Heroes of the Storm is an F2P MOBA game that was launched by Blizzard Entertainment in June 2015. The loose, overarching plot is that many of the Heroes from Blizzard’s various game universes have been sucked into the Nexus and are now trapped in an in-between space where they have no choice but to work with their teammates to compete against opposing teams in order to survive. As such, while maintaining a fantasy-feel, it somehow manages make the strange mixture of the magics and technologies of the heroes into a cohesive gaming experience. The player options are solo, 5v5 or 5vAI.
Unlike other MOBAs that only have the set goal of destroying the opponents’ base, this offering has additional map-specific objectives to fulfill that help to boost the game’s replayability and can also completely change the flow of a game.
Heroes of the Storm doesn’t use an item system, Heroes of the Storm utilizes a talent-based system of upgrading a Hero’s capabilities. This means that as players level up, players will be given choices of new talents to apply to their character. Each hero has eight unlockable talent slots. Additionally, levelling up does not occur on an individual basis, but rather all experience gained over the course of the game is shared with all other team members. Players can also buy mounts to help increase their speed. New players that would like a free mount can unlock the Hearthsteed by completing 100 matches in Hearthstone, but that’s also hours away from Heroes of the Storm, so it may be easier to grind for gold in-game.
There are currently fifteen battlegrounds that players can play on. Each battleground has map-specific objectives that can boost a team’s performance or provide them with other advantages until the next objective spawns. Some of these are clearly inspired by other Blizzard titles, such as the Hanamura Temple battleground. There, the map objective is to escort a payload to its destination. The team that succeeds in doing so will we rewarded with the opposition’s forts being bombarded with an attack, which will either weaken them or destroy them depending on the amount of damage that has already been incurred. This scenario was obviously inspired by Overwatch’s ‘Escort’ map objective. Aside from the custom games, players won’t know which map they’ll be playing on until the match begins.
There are currently over 80 playable heroes, with more being introduced incrementally. As expected, each hero as their own unique set of abilities. Each hero will initially start out with 3 abilities and a trait, with more abilities being unlocked as the character gains experience and levels up. Additionally, the hero powers will also receive power boosts as part of the levelling process. The limitation to this is that the characters need to be within range of dying enemy minions, heroes or structures in order to ‘soak’ the experience that is gained from their death.
At level 10, the player will be able to select a Hero Ability for their character and will be able to either upgrade it or choose a new power at Level 20. However, the playable heroes are rotated each week, so new F2P players can only access 14 Heroes per week, with ten being available to all players and each of the remaining Heroes being available only if the player is a t a certain level. With that said, new players will get one free hero when they complete the tutorial and will receive two loot boxes early on in the game, which might provide them with new heroes.
Once players have unlocked or acquired a hero, they will always be accessible to them, regardless of the weekly rotation. They can also spend the various in-game currencies to permanently unlock a new character. All it takes is the completion of weekly quests and a lot of grinding. Furthermore, as many players have stated, it takes time to familiarize oneself with the play-style of a particular character, os by the time a new player has gotten the hang of their starter-heroes, they will probably have accumulated a few new characters in the meantime.
There are also some unique playable heroes such as Cho’gall that is actually controlled by two players. Abathur is another unique hero, that does not engage in direct conflict. Rather, this hero specializes in battlefield manipulation from the safety of their home base.
All heroes are allocated to one of four roles; namely, Warrior, Support, Assassin and Specialist:
These characters fill the traditional tank role, having high damage capabilities, as well as a degree of self-healing skill. Many of their attacks are centered on stunning, pushing back opponents, or drawing opponents close for tag-team attacks. They are therefore the characters that initiate and lead teammates into new confrontations with the opposition.
These characters are responsible for maintaining their teammates overall health and providing stat boosts during the battle to ensure that they last for as long as possible before respawning. This will also improve their team’s chances of pushing further along the map during each run. However, they also tend to be weak characters, so it is advisable for other team members to protect them from the enemy forces who will likely target them.
Assassins are able to issue high damage through burst attacks, but they also have low HP. This means that they will rely on teammates with healing capabilities. They can sometimes attack multiple enemies at once and generally have high speed stats that allow them to make darting attacks and quick flees from confrontations.
These are the characters that have unique traits and abilities that are not confined to those listed above. They are often good at fulfilling solo missions such as destroying enemy towers or camps of minions. They can also be enabled with other abilities, such as summoning new minions to battle against opposing forces. They are generally weak in terms of defensive capabilities or speed.
These are the introductory matches that new players need to play with A.I bots against A.I teams in order to grasp the game’s basics.
This is a solo-mode that allows players to team-up with four A.I teammates against a 5-bot A.I team. In this way, they can familiarize themselves with the gameplay and hero abilities, or just have some non-pressure fun. But, any achievements in this mode do not contribute to levelling up, or daily quests.
This mode pits a team of five real players against five AI opponents. Solo mode is also available in this mode, as are rewards such as experience, gold, progression and daily quest. Players can choose from five difficulty modes prior to the match.
Quick Match allows players to choose their hero and then queue for the match-making system that will team them up with teammates and opponents of similar skill levels. All rewards are achievable in this mode. The good news is that with this format, players can queue with whichever character that they would like to, and the match-making system will automatically match them with and against others that have selected other characters so that there will be no conflict as to who can select which hero character.
Here, players will be able to select the map that they want to play on, and whether they will be playing AI or another team. They will also be able to select whichever hero they want from the entire pool, with the only limitation being that they cannot select the same hero as another player. This will be decided by each team taking a turn to select a hero, with the system automatically removing that hero from the pool of available heroes.
The general format and rules for this option vary from week to week. This includes level and map match-ups and game rules among others, thereby allowing for diversification from the regular gameplay format.
This allows players to move up or down ranks as they compete against other players. The higher that a player ranks, the higher the reward will be at the end of each month. As with the Custom Game mode, teams take turns selecting heroes, with no duplicates begin permitted in the rosters.
Loot chests can be purchased with gems and contain various items, including skins, heroes, emojis, sprays, portraits and voice lines, among others. Some items can only be acquired through loot boxes, and there are a few different ranks of chests. The chest’s rank indicates that there will be at least one item that has that chest’s ranking or higher, meaning that if a player buys a legendary chest, then they are guaranteed to get at least one legendary item. If players don’t like the contents of their chest, they can pay gold to re-roll as many times as they’d like to. Alternatively, they can dust duplicates or unwanted items and use the dust to craft items that they do want.
At each tenth level that a hero acquire, the player will be awarded with a hero-specific chest for that hero. As with the other loot chest types, they can re-roll if they would like to. Heroes of the Storm also holds seasonal events where they give out free chests and make them available for a limited time in the in-game store.