BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm – State of the Game

Heroes of the Storm

20:26: Restrictions on Hero League to have minimum level for the hero you want to play? Browder agrees with this sentiment, but doesn’t want to increase barriers to entry to HL at the moment.

Melee assassins vs ranged assassins – doing anything to increase strength of melee? Nothing planned yet.

Tyrael’s Trait? No plans yet, they like how his death still makes everyone spread as that’s what Warriors are meant to do.

20:19: Question time! Totally didn’t miss the first questions due to technical issues, I know the second question had to do with player perception on changes and getting the community on board with trying things they hadn’t tried before.

Unranked Draft or 3s/4s in HL: Browder gets the same thing where he only gets a group or 3 or 4. Intention is to either reintroduce 3/4 to ranked if the new MMR system works, otherwise they may introduce unranked draft mode.

Supporting of eSports, what are they doing for low numbers on Twitch? Working on it. More info at the finals

Any thought on putting in the dragon aspects? Humanoid forms with heroics to change them into dragons? An idea that they will take back to the office (aka I guess not).

20:18: Talent gating is now cut! No more levelling to 4 to find out how a hero actually plays, so that should be awesome. Also, free hero rotation is increasing to 10 heroes! No idea on the restriction for levels, but having a larger pool should be good for that new player pool.

20:17: Also to come in 2016 is bans in ranked mode, for those of us that want to feel more like we’re in tournament and can strategise a lot more! Will be interesting to see how that will go ahead in Hero League to decide on who SHOULD get banned, but it’s certainly a desired feature. Grandmaster’s league is also coming later on.

20:15: Death recaps are coming! You can see the last 10 damage sources (including heals!) so you can finally find out why you died other than the killing blow. This is a fantastic change in my opinion!

20:14: Ranked play was a mix of StarCraft and Hearthstone ladder, but they felt it is too harsh and there’s not enough transparency as to whether you’ll increase or go down in rank. There’s nothing to be announced as they want to fix MMR first, and there’s a similar story for Season 1 release.

20:12: In 2016, they’re aiming to increase mirror matchups of weird comps, such as 3 specialists against 3 specialists or whatever. Should bring more interesting and fun games this way. MMR will change depending on how YOU played in that game, not whether you won or lost. It looks like you could stand to gain more MMR if you lose than someone on the other team who played badly.

20:10: They intend to roll this out in the next couple weeks – no promises though! Definitely before the end of the year. Looks pretty interesting, even if I don’t fully understand it myself and need a moment or two to think about it, but it looks like it’s better than the old system!

20:08: The new system relies less on this swapping, and builds games to be good. It creates a queue of people so that they are made sure to be matched well as others are finishing and leaving their games. Time waited doesn’t affect match quality however, and so far the simulations look pretty good internally, according to Blizzard.

20:04: Rebuilding MM from the ground up. Originally it was based on the StarCraft MM, but this isn’t working out well within HotS. In the next few weeks however they’re looking to revamp it. In the old system, it built games quickly but matched 10 people with 10 others, and then swapped people around depending on what they system thought would be the best matchup. At high levels however, this became more challenging as matching people up with each other constantly ended up with no results. At 6 (now 10) minutes of queue, the system just puts you straight into a game.

20:02: They don’t however like this 80/20 split of people having good games, while 20% of people aren’t. New users have an inflated MMR when they first come into the game, but weren’t matched by how many games they had played. Newbies however only had a 38% win rate, so they changed this so that new players would be more likely to be matched with new players, and that percentage raised to 48%.

20:00: Matchmaking is a word on so many player’s lips right now, everyone’s talking about it! 80% of their games are even in matchmaking apparently (so stop having those mindgames of you going up against rank 1-5’s when you haven’t completed your placement matches!). 65% of games are close on levels however, but the changes explained earlier should increase this percentage.

19:59: For Tychus, they want to increase his winrate and make him more of a unique assassin. They want to make him an anti-warrior, to go against the double or triple warrior comps, or to go against Cho’gall. Giant Killer could be moved earlier, but they’re not sure where to go just yet.

19:57: They also want to improve Nova’s talent diversity and change how she feels in casual vs ranked and tournament play. One of the talents they want to do is to increase snipe’s damage every time you hit it, but if you miss one then your stacks will go. This is a great thing for skilled players to really master, while not making her seriously OP in casual play.

19:55: Gazlowe isn’t seen in tournament play at all, so they’re looking to change him. They want to enhance his role of being a good pick for zone control for maps like Sky Temple. They’re looking at a talent that will make his turrets use laser at the same time as him. Other talents include exploding with scrap in late game.

19:54: These changes are currently on the test maps, but they will be going live with the Cho’gall patch!

19:53: This change had a bad side effect of making the early game not matter as much, so they’re also looking to increase the death timers for the early game. I believe there was a blog about this a few weeks ago that it evens out again at level 10-12 so that it’s purely for the early game itself.

19:51: Benefits of scaling changes were that you can now fight while behind a lot easier – it’s not about trying to pick off overextending and overzealous heroes that think they’re invincible with a 2 level lead. It’s also sharpened roles a lot more, and winning games felt more meaningful instead of demolishing the enemies if you got an early game lead.

19:48: 65% of games are actually pretty close, but Blizzard wants more, so they’re looking to change not Cho’gall to balance him, but perhaps they need to balance the game overall: They’re looking to decrease the power of level bonuses to health so that power creep isn’t as big as it is on live.

19:45: Games with Cho’gall tend to snowball, either for or against him. Once he gets a couple levels lead on the other team, he has so much health that it becomes so difficult to kill him. Cho’gall would then begin to win 2v1 situations easily. On the flipside, when they’re a couple levels behind, it became easy to kill him and you’d effectively lose two heroes from play.

19:44: Cho’gall is a tough hero to balance, as he’s one hero controlled by two players. Cho controls movement and has his own set of abilities that a Warrior would have, whereas Gall is the powerhouse for spells that you’d see on a mage assassin. Cho’gall has 50% more health than any other hero to balance two heroes in one.

19:42: Divine Shield’s cooldown increased from 70 to 90 seconds, and his ghost trait is reduced from 10 to 8 seconds. This is just to change him in competitive play and hopefully doesn’t nerf him too hard in standard play.

19:41: Uther is bang on 50% and has an extremely stable winrate with other filters attached. Tournament games however, he was 100% pick/banned in NA and Korea, and in EU he slipped through one draft untouched at 97% pick/ban.

19:39: Kerrigan was at 47.3% winrate without a particularly diverse talent build (that also didn’t have high winrates either), so they changed 8 talents, cut 4 of them and created 3 new ones. Since the change, she’s got much more diversity in pick rates, so this was a successful change overall.

19:38: Their goal is to listen and react to feedback on twitter, the official forums and reddit. Those are the best avenues to provide feedback to them.

19:36: Talents is also another balance option on their radar: Gazlowe might be have 43% pick rate on Extra TNT, but it’s not the highest winrate talent for him, so they’re happy with talent picks being biased in that case. I guess it becomes a problem if a talent has high pick and winrate for a hero.

19:35: Their goal for winrates is between 45-55%, outliers are TLV, Butcher, Li Li, Leoric all over 55%, whereas heroes like Abathur and Stitches are down at 44%. This is actually not too bad in my opinion, though there are other factors that need to be considered, such as how new you are to the hero/game, QM vs Ranked, etc.

19:34: I like Cooper, he allows me to write while he slowly speaks! 4 new Battlegrounds have been added in the past year too.

19:32: It’s hard to believe that the game has only been live since June 2nd, it was even still in alpha at the start of the year! There’s been 11 new heroes in the past year too, with 3 more coming soon!

19:31: Li Li and Murky are classed as the most overpowered heroes within the Nexus, according to Blizzard statistics. Li Li matches with Hotslogs, but Murky is a surprising sight – it’s usually TLV with the little panda as highest winrates (if not seen in tournament play at all).

19:30: The second of three panels, we’re taking a look in this next hour of how the game’s evolved and where it’s going next, including upcoming changes for Heroes, Battleground, and talents. Although not mentioned in the brief, we’ll hopefully get a look at what’s happening with MMR and how Blizzard seeks to fix it. Maybe announcement of season 1 and Grandmaster’s League too? It’s a lot to fit into an hour, let’s see where it takes us.

On the main stage we’ll miss out on the World of Overwatch, which is the lore panel of Blizzard’s new IP. I can imagine it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I know I’m more invested into Heroes now anyway, but I’ll be sure to check it out at a later time.

BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Overwatch: What’s New


01:40: Something about different versions of heroes, including genderbending? They don’t want to genderbend their heroes at the moment.

When will the 3 new heroes be available on beta? Next week! Maybe

Splitscreen co-op on consoles? No plans to support, killer idea though!

Can you change the UI at all? FoV slider was implemented, you an hit alt+Z to get rid of the UI altogether. There’s desire for changing the reticle, but it’s low priority.

Balancing characters – are you going to be making a league for console and/or PC versions? Blizzard look at all three platforms and treat them as equals, so if there will be a league it will be for all three systems, but no official plans yet.

01:34: Design Process for new heroes? Both design and art pitch ideas to each other to see if they worked or not

Any heroes that you wanted but didn’t work out well Blizzard always works on an iterative process, in the past year Bastion has had 5 different ultimate abilities!

Mod-friendliness? Studio philosophy has usually been mod friendly: addons in WoW, DotA spawning from Warcraft III being primary examples. No plans for Overwatch for now, but definitely something they’d like to do if they can make their engine available for public use.

Diversification for more than 21 heroes, how to avoid homogenisation? This feels like a repeat answer here – they’re happy with the 21 heroes! But for the 9 they’ve added over the past year they have a palette of ideas that they hope can work and constantly iterate on to see if it does work, but the plan is only 21 heroes.

01:28: Question time!

Mac version of the game? Blizzard have supported Macs in the past, but for Overwatch it’s too challenging to get it working on that platform

Different modes within the game? Non-switching of characters, etc? Testing different modes all the time, such as capture the flag, but it’s challenging with the hero pool they have. Tracer using blink with the flag, for example.

Controller for PC? It already works, but none specific for Overwatch were planned.

Mei’s ability placement is confusing Bring feedback on how it feels once you play her – but you can rebind your keys to make it easier for you, but per hero binds are coming!

Pricing plan post 21 heroes? At the moment, only 21 heroes is the plan regardless – not sure if they want to add more heroes.

01:26: D.Va and Genji are designed as counters to Widowmaker, but Blizzard would always love to hear feedback on not just the new heroes, but new battlegrounds and existing heroes and systems in the game!

01:19: The original design of Genji was in fact for him to be both Genji and Hanzo in one, a cyborg that has a sword and a bow, but eventually they split that along with the two brothers story. His abilities include his heroic Dragonblade, which is a massive damage boost to himself, he can throw shuriken knives from his arms, either three at a time or once. Swift Strike is his second ability that allows him to charge forward and quickly strike with his secondary weapon – including targets in the air! Finally, Deflect allows him to redirect ranged attacks at a target, as he shoots a rocket back at Pharah in the video preview. He’s a mobile character with double jumps and wall climbing abilities too.

01:16: Genji, the robot ninja is the final hero to be previewed. He is Hanzo’s younger brother, and was a troublemaker. When Hanzo rises to be the leader of the Shimada clan, the clan elders tell Hanzo that he has to do something about his brother, and when he confronts his brother, he deals a fatal strike to Genji. Left for dead, he then gets picked up by Overwatch and gets fixed up into the cyborg we see him as today.

01:14: It seems that the boosters that are similar to Reinhardt’s charge includes flight and movement around too!

01:10: An interesting concept for her is that the mech can die, but she will jump out and have to wait for the mech to rebuild while she shoots with a light gun (the rebuilding of the mech is her second ultimate while she’s out of the mech). While inside the mech however, she has fusion guns, boosters similar to Reinhardt’s charge, a Defense Matrix that works like a shield against projectiles – good counter to Pharah’s or Reaper’s ult! Self Destruct is her ultimate, where she jumps out of the mech and sets it to explode for massive damage.

01:05: D.Va is an ex pro-gamer that pilots a pink robot to defend her home. Because cutesy people have to also be badasses that we all want to be, right? A mech hero is something that the development team really wanted to do, and began by having the mech work with her, but then decided that she would be piloting it herself. Eventually she got bigger and better guns, before someone decided that she ought to fly. After a couple more iterations we got what we see as her now.

01:02: While she is squishy, she does have the ability to ice block herself, making her a collidable object – so she could be used to jump in the way of fire and ice block the damage off! She can also cast a Blizzard as her ultimate to freeze and deal a fair chunk of damage to anyone caught within it.

00:56: Mei is a new hero that is a scientist for Overwatch that was doing research in Antarctica. The eco-watch point got separated from Overwatch and she used the resources she had to huddle up and wait for help to come. The concept behind her is an ice warrior that focuses on freezing her enemies and create walls and control the enemy team. She’s an interesting concept of having a non-warrior that’s hasn’t been battle-hardened – she’s a scientist, and her mechanics reflect that. She doesn’t do much damage and isn’t tanky at all, but her strength will be in her control, and ability to create new pathways with her ice wall.

00:52: Hollywood is the newest map to be introduced, where you go to Goldshire Studios at a chokepoint and go to a backlot with plenty of sets that looks like somewhere McCree will be at home. There is also a sound studio with an aliens and spaceship theme (is this even futuristic at this stage or just fantasy?). It’s a good light-hearted map in comparison to some like the Gibraltar map, for sure.

00:49: With release to consoles, this game will reach a much larger crowd. It was the goal from initial concept, as opposed to Diablo which was thought about at a later date. There was a slip-up that hinted at the console release with the option of it in the beta with aim assist. Console players and PC players will be separate, even PS4 will only play against PS4 players.

00:47: Beta Overview so far, there have been 82,000 matches in total as of last Tuesday. Additional stats include average match length being 7m34s. Really nice, quick games in there! The most played hero is our rocket launcher wielding Egyptian Pharah, while Symmetra has the highest winrate, thanks to her shields more than her teleporter.

00:45: The game that’s on many people’s lips right now is Overwatch, as the past week on Twitch seems to have proven with its opening of the beta. No invite for me yet, but I’m still interested in finding out What’s New on the main stage tonight. We’ll be discussing the newest heroes, maps and gameplay features over this next hour to round out the live updates for today. On the panel stage is the panel I’m least enthusiastic about as it’s competitive multiplayer for StarCraft II, but I imagine I’ll be discussing it later on! This will be the last panel I’m covering tonight, let’s hope it’s a good one!

BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm – Hero Deep Dive

Heroes of the Storm

23:11: Shotcallers: State of the Game panel will talk about this!

Unstoppable, why is Muradin still Unstoppable as opposed to others? Technical reasons mainly, some weren’t meant to be unstoppable to begin with.

Are multiple talent builds something they strive for, or something that they hope just ends up happening? Largely just hopes that they fit into roles that players put them in to.

Cho’gall: What happens when Cho disconnects? AI takes over for now, but they’re trying to get Cho to listen to Gall’s pings for movement. It’s not too bad the other way around as Gall’s AI is good at hitting skillshots!

Warlocks? Gul’dan is being worked on right now!

And that’s all for the Hero Deep Dive!

23:06: Arena Mode – Could it have 5x Aba’s or 5xTLV’s as a team? Tested, 5 warriors against 5 warriors last forever, but it will be case by case.

Cho’gall, who picks talents? Both have their own talents and own heroics to pick from, both unique from each other!

Specialists, where are they? Just a stretch where other roles had to be added at the time, no plans (Cho’gall started off as specialist)

Gender-bender skins? Talked about it, implementation can be tricky and it’s down to resources. Great suggestion.

Gnomes and smaller sprites? Asks audience if they want Gnomes? Lots of cheering!

Where the trolls at? Couple that they’re itching to get in, depending on when the roster sees fit – Trolls and Draenei!

Mounts/Skins for Cho’gall? Cho and Gall can both select the skin and the mount, the RNG will choose one to get their mount, the other will get their skin.

22:59: Death animations: Does Blizzard have any plans to not ragdoll all heroes on death and instead bring up some new death animations for Diablo/Protoss? Good feedback, may come in later on!

Legendary skin: Infested Nova? Can’t talk about that!

Old IPs – Blackthorne? Not working on him but he’s on the radar!

Some… ridiculous merging of some guy as a hero, typical Q&A questions

Justice League Task Force skins? We’ll look into that.

Cho’gall: How is he going to be in the competitive scene (even in HL) with pick/bans? Can’t be first pick or last pick: banning one head will ban the other. Open to feedback!

Carbot has a horsehead on a stick, can we get it? It will likely come along!

22:58: Cho’gall is a big guy, and it seems his mount is CARRYING it at increased speed, haha! Finally, a short teaser of what sprites Tracer has as the first Overwatch hero to enter the Nexus! Now onto questions!

22:57: 2,200 gold for winning for games as Cho’gall with partners who have not unlocked the hero! Wow, I’m definitely being baited into that! Who wants to be the Gall to my Cho? I promise I won’t run into the enemy core with you!

22:54: It looks like that they’ll share a healthpool too, so getting a ranged assassin with an insane health pool seems like a strong concept… I guess you don’t get to control where you go as Gall (not that it’s a bad thing in HotS), but if you take out Cho’gall, you’ve effectively gotten rid of 40% of the team! I wonder what happens if Cho disconnects and becomes a bot…

22:51: Cho controls the movement, and is the warrior of the combo, though Gall is the ranged caster riding shotgun with low cooldown spammable abilities. Abilities will synergise well together where their E will have Cho throw out a ball, and Gall will explode it at the best time.

22:50: Riding shotgun in testing was a fun experience – I can imagine this is going to be like hatting someone as Abathur, just you only get to ride Illidan all game… Not too different to how most games go then! There’s no problem if one team has only 4 heroes too, they can tune him up!

22:47: Over the past year or so we’ve been seeing some very unique MOBA heroes that would only work in HotS: Murky, TLV and Leoric. So now they looked at TLV, and wanted to instead of have one player control three characters, it’s now two players control one character. So how does this work?

22:46: Discussion of which type of Cho’gall to use. Previously he’d been a low polygon sprite in Warcraft II, and over time he jacked up on Old God juice to make him more monstrous – it was only in WoD where we got to see him as a “normal” ogre. And it seems that this is what we get as our version in Heroes!

22:43: Talking about Cho’gall as he was one of the first heroes that was going to be in HotS before there was even a talent system, and I see Mekkatorque in the top right corner! Regardless, let’s talk about this unique mechanic that Cho’gall has.

22:41: Marked for the Kill is the first heroic in his human form, allowing him to shoot a target and making them vulnerable. As a worgen, Go for the Throat is a rapid attack that will attack a target that, if it kills the target, allows you to use it again within 10 seconds. Triple Tap level 20 upgrade at level 10? Ok I’ll take that. Inner Beast and Curse of the Worgen weren’t discussed in detail unfortunately.

22:38: His shapeshifting allows him to use his E ability to use Darkflight to lunge forward and leaps in as a Worgen to deal extra damage, or to Disengage to roll away and shoot from afar. His Q is Gilnean Cocktail as a human that deals more damage to others behind the primary target, but in worgen form this Q turns into Razor Swipe on a low cooldown to AoE in front of him.

22:34: Greymane is going to be a ranged assassin alongside Lunara, interestingly enough for a Worgen with claws. However with these two forms he starts off as a ranged character as a Human, then can finish you off after shapeshifting in his Worgen form.

22:32: Greymane is the second hero we’re getting a look at from BlizzCon, and once again we’re looking at the silhouette he portrays – in both Human and Worgen forms! With the enhanced look he’s getting in Legion, it’ll be good to see how the new look transfers over to Heroes.

22:30: A wisp is her E ability. This looks like a good way to scout out bushes and the fog of war. She gets Greater Spellshield to reduce incoming magic damage by 75% and at level 20 she can Abolish Magic, which will remove CC effects from herself and her target, and reduces damage over time abilities. This is a good way to carry over the fantasy of the Dryads from previous games.

22:28: Thornwood Vine is her first heroic that has 3 charges that is a line attack. Her other heroic is Leaping Strike, where she leaps over the enemy and throws her spear on the target, with 2 charges. It’s quite a nice amount of movement you get from the second heroic, so it can get you out of sticky situations well.

22:26: Nature’s Toxin is her trait, where she poisons enemies she hits. Noxious Blossom is her Q that’s a ground target AoE and applies her trait. On W she uses Crippling Spores, that will slow down any enemies affected by her trait.

22:24: The Dryad model has certainly seen improvements since the Warcraft III days! She looks stunning! Now we get to see her kit: her mount is replaced by Dryad’s Swiftness, where her movement is a bouncing animation. Overall it’s around 25% faster, but it’s quick/slow/quick/slow movement.

22:22: 17 weeks in total for testing new heroes, and lots of emails being sent around looking at the vision sync of what the heroes actually look like. Lunara is half night elf, half deer, so the silhouette there is very diverse from the current hero pool.

22:20: Paper Design is 2 weeks long, where they look at the core of the hero, strengths/weaknesses etc, then they go into Tech Design for 2 weeks where they design their abilities. AI Playtests last for 1 week to see how they play, before going into 8 weeks of design playtest before finally having the design team playtest for 4 weeks.

22:17: Blizzard are explaining what their thought process is on introducing new heroes. They look at what franchise they’re from, what roles are being played, and what silhouettes are currently being used. With the three new heroes announced they’re different enough each time. Varian, Kel’Thuzad, some Goblin, Firebat, the Innkeeper from Hearthstone, and a bunch more heroes were suddenly teased on a splash image on the presentation as heroes in development – along nearly 200 more ideas!

22:16: Lunara, that’s her name.

22:15: Quick on the tail of the WoW panel, here is our Hero Deep Dive for Heroes of the Storm where we will join the development team to take a closer look at all of the new Heroes coming to the Nexus! This panel conflicts with the WoW Cinematics – The Road to Legion over at the panel stage that I’ll likely be covering later. Remember, we did get the Arena announced, but that’s likely going to be for tomorrow’s Battleground panel. We’ll likely see more to do with Cho’gall and his two player interaction, alongside Greymane and the Dryad lady!