Category Archives: Heroes of the Storm

[HotS] [Review] First Impressions of Heroes of the Storm MOBA

Initially, I got pulled into the game from seeing one of the posts on Hearthstone Facebook. Get to level 12 in HotS and get the special HotS cardback! The cardback was prettier than most, and I figured playing a few rounds of a new MOBA wouldn’t be that hard, right? And it was just nice a day away from open beta, and for the rest of that weekend it was all HotS.

So my first impression of it was, this is quite a breath of fresh air and hey, it feels like a Howling Abyss with bigger maps! Players get access to all 4 basic abilities (passive can sometimes be an active) at level 1 and can start brawling right from the get-go. Respawn timers are short at the earlier levels so fight and die all you want ._. But after 20+ levels of gameplay, no, this is not like Howling Abyss..

As a League of Legends player since before Season 1 started, and a DotA player before that, it feels like the MOBA genre has been feeling kind of stagnant for the past few years with nothing new to offer. However in HotS, I felt that though there are several familiar features well-known to players already, several interesting new ideas really make playing HotS a fun and engaging experience to a typical MOBA player.

Note: What you are gna read below are ONLY my personal views and opinions about the game, and you should take no offense from them. If you are a die-hard HotS/Blizzard fan/hater who will get hurt seeing good/bad comments about Heroes of the Storm, please move your cursor over to the top-right hand corner of your screen and click once. Proceed with caution!

 

The Heroes of Heroes of the Storm

Basically, it felt like a Dissidia of Blizzard games. Household names like Tyrael, Kerrigan, Tassadar, Illidan etc are all involved in this battle arena, and I can only hope that Deckard Cain joins in the fray soon 😛 Of course, these characters are equipped with their trademark abilities, Nova with her permanent cloaking passive and Diablo with his lightning inferno thingy, nostalgic yet exciting.

All heroes have 5 skills, 3 basic abilities (qwe), 1 “passive ability” that sometimes is an active ability or an ability enhancer (d), and an ultimate (heroic ability, r). While leveling up, players gain access to talent choices to improve their existing abilities or gain new ones (like healing ward, activated shield etc). Upon reaching level 10, heroes get their heroic ability (choose 1 of 2), and at level 20, their learned heroic ability can be upgraded, or they can learn an additional powerful ability (like blink, team shields, basic skills resets etc).

Familiar faces, but least expected to appear on the same screen together.
Familiar faces, but least expected to appear on the same screen together.
Hero selection. Play as Tyrael anyone?
Hero selection. Model shown is Tassadar basic skin, color variant 3.

 

The Game outside the Game

As with well-established MOBAs out there, there is still player progression to work towards when not battling in the arena.

Daily quests that give gold as reward.
Daily quests that give gold as reward.
Player level and progression rewards.
Player level and progression rewards.

IMO, gold is pretty hard to farm in this game if you do not have a stimpack (paid bonus for XP and gold per game) activated, and unlocking heroes sometimes cost ALOT of gold. Heroes range from 2k gold for the likes of Li Li (mini healer panda girl) and 15k for the newest hero Kael’thas (blood mage). The only other gold sink other than hero unlocks would be Master skins. This is one of the features I like about the game, since there is a unique skin (can be considered a visual upgrade from the normal skin) that can only be obtained by playing a ton of a particular hero (getting hero level 10). And after getting to level 10, you need 10k gold to buy it @_@ making it an absolutely hard-earned reward for players who really love that particular hero. So it basically is a bragging right, and seeing a teammate with a Master skin makes you trust him more.

Hero Level: In addition to your account level, each hero has a level too! Your experience per game adds to both your account and to the hero you played with for that game, and higher hero levels unlock basic skin color variations and mount color variations.

A typical 10k gold hero.
A typical 10k gold hero.

Btw, the game let’s you “try hero” anytime to decide whether you like a particular hero or not. And I must say, HotS has a pretty amazing try hero game mode, where you can toggle minion/hero spawns in a single lane and level up with a button and reset after that if you wish to take on different talents or heroic ability. Very convenient and easy to use and you should definitely try out any hero before purchasing!

If you want cuter/more exotic looking stuff on your heroes..
If you want cuter/more exotic looking stuff on your heroes..
Master skin can only be unlocked at hero level 10, and then requires 10k gold to buy it, making it a real hard-work reward for dedicated players.
Master skin can only be unlocked at hero level 10, and then requires 10k gold to buy it, making it a real hard-work reward for dedicated players.
Hero level rewards.
Hero level rewards.

 

Mounting Up

So, mounts in MOBAs… I have to say I found it weird at first, but really it enhances the speed of the game, and let’s you play towards the maps’ objectives better. Some of the maps require a ton of movement and it can be really daunting without some sort of a speed increase while out of battle. Also, it rescues players who are frequently out of place and of course, brings you to a fight much quicker upon respawning.

Rainbow unicorn anyone ._. Stupidly expensive (cannot be bought with gold) but I'm pretty sure you feel better riding it into battle.
Rainbow unicorn anyone ._. Stupidly expensive (cannot be bought with gold) but I’m pretty sure you feel better riding it into battle.

 

The MAPS

In contrast to other MOBAs somehow having difficulty introducing new maps for players, HotS launches with 7 distinct maps, each with different objectives and play-style. Some might seem like it’s the same mechanic (say doubloon cannons and sky temples are both objectives that shoot at your opponents’ structures), but only after playing many games on them will you be able to tell the difference (doubloon cannons are activated by feeding doubloons, which are obtained PRIMARILY from creep camps; but to control a sky temple, it’s mostly about juggling aggro and fighting the enemy team off it and teamwork ._.).

All I can say is, if you find that your team is repeatedly having difficulties in completing even 1 round of objectives, while your enemy already had you 3 times or more, you have basically lost the game. This is due to the fact that EXP in this game works by a team effort, and everyone on the team shares an EXP pool. The main sources of EXP are minions, structures and enemy heroes, and map objectives simply give too much bonus EXP via enemy structures. If you lag behind in levels, you are at a disadvantage in terms of ability power and damage, leading to imbalanced teamfights near the end of the game.

When both trees spawn together ._. Garden terrors in action.
When both trees spawn together ._. Garden terrors in action.
The mighty Dragon Knight.
The mighty Dragon Knight.

 

EXP and Neutrals

This is what I call the secondary objectives (hero killing is really not as important). While no objectives are happening, it’s almost always best to just spread yourselves out into the lanes and soak EXP (you have to be near creep deaths to get that EXP. Constantly fighting as a group of 5 would mean you are constantly absent from minion wave EXP and constantly getting only 1/3 of the EXP your opponents are getting). You might get an early edge of 1 or 2 kills at the beginning through an early gank, but you will find yourself quickly overshadowed by the opponents’ 3 waves of steady EXP gains. As EXP and team level decide the fights in the end, and the fights in the late-game are the ones that decide the whole game, it’s best to focus on leveling at the start.

Neutrals in this game FIGHT FOR YOU once you defeat them and capture the camp, and this is instrumental in most wins of this game. Timing camp captures with your pushing objectives will severely crush your enemies since they cannot deal with so many threats at once, and you will most likely get several structures or even hero kills down for massive EXP gain if done right. Certain neutrals like BOSS can even win the game single-handedly for you come late game, so never ignore these camps!

Look at those neutral minions working so hard for the opponents. The game's pretty much lost so chilling out at the fountain while sipping tea in real life is the way to go.
Look at those neutral minions working so hard for the opponents. The game’s pretty much lost so chilling out at the fountain while sipping tea in real life is the way to go.

 

The Lag

In contrast to MOBAs I’ve played all my life that require low system requirements and do not have much lag at all, HotS lags horribly, and I had to turn my graphics to Low and my audio to low and launch in 32-bit before I can even play it normally without experiencing massive spikes during fights and stuff (problem not related to our com specs). Many players on the Tech Support forums have also been experiencing this issue and I hope that Blizzard fixes it soon, since it would be a shame for such a fun game to fail in this aspect.

Have fun trying to catch up to the "current server time". By the time I caught up, the "DEFEAT" sign flashed before me and that was all D:
Have fun trying to catch up to the “current server time”. By the time I caught up, the “DEFEAT” sign flashed before me and that was all D:

 

In Conclusion

Well, it’s worth a try and you might like it! Don’t feel bad for betraying your preferred MOBA game that you have stuck to for years. Sometimes we need a break from the norm and sometimes we needa visit our childhood friends like Arthas and Malfurion. I want to see Baal in the game too T.T