Hero Spotlight: Brightwing

PAX East has come and gone, and on Blizzard’s return back to HQ we get a new hero week! This time it’s on one of the new heroes showcased, the Faerie Dragon Brightwing! This playful bundle of joy that appears to believe our insides taste of berries is a ranged support hero with global presence on the battlefield. Brightwing is one of the few non-hero heroes that we get to play as in Heroes, so there’s not much lore on Brightwing herself, but Blizzard felt that the playstyle of a faerie dragon would fit well into Heroes.

Personally, I’m all for these non-hero heroes, especially if there isn’t an existing hero that has the skillset that would be fun to play with in the game. Whether or not they get in before big names such as Thrall, Maltheal or Mengsk isn’t any worry to me, as I do want Heroes of the Storm to still have heroes to look forward to playing over the months or years that I’ll end up playing this game for. I don’t mean that I can wait 3 years before Thrall finally gets introduced, but similarly I don’t want all the big names to be in the game in the first year.

Nevertheless, and back on topic of Brightwing, Faerie Dragons are a product of the Warcraft universe, and have been popular creatures of Night Elven/Emerald Dream areas since Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, when Malfurion summoned them from the Emerald Dream to heal the forests of Kalimdor from demonic taint, following the second Legion invasion. Looking like a cross between a chameleon and a butterfly, they usually seem playful and childlike, while having that sinister side of actually wanting to eat you. She doesn’t have the spell immunity that’s classic from WCIII’s Faerie Dragons, there are still other inspirations drawn from the unit in the RTS.

Please note that at the time of writing this article, Heroes of the Storm is in technical alpha, and I’m not in the alpha to be able to check live updates, so chances are that some of the numbers may have been tweaked and are yet to be updated on online sources.

Faerie Sprite

[Trait] Soothing Mist: Brightwing heals nearby allied heroes for 32 every 4 seconds.

  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Regenerative Rains: Each time you cast an ability, a free Soothing Mist cast will activate.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Gust of Healing: Activate to release Soothing Mists every second for 5 seconds.

A trait that passively heals allies every 4 seconds, though at the moment from tooltips it seems that this doesn’t scale with level, so the trait may become less useful as the game goes on. I guess by then you have heroic abilities and talents to make up for it, it would still be nice to have a trait that scales well as the game progresses. The only upgrades for Soothing Mist is at level 7, and they compete with Calldown: MULE and Cleanse. Because of the lack of spam you can do with Brightwing’s abilities, I’m leaning more toward Gust of Healing than Regenerative Rains, unless Blink Heal activates the trait talent on each blink, in which case it might be more worth it. Overall, others may have the MULE on your team, so it’s a choice between Gust of Healing or Cleanse, depending on if the enemy team has a lot of disables or you need that burst healing.

[Q] Arcane Flare: Deals damage in a small area and 285 (57 + 12 per level) damage in a larger area.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Arcane Precision: Inner area damage is increased by 50%.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Sticky Flare: Targets are slowed by 30% for 3 seconds.

Arcane Flare is a distant cousin from Warcraft III’s Mana Flare, with its only similarity being in ability icon, however with the theme for Brightwing and her iconic abilities coming up later, Blizzard had to have a standard nuke for her to use. I don’t know the damage of the inner circle, but I’m going to assume it’s more

Depending on how you build her, you may opt for the level 1 talent for the damage nukes, however with Bribe or even the Path of the Wizard on the same tier it might be preferable, especially in late game, to go for those other choices. Sticky Flare might be a useful talent to help snare enemies, especially clumped up, to stop them from escaping or avoiding attacks, especially if you have a much harder support in your team such as a Malfurion or support-specced Uther so you can miss out on Ice Block or Phase Shield easily.

[W] Polymorph: Deals 310 (63 + 13 per level) damage. Target enemy cannot attack or use abilities for 2 seconds.

  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Sticky Powder: Targets are also slowed by 50% for the duration.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Critterize: Polymorphed targets become vulnerable and take 25% more damage.

I have to admit, I didn’t realise that this ability had a bit of damage to go alongside it, but it certainly helps the low damage Brightwing brings to the table. In the PAX match, Polymorph was also usable on enemies such as the Dragon Knight, so I imagine that you can use it on the golem in Haunted Mines as well, to help buy you those precious seconds that could domino into a win. Besides that, it’s an amusing ability to turn Blizzard’s greatest heroes into a harmless pig or squirrel for a couple of seconds.

The talents all come at level 16, with Rewind and Stoneskin in the same tier. Personally I prefer Critterize, especially if you’re on comms with team mates and let them know that a specific target will be taking more damage soon, so nuke the hell out of them, though the extra survivability from Stoneskin, or being able to spam more with Rewind (most of Brightwings basic abilities are short-mid CDs anyway) might be needed more in your match, but the 50% snare for 2 seconds doesn’t seem that great in comparison to the rest of the tier – they’re already pacified anyway, it just means they can’t run away. It might be the better option when you’re not on comms as it allows team mates to react better.

[E] Pixie Dust: Increases move speed by 25% and blocks up to 2 Hero Basic Attacks, reducing their damage by 50%. Lasts for 4 seconds.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Shield Dust: Now blocks up to 3 attacks
  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Anti-magic Powder: Will also reduce damage from one spell by 50%

More utility for the support hero is always good, and being able to help allies (or yourself) escape if things don’t go to plan is a good bonus to have. It can also be used as a good initiator for your Warrior to run in quickly from the bushes and tank up some right click damage even better than they normally would. It’s a rebalanced version of WCIII’s Phase Shift, in my opinion – instead of making her outright immune, she takes reduced damage, but the trade-off is being able to cast it on anyone and also have increased movement speed. Puck manages to get away with it in Dota however, but it’s good to see Heroes mixing it up a bit (just imagine the QQ otherwise). It’s also useful to use on something like a Zeratul or Illidan to get them to catch up to fleeing foes.

Both of Pixie Dust’s potential upgrades come early into the matches, with the level 1 upgrade looking a little lackluster in comparison to its rivals in the tier (explained earlier with Arcane Flare). Anti-magic Powder however looks to be a solid choice at level 4, especially if you have hard nukers on the other team. If there are heroes that are “death by a thousand cuts”, then Shield Ally may work out best, though with so many supports sharing this talent, it may be best to communicate which is the better build to go for.

[R] Emerald Wind: Creates an expanding nova of wind, dealing 100 damage to enemies and pushing them away from the center.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Continuous Winds: Releases two additional bursts of wind that deal 25% damage

Two very good heroic abilities await Brightwing at level 10. The first of which is Emerald Wind, that can be used positionally to either knock enemies away from your squishy ranged assassins… Or you can sneak ahead and knock them back into your team! I don’t know if you can knock enemies behind your walls, or if they just smash their faces into them, but it might be a good trick to add to her repertoire, similar to how Stitches can kidnap an enemy and drop them under a fort or behind a gate.

Choosing between the Continuous Winds upgrade or getting Storm Shield or Bolt of the Storm is a bit tricky to say up front, however I think it depends more on the playstyle you want for Brightwing. Storm Shield is already available to many supports, and provides a decent substitute for missing out on Blink Heal beforehand; Bolt of the Storm allows you to be even more elusive, and can help with setting up that positional requirement to get enemies into your team’s grasp; and Continuous Winds provides a good buffer, especially against melee heroes, to give those few extra seconds of freedom.

[R] Blink Heal: For 10 seconds you may teleport to nearby allies by right clicking on them, healing them instantly, and another 672 (102 + 30 per level) over 3 seconds.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Ysera’s Blessing: Increases the initial healing by 200%.

While I don’t know the initial healing numbers, this is a great ability nonetheless. Making Brightwing more elusive and giving her a harder support role is great for her overall. I don’t know the cooldown for each individual blink, but as you can see in the video above, you can fit quite a few heals into that 10sec gap. In teamfights, which Heroes seems to revolve around in a much larger way than other games in the genre, this is a great competitor against Emerald Wind’s raw utility. Again, and I know you must be sick of hearing this, but it really depends on who you team up with and who you’re against as to which choice is better.

At level 20, you get a choice on a massive increase in the heal from your heroic ability, or the choice mentioned before of the teleport or shield.  It depends on how much Blink Heal actually heals for anyway, but I can see this being the best upgrade in the tier. Bolt isn’t as required as you gain a fair few teleports with the heroic, and you don’t have any positional requirements as such without Emerald Wind, though the Storm Shield may be much more beneficial to shield up before Blink Healing everywhere. It really depends on what the match needs from you as a Brightwing.

Puck__The_Faerie_Dragon_by_doccastro

[Z] Phase Shift: Instead of mounting, Brightwing can teleport to an ally hero.

  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Phase Shield: After finishing the teleport, the target of your Phase Shift gains a 200 point shield for 3 seconds

I thought that this would be a good thing to mention, especially with the talent upgrade. Unlike the previous heroes I’ve spotlighted, faerie dragons such as Brightwing don’t really have the anatomy to ride mounts. Blizzard have thought about this, and the way Brightwing moves quickly across the map is by teleporting to ally heroes. Significantly better than her old datamined version, that just allowed her to fly over terrain to get to where you needed to go, it still doesn’t in my opinion equal to Abathur or Falstad’s modes of transport. Then again, why should it be equal? Brightwing’s role is to support, and she’s not likely to run from combat! Similarly, the upgrade certainly helps her in supporting her allies, so if you want to go for the full support this is easily the best option in the tier, otherwise all four options at level 13 are attractive – either the Sprint, the Ice Block or Sticky Flare can all be used on a match-per-match basis.

MonarchBrightwing

Brightwing already has a skin available to her, and while it’s just the one it is one that I do like. The Monarch skin changes her wings to be similar to a monarch butterfly, and then Blizzard takes the pun and gives her a royal crown and scepter to represent royalty and monarchy. It’s not a huge overhaul of the skin to where new players have to double take to see who the hero really is (Zeratul’s Ronin set confused me a while back before I realised the abilities he was casting) but it’s certainly distinctive and different to her base skin.

That just about wraps up Brightwing week from me at OMFG Soup, in other Heroes news a new patch was implemented alongside Li Li and Brightwing’s introduction to the alpha. Without being in the alpha, I don’t feel like I’m in the best position to be able to talk about them all in detail, though you can check out the notes here!

Weekly Roundup: PAX all packed up

paxeast2

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.