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Valeera slashes her way into Heroes of the Storm

Valeera Sanguinar

It is time for my semi-regular check in with Heroes of the Storm [official site]. That game has reached the point where I’ll boot it up when a character I’ve heard of or who sounds mechanically interesting turns up, but nothing keeps me actually playing beyond that. Valeera Sanguinar is the hero who has brought me back this time. She’s an assassin and… well, Heroes of the Storm needs more assassins like the NFL needs more commercial breaks. It has 25 assassins and 38 characters split over the other three classes.

Anyhoodle, let’s take a look….

Her abilities are roughly as follows:

Sinister Strike is a dash-n-slash. You dash forward dealing damage in a line.

Blade Flurry deals damage in a small area of effect around Valeera.

Eviscerate deals damage based on combo points which you accumulate by using her other abilities, so it rewards ability-based aggression.

Her Heroics (the HotS version of an ultimate ability) are Smoke Bomb and Cloak of Shadows. Smoke Bomb lets her stay stealthed as she attacks as long as she’s in the smoke cloud as well as boosting her armour and reducing damage taken. Cloak of Shadows removes all damage over time effects from Valeera as well as giving a far bigger boost to her armour and damage taken although for a shorter period of time and limited to spell armour and ability damage taken.

The other thing she can do is use her trait to enter stealth mode. It does the usual stealth things, so a bit of extra move speed and it’s far harder to detect her, but it also means her other main abilities change a bit. Sinister Strike becomes Ambush so she can deal a whole wodge of damage to an enemy as she attacks from stealth. Blade Flurry becomes Cheap Shot and stuns and damages a foe. Eviscerate changes to Garotte and lets her silence and deal damage over time to an enemy.

I took her for a small spin (which is a vague Blade Flurry joke) in the public test realm and she definitely feels slashy, although at first it’s more about delivering paper cuts and trying not to get killed so that you can ramp up to actual stabbing.

On the assassins front, though, maybe that’s part of why HotS is just not part of my regular multiplayer rotation. I can dip into games of HotS just fine, but given assassin isn’t a role I’m particularly interested in the roster doesn’t seem to offer me huge variation or potential enjoyment when I look at the roster, regardless of how they end up playing. I also don’t have an existing investment in the characters because I wasn’t ever a World of Warcraft player. My ears pricked up at Valeera solely because I dabbled in Hearthstone.

The Blizzfolk did actually address the concerns about this class skew on the official forum so I’ll post their response here. It’s basically that the development pipeline for characters and what’s makes most sense for the studio doesn’t always align with class spread.

“We’ve seen a lot of discussions about our recent hero releases in the community lately, and we agree that we definitely overdid it a little bit with the Warcraft assassins over the past few months.” said Centaurik.

“Something that’s important to consider is that our development process for each hero starts nine months to a full year ahead of their planned release dates. After a certain point in the pipeline it becomes very difficult to shuffle heroes around without slipping on our goal of putting a new hero into your hands every three to four weeks. By the time we took a step back and said ‘You know, we sure have released a lot of assassins lately…’ we were well past the point where we could change things up. :-(“

There’s a bit more about how the heroes were actually conceptualised which is interesting if you want to read the full post/thread.

I dunno. Heroes of the Storm just confounds me. I keep looking at it and I look at its hero spotlight videos and I think “yes, that could or should or will be interesting” and then I play it and there’s still no hook. I slide off like a greased duck on a buttered slide and forget it even exists all over again.

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Philippa Warr

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