechanism in place to curb this behavior, whether it be removing the group chat again (it wasn’t included in earlier builds of the game), or adding in some sort of feature to report toxic players (like I’ve heard has happened in LoL).

    • Brigand says:

      There’s now a mute everyone button that appears at the start of every game. If that’s the kinda thing you mean.

  16. Shadow says:

    Good game, but I couldn’t find many interesting characters. Played a considerable bit as Sgt. Hammer last month, and had fun despite not being much of a MOBA player.

    Thing is, I was region-locked in Europe given I had gotten the closed beta key from RPS’ giveaway. The lag was sort of tolerable despite me being in South America, but I was definitely put off when global play was enabled, and I realized I couldn’t access neither Sgt. Hammer nor her War World skin, both of which I had bought with real money, in the Americas. Apparently purchases are only valid for single regions, something the game only told me when I tried to switch to the American servers (as opposed to when I was about to make the initial purchase).

    Got into a live chat with a very helpful gamemaster who managed to give me a refund, since it was apparently impossible for them to transfer my purchased items between regions. Since I had bought the stuff at a sharp discount, the refund wasn’t enough to re-purchase the same things (or even one thing) in the Americas.

    So that was it. I had tried to get Sgt. Hammer to level 10 in Europe: by level 7-8 and the XP curve was getting exponentially ridiculous. My complimentary stimpack ran out, and with it most of my interest in the game. There was no point in restarting in the Americas from scratch (progress isn’t transferrable either), and I had lost my favourite hero to boot, so yeah.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Considering Blizzard is one company I do not fucking understand why they can’t let you transfer your progress worldwide. As someone who is stuck constantly traveling, it’s fucking ridiculous having to deal with that kind of shit with every other company who gives their games to other companies for the sake of worldwide distribution (fucking Smite, fuck Hi Rez) it’s even more awful that Blizzard does it even without the (bullshit) excuse.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        As someone moving from Europe to North America in a couple of months, I share your rage.

  17. Thirdrail says:

    Blizzard universes do nothing for me, and most of their character designs are so unimaginative, I just could not get into Heroes of the Storm. I agree, though, that MOBAs need a kiddie pool.

    Hopefully HotS will do two things: 1) take some of the little kids away from League, and 2) be successful enough that Riot has to care about it, and thus inspire Riot to make some three lane alternatives to Summoner’s Rift, which has become painfully boring in its eternal sameness.

  18. Stevostin says:

    This is an half cooked review. Here’s what IMO is missing:

    – it can’t be stressed out that shorter game are its best asset vs DOTA and LOL
    – it’s sub Blizzard standard execution. Even without counting heroes, you can only watch your replays, you can crash easily with them, mouse cursor is really hard to see sometimes, you can’t bind Mouse 4 and 5 to actions. Tutorial OTOH is pretty great.
    – other big point is that everything is made to avoid inner competition within a team (no last hit count for instance). It’s very relaxing when you play with friends.
    – unfortunately it’s not simplified but truly dumbed down. There is no creative combo to be discovered, no economy, no wood cutting, no mule. Basic mode allow you to pick your hero no matter what then adjust matchmaking with it (poorly) so the very standard phase in dota where you pick heroes is removed. There are several map but waaay smaller than LOL or DOTA. Theres are no cliff (although there is a LoS) and of course no last hit or deny, no lane play really. This results in pro replays are mainly group moves. While the core component of its competitor those also offer options, such has pushing expert, carries, map coverage, buybacks etc.
    – It’s less readable than LOL and not as pretty as dota
    – level 10 ultimate vs team leveling is IMO a core game design flow that cascade into a lot of negative consequences: a team with 5 ultimate available at once first shall not win on this neither snowball which result on ultimates being limited in term of what they can do.

    In conclusion IMO it’s a decent casual Moba that you can have (lots of) fun with but it’s not a really good game the way its competitors, despite all of their flaws, are. Not because it’s simpler but because it cut down some of the essentials. OTOH it adds stuff that is not that interesting. All the maps have a special rule but none of those are remotely as interesting as the hit/deny in Dota2 for instance.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Yeah, great points. It is exactly all of these things.

      It is ‘fun’ but it is the kind of shallow fun from playing with friends that you’d get from a game like Evolve (yes, a different genre) I know.

      After playing a couple of hours it felt like I had literally learnt most of what the game had to teach. I’d say it has more in common with standard tower defence than a MOBA since your abilities for the most part seem to be there to be used on cooldown to sway the ‘flow’ of the game.

      Because of the attrition based gameplay it never really feels like you’ve made any spectacular moves and as such there aren’t really any memorable moments from a game and they all just blend into one spam fest.

      Also, the hero prices? Jesus. Why can’t they follow Smite’s model and sell all current and future gods for £21. Based on the wiki for HOTS it’d cost > £110 for the HOTS heroes (actually this was based on prices 6 months ago and there are more heroes and prices have gone up since then so it would be even more). Insanity.

      • Moraven says:

        You do unlock heroes fast once you start doing the dailies and you get the gold rewards from leveling up your Account and Character. Every hero can quickly get hero level 5 and free 500g. That is 1/4 the cost of the cheap hero.

    • Moraven says:

      Some of the dota things you mention I would say are interesting and add complexity for the sake of it, or was a feature built in due to the WC3 engine.

      Quick Match is choose and go. Sometimes it does poor to balance team comp is the downside. But great to just play and not have to worry about a 2-3 minute setup where people rage half the time anyway.

      There is Hero League which is your standard Hero draft and team communicating on who picks what.

      LoL had a variety of selection modes also for matchmaking.

    • Vayra says:

      What HotS does in a nutshell is destroy trickery and intricacy coming from the player, and substitutes it with generic, and gimmicky map based events.

  19. Banyan says:

    I feel that there really needs to be newbies and experts WOTs for lane pushers (that’s what I’m calling them – come at me!). Let Marsh tell people who bounce off the genre why they might want to try the game, and have someone like Pip speak to the already committed. This article at turns directly addresses LOL/Dota players and then talks about those players to those who don’t play those games. It feels like half the article is trying to defend itself against the anticipated backlash before it happens.

  20. aircool says:

    I browsed the forums for a good half hour or so… Don’t think I’ll be playing, unless there’s some sort of ‘versus AI option’, even though that’s not the point of these games.

    • Horg says:

      There is a practice mode, but the AI is pathetically weak to the point where you can beat on and kill the enemy hero without them reacting, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

    • Moraven says:

      There is vs Bot Co-Op. Try it out. They do need improvement tho.

  21. crumble-wolf says:

    There will be some people who like HoTS and – that is fine.
    There are some people who will not like HoTs – that is fine.
    There will be some people that prefer other mobas over HoTs – that is fine.
    There will be some who prefer HoTs over other Mobas – that is fine.
    Some people don’t like mobas and will conntinue to not like them after HoTs – that is fine.

    Seriously there is enough room in the moba market for Hots to grow and thrive. If anything people should be encouraging more mobas to make the market more diverse and continual competition between companies means better improvements all around instead of arguing about which one is best. Everyones tastes are different.

  22. PhilBowles says:

    Never been a fan of these types of game, but gave this a try since I already have BattleNet installed and I could use a game that helps improve my reaction times while being less immediately demanding than an RTS. I can’t comment on it relative to other DOTAs, though it sounds from other comments as though Blizzard has performed its usual trick of taking other people’s games and simplifying them down to their basics.

    My main observation so far, as someone largely unfamiliar with this style of game, is that the graphics are extremely cluttered. Hero and building models just seem too large, and ranged combat too short-ranged – it’s not that easy to identify who’s doing what, and whether your character is the target of a hero power and needs extraction. League of Legends seems to have its models better-proportioned in this regard.