Heroes of the Storm Friday Roundup
Heroes of the Storm will go into Closed Beta
on January 13th 2015!
A major part of the Heroes of the Storm news for Friday was the announcement of four new heroes, three of which were playable on the show floor. We played them all to get first impressions for you to enjoy!
Thrall is a melee assassin. He carries over many thematic elements from his World of Warcraft heritage, such as Chain Lightning, and the Doomhammer.
He's a character who deals heavy damage at close quarters with his passive automatically dealing high additional damage when it reaches five stacks. He can also sustain a reasonable amount of damage, making him a really fun hero to do things like solo merc camps on.
He casts Chain Lightning, summons Frostwolves, and can cast Windfury on himself, empowering his basic attacks. One of his Ultimate abilities is Sundering, which gives him the option to use the Doomhammer to crack the ground in front of him.
Jaina is another hero who has considerable nods to her Warcraft roots. She's a ranged assassin, dealing high damage from a distance. Her abilities will be very familiar to any frost mage -- Frostbolt, Blizzard, and the like. She also has a stacking buff, just like Thrall.
Jaina is a lot more squishy than her orcish cohort, and really needs to remain at range as much as possible in order not to suffer at the hands of melee heroes. She deals a lot of damage, and with caution can happily solo merc camps and the like. Her ultimate abilities are iconic mage manoeuvres -- a Water Elemental or Ring of Frost.
The Lost Vikings are not one hero but three. Controlled just like Starcraft unit groups, you can choose with number toggles to control them one at a time, or all together as a group. There's no distance limit - they can go wherever they want on the map. During the Heroes of the Storm panel, Lead Game Designer Dustin Browder talked about how you could capture both shrines and the Dragon in Dragonshire -- but he wouldn't recommend it!
The key of the Lost Vikings is to have great map awareness. To really succeed with this hero, you'll want to have eyes everywhere on the minimap, and choose wisely whether to split them apart, or bring them together in a powerful group. They comprise Olaf, a tank; Baelog, a melee DPS; and Eric , a ranged DPS who's squishier than Baelog but moves faster. You can choose when leveling the heroes up through the match whether to give additional power to Olafd, Baelog or Eric, and pick some abilities that affect all heroes. Since map positioning is so key to Lost Vikings, the abilities are relatively simple, but notable ones include a Q that allows all three to temporarily avoid damage, and a whirlwind-type ability which all three perform. They also all get together in a viking longboat in one of their Ultimate abilities!
Sylvanas was the hero that wasn't playable on the show floor, but we saw a short preview of her abilities and thematic focus in the panel. She's a dark archer archetype, with powerful, if unfinished, abilities that allow her to temporarily stun NPCs and even towers. She can also mind control creeps and mercs, forcing them to turn on their friends!
The team also introduced anew map - Sky Temple - playable at the con. It's a simple enough map - capture temples by walking into them, then defend them by fighting off not only the opposing team, but also several waves of NPCs. Once you own the temple, it will periodically blast the other team's location with powerful bolts. Temples will activate in random locations near the center of the map, so you'll have several opportunities to capture them.
The Heroes of the Storm panel also revealed several upcoming changes.
The Heroes team had a new, interesting approach to players who repeatedly leave games. After a leaving grace period to account for things like emergencies or occasional connection issues, players who repeatedly leave games will be moved into a Leavers' Bracket. where they will be playing with other players who regularly leave matches.
This apt punishment will ensure that, if it's a playstyle they enjoy, leavers can play with fellow leavers. If they decide to change their ways, they can simply stop leaving games, and in time they will return to the normal brackets.
The big point of discussion at the panel was Ranked Play information. They talked about changes coming to Draft Mode, and explained how the Pick System would work, allowing players to pick their heroes based on the choices of the other team and the map that the game would be played on. This new system would ensure that tactical choices could be made.
There will be no ban system for now, but they're keeping a close eye on testing and working on balance issues as they arise -- they will revisit bans in the future. They also hit on Team Play, asserting that this, of course, will be the highest level of ranked play, and that they would be arranging the game and its UI accordingly. You'll be able to create a team with a roster of up to nine players, and name it, as well as being on as many as three teams at a time.
Lastly, they talked about their Skill Ranking. Similar to an MMR or ELO, it's a rating that is given to each player according to their success against others. So, if you win against a player who has a far higher skill rating than yours, you'll gain skill rating, if the opposite happens you'll lose it. This system will be applied to ranked play in matchmaking, with consideration made wherever possible for pre-made groups in queued games -- if you queue as a group of three, it'll try to match you against another team with a group of three so that larger groups don't have such dominance over full PuGs.
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