Heroes of the Storm is a true example of what Blizzard as a developer is best at – taking a popular gaming style or concept, picking and choosing the best parts, streamlining the interface or mechanics and offering a level of accessibility not seen in other games of the type. WarCraft, StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo and Hearthstone all fall into this development philosophy, each refining, if not redefining their respective genres thanks to the mixture of cherry-picked features and accessibility. Now Heroes of the Storm joins this rather illustrious group of games, as it brings the same ease of play and accessibility to the MOBA.
There are no items to be picked up and equipped in Heroes of the Storm, and this is a godsend when it comes to learning characters, as it removes a layer of meta game that can serve as a definite impediment for any new players of DOTA II, League of Legends or any of the myriad other established MOBAs. Any items that may be vital in other MOBAs – potions for example – have been replaced by in game interactive objects. Healing wells replace potions, ensuring that players can get back to the fray as soon as possible. Although the theory crafting of builds and laneing tactics are still a major part of HotS, Blizzard has put the focus purely on getting people straight into combat and giving them tense, give and take battles.
Every player in a team is made to feel equal, thanks to a group XP system. Instead of one or two veteran players with knowledge of the best lane farming techniques rocketing up in levels, every player in a team receives equal XP, ensuring that every member of a team is capable of operating at the same level of power, even if they don’t have equal levels of skill. At certain levels players get to choose between pairs of abilities for their hero. Initially these choices aren’t make or break, but after only a fairly short while playing the game and reaching the highest player level possible, every skill choice is unlocked making for some great theory crafting.
One of the smartest things Blizzard has done with Heroes of the Storm is allow each hero to fulfil more than one goal, all but ensuring a player can fill a role on a team no matter the character they choose to play. Healers can be specced for damage, DPS warriors can be specced for tanking and so on. Hopefully this will take down another barrier that has traditionally stood in the way of people trying to get into MOBAs – finding a team in which they can fill a niche and won’t be given tremendous amounts of shit for their choice of hero.
The accessibility of HotS and lack of an item meta will probably keep many veteran MOBA players away, but there’s no doubt that the game will and deserves to attract a whole new audience who have previously found the cost of entry – multiple levels of theory crafting and meta knowledge and an often unwelcoming gaming environment – too high to tolerate.
Why you should play this game?
- You want to know who would win in a fight between The Lost Vikings and Diablo
- You’ve been afraid to try other MOBAs
- You prefer the term Hero Brawler
- You love any of Blizzard game