Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha – First Impressions

Reimaru gets its hands on Blizzard’s take on the MOBA genre as it undergoes through the technical alpha stage, and here’s what we have to say.

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Not nearly groundbreaking but surely a totally different experience, Heroes of the Storm (which we would really like to call HotS but it might cause a conflict with Heart of the Swarm, the expansion for StarCraft II) ventured away from the traditional MOBA setup and gave us a unique and cool gaming experience.

No Gold, but with more Teamplay

Okay so let’s talk about the income first here, the one thing that people are totally concerned about when it comes to MOBAs, you see in the common MOBA games Gold is the main currency that players need to farm up in order to be equipped with better items thus making their characters stronger, Heroes of the Storm on the other hand just removes this mechanic and putting Team EXP as the main factor impacting the team advantage, and to put emphasis on teamwork, Experience is unified for the whole team, yes, if the EXP bar is full not only 1 hero gains a level but the whole team itself. So no solo Ramboing this time. if you wanna win, go work with your other 4 team mates and take on the other team 5-against-5, hopefully, this would remove the “I-wanna-go-1-against-5-against-the-enemy-because-I’m-so-pro” trench that most MOBA gamers experience, especially in low-tier plays.

Talents, and Skills hand-in-hand

No MOBA will ever be complete without a Panda
No MOBA will ever be complete without a Panda

We’re not just talking about actual human talents and skills here, we’re talking the in-game mechanic, while gaining levels means that you essentially unlock and power up your hero’s skills or abilities but also, reaching certain levels lets you unlock talents which either directly boosts your hero’s attributes or gives additional buffs and effects to your abilities. Each hero, at certain levels is granted a variety of 1 or 2 or even 3 talents which could depict the hero’s playstyle and his impact to the team, wether you wanna go full tank, assassin mode, or a support, it all depends on your hero talent choices.

Mobs: Defeat them…and control them!

Damn son, they got themselves some golems.
Damn son, they got themselves some golems.

Now the Gold mechanic is removed right? But there are still neutral monster camps in-game,  commonly what happens is when they are killed they give gold, but with the gold mechanic absent from Heroes of the Storm, what happens when you kill them? Easy, they fight for your side! You read that right, the Map jungle hasn’t lost is impact in Heroes of the Storm as the powerful neutral camps fight for your team’s side when you defeat them, adding moar siege power, useful in taking down those walls and forts. Special type monsters are also available in-game, such as the Dragon Knight, the Garden Terror and the greedy pirate that shoots cannons at the enemy base when bribed enough.

5 Maps,  5 Metas, 5 Different Styles of Competing

That, my good sir, is just 1 map out of 5.
That, my good sir, is just 1 map out of 5.

Now this is what really makes Heroes of the Storm unique from other MOBAs, although there are certain MOBA games that contain different map choices, Heroes of the Storm has not only 3 but 5 different maps, each nearly identical in layout but  calls for different playstyles. Wether you need to invade shrines to control a powerful dragon knight, collect gold to bribe a pirate, venture in the map’s dungeons to control a powerful Golem, or collect tributes to put a curse on the enemy team, you’re sure to have different levels of gameplay experience each time you go on the queue.

Blizzard’s Iconic Characters, all in one Single Game

HotS Game Lobby
Okay so we have the guys from WarCraft and Diablo, we just need one from StarCraft and we’re good to go.

It might be different from everyone else but for us, this surely is the coolest factor that Heroes of the Storm has, the Blizzard universe is chock-full of very iconic characters from their different video game franchise titles: StarCraft, WarCraft and Diablo, and now they’re all in one game. Play as the Lich King and take on Diablo, have Tassadar and Zeratul face of against each other, a match up with the demon Illidan against the angel Tyrael? Not a problem, with the still growing hero pool, the possibilities of a WarCraft vs StarCraft vs Diablo faceoff is just so many.

Improvements, Improvements, Improvements

No game is perfect and there’s still a few quirks that needed to be fixed right away, for now Heroes of the Storm is cool and okay but it cold take quite sometime to totally appeal to the large crowd, in this section Reimaru lists down what it thinks Heroes of the Storm needs to improve just before it hits the official release:

Lighting and Ambiance – The game feels a bit dark, though we may think that this is to emphasize the ambient of war and conflict, going too low on lighting can also promote boredom, especially to multiple duration of gameplay, you wouldn’t want to have your players just suddenly doze off in front of their PCs would you? But hey there’s no need to fully turn up that Brightness and Contrast stuff, just a little more light to reduce the shadowy and dozy feel.

A little Freedom on the Map Choices – While the game itself has 5 different maps, they are chosen at a random basis each time you get on the queue, although it would help in making sure that each gameplay experience is unique, it could be nuisance to other players, especially now when there’s already a rising pro-scene. Perhaps having a more specific map to be used on tournaments, or at least giving players the freedom to choose before they ride on the queue as to make sure that they’re fully prepped up before going into battle.

Shields – Didn’t we mention that Towers sometimes run out of bullets and take time to reload? No? Oh okay, but anyhow, it’s one of the mechanics of Heroes of the Storm that we find a little off-putting, once the tower runes out of juice, it’s just basically a wall with high health, perhaps giving a Damage Based Shield or Minimal Armor Buffs while the tower is reloading just to make it last longer, especially once the Neutral Camps start the siege on your base.

Moar Heroes! – We know that it will come but Blizzard pls? I’d really wanna play as Deckard Cain.

Balance Improvements – Although no major “Oh-My-Gosh-Hero-Is-OP-Pls-Nerf-Blizzard” Report is going on due the game still on technical alpha, a couple of balance improvements can still be used by Heroes of the Storm ranging from Tower Reload times, Siege Minion Damage and Range and even on the Hero Talent Buffs, the changes need not to be major though, as there could still be other major feedback from the Technical Alpha community.

Stats and Visuals – The one think that’s lacking with Heroes of the Storm, those little things that can help the player directly gauge his heroes capabilities such as how much HP regen a hero is getting, how much DPS he’s dealing, and even armor values and Speed boosts. It might not sound big for some, but seeing actual numbers while in-game can have its impacts in making those big-teamfight plays.

Overall, Heroes of the Storm gives more than what is expected from it, by being a lot more forgiving than most MOBAs when it comes to learning curves but a lot more punishing when it comes to the non-teamplayer approach. A mixute or both the casual feel and a very competitive playstyle, we have to say it shattered all of our previous assumptions about the game during its initial press releases, and gave us something way more different than what we were expecting.

 

 

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