It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Heroes of the Storm, and with many hero weeks coming and going (I believe the last spotlight I drafted was way back for Muradin in his hero week) I’ve struggled to keep up. I’m now in the technical alpha, and I thought “Hooray! I can finally check ingame for specific numbers and current-build changes that haven’t made it to third-party sites for my spotlights!” The trouble is twofold: firstly, whenever I log into Heroes, I end up having too much fun and just start playing games and forget about writing anyway, and secondly because it’s the technical alpha, we’re getting changes brought in and out so quickly it’s hard to keep up half the time.
I was writing an article for why I didn’t like the concept of the artifacts system that was brought in primarily as a gold dump for those who have purchased everything they want hero and skin-wise. Not even a week went by and the entire system was scrapped thanks to the enormous negative feedback the system had. So that article never ended up seeing the light of day, as I didn’t get the chance to finish writing it before it went away again. I then thought about the different heroes that have had major overhauls in the way that they play, such as Murky becoming less menacing with rat tactics and more of a team fighter, Illidan getting several overhauls to get him where he is today, as well as Tyrael getting significant changes since I did his hero spotlight.
I got the feeling that doing these in-depth spotlights for each hero with the limited time I have would be slightly overwhelming, so that idea is going on the backburner for now until at least beta comes out, if not full release itself when we’ll be seeing less massive changes that completely change how a hero plays and flows with the match. Of course I’ll be expecting patches and balances to existing heroes when the game does go live, but hopefully we won’t be seeing changes like where Illidan had his entire kit outside his heroics removed and replaced. I’m sure when the live game goes out, we’ll be having changes like that sticking to the PTR for any new hero that gets announced post-launch.
In the meantime, I’ll likely cover general game mechanics as well as heroes that I’m currently maining at the time – so expect to see content concerning heroes such as Abathur, Rehgar and Valla as updates occur to them over the weeks to come! Unless I find out that Azmodan is my boy or something after PAX Prime finishes up this weekend!
At level 20 in a match, everyone has the opportunity to either upgrade the heroic ability they selected at level 10, or to choose from a set of Storm abilities that is restricted for each hero. At the moment, there are five Storm abilities that heroes might have access to – some only get the option of one Storm ability, some heroes have access to up to three! I know as an Abathur player it’s kind of boring to be at the former end of the scale along with only having the one heroic to choose from, but with the different Storm abilities available, it’s clear why he only gets the limited choice. Unfortunately in most cases upgrading your heroic ability is the better option, so these abilities don’t get much light outside of the first few matches you play a hero, and don’t have access to full talents.
Available to 19 heroes: Abathur, Brightwing, Diablo, E.T.C., Falstad, Illidan, Kerrigan, Li Li, Malfurion, Murky, Nazeebo, Nova, Raynor, Stitches, Tychus, Tyrande, Valla, Zagara and Zeratul.
With a fair spread of heroes Bolt is available to, there’s no real niche for who gets this ability like with some of the other Storm abilities. Those who have played Dota will recognise this as a Blink Dagger, and it works in pretty much the same fashion, except it doesn’t deactivate when you take damage and has a longer cooldown. It kind of sucks that this is an ability that you see in the endgame, as I don’t think it necessarily is a gamechanger that will seal the final push and turn the tide or win the game. Nevertheless, it can be a pretty decent pickup for those that need that extra mobility or have good synergy with it. A lot of the heroes above already have great mobility anyway, such as Zeratul or Illidan, so the extra blink could make them that bit more terrifying to be able to blink in and still have that option of chase or escape.
I know I use it as a standard pickup on Abathur, as upgrading his heroic isn’t really that worth it unless you have a lot of allied heroes with strong abilities that you can flick back and forth between, but Bolt has saved my squishy ass so many times in lategame where you’re more likely to be exposed – plus you get to keep the Bolt ability when you do evolve into your team mates!
It’s currently available to 19 of the current 28 heroes, so a large selection already, but I’d love to see Uther with this to replicate some fun Tidehunter action of Blink > Ravage, and turn it into Bolt > Divine Storm. I guess everyone could have a use for blink for one or few of their abilities, it might be fun to see if Blizz have the tech for it to auto-unlock at level 10 or something for all heroes, though that might get confusing with everyone getting it baseline mid-game…
Available to 17 heroes: Arthas, E.T.C., Falstad, Illidan, Kerrigan, Muradin, Nova, Raynor, Rehgar, Sgt. Hammer, Sonya, Tassadar, Tyrael, Tyrande, Valla, Zagara and Zeratul.
Available to heroes with strong right click damage, or the ability to boost their right click damage to an extent where this bouncing damage is pretty scary, especially at endgame and you just rip straight through creep waves and merc camps, this talent isn’t taken nearly as often as I think it should be. I’m surprised that the heroes that have become the junglers such as Gazlowe and Nazeebo aren’t in the list of potential heroes, but that would make merc farming that much more easier for them I’m pretty sure they’d end up just twiddling their thumbs waiting for camps to come off of cooldown.
It’s interesting to see heroes like E.T.C., Rehgar, Tassadar and Tyrande that aren’t typically throwing out a ton of damage. E.T.C. is mainly a tanky utility warrior, and although the three supports can be built as damage dealing supports, it seems weird to have this assassin-centric talent as a final tier option for them.
Resurgence of the Storm – Upon dying, revive back at your Altar after 5 seconds. This can occur once every 120 seconds.
Available to 11 heroes: Arthas, E.T.C., Gazlowe, Li Li, Muradin, Sgt. Hammer, Sonya, Stitches, Tassadar, Tyrael and Uther.
This is an interesting skill that I barely see used. At the stage in the game where you pick this up, respawns are 60secs or more. The long cooldown is a bit of a setback in its utility, but the Storm ability is available to all very survivable heroes (apart from Diablo, but that’s part of his trait anyway). What’s more annoying than taking a while to kill a hero, only for them to return to the same team fight at late-game, and once again you have to wear them down while they’re disabling your whole team and being a general nuisance? I guess if assassins had this capability it would lead to some much more confident assassin players to know they don’t have to dance around until their escapes come back off of cooldown again to re-enter combat.
Storm Shield – Activate to give all nearby allied Heroes a Shield for 20% of their max Health for 3 seconds. (45sec cooldown)
Available to 7 heroes: Brightwing, Diablo, Li Li, Malfurion, Rehgar, Tyrande and Uther.
Supports seem to be the pick of the litter for Storm Shield, as is what’s to be expected really. This is a fantastic pickup if you have high health heroes on your team, as that 20% is quite a large chunk. If you have heroes like Abathur, Murky or Falstad… Meeeehhh. I find it interesting for Diablo to be a potential pick for this Storm talent, though as he has no need for Resurgence, it makes sense as a second Storm talent, especially with the biggest health pool in the game once his trait stacks up. I’ve used it on Uther for clutch AoE heals, but with Diablo and Rehgar (the only other heroes I’ve played more than once) I’ve still gone for improving their heroics over Storm talents, or even going for Bolt on Diablo to help with initiation and singling heroes out with a Bolt>Shadow Charge combo, finishing up with both Overpower and Fire Stomp.
Available to 3 heroes: Gazlowe, Murky and Nazeebo.
Unfortunately I haven’t really had the opportunity to have a go with any of the heroes that have this available to them, but for the heroes this is available for I can see it being fairly useful. For Murky, it allows him to escape much easier to nip in and out of combat. For Gazlowe and Nazeebo, it helps in not getting intercepted between merc camps, I guess? With such a limited hero pool available for this Storm talent, I won’t be surprised if we end up seeing the tail end of this talent before the game goes live. Either that or see a significant amount of new heroes with this talent available to them. I’d love to see Blizzard’s statistics on how many people take this though, as getting from A to B quicker is definitely a bonus, but the reasoning behind having so few heroes attached to it is pretty strange, in my opinion.