MOBAs are becoming more and more common as the competitive arena of choice. League of Legends and DotA changed the face of eSports by putting the new genre in the spotlight. Blizzard has entered the fray with their answer in the form of Heroes of the Storm.
WELCOME TO THE NEXUS, HERO
Into the Storm We Go - The main draw of HotS is its cast of Blizzard favorites. World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft are all represented here. Even other Blizzard characters from forgotten titles like The Lost Vikings are available. Just like other MOBA games, characters are divided into different roles. Roles like assassins, warriors, and support in order to flesh out teams and promote teamwork. This setup will be incredibly familiar to any DotA or LoL players, and won't take long for new players to pick up.
Simple Yet Strategic - One other aspect that I thought was neat is the exclusion of items. In other MOBAs, items are purchased and upgraded in order to make a more powerful hero. This aspect of the game can make or break your team. In HotS, you gain levels and choose talents in order to upgrade your character and have a more defined role. There are preferred builds you can find online, but it is pretty easy to figure out what role you want to play and how to bolster your abilities. With the focus off of grinding for gold for that one weapon or upgrade you need, game time is around 20 minutes. That's the easy part.
The more strategic part comes in the form of objectives. Each map has an objective. For example on one map, players must collect coins found in chests and on other players. These coins are then paid to the pirate who will use his chip's cannon's to blow apart the defenses of the opposing team. The team that focuses on these objectives will receive a far better chance of winning than the team that ignores them. Both of these aspects combined make one huge plus for me.
Time for a Fight - For most MOBAs, you have to stay in your lane and blast away at minions for most of the match until the later game where your team makes a concerted push against the opponents. Not so in HotS. Team fights are incredibly common throughout the match as maps are painfully small. It's very little surprise when players start dying right away as there's very little room within the lanes as well as little purpose. Since players don't have to gain money to buy items or grind for xp since all xp is shared, there's not as much need for farm and dying is not the end of the world like in other MOBAs. Blizzard made sure that those itching for a fight will scratch that itch multiples times during a match.
HEADED INTO STORMY WATERS
An Unbalanced Ship - Of course, not everything is perfect in the game. Like any online game I played before, there are balancing issues between the heroes. I had some matchups where I shredded the opposition in an almost unfair way. The road goes both ways as I have been on the receiving end of an epic smack down. There is no doubt that some heroes scale at a different pace and can be a catalyst in defeat or victory. I guess that's what patches are for. It just would have been nice to get a more balanced product at launch, especially after a pretty extensive alpha and beta phase.
Where's the Team in Team - Another aspect that I think doesn't work all the time is the objective system. Yes, they are unique and they warrant cooperation, but they can be incredibly frustrating in a player match where there is a lack of communication. A great example is the Dragonshire map. In this map, you compete for two points that will allow your team to control the Dragon Knight. The Dragon Knight can easily take down defense and with a skilled player and can almost pave the way to the enemies' core. If you do not work together, then you will end up having to stave off the Dragon Knight and you never know what the other team is working with. It was bad enough working at a team in pub games in LoL and DotA when all you had to worry about was not dying a lot. In HotS, you have to worry about that as well as try to complete missions with teammates who could care less about the team.
Grind, Grind and more Grind - Blizzard sure knows how to keep players playing. To start off with, although there's not a huge roster of characters in the game in comparison to other MOBAs, HotS does let you play as free characters that switch on a weekly rotation. To buy these characters, however, requires a lot of gold, which can take a long time to acquire, or real money. LoL has the same purchasing options, but HotS has an additional negative aspect to it. To reach the high level of competition, the Hero League, you need to reach level 30 and have 10 heroes. While getting to level 30 is a take in itself, acquiring the gold for 10 heroes is another big task to complete. Also, what if someone doesn't like 10 heroes? This makes HotS a real grinder of a game to get into that upper echelon of players.
Heroes of the Storm is a great MOBA that is for people who don't play MOBAs often. Without having to worry about buying items or other advanced aspects of the game, you're able to really focus on the core gameplay. It's not perfect, and there are some almost game breaking issues that I feel could have been avoided. Having said all that, I really enjoy this game and I look forward to the future changes and heroes that Blizzard will drop in the game.