Weekly Roundup: PAX all packed up

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Another week flies by in the blink of an eye, but with it came so much news that it was difficult to keep up. The Penny Arcade Expo came and went in Boston, and there were many things to look forward to, such as Below, with its mixture of Zelda, Dark Souls and Diablo that looks awesome so far; Hearthstone‘s expansion to feature Naxxramas in a single-player mode; Invisible Inc. that mixes XCOM playstyle and feel in its turn-based strategy, mixing it up with the overall espionage and stealth focus that I’m always a sucker to check out; and many, many more games.

One of the first things to come out of PAX was what I’ve been looking forward to for most part of last week: Heroes of the Storm updates and new heroes! Getting much more than we bargained for, we did get the unveiling of four new heroes, but also three more soon down the line, as well as updates to the base skin of nine current heroes to make them look more in their likeness in their original games. We also saw seven new skins, two of which were for the new heroes introduced at PAX, as well as ultimate skins for Uther and Sonya.

The new heroes? We have the Faerie Dragon Brightwing, the World Wanderer Li Li, the Baby Murloc Murky and the Broodmother of the Swarm Zagara to look forward to over the next few weeks – Brightwing and Li Li being playable as soon as Tuesday’s maintenance! It’s a shame we didn’t see anything from the Diablo series turn up, though what has turned up looks incredible and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I’ll likely be doing hero spotlights for these heroes as soon as their videos go up (though Brightwing’s video is already up, I’d like to see her talents first before I do the spotlight), but for now I’ll do a quick rundown of who they are and what they can do:

BrightwingBrightwing is a playful faerie dragon filling in the specialist/support roles. Her passive trait is to heal nearby allies around her, and her abilities include an AoE nuke, a polymorph/hex, and an ability to protect her or her allies from harm, while increasing their movement speed. Her heroic abilities are either to point-blank pulse enemies away from her, or to blink between allies every couple seconds and heal them up. She looks like a fun disabler that helps your allies with fight sustainability, and I can see some sweet tricks with the knockback on her first ultimate, especially if you’ve already got someone like a Malfurion on your team to cover heals.

Li Li

Li Li, Chen’s niece, is a support hero that I surprisingly enough didn’t look at too much in the match showed at PAX, seeing how much I usually play support in Dota 2. Regardless, from what I remember about her, she seemed to hold her own very well and could survive gank attempts to some degree, and she made good use of her abilities to make sure that she could participate well in team fights, getting objectives and assisting her allies. I’ll do her justice when it comes round to her spotlight, but for now I can only apologise for not keeping an eye out for what she was doing in the game. Perhaps that’s a sign that her spells need to be more flashy and obvious? Or it was because I’m still not entirely used to all the Heroes yet and I mistook what she was doing for something else.

MurkyMurky is a hero that I can’t wait to try out. Blizzard specifically said that he’s going to be a hero that will die. And he’ll die a lot. He has an ability to place an egg down, and each time he’s slain, he’ll respawn at that egg and continue to wear down the enemy team. I have no idea whether or not the enemy team get experience from killing him each time or not, but as far as I know, you have to destroy his egg in order to get him to spawn at the fountain like every other scrubby hero has to. He wasn’t played at PAX, but from the previews we saw, this is essentially what his playstyle will be like: Place egg hidden in bushes near to lane; wear down enemy team; hope the enemy gets tired of killing you constantly and has to back off. I can imagine what the brainstorming session must have been like when someone came to the table with “Hey guys… We gotta have MURLOCS in this game, man! They’re iconic to Warcraft! How does he face against heroes like Diablo… Well here’s the great part! He’s going to die all the time, like any murloc should! What do you mean, ‘that’s not the way the game works’? Don’t worry, I can make this work, I got this!”

And suddenly, the adorable baby murloc (in the assassin role, no less) that’s been with us in WoW for the past 9 years in many incarnations will be available in Heroes in due course. I’m just happy that it wasn’t announced a couple weeks ago on April 1st.

Zagara

The last hero to be showcased, and was a surprise addition to the game played at PAX, was the Broodmother Zagara from the StarCraft franchise. A true summoner, most of her abilities include spawning different zerg units, including Banelings, Hydralisks and Mutalisks. She can also teleport across the map in the Nydus network, and her trait allows her to spread creep all over the map, increasing her and her allies’ movement speeds while on the creep. She’s a specialist, and it seems that she’s going to be great for global presence as well as being grossly efficient at pushing lanes and harassment, so her favourite maps are likely going to be Dragon Shire or Blackheart’s Bay.

We also got a sneak preview of heroes to come later on down the line, showing us that they’re also currently working on Chen Stormstout, Sylvanas Windrunner and Kael’thas Sunstrider! Where’s my Diablo heroes, Blizz? With no Warriors to come out of PAX (unless Chen is one, but he wasn’t really showcased too much anyway), we really need a hero like Azmodan or Leoric to help tank up some damage for us!

HeroesNexus has done an excellent job at compiling all the noted changes that we can likely expect soon (if not on Tuesday’s wipe), so check out all the details from PAX concerning Heroes of the Storm here! I imagine the rest of this week will be me eagerly waiting on EU unlocks for the alpha, and having that faint glimmer of hope that someday I’ll get into it. You know, if I haven’t already chewed off my fingers in anticipation.

 

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