Overwatch in Heroes of the Storm

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With Overwatch beta starting earlier this week, it seems that the Heroes community exploded once again with adding these characters from Overwatch into Heroes. I mean, with characters there having 4-5 abilities already it seems simple enough to port these over to Heroes. I get Blizzard‘s stance on wanting to sit on these heroes until Overwatch becomes a success and releases, as we know even Starcraft: Ghost ended up being scrapped even after playable demo’s of it were available, but I really don’t see the project being scrapped altogether.

I can, however, see some heroes that might be getting complete overhauls. I haven’t been watching too many streams and can’t see any outlying overpowered or clunky heroes that would need to get this treatment (like what Illidan received in Alpha – video link to what he was like before), but if the beta rolls out further and Blizzard feels that certain heroes just don’t play well, we could see new kits that would end up being outdated in HotS if they were already ported over. Not only that, but Heroes in HotS generally have 6 skills if you include two heroics and trait, when in Overwatch it seems the standard abilities is only 4.

Overwatch Widowmaker

That being said, many people are still suggesting not just new heroes entirely, but they’re also suggesting skins for existing heroes, to make Gazlowe look like Torbjörn, Nova look like Widowmaker and Stitches look like Roadhog. The problem in these circumstances is similar to those mentioned above: Torbjörn doesn’t use laser beams or bombs (in either a gravity or stunning sense), Widowmaker doesn’t make decoys of herself or run around invisible most of the game and the similarities between Stitches and Roadhog stops at the hook.

HotS will have overlap of abilities at certain points, it’s always going to be more about the kit in general rather than looking at a single ability and saying “Hurr Chen’s Flying Kick and Illidan’s Dive both do the same thing, so they should be a skin of the other”. Heck, we could even say Roadhog’s Chain Hook pulls an enemy toward him for 0.5sec, leaves them where they land (assuming passable terrain) and slows them for 35% to differentiate two different hook mechanics.

Overwatch Reaper

Another interesting crossover I’ve seen noticed is Reaper and Valla. After all, Death Blossom looks very similar to Strafe after all, and with an epic skin Vault could be reskinned to look like Shadow Step or Wraith Form from Reaper. Hellfire Shotguns could both be shot to make Multishot a viable reskin. Hungering Arrow could have some kind of shadowy/wraithlike shot, and Rain of Vengeance… Is where it kind of falls short. Plus, we merged both Shadow Step and Wraith Form into one ability where both of them as separate abilities enhances his “black shadow” fantasy. So while it would be cool to have existing heroes reskinned, and some of them even make great arguments for that to happen, I just feel that it would be better served to just have them as standalone heroes.

For Reaper as a standalone hero, we could see something like:

  • Trait: Shotgun Specialist – While Reaper can shoot at long range, it is at mid-close range where he gains max damage.
  • Q: Double Shot – Activate to shoot both guns at once on a short cooldown
  • W: Wraith Form – Become invincible for a short amount of time, but can’t use abilities (similar to Tass’s E, but you can see where he is)
  • E: Shadow Step – Mark a target on the ground and teleport to there 1.5 seconds later
  • R1: Death Blossom – Similar to Valla’s Strafe, maybe shorter radius/shorter duration but more damage or shorter CD?
  • R2: Marked for Death – While not an official ability of his, his bio states that he was systematically eliminating Overwatch agents. Therefore his second heroic could be something to reveal the closest enemy hero for 15 seconds.
  • R2: Cell Degradation – If another utility ability isn’t great for an assassin like Reaper, a second heroic could be a hyper-Envenom where again in his bio it states: “The few bodies recovered of those he kills are pale, empty husks drained of life, their cells showing signs of intense degradation.”

Then his talents would revolve heavily around being an AA hero with Giant Killer, Executioner, Focused Attack etc, with some pickups such as health regen on Wraith Form, movement speed bonus after using Shadow Step, and things like that.

So yeah, while I think it would be awesome to see Overwatch characters in Heroes of the Storm eventually, I don’t want to see them be relegated to skins of other heroes (unless it was a fun thing like Betrayer Malf, Shan’do Illidan and AzGul’dan), but I do think it’s best to let Overwatch be fully released before implementing them into the hero brawler. We simply don’t know what the final versions of these heroes are going to be, and as said previously it would end up having to change them in HotS, and we’re left with two PvP games that Blizzard are trying to balance.

Heroes Launch Detected, The Mayhem Begins and E3!

The game is finally live after around a year of player testing, and a whole whirl of exciting news has followed it! For one of the few times in Blizzard history, they decided to do the official launch event here in the UK, with a free celebration in cloudy London (which, when it was evening and indoors, didn’t really matter much anyway – we’re all nerds!) that left people feeling a little underwhelmed, in true modern Blizzard fashion. Let’s face it, even Hearthstone was just a switch-flip and suddenly it was live.

At least with Heroes and the London party, it had a little more pizzazz! What we got for the free event however was a pretty neat light show (shown here); a recap of what we already knew since BlizzCon 2014; the Johanna hero trailer; the same length of discussion about the game as the length of a Madeon gig; some awesome cosplay; a presenter that seemed like he didn’t know an awful lot about the game (when we had people like Khaldor and MFPallytime there who were both even interviewed), and some free swag. So there were lots of ups and downs, but the main downer in my opinion that for a launch event of a video game… We didn’t actually see any gaming going on other than the 20 PCs they had set up for. Key developers were there, the Yogscast were there, many famous streamers were there; I don’t think it would have been too much of a stretch to get a shoutcast going of a Blizzard Brawl or something.

Nevertheless, it was a free event that I probably wouldn’t have gone to if it wasn’t in the UK anyway, so I can’t complain too much – it was mainly a thank you to the players for supporting Blizzard over the past year. If we’d have known beforehand what to expect I’m pretty sure that people flying in from all over Europe (and I think I even heard an Aussie accent!) likely would have just watched YouTube at home.

Eternal Conflict map

The very next weekend however we were teased and presented with an event that included a matchup between Heroes of the Dorm winners UC Berkeley and pro team Cloud9 Maelstrom. It was a very close game to prove that the collegiate scene is very competitive when they held up so well against one of the best teams in the world – even if two of Berkeley’s team members were pro players Fan, who plays for Cloud9’s other team, Vortex, and Suppy, who plays for Evil Geniuses in Starcraft II. The game could have gone either way right up until the final team fight where 3 of Berkely’s players fell, and the remaining two could not defend against Cloud9’s five push through the lane’s final keep and eventually core.

That was followed shortly by BlizzCon 2014 Blizzard Brawl’s champions Low Expectations – Jesse Cox’s team – up against an assortment of streamers teaming up as The Challengers. Low Expectations used an unconventional lineup in using both Murky and Abathur, neither really seen on their own in pro play let alone together, but with Johanna, Brightwing and Jaina rounding out the team they managed to get plenty of global play, alongside massive sustainability with the warrior and just heavily pushed and forced The Challengers to split up enough for effective teamfights. In the end, although Low Expectations suffered more team deaths, they ended up winning through the brutal split push and objective domination. With amusing smack-talk and a much more relaxed atmosphere in comparison to the previous match, it definitely shows a different light on high-skill games.

800px-ButcherArt

Next up we were teased with the first event coming to Heroes of the Storm – the Eternal Conflict! Already starting with Johanna the Crusader at launch, we’ll be seeing some Diablo-focused content for the next few months, and once we hit June 30th we’ll see the new battleground Battlefield of Eternity and new assassin, the Butcher! Looking at Butcher first, we were shown his entire kit, which looks as follows:

  • [Trait] Fresh Meat: Nearby minions drop 1 and heroes drop 3 fresh meat when they die, which you can pick up to gain 1% bonus attack damage. Can hold up to 25 meat. All meat is lost on dying.
  • [Q] Hamstring: Slams your axe down into the ground, dealing 40 damage and slowing units by 50%. This slow fades away over 2 seconds.
  • [W] Butcher’s Brand: Deal 32 damage to an enemy and cause your basic attacks against them to heal you for 75% of the damage done for 5 seconds. Healing doubled versus heroes.
  • [E] Rutheless Onslaught: Charge at an enemy, becoming unstoppable and gaining movement speed. If you reach the target, they are stunned for 1 second and take 110 damage.
  • [R1] Furnace Blast: After a 3 second delay, fire explodes around you dealing 685 damage to enemies. Can be cast while using Ruthless Onslaught.
  • [R2] Lamb for the Slaughter: Throw a hitching post that attaches to the nearest enemy hero after a 1 second delay. This deals 75 damage and causes the enemy to be chained to the post for 4 seconds.

There’s also a full list of talents ready for him to go out of the gate, so it’s a bit disappointing that the PTR isn’t testing him. Cited as being the Illidan counter, we also saw a matchup of heroes that are good with Butcher, and not so great against him, and I have to admit the heroes they picked for this (Diablo, Sylvanas, Tassadar, Rehgar and of course Illidan) is a setup you’d typically see in ranked play. To see that Butcher feeds well on this kind of set up is going to make July onwards very interesting for Heroes ranked and competitive play! It’ll be interesting to see if he’s balanced for assuming he has 12-15 stacks of Fresh Meat, or for 0 or even 25!

Not only do we have a new hero, but as I mentioned earlier we’ll also be seeing a new battleground coming to Heroes along with Butcher! The High Heavens and Burning Hells are at war with each other as always, and this two-lane map looks to be an interesting addition to the map roster:

Map

Looks pretty gorgeous, doesn’t it? I’ll likely do a breakdown of the map once I get my hands onto it for tips and tricks, but holy cow it looked good on the playtest match! The main map objective of two immortals duking it out anime-style, the mercs being Diablo themed… My only issue when we saw the playthrough was that the map objective didn’t really appear to do much, but we didn’t really see what a full powered immortal does down the lane.

Finally, E3 recently happened, and while there’s plenty of stuff that I could talk about there, Blizzard did appear at the PC Gaming Show on Tues 16th June and talked even more about what to expect over the next few weeks with the Eternal Conflict! It looks like they’re going to try to stick to their 3-4 week schedule of new heroes as we got information about two more heroes after Butcher – it hasn’t even been that long since we saw Johanna make her debut.

Leoric

The first hero announced was Leoric, as many Diablo players will recognise as the Skeleton King. While we don’t know too much about him in comparison to Butcher, what we do know is very interesting. Firstly, his trait allows him to never leave the field of battle, where upon death he turns into a wraith (similar to Uther) and cast spells. Instead of doing damage, these will slow enemies, but the damage he would have done reduces his respawn time. When he respawns, he comes back at full health wherever he ends up. I don’t know if he continues to earn exp or walks through obstacles like Uther’s ghost, but I can certainly see some heavy diving happening and potentially heavy feeding.

His Q will slow enemies in an arc in front of him; his W is a skillshot that will tether him to an enemy, draining their life and regenerating his; while E is similar to Sylvanas’s Haunting Wave, where he sends out a wraith that Leoric can control and teleport to. The first of his ultimates is called Entomb, which creates a U shape of tombs around a target, creating temporary walls that on first indication is a big massive “kill this target” or a decent way to trap enemies inside for a wombo combo. Definitely something I’d see the pro’s use, as different ways to control enemy movement is king (no pun intended). At level 20 this upgrades to tombstones with spikes. Because that makes sense.

His second heroic on the other hand is March of the Black King, which Diablo III players will recognise as his three massive swings while moving forward that deals huge damage while healing himself – while being unstoppable at the same time. Useful if you have someone like an ETC already keeping the enemies in place, or in maps where there are plenty of choke points to fight people in like Tomb of the Spider Queen. At level 20, this will upgrade it to cast his W on anyone nearby once done, allowing for massive survivability and staying within the fight.

Overall, he seems like quite a unique hero who’s trait aids in separating Heroes from the MOBA genre again. Leoric wasn’t the only thing teased at the PC Gaming Show however, we also found out about the Monk, rounding out the D3 roster of Nephalem with the exception of the Wizard! Not only that, but we also see Diablo’s first support (and Heroes’ second non-WoW support!). We know even less about this hero than we do Leoric, but from the Eternal Conflict trailer we can assume he gets Seven-Sided Strike, but one thing that Blizzard has mentioned is that at level 1 we get to choose what trait he gets to go with for the rest of the fight – one more support, one more tanky and one more of a damage dealer role, similar to his mantras in D3. Amazing for Quick Match, but if it holds him back in competitive play we’ll have to see.

Treasure Goblin

Regardless, it’s good for Blizzard to be branching out to make unique heroes that hopefully will continue to have different playstyles from each other, though we’ll see what happens when we get to rosters of 60+ heroes, let alone the 100 or more that League or Dota have. One thing that Blizzard mentioned that was pretty fun to hear was that at the start of each map during the Eternal Conflict event will have a Treasure Goblin at the start of each battle, and if you kill him before he escapes you’ll earn extra gold at the end of the match! I can only imagine the rage people will have if you fail to kill him… “GG NOT ENOUGH DPS TO KILL GOBLIN MAY AS WELL QUIT NOW!”

Overall, it looks like a fantastic event that will bring the roster of Diablo heroes to at least 10 by the end of it, some awesome skins with Archangel Diablo (and what appears to be an update to Demonic Tyrael?) as well as a bunch of cross-universe skins from Butcher and Leoric too! It was a badly represented universe, especially in comparison to the slew of Warcraft heroes we had received. I’d hope that it doesn’t mean that when it’s over, it’ll be half a year until we see more Diablo heroes again (if we go 12 weeks per event) as I’d really love to see the final Nephalem, as well as more angels like Imperius, Malthael and Auriel, and of course more of the Evils like Belial, Baal and Mephisto. For some reason, Diablo characters just seem far more suited for Heroes than other universes.

 

Tomb of the Spider Queen

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Sylvanas patch has hit the beta on Heroes of the Storm and she’s already down from her initial 15k gold launch cost down to 10k, but as I have yet to buy her and get some decent experience on her, I wanted to talk about the other main addition to the patch: the new battleground Tomb of the Spider Queen! Keep in mind the game is still in beta, so changes to even the battlegrounds may still occur, especially to newer ones such as the Tomb.

It’s honestly so small that I always feel cheated if I get the map when I decide to roll with someone like Falstad or Brightwing, because it feels as though their niche of being able to span large areas quickly is greatly diminished when it doesn’t take much longer for others to join the fight. Anyway, I’ve had a fair few games on it myself as well as watching others play on it, and I wanted to share my thoughts and tips and tricks on how this map plays out.

Map

Objectives

Firstly, what is this map about? What do we have available to us to help push the lanes and destroy the enemy core?

Located beneath the Sky Temple, the Spider Queen lurks. Down 3 lanes, archer creeps are replaced with ranged mechanical spiders, and killing them will provide 1 gem each. If you manage to kill enemy heroes, they drop 3 of these mystical gems, but also drop their own gems they were holding for their own team to pick up. Unlike Blackheart’s Bay, you can’t pick up the enemy team’s gems, but all gems will only last 8-9 seconds before vanishing. Keeping in the area after you kill your enemies is a bonus for this, as you can deny them getting their gems back!

Handing 50 of them in at the orange markers above – between the top and mid, and the mid and bottom lanes – you get to summon Webweavers to push down each lane. They will arrive several seconds later at the point where your creep wave is pushed out to, so make sure that you perform a heavy push to get the maximum use out of the Webweavers. They have two main abilities other than their strong melee attacks: summoning small minions that will simply boost the numbers in the lane, to get tower and fort/keep aggro from them; and creating a wave of purple mist that heavily damages anything caught within it (likely similar to boss’s stomp abilities, only activated when there’s a group in front of them). Each hand in will increase the total you need to hand in by 5 for the next hand-in.

Being such a small map, there’s also very few mercenary camps: a neutral boss above the top lane with similar mechanics to the Sky Temple boss; aggressive and defensive bruiser camps between the mid and bottom lanes; and a single neutral siege camp below the bottom lane. I will admit, it’s hard to remember the siege camp exists but it does provide a nice chunk of wave push to that long bottom lane.

Laning

Laning in this map is very reactionary with how small it is. The gap between the top and mid lanes alongside better vision compared to between mid and bottom means that there is a lot of roaming to be had. One interesting tactic I’ve seen is a 0-4-1 lane setup, starting with a 5man gank around the top turn-in before sending a good solo laner like Sylvanas, Tassadar, Jaina or Valla to bottom lane, with the rest of the team 4man pushing mid and top lanes to the gate before switching back again. This allows for those two lanes to completely zone out any opposition while losing very little exp as you’ll generally wave clear before the other lane has killed any creeps, or more important spiders.

The emphasis on the map is to have vision of or control the turn-in points however, so keeping Zagara tumours or getting Tassadar’s Oracle to save going into a gank on the other side of the smoke – or to set up your own. With the early control, you can get early hand-ins which turn into massive early game pushes for all three lanes that your opponents will have to try and counter.

Pacing

In terms of mercenaries, from what I’ve seen it’s more important to get that first Webweaver wave as soon as possible, over sending a couple of people to do early mercs – you don’t want to turn the map objectives into a 3v5 at any point as the enemy team will capitalise on it and push your lanes back and make their webweavers more effective, or yours less so. However, this map is unique in that even after you complete a map objective, you still have around 10-15 seconds before merc camps disappear, so you can quickly tag a bruiser or siege camp (boss camp might be a bit too obvious for counter-plays) to aid in the push after the Webweavers are in lane. You also don’t risk your opponents handing in at this stage as the shrines are inactive. Turn in often to make sure that you have control over those central points and it gives you a steady advantage without risking losing 15 or more gems

Until you’re level 10, I’d still suggest a 3-lane push with splitting your team up (going 1-3-1 with bruisers down mid lane, for example) to try to get your heroics before the enemy team. As you should know by now, the first team to hit level 10 will likely find a team fight and win it for map domination because of unlocking those heroics, or go for a safe boss cap as they know they’ll win the teamfight should the enemy team try to counter.

After level 10 the map is small enough to commit to 5man pushes, especially after turn-ins and you largely want to be controlling the map as much as you can. You want to try and contest mercs toward the end of your Webweavers’ lives so that you can continue to pressure lanes while you go back to hand in more gems. Do note that Webweavers health degenerates naturally over time as well, so if uncontested they can last up to ~90secs.