Why Heroes of the Storm Will Be a Game Changer

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For those of you who may be more into the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) scene, where games such as Defense of the Ancients (DotA 2) and League of Legends (LoL) have enjoyed incredible success, you’ll be interested in taking a quick look at this. Here’s the official trailer:

However, I think you’ll also agree this fan-made trailer is very, very awesome.

I honestly can’t wait for Heroes of the Storm. First unveiled at BlizzCon and hailed as a “team brawler”, this brings together characters from all three of Blizzard’s enormously successful franchises – Starcraft, Warcraft & Diablo. Nova battles Thrall, Tyrael goes head to head with Zeratul and Jim Raynor locks horns with Arthas? Sign me right up.

There are several aspects of this game that excite me quite a lot. I think the concept of team levelling will be an interesting one to follow, where all experienced earned map-wide is shared so there is less emphasis on a single player carrying the team for example – teamwork will be emphasised at all levels of play.

What’s really cool too is how there is a level of uniqueness among heroes without making the game too complicated – ultimate abilities are chosen by the player during the game without needing to invest time and energy into character builds before a game starts. It seems like a good compromise between quick replayability and having a level of customisation to enjoy as players discover different ways of combining their powers.

At this preliminary stage though, I confess what REALLY gets me going is how interactive with the maps are. Each map has its own unique set of objectives that help players destroy their opposing teams. For example, on Cursed Hollow you find yourself in a haunted forest where resident Raven Lords demand tributes, that spawn randomly throughout the map. Gathering enough tributes curses the opposing team, giving you a period of increased dominance. This isn’t absolutely required to win the game, but it is also enough of an advantage to make it a huge incentive and give rise to lots of non-stop tactical battles. On another map, Dragon Shire, players have two stations they can capture, and any team who holds both can have a hero transformed into a powerful dragon for a period of time.

This sounds odd but bear with me – I feel like Blizzard have taken the brawler genre and are doing something similar to what Counter-Strike popularised in a very good way. Think hostage rescue and bomb plant/diffuse scenarios where teams still have to eliminate each other but have enormous incentives to complete objectives that aren’t the straightforward approach. This adds a new dimension to each game (and indeed each map!) and offers different mixes of strategies depending on heroes chosen and synergy of abilities – without making the game fundamentally over-complex.

There are other things that I find interesting to see how they pan out – there are no shops or items to purchase, again simplifying the game in favour of team strategy and action. Heroes also begin at level one with four abilities, not having to ‘learn’ them with levels – the potency of each skill simply increases for each level the team gains. In fact, there are enough things with the game design that make Heroes of the Storm unique that it is really clear a lot of thought has been put into the fundamental mechanics of the game and what the developers want to focus on.

The result will be a highly unique, competitive game where action is fast paced and teamwork will play an even more pivotal role (hard to imagine given how amazing teamwork is in other similar games, but I feel this is true here) to competitiveness at the highest level. There is also enough variance and customisation in maps and choices of ultimate abilities to give each game its own distinct flavour and keep players coming back.

In short: yes, please.

I’d like to present to you a video I had the opportunity to make for Heroes of the Storm featuring a showmatch released over the holidays on a map called Blackheart’s Bay. I hope you enjoy – please share your thoughts and comments below, and don’t forget to share on social media!

Whatever happens, I predict Heroes of the Storm with its new look at fundamental mechanics of this game type will change and re-shape the way we think about team brawler games – and from what I’ve seen so far, it looks to be an exciting ride.

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