Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 22, 2015

Heroes of the Storm is crazy fun

Do you hear that, reader? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of a great game. I love games with super high sound standards of both sound effects and music. Think Mega Man 2, Wing Commander, or even Warcraft 2, Starcraft and WoW. The sound in Heroes is so good. The characters even talk to each other in it. Ex: when Raynor kills Thycus, he says, “How many times do I have to kill you, Tychus?” a reference to the ending of Wings of Liberty. If Gazlowe and Murky appear on the same team, Gazlowe will go, “Hey, a murloc! Do your thing!” Murky: “Mrghghghghghghg!” If Muradin is around, he goes “That sound gives me the heeby jeebies!” The game is full of these little touches.

Heroes oozes Warcraft 2 quality and reminds me of it in so many ways. By Warcraft 2 quality, I mean the game is consistently fun, and I find I cannot stop playing it. The games are consistently about twenty minutes in length. The graphics are sharp. Art direction is superb. What else is there to say?

Heroes though has a reputation already on the Internet given by our friends, the Hardcore. This reputation was given even before any of them tried it. In Hardcore Land, Heroes is a ‘casual game’ where one doesn’t abide by any rules during the game. You just run around doing whatever. Oh, and anyone can pick it up because the game has no skill. There is no skill ceiling. Only the cool people play LoL or Dota 2. Or other BS.

The truth is that this game is probably harder than either LoL or Dota 2 because it is more teamwork dependent. No one can carry. I watched Grubby today play Quick Match. Grubby is a good player. He is like ranked 1 on Hero league. But when he plays Quick Match, he gets trashed. I had to laugh at it all. The reason why is because you are only as good as your team.

There is definitely a structure to the Heroes games, and I don’t mean doing the objectives. Think of it as soaking and feeding. Feeding is dying and giving enemy free xp. Soaking is getting xp. Killing minions is very important to do and should be done early game or when you are behind. One team can easily dominate the other. You need to show up for team fights at the right time. You need to not be caught out of position.  There are far more nuances to it than I thought.

I’ve been on both sides of the beta fence. The game doesn’t make much sense until you play it. All these nuances make no sense until you play it.

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My experience is going to be different than most. I was a die-hard Warcraft 3 fan and was doing crazy map editing at the time. Everyone was adding something to the moba maps. This is where Dota came from. Icefrog did not make Dota. People made maps and the community added pieces here and there. Everyone broke into people’s maps and copied other people’s JASS spells and abilities. Much of these abilities were then gathered into Dota All-Stars. Some of those abilities were mine. But these spells and abilities pass through so many hands, it is difficult for anyone to claim authorship for anything. It is cool how far we could stretch the Warcraft 3 engine.

After Dota All-Stars, the ‘moba’ then went in a direction I hated. Yes, the hardcore invaded. They had a gazillion items. It was the same damn map again and again. It just wasn’t fun to me.

My experience with DOTA was that it was for those who couldn’t handle the complexity of Warcraft 3. Warcraft 3 overshot the market. You were micro-managing heroes, and buying and using items for them, while doing traditional RTS building, resource harvesting, and managing armies. It was too much for the average consumer. You can’t exactly invite your friends to do that. But with DOTA, this was much easier. From my experience, DOTA players were those who couldn’t handle their RTS. Looking back on it, I see that DOTA was just feeding off of the overshooting of the Warcraft 3 complexity. In a similar way, LoL and DOTA 2 fed off of the complexity of Starcraft 2 (which completely overshot the market).

Imagine a timeline of the MOBA where it goes into Aeon of Strife on Starcraft and then the crazy maps of Warcraft 3 to All-Stars and then to Icefrog versions and then to LoL, HoN, DOTA 2, and all the rest. What Heroes does is CHANGE THE TIMELINE and splits it off before All-Stars. This was when the MOBA had crazy different maps and wasn’t so stat driven with the items and all.

People like me could not get into DOTA, DOTA 2, LoL, HoN, and the rest because I kept thinking, “This is a goddamn Warcraft 3 mod!” I can do all the JASS. I know it all intricately. I know how these other MOBAs were put together. It felt like Pac-Man clones instead of actual Pac-Man. Pac-man clones are fun until you play the real thing.

DOTA heroes were not very original for most of them. They used the Warcraft 3 heroes and characters with some tweaks to the abilities. The heroes in Heroes all have returned to their proper name and lore. MOBA making with Warcraft 3 maps was largely tweaking different values. Making game engines is very hard. Blizzard deserves the lion’s share of the credit for DOTA. The unknown modders who helped contribute or add to the maps also deserve credit. Seeing Blizzard make their own moba seems proper and good.

Imagine an alternate timeline if the MOBA went a different direction. This is where Blizzard is going, and I like it because this is where I wanted the MOBA to go in the first place. If you enjoyed playing Warcraft 3 custom maps, you will enjoy Heroes the most. I feel like Heroes is more related to Warcraft 3’s custom maps than to LoL or DOTA 2.

Heroes also is the closest thing to Warcraft 4 at the moment. The Warcraft 2 music has been redone and is highly prevalent in the game. The feel of the game also is Warcraft 2 such as Blackthorn’s Bay with him laughing and drinking while shooting cannon balls at your base. Heroes doesn’t take itself seriously like Diablo or Starcraft which is good.

Since I already thoroughly enjoyed playing Warcraft 3 and Warcraft 3 custom maps, it is why Heroes appeals to me so much. Now I do not know the reader’s tastes. But if the reader enjoyed Warcraft 3, he or she will like Heroes. If the reader is coming from a LoL or DOTA 2 mindset, they are going to ‘not get it’.

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How big will Heroes get? I don’t know. The biggest bottleneck I see to it are the system requirements. Heroes needs a hefty computer to work. Just because Starcraft 2 runs great for you doesn’t mean Heroes will. I currently have the side panel of my computer off, with the memory buffers moved low, just because my GPU keeps overheating. I have every setting turned down really low! Yet, the game is very intensive.

What surprises me the most is how action-orientated the game is. The team battles are frequent and your mouse will be flying. It is not like Starcraft 2 where it is more about macro. Heroes seems to me to be more action orientated than ‘real time’ orientated like in the RTS games. That said, intense team battles makes my computer cough and might be why I’m not performing as well as I should when my teammates are all level 40 veterans. A split second is all between life and death much of the time. You have to be fast!

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I haven’t tried this game with friends yet (they need beta keys). I imagine the bulk of the fun of this game is playing with friends. When you solo queue, you will have… interesting experiences. It can be a nightmare or paradise.

The complaints about the matchmaking, while some may be legitimate, seem more from those who play in Hero league normally and then go to Quick Match. Yes, noobs abound in Quick Match. If they don’t want to play with noobs, they should stick to their Hero League.

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Strangely, the top players tell me they can’t go back to other MOBAs because of the mounts! They love their mounts, and they even purchase different ones for their heroes. They also cite the other usual suspect reasons such as 25 minute games, but the longer you play the game the more you will not want to live without the mounts.

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Above: Rock and roll music. Blizzard calls it ‘Rock Opera’! hah!

Heroes feels like Blizzard realized where they went wrong with Starcraft 2. The game is doing so many things that I have wanted games to do especially Blizzard games.

-the multiplayer is centered around the ‘play after dinner or when you get off work’ and not around super duper hardcore losers.

-A TON of Warcraft 2 homages including the music. Did I mention how much I love the music? Heavy rock and roll. Games try to be so ‘serious’ these days that they forget how games had a ton of rock and roll in them. Mega Man is called Beat Man for a reason! Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, noticed a link with the quality of sound a game had and its sales. This game nails the music and sound.

-Alice in Wonderland themes abound when Blizzard doesn’t use their usual franchises. I love it.

-I feel like there is a ton of freedom where this is going. Imagine a map editor. That is coming soon. Imagine playing as a team with PvE content. Blizzard says they want to do that but not right now. This game could grow into a Warcraft 4.

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The only complaint I have with the game is the gap between having no stuff and having stuff. You need stuff to maximize your enjoyment of Heroes. By stuff I mean heroes and other things like mounts/skins/etc. I think the game will lose many people in this gap. Farming gold is boring. Paying real money for a game you aren’t sure yet is also not good.

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For those who are unaware of progression works in Heroes, this is how to goes:

Your account has a level. It can go up to level 40. Certain unlocks do occur as you progress. 40 unlocks Team League. 30 unlocks Hero League. 15 unlocks another free hero spot. 12 unlocks another free hero spot.

Every hero can be leveled up to 10 (20 in the upcoming patch). Here is how the hero unlocks work:

1: Every hero starts with a choice of two talents (for levels 1, 4, 7, 10 and so on to 20 for abilities). You can only choose one ultimate.

2: At level 2, you can choose the second ultimate. Heroes only have two ultimate choices at this time.

3: You unlock a tier of abilities so you have 3 choices for each talent.

4: You unlock all abilities. You have 4 choices for each talent. Sometimes it is 5.

5: You get 500 gold.

6: You get a portrait and unlock a mount color.

[Every hero skin has three colors it can choose. Each mount has three colors. However, these alternate colors are locked and can only be unlocked by your hero going up in levels.]

7: Your hero unlocks a second skin color.

8: your hero unlocks the third skin color.

9: You get another portrait and unlock the third mount color.

10: Your hero is mastered. The icon now glows gold. It unlocks the master skin, but you still have to buy it. It costs 10,000 gold (which is enough to buy a $10 hero).

11-20: just vanity levels. They do nothing.

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There are several ways to play Heroes.

Try mode- This is played through the shop. You try a hero or hero skin you want. You are on a small, simple map with one AI hero against an enemy AI. A single wave of minions span down one lane. You can add levels, decrease levels, reset cooldowns, and reset it all. You get to play with it. No experience is given in this mode.

Practice Mode- You play by yourself with bots on your team against bots. You get no experience doing this.

Co-op Mode- You play with four other people against enemy bots. You do get experience for this.

Quick Match- 5 people play against 5 people. No bots. This where most people play. You get as much experience losing this as you do winning co-op.

Hero League- Ranked play. Everyone chooses a hero, and the same hero cannot be picked for both sides.

Hero Team League- Will unveil in the upcoming patch. I assume it is the same thing but done with teams.

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The Shop has:

-heroes to buy

-skins to buy

-mounts to buy

-stim packs. These surprised me at first. They boost your XP and gold gain. One is 30 days. Another is 7 days. This is why experience doesn’t really matter since people can just buy stim packs and level real fast.

-bundles. Bundles offer a collection of different heroes, skins, and mounts together for a reduced price.

-Every week, a hero, a mount, and a skin is on sale for 50% off. The sale only applies to real money, not gold.

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How to gain gold:

-Winning matches gives you some gold. Only 10 gold in co-op if you win. This rate doubles if you party with a friend or go into Quick Match. Keep in mind that the cheapest hero is 2000 gold with most heroes at 10,000 gold.

-Rewards from leveling up heroes and your profile.

-Daily quests.

I wasn’t sure how daily quests worked in Heroes. I hated them in WoW. They don’t work the same. They do work like in Hearthstone I believe.

Everyday you are given a new quest which seems RNG. You can hold three at a time. So you only have to log in once every three days to do these quests. The quests are simple. You just play 3 games or play as a Starcraft hero or play a couple games as a warrior. Quest rewards are 200 gold to 800 gold.

Daily quests are the best way to earn gold in this game. It doesn’t take long to unlock all the heroes. You might average 2000 gold per week. You don’t have to spend a penny to unlock the heroes, but it is going to take a while.

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If anyone has any questions, shoot me an email.

No, I don’t have any beta keys. Sorry.


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