Heroes of the Storm - Blizzard's MOBA

Heroes of the Storm was just released and is being called a casual MOBA - comparing it to DOTA 2 or LoL is somewhat like Hearthstone to M:TG. Or as one review compared, Super Smash Brothers to Street Fighter 4. It’s geared towards being easier to pick up, less punishing, and more focused on team success than individual success. PC Gamer slideshow comparing the differences. Metacritic reviews page

No last hitting/denial, teams level up as a group, the maps available are very different and map objectives are a key part of the game, individual feeding and carrying are less of a factor, branching talent tree instead of items, a bigger emphasis on doing things as a team, games aimed for 15-30 minutes rather than 45-60.

I’ve not put much time into any MOBAs because of the generally toxic communities and the feeling that I’d have to dedicate too much time to even begin to get good at them - joining DOTA 2 or LoL now and not knowing what any of the 8000 heroes can do would make me feel lost for quite a long time - but I’m considering getting in on the ground floor of a new one where I wouldn’t be massively behind everyone else.

It sounds like Blizzard is trying to breed a less toxic community with the mechanisms that are less individually rewarding/punishing and more team oriented - hard to say if it’ll work, but since the traditional MOBA crowd would stab your mother in the face if you make a wrong move, I could buy that they’ll engender a somewhat less toxic crowd as the people who get that into the games will flock to the “hardcore” MOBAs they’re already on.

The monetization is more LoL than DOTA 2 unfortunately, having to buy heroes with free hero weeks on rotation as well as cosmetics. DOTA 2 monetization seems at first glance to me to be very generous and this won’t be.

I like the emphasis on making the maps much more part of the dynamic flow of a game rather than just a plain checkerboard on which heroes fight each other. The different maps all play differently with differing objectives and dynamic events that affect the outcome of the game. That seems like more fun and more varied than traditional MOBA maps which are basically just the same generic static background you play on every time.

Anyway, if you want to play together, post your blizzard (and/or steam) ID to the thread. The game isn’t on steam, but most gamers use steam as a chat client anyway, so it’s more reliable to contact them there. I’m SenorBeef#1394 on Blizzard and SenorBeef on steam. I haven’t actually tried it yet, so it may turn out I don’t like it, in which case everyone can organize games amongst themselves.

I’m Kinthalis#1202, never got into DOTA2 mostly due to the whole crazy item builds you need to know, so this sounds intriguing!

I’ve been playing a bunch of it, and have been at Hero Level 40 for a while now (got in during the beta).

Having played an awful lot of DOTA, I can say that HotS has just enough depth to keep it interesting, and the various mechanisms that drive matches forward and keep them relatively short are a big plus.

Hit me up with a PM if you want my screen name. I play most evenings. Am also happy to field questions about maps or general strategy here.

edit: Getting into Hero League as quickly as possible is a big must for match quality. That means being level 30 and owning 10 heroes minimum. If you think there’s any chance at all of you spending real money on a pack, look at the ones out there and make sure you don’t purchase any of the bundle heroes with gold, otherwise you’ll just waste some of your cash. There’s a starter bundle that has three heroes in it that’s a pretty good deal, I think.

Tying ranked mode to hero purchases seems pretty scummy. -1 point to this game.

On the one hand, I agree with you. On the other hand, if you’re playing fairly casually (and this is a fairly casual MOBA), then by the time you hit level 30 you’ll likely have earned enough gold to have purchased 10 heroes or damn near close. A daily quest will net you 300-800 gold, and the heroes are 2/4/7/10k.

Your problem will come if you play too many games a day and earn experience faster than you can earn gold. You do get some for winning matches, but not much - the bulk comes from the quests.

I do prefer the DOTA model when it comes to MOBAs. Everyone gets all the heroes. But they’re the exception to the unfortunate rule.

Okay, fair enough. I didn’t realize that it’s meant to take a long time to hit ranked mode rather than something they just want to put behind a paywall.

What’s the difference between the modes? It can’t be like ranked vs casual in Hearthstone I’d imagine - I don’t think they’d match you up against random people regardless of skill level - so is it just a matter of whether or not your games advance you on a seasonal ladder?

OK. I’ve heard a lot of really positive stuff about this game from people I respect. However, I am a total neophyte when it comes to this genre; I had to google what “MOBA” even stands for. Can somebody give me a quick-and-dirty summary of what the game is about? And tell me whether I’d be totally hopeless diving in as someone new to the game type?

Quickmatch does seem to be random schlubs, yeah. As far as I can tell it doesn’t take any ranking into account. You also don’t know what your team comp will be like because you pick your character before you queue.

Hero League has a draft, and you can only use the heroes that you own. No free rotation. That’s another reason for the ten heroes deal: if you had less than ten there would be a chance that you could get blanked out of a pick altogether. There’s no banning like in DOTA, though I hope that will come once there’s a bigger pool of heroes. So, overall, the quality of the matches are way higher in Hero League. Everybody in it has played a good number of games, nobody is dicking around on free rotation characters that they’re unfamiliar with, and the draft ensures that your team comp will be reasonable (hopefully).

The gist of MOBAs is that you control one hero unit from a top down perspective that looks like an RTS game. That’s the origin of the genre - as a warcraft 3 mod. Your hero levels up as he kills enemy units and heroes, and gains skills and upgrades skills like an RPG. Some MOBAs also generate gold from getting the last hit on an enemy unit, which you then use to buy item upgrades, so timing your attacks to get the last hit on enemy units (and denying them to your enemies by killing your own unit) is a core mechanic in DOTA 2 at least, but not all MOBAs.

There are two bases on either side of the map A constant stream of NPC units is generated at each base, and heads down lanes towards the enemy base. Since each base is generating the same units, they’ll meet in the middle and kill each other and cancel each other out. But if you move along with them to support your friendly NPC units with your own hero, your force will be be more effective than the enemy force - you will begin to push towards the enemy base, where various defenses lie. 5v5 with 3 lanes is the typical layout.

Of course the other team is also going to have people in those same lanes defending against your pushes and making their own pushes. You attempt to kill or force the enemy hero to go back to base to heal - there’s a substantial experience/gold reward for killing an enemy hero. At opportune moments, some of your teammates will come from around the map to try to catch an enemy hero offguard and kill them before they can escape (called “ganking”), so situational awareness and communication is a key factor.

There are different types of hero archetypes. Some heroes tend to be good at supporting pushes and killing enemy defenses. Others are good at initiating ganks and surprising enemy heroes. Some are more oriented towards supporting teammates. Some heroes are “carry” heroes in that they start off weak but scale really well with skills and items so that they become powerhouses in the late game, some tend to start off strong and diminish in importance.

It’s a fairly simple genre with a fairly high skill curve and is very punishing towards failure, which tends to breed a really elitist and abusive community. But it definitely scratches an itch for some people. Heroes of the Storm is trying to be more casual and less toxic about it and is taking a fairly different approach in terms of objectives and maps. Since I haven’t played it, I can’t say it’s a better way to enter the genre than the established dominant franchises, but I suspect it probably is. At the very least you’re not months or years behind the average player in terms of knowledge.

It’s a little difficult to get into because HotS has a lot of deviation from the standard MOBA model. A very quick and dirty rundown of this particular game:

You and four other dudes are in a tug-of-war against another five-man team. Each team has a “core” which, when destroyed, ends the game. The core is accessed by a series of lanes (two or three depending on the map) which are protected by a system of gates and towers. Periodic waves of computer-controlled minions spawn at the core and march down the lanes, engaging whatever they see. The players use these minions as cannon fodder against the towers, as well as for experience.

Your character has three skills, bound to q, w, and e. As you level your character, you can enhance those skills. You also unlock a fourth skill (called a “heroic”) that is very powerful.

Left to their own devices, the minions will just bump into each other ad infinitum and nothing would ever happen. With players interacting, though, the lanes can be pushed, towers can be destroyed, and the core can eventually be taken down. That’s the tug of war.

Over the course of the game, you and your teammates engage with the other team. The longer the game, the longer the respawn time, so in late game a few key deaths provides enough of an opening to make big pushes.

There’s a lot more, but that’s the overall gist of the game. I’d recommend downloading it and playing through the training. It will show you what’s up.

Nitpick Starcraft 1 Map

I stopped playing it after the fourth time I ran into graphics glitches. These ranged from a few blades of grass that extended halfway across the map, to complete graphics crashes that slowed the computer to a crawl even after I logged out - I had to reset the computer to recover.

FWIW I have twenty or thirty heroes and I never paid a dime. And I have a career and a large family so it’s not like I spend hours a day on the game or anything. (Well… very many hours…)

It does. There’s a program called Hotslogs that uses people’s game histories to assign its own match-making rank. The ranks it assigns are almost certainly not the same as those assigned by Blizzard (whose system is secret), but what the results do show is that people with higher rankings are consistently teamed with people with higher rankings, and people with lower ranking are consistently teamed with people with lower rankings.

I think HotS does exactly what it set out to do, and I think it does those things very well.

The big question is whether you WANT those things in your MOBA.

This time last year, I was deep into DOTA. I bought the compendium for the tournament and watched a ton of matches. If HotS had come out at that point, I probably wouldn’t have touched it.

But HotS came after I had burnt out on DOTA. I was tired of spending 60 minutes to play a match whose outcome was determined at the 20 minute mark.

All of the streamlining and simplifying that Blizzard has introduced into the formula really appeal to me right now. I like that the matches generally don’t take much more than 20 minutes (and often less). I like that the maps have objectives that push the match forward. I like the shared experience and the lack of items.

So is it a better way to enter the genre? Maybe not, because I think it would be difficult to move to a more complex MOBA after getting used to the way HotS approaches things. But right now, for me, this is that way I want to play.

Ok this is what happened as far as i can remember. Many years ago the RTS game Warcraft: orcs vs humans 2 came out and it had hero units. Some people found the whole idea of just controlling their hero units and leveling them up and choosing abilities fun, but that whole building bases and armies and sending them to fight each other tiresome. So they created a mod with pre built bases and automated army queueing and attacking so you could just play the hero units and nothing else. And the MOBA genre was born.

I started playing when it went open beta a week before the official launch and I enjoy it. I’ve tried some other MOBAs, and LoL was the only one that clicked. (I hated Smite for a plethora of reasons, and DoTA2 felt like a chore where I could be ranted at by teammates rather than a game.)

HotS definitely has a lower barrier to entry, and I’m happy with that. They’ve built in a learning curve in that you can’t use all a hero’s abilities until you’ve played them several times or have high enough hero rank that you’re on the long tail of the learning curve. It plays fast, and there always seems to be an opportunity to make a comeback whereas other MOBAs feel like they snowball and make comebacks impossible. It also feels much more dynamic in that there are constant lane swaps/roams. Rather than knowing I’ll spend the first ten minutes of LoL in top lane with Cass whittling away at Dr. Mundo in LoL, I can’t bank on having a specific lane in HotS, and the maps are small enough that roaming to the next lane to assist a teammate isn’t a major commitment. Map goals add to the dynamism, yet it never feels chaotic.

If I have a complaint, it’s the monitization system. As mentioned, it’s pretty brutal. I’ve stuck with the free rotation for now and won’t invest my gold until I’ve played most to level 5 (where you can use all abilities and get a gold reward). As with LoL, it seems to be individual heroes that click with me rather than roles.

I entered MOBAs less than a year ago after seeing them and saying “that doesn’t interest me at all” several times. The idea is that the players have powerful heroes and are playing in an arena trying to destroy the enemy core. There are paths that weak computer-controlled minions (aka creeps or mobs) will march along trying to get to the core. In the absence of the heroes, the minions meet in these lanes and fight it out, generally to a standstill. The heroes speed up the killing of the enemy minions to march theirs along faster.

But that really oversimplifies it because the enemies are doing the same. And this brings them into conflict where they can kill one another. Each hero has a unique set of abilities that allow them to excel at certain tasks, from the ability to soak up damage and regain health (tank) to the ability to appear from nowhere and hit the enemy for a massive amount of damage (assassin), and others. The hero-on-her action is where the conflict is and is where the matches are won or lost.

Finally, as you kill minions and enemy heroes, you gain experience (and gold in most MOBAs, but not HotS). This advancement allows you to make your abilities better (and but items in non-HotS MOBAs).

The different MOBAs have different ways to spice up the battle as well. HotS (and DotA, IIRC) have neutral minions that you can recruit to fight for you, adding to your normal minions. HotS also has mini goals for it’s maps. For example, the pirate one has treasure chests that spawn and heroes fight over. When you collect the gold from them, the pirate ship fires its cannons at enemy buildings, which is a major uptick in the damage your side can do to them.

I’ve been playing League of Legends for a long time and I’m kinda on the fence about HOTS.

There’s definitely some aspects I like: 1) removing last hitting, 2) no zero-gold support, 3) multiple maps and (though this is just because the game is new) less heroes to know and lack of a set-in-stone positional meta. But I don’t like the removal of items, nor how the game locks you out of certain hero traits until you’ve played a few games with them. The teamwork-centric gameplay is also as much of a burden as a benefit; games at my level often seem won or lost based on how much your teammates pay attention to the map and contest objectives. It’s like taking every fight over dragon/baron in League and copying it tenfold across the game. Great when your teammates know what they’re doing, immensely aggravating when they don’t.

I’m also just not sure if I want to “give up” the time sunk into League (and all champions/runes/etc unlocked) and work from zero in HOTS. The time commitment to unlock some of the heroes (10,000 gold) seems really grindy, don’t really want to do that again.

This presupposes that you want to move to other MOBAs afterwards. But I think that there are a lot of gamers (and potential gamers) out there for whom one game in any given genre is plenty.