Heroes of the Storm Beta Design Analysis

Last week I discovered that I had been granted beta access to Blizzards new game Heroes of the Storm. For those of you that don’t know Heroes of the Storm (HotS) is a battle arena game where you play as one of a collection of characters drawn from Blizzard’s other games, examples include Diablo, and most of the character classes from Diablo 3, Raynor, Nova, and Kerrigan from Starcraft, Arthus, Thrall, and Sylvanas, from Warcraft, as well as the occasional odd ball like the Lost vikings.

Lots of people have said that Hots is more relaxed/simpler than other similar games such as League of Legends and DoTA. My take on it is that while it has mostly simpler mechanics than the other games largely due to team leveling and no items in the game it still has a large degree of complexity due to the varied map objectives that range from useful to game crushing.

Some of the pluses of the systems in HotS:

  • You can always get the character you want as you pick before you find team-mates
  • Daily quests give you varied objectives for differing play styles and reasonable rewards
  • Team leveling means two things: no one gets left in the dust and no single person can carry a game to victory
  • Similarly objective based game play prevents solo carrying
  • Before you purchase a character you can try them out in a one lane practice zone so you can see how they feel without waiting for a free week
  • The real cash costs of things is listed directly on the item and you don’t have to buy in game currency that does not easily convert

Some of the downsides of the systems in HotS:

  • Each game gives you a pitiful 20 gold, when a character costs 2,000 gold minimum and can go as high as 10,000. This is slightly counteracted by the quest system and level up rewards but it is still a bad feeling to get so pitiful a reward, regardless of performance. you get the same amount of gold win or lose (edit: You do get a 10 gold bonus for a win but my point still stands)
  • When you pick your character before seeing your team you can’t change your pick based on what others are playing. Got all supports? Too many Melee characters? No high damage characters? Too bad better luck next time
  • While most of the map objectives are fairly balanced some are just back breakingly necessary to winning that if one team gets the objective the first time and the other team doesn’t then the team that got it will just snowball so far ahead that it is nearly impossible to catch up for the next 10-15 minutes that you are stuck in this game (looking at you sky temple)

While the two in game drawbacks can be mitigated by playing with a group of friends playing with randomly selected strangers is generally a miserable experience.

 

In summation I think Heroes of the Storm has lots of good ideas behind it with a few big flaws around progression and team selection. But if you have 3-4 freinds to play with Heroes of the Storm is a great game and hopefully they can fix some of these things before they get out of Beta.

Edit: After getting a lot of more play time I have a few changes to my opinions.

First I have found that the rate of gold acquisition is much better than I first believed but it still feels bad to get so little gold for playing/winning games.

Second while it is possible to fight back from an early game disadvantage it is very difficult and requires team-work, a rare commodity when playing with random strangers.

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