Hero Spotlight: Tyrael

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it, so today’s mid-week article is going to be about Heroes of the Storm! While it isn’t a new hero every week like I originally predicted (waiting on PAX East for new heroes to be announced it seems!), Blizz are spotlighting heroes, and even going as far as to make short cinematics for each of them, such as the one above. This week, as you may have guessed from the title and clip above, we’re moving from the Koprulu sector in the Starcraft universe to the High Heavens and Sanctuary of the Diablo franchise.

He is the stalwart defender of humankind and Sanctuary. With his mighty sword El’druin, he intevened and defeated the Prime Evils before they could enslave all of humanity. Although his story continues on in Diablo III, it is the Archangel of Justice we fight as in Heroes of the Storm.

Blizzard classes him in the Warrior role where he has high sustainability but low damage, but from what I’ve seen him played as so far, he seems to do well in both Warrior as well as Support roles. He excels in poking at the enemy and generally annoying them, and his trait makes him effective even from the grave. 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.

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Might_of_El'druin_Icon[Trait] Might of El’druin: When Tyrael is about to due he becomes invulnerable and explodes after 3.5 seconds. Deals 200 damage to nearby enemies.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Protection in Death: When Might of El’Druin explodes, Tyrael also grants nearby allies a shield that absorbs up to 50% of their max health in damage. This shield lasts for 5 seconds.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Atonement: On dying, move speed is increased by 50% and Tyrael resurrects 10 seconds faster for every Hero hit with Might of El’druin.

This trait is pretty badass (when you remember that you’re still active for a few seconds after you die). I believe the damage does scale for later levels, so it makes enemies think twice about killing you first in fights. Killing you early means that everyone gets a chunk of their health taken away, or your team spreads to avoid it, and if he has taken the talent then you’re faced with enemies with a sudden increase in health too. This allows Tyrael to continue poking away at enemies and being a general nuisance with his other abilities that can really make an impact on teamfights. And that level 16 upgrade will be pretty annoying, knowing that if you kill him he’ll just be back up to 50 seconds faster.

Punishing_Blade_Icon[Q] Punishing Blade: Deals 350 (84 + 14 per level) damage to enemies within target area, slowing them by 25%.Reactivating while the blade is present will teleport Tyrael to his blade, dealing 350 (84 + 14 per level) damage and slowing enemies by 25% in an area around it..

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Horadric Reforging: Increases the damage dealt by Punishing Blade by 20%.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Angel’s Grace: After teleporting to his sword, Tyrael’s move speed is increased by 25% for 3 seconds.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Holy Might: Tyrael’s next 3 auto-attacks after teleporting to his sword deal 100% more damage.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Angelic Barricade: A 3 radius pathing blocker is created after Tyrael teleports to his blade.

The sword stays in the ground for up to 6 seconds, so you can either nuke the 700 damage straight away, or you can stagger it to make full use of the slow effect. It’s fairly spammable at 12sec cooldown, and it’s a real defining feature of Tyrael to be able to blink around in teamfights. It looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to try it out. The talents for it seem a little underwhelming for the role Tyrael is in though, with the exception to Angelic Barricade. However, I’m sure there will be some games where Tyrael will shine in more of an assassin role than a warrior/support. After all: “There are no bad talents. Only bad players.”

Righteousness_Icon[W] Righteousness: Shields Tyrael, absorbing 250 damage for 4 seconds. When the shield expires it explodes, dealing 510 (168 + 18 per level) damage to nearby enemies.

  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Regeneration: Enemies that attack Tyrael while shielded grant him regeneration, gaining 30 health over 3 seconds.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Zealotry: Increases duration by 100% and the explosion damage by 25%.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Imposing Will: Enemies that attack Tyrael while shielded have their Attack Speed slowed by 50% and Move Speed slowed by 50% for 2seconds.

This ability heavily reminds me of Abaddon’s Aphotic Shield (minus the purge ability, and it’s only usable on Tyrael himself). It allows him to be a little more tanky, as well as continuing his nuisance in the middle of team fights. Again, the talents aren’t game changers, but they still have their place, and allow Tyrael to become even more tanky, and then deals just over 600 more damage when it expires – or you can deal 125 less damage and sacrifice some ramp-up time to go for some CC, though the second level 13 option does require enemies to attack Tyrael. Even with these two abilities so far, he can dish out ~1500 damage each if he dives into a group of 5 enemies. It’s not going to kill anyone, but if you have 4 buddies at your back, it can definitely force the lane forward.

Hand_of_Sacrifice_Icon[E] Hand of Sacrifice: Redirects the next 1000 (240 + 40 per level) damage dealt to target ally to Tyrael instead. This damage is reduced by 25%. Lasts 10 seconds or until Tyrael and his ally are too far from each other. Cannot be used on self.

  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Cleansing Sacrifice: Hand of Sacrifice now removes all stuns, roots, silences, and slows from the target.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Hand of Providence: Enemies in the beam take 20 damage every half second, deals double damage to minions.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] United Purpose: While linked, Tyrael and his target’s move speed is increased by 15%.

This is where Tyrael stands more in the support role than other warriors, and gives enemies another reason to try to disable or take him out of team fights. Turning 1000 damage on an assassin or a specialist into 750 damage to Tyrael is pretty insane at a 13sec cooldown, and even if Tyrael dies he has his trait to back him up. For support players using Tyrael, this becomes the defining ability that makes him who he is. The talents themselves can also become game changers, linking up with someone like Valla or Zeratul (though be careful linking with invis heroes as enemies will be able to see them better) will certainly help them not only with lane sustainability, but as a means of getting out if things do turn sour.

Judgment_Icon[R] Judgment: Charges the target, dealing 325 (135 + 10 per level) damage and stunning them for 2 seconds. While charging, nearby enemies are knocked back and take 150 (55 + 5 per level) damage.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Angel of Justice: Increases the cast range of Judgment by 50%, and reduces the cooldown by 30seconds.

The first of his ultimates grants him another way to initiate into combat, and is likely going to be the main way he does, being able to use his Q attacks while already in the fray (or to escape). The cooldown is long at 100 seconds, so the level 20 upgrade is almost required so that it’s up for every team fight – you don’t want to be waiting around to use it so that your enemies can push against your lane, plus the pushback is fairly sizable when the rest of your attacks favour enemies that are stacked up. You could admittedly use it defensively to take melee heroes away from your squishy supports and assassins, so there is two sides to every coin.

Sanctification_Icon[R] Sanctification: While channeling, Tyrael makes all nearby allied Heroes invulnerable and unstoppable. Lasts 3 seconds. Does not affect Tyrael.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Holy Arena: Increases duration of Sanctification by 1 second, also increases attack and ability damage by protected allies by 25%.

His second ultimate certainly lends to his support role much better than Judgment does, and with the level 20 upgrade it’s certainly going to make your enemies flee behind the defense of towers and gates. The only problem with this ability of course is that Tyrael has to channel it, and because he’s not invulnerable or non-CCable, as soon as that bubble goes out, you’re likely going to be focused very shortly afterwards – though it would certainly be OP if he was immune or could move around with the bubble. With the ultimate’s short duration, you need to communicate with your team mates when you’re going to use it, especially if you take the upgrade at level 20 when they’ll start hitting harder.

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As for skins, he currently has two available to him in the alpha: Demonic and Seraphim, both looking pretty awesome as shown in the images below. It’s certainly interesting to see Blizz go for skins of what could have happened to Tyrael had he either succumbed to corruption or became more warlike and stuck around in the High Heavens. I personally won’t be spending money on either of these skins, though if it turns out that I enjoy the playstyle of Tyrael, that demonic one certainly does seem pretty enticing… would love to see what Blizz could do with a mortal form Tyrael as a skin though, where he’s unhooded and in plain robes.

Weekly Roundup: Diablo IV

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So last week the latest installment of the Diablo series was released, and honestly it feels like an entirely new game in comparison to what I played when Diablo III was first released. Massive improvements all around, and in all honesty, I haven’t really been up to much this week other than checking out Reaper of Souls and getting completely absorbed into it. I’ve played a little bit of WoW, hitting up some previous-tier LFR and levelling up a new Paladin alt on Emerald Dream. I already talked extensively about Loot 2.0 and how much it has effectively brought me back into the Diablo franchise since D2 (though even then I rarely played it), so today I’ll talk a little more about what the expansion itself brought and my experiences in the first week of it.

The original plan was for me to grind out my Witch Doctor, as I’d been having a lot of fun levelling him up when 2.0 hit that I’d continue with him into RoS. However, because I was playing around on my Wizard, trying to get a Diablo kill in before the switch was flipped. Then about 10mins early the system message was announced, during my Diablo kill, that I ended up going straight into the cutscene for Act V. Feeling too lazy to switch toons, I buddied up and spent the next 5 hours grinding to 70. And that time went by quickly! I didn’t even notice it was 4am until I dinged 70 and looked at the clock… Realising I had to be at work a few hours later I didn’t get to spend much time at 70 itself, other than finishing the campaign.

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Needless to say though, I’m having a lot of fun with the Wizard, firing off Black Holes to suck mobs in, and then firing off a few trusty Frozen Orbs to finish them off. So much so, that I ended up spending more time than I originally intended in this first week on my Wizard, than levelling the Witch Doctor or even checking out to see what the Crusader malarkey is about (though I am pretty interested in their playstyle of using shields offensively, which is a whole new level of badassery). However, what I have levelled of those, I’ve done it in the new adventure mode which rocks like hell! For those that don’t know what it is, it’s essentially this mode where you complete certain quests without having to follow the storyline of the game.

When you complete these quests, such as killing particular rares, completing chest/shrine events, or killing bosses, you’re rewarded with exp, gold and occasionally Nephalem Rift Shards. With these shards, you can go into a special instance where you go on a murderous rampage, killing hundreds of mobs before finishing up with a boss, and you get loot at the end of it. It’s seriously a lot of fun, especially with friends, and certainly beats the previous model of grinding out a certain questing route over and over again.

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Seriously, Blizzard have made such a turnaround with Diablo, it feels like it’s Diablo 4 instead of just an expansion. Plus, the new Mystic artisan to match the Blacksmith and Jeweler brings the ability to swap around stats on items through enchanting, as well as an amazing version of transmog that I wish WoW will adopt one day. Essentially, you only need to have looted the item in order to be able to use it in transmog – no need to keep hold of it in void storage or anything, plus you can use that skin on your other characters! With the dyes, you can quite easily make a decent looking set in no time at all.

In other games for me this week… Erm… I think I summed it up in the first paragraph unfortunately – as I said in my previous post, I’ve been working pretty much all of this week, and then my only day off was filled with Mother’s Day celebrations. So I’ve pretty much only been on Diablo this week other than about two or three hours on WoW in LFR. I’m still not brave enough to go into SoO LFR after the character boosts came out a few weeks ago…

Heroes of the Storm

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Formerly known as Blizzard All-Stars, and before that Blizzard DotA, the latest game franchise for Blizzard to publish is Heroes of the Storm! It was originally going to be a Starcraft II mod, though since the original inception, it will now be a standalone game, believed to be free-to-play and released digitally. With strong competition among similar games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and SMITE, Blizzard are entering a tough market in the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre.

Now personally, my only experience of MOBAs is with Dota 2 – I’ve dabbled in League of Legends and SMITE, but neither took my fancy as much as Valve’s Dota 2. I do definitely recommend playing both of those games: League is obviously the more popular MOBA for a reason; and SMITE is a great game for those looking to get into the genre – with recent polishing it’s certainly a solid game in of itself. Blizzard is likely aiming Heroes at the kind of gamer that SMITE has attracted in those that are looking to get into the MOBA genre but have been too cautious of the community that games like Dota and League have produced. That’s not to say that Heroes won’t have these kind of players, but I’m expecting at worst Barrens chat to begin with… Having said that, I hope Blizz introduces Mankrik at some point!

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Heroes

At the moment, we know that 22 heroes are in HotS: 10 from Warcraft, 7 from Starcraft and 5 from Diablo. It’s not surprising that Warcraft has the highest representation, and I’m sure we’ll continue to see more heroes from Warcraft than we will the other Blizzard franchises. According to rumours and certain game files, we might even see the Lost Vikings turn up, for those of you who have followed Blizzard for many, many years! Although I have to say, characters from Blackthorne and Rock n Roll Racing are likely to make people wonder who they are and why they are supposed Heroes in this game – I’d have to say I’d draw the line at Lost Vikings myself anyway.

Oddly enough from the characters I’ve seen in videos and what I’ve read about them, I really enjoy the playstyle of a lot of the Starcraft Heroes. Abathur, Nova and Tassadar are all Heroes that I’m likely going to be maining on their rotation, though I’ll try to unlock Abathur as soon as possible so I can be all pro and stuff on him. Totally. For those that don’t know how he plays, he can tunnel across the map to anywhere out of the fog of war and create nests that will blow up on enemies running over them – great for split pushing in itself, but his real strength is in his first ability, Symbiote and his heroic ability, Ultimate Evolution.

My Life for Aiu… I mean Abathur

iconabathurSymbiote allows Abathur to jump inside allied heroes, minions or towers, shielding them and gaining new abilities to use while inside someone… On a 4sec cooldown. I can totally see him jumping from hero to hero, depending on who’s getting focused, to shield them, while also keeping an eye on where Abathur was to make sure he doesn’t get focused. While inside someone else, he also has access to a line-nuke and a point blank AoE nuke. His main weakness as a result is that Abathur is very dependent on his team to be positioned well – he doesn’t have much combat presence outside of Symbiote, and he is vulnerable if his allies don’t capitalise and play more aggressively as a result of having an Abathur on their team. Communication is also key as well, random initiations won’t work out well if the rest of the team aren’t with you!

Creep Tumours are his second ability, placing up to three tumours on the map, providing vision and exploding on enemy contact. Excellent for scouting out ganks for the former, and great for team fights to be able to push aggressively, as the enemy will fear stepping on these mines when every point of health can matter. Deep Tunnel, as already mentioned is a global teleport – some maps have positional requirements like Dragon Shire where Abathur could have a Tumour at the Shrine, then as soon as the Obelisk of the Moon and Obelisk of the Sun are captured, he can teleport instantly to the Dragon Altar to get his team a huge advantage. It’s also a useful escape mechanic if things do get hairy, or if he finds himself in a bad position after a team fight, he can quickly Deep Tunnel behind a tower and continue being a nuisance. He uses Deep Tunnel instead of a mount, so unfortunately I won’t be able to see my worm on a pwnie. Sad times.

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While Abathur only has one heroic ability to choose from, the impact it has will change on a game to game basis regardless. He creates a copy of an allied hero and takes control of it, with its attributes based on Abathur’s level/talents. Think about it, you could have two Raynors calling down Hyperions on the battlefield, or maybe you need to be a bit more defensive in the next team fight, so Evolve Uther and stack/stagger Divine Shields or spam heals on your team. The possibilities are endless, and as a result Abathur is going to be one of the higher skill cap Heroes in the game. He’ll need a working knowledge of all his team mates, and how best to use what Ultimate Evolution when or to simply Symbiote for smaller skirmishes.

His heroic trait is passively spawning minions that will push the nearest lane, and this is where I feel that Abathur’s biggest downfall is. His minions will be pushing the lane way too early, and as such his split push potential may harm his team in the early game. While Abathur doesn’t have much combat presence in himself, his strength is in assisting his team mates. I don’t know what his heroic trait should be, but this forces Abathur to split lanes whenever his lane appears to be pushed too far, especially in the early game when you don’t want to be underneath the enemy towers. Maybe with secondary objectives this might work out in his favour, but in classic MOBA strategies, this isn’t a good one. In mid-late game however, I more than welcome his capabilities of split pushing and keeping the enemy team pinned in their own base. I wonder if his babies will give free farm however…

Abathur-Concept-ArtHis other main weakness is that he’s overall… Well, as squishy as a worm. His HP and HP Regen are the lowest of all Heroes we know about so far. His attack damage and speed are also in a similar boat. If he’s the sole survivor of a team fight and the rest of the team are pushing down on his base, he’s done something wrong, and there’s not a lot he can do in that situation other than hide in a tower or creep wave. Similarly, if he’s the first to die, he’s done something wrong and he needs to watch his positioning. Silly deaths are silly, but the overall role of the support is not to run away from his own team, unless his survival can change the match.

Words can’t describe how excited I am to try out Abathur: despite me not enjoying the multiplayer aspect of Starcraft, he has to be my favourite character in the campaign, if not the entire Blizzard universe. The fact that although he’s listed as a specialist, he is very much a support – a role that I am more than comfortable with in MOBAs (though with shared gold and no item shop in HotS, I might give Warriors and Assassins a good shot here). I have no idea if I’ll do another hero spotlight before I get my teeth into HotS, as I’m sure even most of the things here will change by the time beta comes out, let alone live, but if another hero takes my fancy, I might do another… Here’s looking at you, Tassadar (and totally not checking out more than just Nova’s skills, ahem).

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