Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 1, 2015

Someone is very scared about Heroes of the Storm

Above: The game is beautiful. Too bad very few will see it since the game’s high graphics have surprisingly beefy system requirements.

Once upon a time, there was a game called New Super Mario Brothers Wii. The fact that the game existed was amazing in and of itself. A new 2d Mario for HOME CONSOLE? We hadn’t seen that in decades. The first NSMB game on the DS came out and was extremely successful (which is an understatement). And besides, Super Mario Brothers is as innocent and pure of video gaming as Pac-Man. A new 2d Mario after all this time was, in many ways an event for all gamers.

IGN did a podcast on it run by Matt Cassamassina and some other guy. I listened to their ‘review’ of the game. I stunned to hear them flame the game in the most awful of ways. I remember saying at the time that these guys don’t believe what they are saying at all. Someone likely paid them to say it. They’re not this stupid. This is Super Mario Brothers. You might say that the game is not as good as a prior Mario game or maybe not even the best Nintendo game. But Nintendo games tend to be generally good. What tipped it all was their passionate hatred coming across. No one passionately hates 2d Mario. Nobody. As Shakespeare says, “The woman doth protest too much…”

New Super Mario Brothers Wii went on to become a smash hit and single handily revitalized Wii hardware sales making the Wii the most sold in-a-month console ever in NPD for December 2009. Passionately hating the game? No one. Clearly, someone very scared of NSMB Wii got them to say what they did. Very soon after, Matt Cassamassina and That Other Guy left IGN.

This ‘passionate overreaction’ is identical to what I’m hearing with the IGN/Polygon podcast located here. [0:23:48 – 1:03:00] All I hear them do is trash Heroes of the Storm and deliberately say incorrect things. You know they are being fake because some of these incorrect things are so way out of left field. For example, they complain about all the bans a team can make and that 5 bans are too many. But there are no bans whatsoever in the game. Another would be that the map objectives are random (they most certainly are not. Only Cursed Hollow has the tribute appear in different parts of the map yet that map is the most favored competitive map). “You can’t wear a skin until your hero hits level 10.” hahaha, no. Only the gold-only purchased Master Skins can be bought when the hero is level 10 because level 10 for that hero is considered the master level.

These guys aren’t stupid or ignorant. There is much F.U.D. going on here (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). I can see how someone can have a bad time in Quick Match since so many noobs have flooded the game since it went Open Beta. I can also see frustration at the gold grind to unlock heroes when starting out because I had the same issue. But it is the ‘passionate intensity’ that is identifying this as ‘fake’ or ‘bought and paid for’ by someone. Most gamers don’t passionately hate a game unless the game was incorrectly programmed or unfinished. For example, those who dislike DOTA 2 or LoL do not have a passionate hatred of the games. They say, “They aren’t for me”. Any hatred would be reserved for the toxic community.

I will tell you this, though. I regularly play HOTS with a brother who is over 40 years old. He used to be a LoL player. At first, he made fun of the mounts and the wackiness of the game. Now, he is an addict. He plays nothing but HOTS. He tried to go back to LoL and told me, “I couldn’t do it. The Last Hitting is lame. Not having a mount sucks. And the game simply isn’t fun.” THIS is the danger. Players who experience HOTS enough will not be going back to LoL or even DOTA 2 unless they already had many years and friends invested in those games.

I’ve met people on the street who have played in Closed HOTS and told me, privately, how much they enjoyed the game. With my brother, we consider HOTS to be the most fun Blizzard game since Warcraft 2. Grubby of Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3 fame was asked on stream whether he would go back to playing Starcraft 2 once the last expansion, Void of the Legacy, hits. He might, due to professional reasons, but “I am not looking forward to it. I am having more fun with HOTS.” Very revealing for a pro gamer to say.

Above: Grubby, of European gaming fame, wants to play HOTS and not Starcraft 2 anymore.

Will this game become big? I don’t know. It is a PC only game. It doesn’t appear to be a Red Ocean product as it doesn’t appear to be deliberately competing but trying to grow new players. It has a very high system requirement, much more than Starcraft 2, in that I can only run the game at low graphical settings. This will overshoot many casual gamers. But, then again, PC gaming has shown time and time again that if a game is good enough, people will buy the hardware in order to play it. Ultima 7 was how I got my 486 after all. And it was worth it.

 

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Pictured Above: Nirvana

But to put bluntly, this game is too good to not be successful. If you play this game entirely alone, it might be rough. This game benefits highly from playing with friends. This is a very social game. A very social game with a short gameplay length has the potential to be blow up big. Heroes can be a little goofy and has its own sense of humor. I actually suspect that while the ‘famous heroes’ are attractive to those who have played Blizzard games, they are also unattractive to those who don’t. The wheel turns both ways.

Anyone looking for immediate signs of success or failure will be disappointed. This game isn’t like the older Blizzard games like Warcraft 2 where you can take off a weekend, rip through much of the game, and generally get it. The game takes weeks, if not months, to get all the nuances. This may sound like hardcore talk, but it is true especially when you see these new players. They understand the concept of mastering the mechanics of their hero, but they still don’t understand about soaking lanes for XP, about when to take mercenaries, or even not to engage the enemy team when outnumbered. This is not DOTA or LoL where you can go 1 vs 4. You can melt ridiculously fast. And once the noob dies, suddenly any team fight will be 4 vs 5 until the noob respawns (which could be a 60+ seconds). Dying is the worst thing you can do in the game

Who stands to lose the most for a Heroes success? Riot? Valve Corporation? You wish that journalists were actually more critical of games like Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 which did have some problems. Yet, they ‘loved’ them. But with HOTS, it is ‘terrible, terrible’. I wish it was ‘terrible’ because the flood of noobs is crushing my Quick Match games.

I think we will have to wait a year to see how people react to HOTS over time. My bet is that HOTS will suck in all the people who would have gone to LoL and DOTA 2 leaving those two games with just their experienced players. I also think HOTS will take in many Warcraft 3 fans waiting for Warcraft 4 as well as Starcraft 2 players and those who have been wanting to get into MOBAs but were turned off by LoL and DOTA 2. My favorite thing about HOTS is NO ACHIEVEMENTS. God, how nice that is to have in a video game these days.

This podcast is the latest indicator that Heroes of the Storm might cause a storm. Here is some Basshunter to celebrate:

Above: DOTA’s mechanics are based off of Warcraft 3’s engine mechanics including the last hitting and items. When making Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard had to remake the mechanics which was hard because Blizzard created the mechanics that MOBAs used in the first place.


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