Heroes of the Storm is an upcoming MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The idea of the game came in 2010 as a custom map in StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty and it was originally intended to be called Blizzard DOTA but in 2012 Blizzard and Valve went to war over the DOTA name, so the title was changed to Blizzard All-Stars and finally Heroes of the Storm was alive on October 17th, 2013. The game entered a Technical Alpha testing phase on March 13th 2014. Blizzard is adding new players each week to the Alpha but there is no official date for the Beta phase.

It seems that Blizzard does not call the game a MOBA (even though it is clearly one) but a “Hero Brawler” in which the three Blizzard Universes clash into one world called the Nexus. The recipe looks great, you take three eggs full of heroes (StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo) mash then up good and you get a 5vs5 tasty pancake.

So let’s get to the game. Even though people will start to say it’s a DOTA copy let’s not forget who the father of all MOBAs was: Aeon of Strife which was a StarCraft custom map (use map settings). The gameplay feels a little like it.

Like in all things in life there will be 2 camps, the people which will like the game and those which won’t, but it’s a fun experience especially if you are Blizzard fan. The game keeps the essential parts of the genre but has new features. Some are nice, some not so much. The formula of 5 players in a team is kept (at the moment this is the only way to play the game in versus mode if you don’t include the tutorial) and their job is to bash the other’s team main „thingy” (like a tree, a throne, a nexus, you get the idea). In Heroes of the Storm we have a Core. The first thing you might notice about it is that it shoots and has a shield .The mobs (or minions if you like) spawn in your base and go on their lane shooting anything that they encounter to the Core (they don’t really follow you like in other MOBAs so they can’t really be kited). One change can be noticed here. Apart from the classic melee ranged creeps we have another ranged creep (caster maybe?) which drops a regeneration globe (heals a short portion for both health and mana). Keep in mind that each wave of this mob travels to each lane. Another way to regenerate mana and life is the wells (similar to the night elf ones from Warcraft 3). It gives you a larger bonus then the globe dropped by the lane mobs and has 100 seconds cool down before you can use it again.

We mentioned mobs. Let’s see the neutral ones. There is a big change if you beat a neutral camp. The mobs will join you and they will go on the closest lane to assist the other creeps there. Currently there are three kinds of such mobs split into three different camps:

  • the Easy camp composed of two long ranged ogres
  • the Hard camp composed of a group of undead warriors
  • and the Boss camp which has a strong golem

They added some watchtowers which act like wards. I guess they seem to be like the ones from StarCraft 2, but you don’t need someone to stay all the time there. You just go cap it. Of course it can be taken after that by the other team, but it seems quite ok, and not all the maps have them.

We were mentioning the Core and the fact that it shoots. Well we also have the forts, two of them on each lane before you reach the Core, which also shoot, but unlike the Core, they have ammo and they need a period of time to reload. Exactly like the towers. Oh the towers! Yes.  They have ammo, there are two and they are linked with a gate (only your units can pass it because of the “forcefieldish thingy”) and walls so you can’t really tower dive only if you got a blinkish skill on your hero so you can jump the walls. One thing I like is that you can use most skills from your heroes on buildings too.

The Experience gained is common so when your teammates will be level 12 you will be level 12. Another change from the classical MOBAs is that you can achieve the victory another way except the classic one and that is with the „optional” objective (from my personal experience it’s a bad idea to ignore them) which is different from map to map. At this point there are 5 maps (the Alpha does not let you choose which one you want to play yet, instead it just throws you in a random one which can be frustrating if you get the same map two times in a row). I will describe them in the order I got the chance to test them:

1. Haunted Mines

This is the only map that has 2 lanes. It does have an underground section where you can collect the skulls needed for creating the objective: in this case a three headed skeleton golem. When the mines open there will be 100 skulls to collect from simple mobs (50 of them) or a Boss golem (the other 50). There are 2 entrances to the mines: one on each lane and the team which collects more skulls will have a stronger golem summoned near their Core. Then the golem starts his rampage, keep in mind that he ignores heroes and units (he does some Area of Effect damages from time to time though) and goes directly for towers or buildings. After the golem is destroyed, he turns back to the pile of bones he was, but when the mines open again he will reconstruct on the same position he got destroyed and start were he left of.

2. Dragon Shire

This is the 2nd map I’ve played. It’s a small map with 5 neutral camps exactly like “Haunted Mines”, but this one has 3 lanes and the optional objective is to take control of 2 shrines which activate from time to time (and keep them under your control). These shrines activate a statue in the middle. Whichever player from the team who has the control of the shrine will enter and get access to the Dragon Knight (so you will lose a players abilities, but gain a tanky dragon in a shiny armor with shield and stuff). This is ironic since knights kill dragons. Anyways. You get access to two abilities: 1st a small AoE cone and the 2nd a charge that throws the targeted player 2 screens away. The dragon has limited time or it can be killed eventually. So use it wisely. It’s not a brainless mob like the golem on the mines map (but it can be brainless…it only depends on the player who controls it). When the shrine activates again, you gain control from the middle, of the dragon. The dragon scales with level (probably) and he will be stronger each time you control him.

 3. Cursed Hollow

This is a slightly bigger map. It has more creep camps and even two watchtowers. The objective is that you need to collect tribute for the Raven Lord so he can curse the enemy team. It goes like this: tribute will spawn on one of the different locations on the map and you need to collect 3 of them so the other team gets cursed.

The curse: the towers and forts don’t shoot and all of the creeps that spawn have their life reduced to 1.  And of course you can repeat this since the tributes spawn again and again.

4. Blackheart’s Bay

This is another big map; in the middle we have a ghost ship with a ghost pirate captain which is hungry for gold! If you pay him he will bombard the other enemy team’s structures. There are 2 ways to get the gold or doubloons.

1st – 2 chests with doubloons spawn near the center area of the map (they have 10 doubloons at all times) which you need to attack to collect.

2nd – creep camps on the map drop this gold as well.

The pirate will ask for 10 doubloons at first, afterwards 12, and then 14 and so on, to bombard the enemy team with 12 hits each time.

5. Garden of Terror

This is the last map added to the game it’s a big 3 lane map, it seems to have a day/night cycle. In the day time, nothing much happens except the normal bashing and in the night time the objective activates. You need to collect seeds to summon a Garden Terror (Blizzard does this a lot … it’s the same model as the Grave Golem from the Hunted Mines map). So in the night time you collect seeds. You need 100 of them to summon the Golem … I mean Garden Terror and this can be done from near the Core. Like on the Dragon Shire map, you lose a player to gain one strong unit with 2 abilities: the 1st is a huge flowerpot which roots towers, forts and even the Core so they can’t shoot anymore (they can still be attacked and destroyed) and the 2nd skill throws a seed on an area which after a short delay transforms enemy heroes into zombie plants which can’t use their skills. Again this Golem… Terror has limited time or can be killed. When the night comes again, the process can be repeated.

Those are the maps; I would like to add one thing I liked about them. The mobs and buildings change their looks depending on which map you are on.

Heroes.

Like other MOBAs the heroes need to be unlocked (in-game gold or real money) and there is a free rotation each week again like in other MOBAs, but there is a thing I like here: the option of “Try Me”. You can play each hero with a bot so you can test it on a small map where you can maximize all talents and get a feel for the hero.

They recently added that you need to level-up each hero separately so you can unlock the other talents. As in you get 2 out of 4-6 each 3level unlocked even for the 2nd ultimate you cannot choose that if you are level 1.

At this point we have 4 kinds of heroes from all of the tree universes, we got Warriors such as Arthas or Tyrael, we got Assassins such as Nova or Zeratul, we got Support such as Tassadar or Tyrande and we got Specialists such as Zagara or Abathur.

Warrior heroes can be used as tanks or good initiator heroes. Assassins have a lot of burst damage in general and mobility, Support heroes do what every support hero does in each game but you can also turn one into a damage dealer. The Specialists usually are made to bring down buildings and usually have good crowd control.

All heroes start with 3 skills (active or passive) and a taint (active or passive) at level 1 and you can choose one of two ultimate skill at level 10. At levels 1/4/7/10/13/16/20, so each 3 levels, you select talents which can improve your skills you already have: improve your range, health, damage or even unlocking new abilities such as blink. Keep in mind that once you select a talent you can’t undo it that game.

Now comes the part which is the most important … there is no gold and there are no items even if they recently added artifacts which you can be purchased before you start the game to gain a small bonus in health movement speed (up to 10% for some) etc. I don’t know if they thought that „less is more” but probably that’s why they added the extra features as the objectives. If you like MOBAs and hate “to farm” in general, this is the game for you. And the same thing happened to Hearthstone. Everybody said it’s a simple version of Magic the Gathering (let’s say) but it’s still a fun game to play and can be very complex if you actually go for the Legendary rank.

All in all “Heroes of the Storm” is still in the Alpha stage and since it got released many things have changed.

One thing I don’t like in Heroes of the Storm is that you can’t select units to see their damage hit points or anything, friend or foe, but again it’s still Alpha.

This is a small impression and presentation of the game so far from my perspective. See you next time J

Apoca