Blizzard All-Stars was revealed during BlizzCon 2011 and brings together heroes from the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo franchises. Blizzard's take on the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre uses a map similar to the mod Defense of the Ancients, where a team of five player-controlled heroes try to destroy the opposing team's base with help from waves of AI-controlled minions. But they have made some significant changes to the hero mechanics, itemization and score keeping to make the game palatable to new players and reduce the social tension inherent to the genre. It will be released soonish.
Chris Metzen hinted that Blizzard plans to release All-Stars as one of the custom maps in Starcraft II and have it available in Starcraft II's Starter Edition, making it a free-to-play game.
Map & Tower Mechanics
The Blizzard All-Stars map has the same blueprint as the original DotA with three main lanes lined with friendly & enemy towers and a river dissecting the two opposing sides. However, the mana towers have been given an overhaul in mechanics to encourage more aggressive play. Instead of the usual infinite firepower, each tower has a limited, slowly regenerating ammo reserve and will stop firing after a dedicated team push.
Like League of Legends' Summoner's Rift, the map also features brush and jungle areas for players to hide in. Players are given two spells to quickly navigate the map: mounts and teleport. A shared spell for every hero, mounts are summonable with a 3-sec cast and lasts until a player attacks or is hit. Teleport is the second shared spell and allows players to quickly return to their base and shop for new items or recoup their health/mana.
Players can strengthen their creep waves by gaining map control and employing merc support. They can also defeat a Stone Zealot, who will subsequently join that team and help in destroying the opposing base.
All-Stars retains the RPG mechanics from the original DotA, including leveling up, shopping for new items and choosing new abilities at each level. But all the hero stats from Warcraft III's version have been stripped down to just damage, health and mastery. Similarly, the number of items have been reduced and simplified into categories like Permanent Stat Boosts, Consumables, Items (with multiple upgradable-tiers) and Artifacts. The inventory size has been cut down to four (from the usual six) to account for the new itemization.
Blizzard's main reason behind this drastic change is the fast-paced nature of the MOBA games being at odds with the extensive pre-planning required for ideal character builds under the existing model. Their plan is to have more intuitive abilities and itemization that's easier to pick up for newer players, while still being hard to master.
The game will feature four hero roles:
- Tank - These damage soakers are built to initiate team fights. The tanks revealed so far are Arthas, Muradin and Stitches (a Warcraft III Abomination).
- Support - These are designed to help their team-mates with heals and crowd control. Heroes available in this role are: Thrall, Uther and Tassadar.
- DPS - These are the team's primary damage dealers and assassins. So far, the DPS role will be fulfilled by Kerrigan (as Queen of Blades), Nova and Zeratul.
- Siege - A new hero role, designed to outrange towers and deal terrible, terrible damage. The heroes included in this role are: Za'gara, Witch Doctor (Diablo) and General Warfield (in his siege tank).
Creeps & Score Keeping
Another notable change is the removal of last-hitting creeps for gold. Instead, all nearby heroes will gain gold for any dying creeps, much like how experience currently works in the genre. Additionally, killing a player will reward all contributing heroes with a takedown score, replacing the old Kill/Death ratio and promoting non-DPS/support roles. Blizzard hopes this will encourage better teamwork and alleviate some of the griefing & verbal abuse often seen in these games.