Getting Started with Blizzard Entertainment's Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm Cinematic Trailer
What Is Heroes of the Storm?
Heroes of the Storm is a new "team brawler" game in development from Blizzard Entertainment. Its premise is that heroes from the worlds of Blizzard's other games (Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft) have been sucked into the Nexus, a transdimensional storm, where they must battle for supremacy.
Heroes is a visually pleasing battleground game that is rendered in the artistic style of Blizzard's other games.
Please bear in mind that this game is currently still in alpha, so a lot may change, but if you are curious about what Heroes of the Storm holds in store, here's what you can expect.
Oodles of Heroes
A large variety of playable heroes are available in Heroes of the Storm. Six random heroes are free to play each week, with an additional one becoming available (once you have unlocked the feature), also on a rotating weekly basis. Other heroes can be obtained by purchasing them in the online store, either using gold (game currency acquired through play) or real money.
This set-up is likely to appeal to the inner collector in many gamers, who will itch to complete their virtual arsenals. Beware, however, for this means that you will have invest a lot of time and/or money into the game in order to have all of the heroes at your disposal.
Hero types fall into one of four categories: assassin, warrior, support, and specialist, each with its own role to play on the battlefield.
Gotta Catch 'Em All
4 Skill Slots
As heroes level up, they receive talents. Each hero has are a total of four active abilities, but each of these can be further augmented as you continue to level up and gain new talents.
Once chosen, talents cannot be changed. However, heroes start afresh at level 1 at the start of each battle and level up to a cap of 20 over the course of the match, so you're only locked into your choices for the current game.
New talents become available at level 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. For instance, one of Illidan's basic abilities is Crescent Sweep, an attack that deals 66 (+ 10 per level) damage to enemies in the target area. However, at tier 5 (level 13), it can be augmented to Immolation, causing the attack to spout flames and reducing its cooldown.
Abilities for each hero can be found at Heroes Wiki.
Unlock Features as You Progress
The experience you gain by playing battles allows you to progress in the game. As you accumulate experience, new game features are unlocked and, as you rise in rank, you earn the ability to acquire gold from your battles. Gold is a very important game currency since it can be used to buy additional playable heroes. You want gold.
Other features you can unlock later on include Daily Quests, Hero Talents, and Hero Quests.
Customization at a Price
There are a myriad of cool customization options, and more are being added every week.
These include a variety of creative, cool-looking skins for your heroes and additional mounts if you're not satisfied with the standard horse that each player receives.
However, at this time, all of these bells and whistles are only obtainable through real money purchases.
Each Environment Has Unique Play Mechanics
There are currently four environments in Heroes of the Storm. Each has its own unique play mechanics.
The Haunted Mines - After some time in the match, the underground mine will become available. Within, an undead army awaits; slay them there to collect their skulls. After the army is defeated, both teams will obtain golems to fight for them. The more skulls your team collected, the more powerful your golem will be. A strong golem on your side can turn the tide of battle.
Cursed Hollow - This environment is home to the Raven Lord. Periodically, it creates tributes that can be collected. When a team captures three tributes, the Raven Lord will curse its enemies, greatly weakening their forts and minions. This advantage can also seal the game.
Dragon Shire - Dragon Shire contains two shrines; when one team gains control of both of them, the Dragon Knight statue activates. While activated, a hero can free the Dragon Knight from his prison so that he may wreak havoc upon enemy forts.
Blackheart's Bay - Collect doubloons to gain the ghostly pirate's favor. Collect enough,and Blackheart's ghostship will bombard your enemy's buildings.
Modes of Play
Modes of Play
Heroes of the Storm has three main modes of play.
Practice mode is immediately available. After all, you have to start somewhere. Cooperative and Versus modes must be unlocked; however, you should be able to gain enough experience in a single practice game to make these modes available.
Gameplay & Controls
Unfortunately, the controls currently feel a bit awkward and counter-intuitive to me. Movement is accomplished by right-clicking to move to a location. Attacking requires you to press A and left click on the enemy. To use abilities, you must target an enemy and press W, R, Q, and E.
In addition to combat skills, players have the ability to mount or dismount using the Z key and to hearth back to his or her base (which contain fountains where it is possible to heal) using the B key.
Gameplay consists of forging across the battlefield, killing enemy heroes and minions, destroying enemy buildings, and trying to complete battlefield-specific goals in order to obtain an advantage for your team.
When you die, you return to your town spawn point and receive a brief summary of how well (or poorly) you performed in battle since your last death.
When all of the losing team's town buildings have been destroyed, the battle concludes.
Much like in World of Warcraft's PvP, at the end of a battle, you receive a recap of how both teams performed.
Does Blizzard Have Another Winner on Its Hands?
The Bottom Line
Heroes of the Storm is still so early in its development that it would be unfair to say anything definitively, but I must admit that it is a fun (if somewhat frustrating at times) overall gaming experience. Based on what is here so far, I would recommend it - particularly to those who enjoy other games from Blizzard.
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© 2014 Alisha Adkins