Heroes of the Storm [official site], perhaps detecting that I had headed off for a few days, deployed a new patch for public testing and included a new character as well as a bunch of other twiddles and tweaks. At the time I was too busy working out how to say different ice cream flavours in Italian (and occasionally lapsing into Spanish, English and French) but now there is no ice cream, only scoops of Lt. Morales.
I guess that’s probably a good thing because Lt. Morales (in theory) increases your chances of survival what with being a medic and a support character. Ice cream wouldn’t care if you were being ganked.
Here are the basics: Morales is a character plucked from the Starcraftiverse and deposited into the Heroes of the Storm nexus as a ranged support hero who “excels in targeted healing and damage mitigation”.
In terms of how she actually works on the various battlefields, there’s a self preservation element built into her Caduceus Reactor trait. It’s a passive effect which provides a self-heal when Morales has been out of combat for a few seconds.
The ability assigned to Q is Healing Beam. It’s a beam which heals when you target it on an ally. It works even if they’re in combat or you’re moving about and there’s no cooldown or cast time on the ability which is cool for switching targets in combat and keeping up a stream of healing. You can activate your trait is you want to cancel the channeling. The limiting factor here is the 15 mana per second the ability uses up.
On the W key is Safeguard which reduces the damage taken by whoever you’ve targeted by 25% for 3 seconds and on E you have a Displacement Grenade. The latter is a straight line skillshot which inflicts a bit of damage on what it hits but the big thing about it is that is knocks enemies back, so useful for escapes if a foe is trying to close the distance between you or for booting someone into the line of fire.
The ultimate abilities (HotS gives you a choice, remember) are a Stim Drone you can use on a teammate to give them increased attack and movement speeds or Medivac Dropship which can transport you and any allies who have boarded across the map to a targeted location.
I re-downloaded and logged into the test server where all of this is currently live to see what the new girl was all about. Graham has reminded me that Blizzard now charge for access to those new heroes if they’re not on free rotation even on the test server so I used my £7.49 towards some grocery shopping instead of playing with the abilities.
I’ve browsed the talent and ability info though. Talents are how HotS lets you change how your hero works a bit, modifying or tweaking your abilities to better suit the game you find yourself in. It’s how they deal with not having items and so on.
One of these talents is Scouting Drone which gives you access to scouting drones which look like they work like wards in other MOBAs, providing vision of an area, although here the enemy team can always see them. Combined with the fact another talent can be used to heal structures and I’ve started thinking of her in the same bracket as Treant Protector from Dota.
Mass transportation looks interesting too. A lot of HotS hinges on getting to objectives at the right time or being able to contest the enemy team’s objectives. Being able to scoop people into a party ambulance and head there en masse would be a way of dealing with that. It looks like there’s a 10 second boarding time before you jet off, though so you’d still need to have the situational awareness to get people where they needed to be before it’s too late.
I’ve seen mention of Artanis as another addition in this patch but Blizzard don’t pay him any mind in the notes and he’s not a character select option in the test realm. He’s definitely in development but I’m taking this to mean that he’s just coming a bit later.
The patch also runs through price changes, cosmetic improvements, battleground alterations and so on. I like the loading screen tweak because it means you’ll be able to see loading progress for each player. Currently you just sit there staring at a bar, wondering what’s taking so long. It’s far nicer to have the feedback that you’re actually waiting for a reason otherwise the game just seems horrifically slow to load.
You can read the full notes here and take a look at what’s happened to your preferred heroes and they’re scheduled to go live on the game’s main client on 5 October.