First look: Heroes Of The Storm

With the hugely successful World Of Warcraft, developer Blizzard successfully transformed the Massively Multiplayer Online Game genre from geek-only indulgence to mainstream addiction.

Hearthstone scored another victory by taking the tough out of the card strategy game and making it accessible to everyone.

The latest game - Heroes Of The Storm - sets Blizzard's crosshairs firmly on the sizzling hot Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (Moba) genre.

Moba has hit a new high with the record-breaking prize money of US$10 million (S$12.5 million) at the Dota 2 International Championships in Seattle, United States, next week. The winning team will take home almost half the prize pool, making instant millionaires of each of the five team members.

Games such as Defence Of The Ancients 2 (Dota 2) and League Of Legends (LOL) may have attracted millions of fans globally, but they are still tough for newbies to get into.

I have tried playing these games with strangers online, but have been put off by the steep learning curve and unfriendly online community, where hurling vulgarities at weak players is not uncommon.

In these games, two teams of five have a go at one another. The goal is to destroy the opposing team's headquarters. Simple?

It is a lot harder than it sounds. Each player controls a single hero, but each team also has minions which automatically move towards the enemy camp via pre-determined paths to meet at the halfway point.

There, the players must get their heroes to destroy enemy minions, so as to let their own minions advance towards the enemy camp.

All players start the game with level-one heroes. The early strategy is to kill more minions and heroes than the enemy, so as to swiftly level up your team's heroes. Higher-level heroes have more powerful abilities and more hit points.

To succeed, your hero must deliver the killing blow that takes out the enemy minion or hero. This gets you extra gold to buy more powerful equipment.

In Dota 2, it gets even more complex because you can also kill your own minions to "deny" the enemy the spoils of victory. For newbies, trying to figure out which equipment to buy is also a complex process as there are hundreds of permutations to choose from. Enter Heroes Of The Storm. In typical Blizzard fashion, it tries to make the genre more accessible, while maintaining enough depth to keep the game exciting and strategic.

There is no gold to accumulate and no equipment to buy. This immediately makes the game more friendly to new players as one does not have to worry about getting the last hit or denying opponents the same.

You do not have to figure out which boots to wear or which weapon to buy because there is no shop.

All heroes in your team level up at the same time instead of having individual experience points and levels for each hero. With the game being more accessible, players can now focus on gameplay strategies.

The best thing is that many of the 27 heroes will be familiar to fans of Diablo, Starcraft and the Warcraft games universe.

You can command the evil terror Diablo, the elite soldier Nova from Starcraft and even old Warcraft III heroes, such as Muradin Bronzebeard and Malfurion Stormrage.

The 27 are divided into four main classes. Warriors, such as Diablo and Tyrael, are great for soaking up the damage. Assassins, such as the Queen of Blades, are the ranged damage dealers and best paired with warriors to take attention away from the assassins' more fragile bodies. Support characters offer buffs and heals to strengthen the team, while Specialist characters introduce advanced gameplay options into the game.

To add depth, each character can select a new talent every three levels. If I wanted to build Muradin as a defensive tank, I would select talents which add to his survivability.

Better players might prefer to use him as a disabler, as he has the ability to stun, slow and knock back his opponents, if properly customised.

There are four maps in the game, each with its own unique features.

In Dragon Shire, for instance, your team must fight to occupy the top and bottom shrines on the map while a member of your team rushes to the centre to unleash the Dragon Knight, a super powerful creature which will take down towers and buildings with ease. While the game is still in its alpha stage, I have no doubt that Blizzard has created yet another gem.

Not only do I get to play my favourite Warcraft III heroes again, but I am finally experiencing some success in the Moba genre, winning about half of all the games I play.

ginlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 09, 2014.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

No comments yet.
Be the first to post comment.