Heroes of the Storm has finally reached release day! Those who’ve taken part in Technical Alpha/Closed Beta since last year and beyond will soon be joined by the teeming masses waiting to get their hands on Blizzard’s objective-based hero brawler. Can Blizzard carve out a niche in a market dominated by Valve’s DOTA 2 and Riot’s League of Legends? If anyone could it is probably the same folks who made Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. Their approach is more in line with Riot’s business model with charging for subsequent Heroes (though all can be purchased using in-game gold as well along with skins/mounts). Chroma variations and Master Skins can, however, only be unlocked by leveling a particular character.
Blizzard’s fifth major property brings with it potential implications for the eSports scene. It is well known that League and DOTA 2 rule the roost right now but the accessibility of Heroes could prove to be a big upside for those standing on the outside of the genre looking in. This game is much like every other MOBA out there in regards to base mechanics with the usual Q, W, E and R abilities and movement. It is, however, different in that there are no Items to fuss with, little Laning to speak of and game lengths average 20 minutes. There is a much heavier emphasis on teamwork and completing objectives, so the idea of a superstar player winning the day doesn’t apply. Maps feature numerous mercenary camps, boss entities and other objectives to complete that can completely turn the tide of battle if employed correctly. Don’t collect coins on Blackheart’s Bay to rain down cannon fire on your opponents? You’re in for a bad time. Fight as a team and win as a team that is the central idea with HotS.
One of the new additions to the game comes in the form of Johanna the Crusader. Those familiar with one of Blizzard’s other franchises, Diablo, know the Crusader quite well. It was an addition to Diablo III with the Reaper of Souls expansion that came to both PC and consoles alike. She is a frontline sort of gal with a big shield and mace in tow. Take a gander below:
It looks like the most notable abilities from the Crusader class have made their way into the game what with the Punish and Blessed Shield on display. Dustin Browder, Game Director for Heroes of the Storm, mentioned during the Launch Event yesterday that she also had an ability known as Falling Sword. Johanna will leap towards the Heavens and a golden light will rain down with a reticle for aiming. Players can then steer towards an area that might be full of other Heroes and pull the trigger. She will crash down into them causing big damage and even knocking them into the air. She will be, as always, available for purchase in the Heroes store for in-game gold or real money.
Blizzard, in celebration of launching the game, has also boosted XP gains for players by 25% for the entire week starting today. That should help those just getting their start today with leveling up those characters. You can also head over to the Heroes of the Storm Team Builder to create a team using your Facebook friends. The reward? A free Mechano-Spider Mount!
Dustin Browder, Game Director for HotS, has mentioned that new characters will be working their way into the game every three weeks or so while new battlegrounds will be a bit longer. The next up on the docket is the Diablo-themed map, “Heaven and Hell”. The reveal, way back at Blizzcon 2014, mentioned that it would also come with other Diablo heroes and mounts as well.
Complete noob to MOBAs in general? Check out some beginner’s tips via the Heroes of the Storm subReddit. Have you been playing since Technical Alpha and finally looking to step up your game? Take a look at these tips from Team Liquid for the high-end of the spectrum. There are those among the staff at APGNation (especially this writer in particular) who dig the game and will be playing it often. Care to join me in a game? Look up BattleTag Granak#1364. There will be weekly Heroes streams via our Twitch channel soon along with further analysis of the competitive scene as it unfolds. The Road to Blizzcon 2015 is a long one, indeed, but it should be a fun one.
Plan on playing Blizzard’s foray into the MOBA market? Who’s your favorite hero? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter (@APGNation). Be sure to follow for the latest in gaming news, reviews, interviews and eSports coverage.