Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) title that brings together heroes from the Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo franchises. It is Blizzard's take on the genre inspired by the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, in which opposing teams of five player-controlled heroes try to destroy each other's base with help from waves of AI-controlled minions. The game was initially revealed at BlizzCon 2011 under the name Blizzard DOTA, but due to legal wrangling with Valve, who claimed ownership of the DOTA name and were at the time working on DOTA 2, the name was subsequently changed to the working title Blizzard All-Stars before receiving its final title, Heroes of the Storm.
Heroes of the Storm will be a free to play game and will go into beta in the first half of 2014. Games are expected to be about 20 minutes long.
Heroes of the Storms battlegrounds, in addition to having the same basic elements of the original DotA, typically 3 lanes with friendly and enemy towns, will have elements and objectives that are distinctive and change the way the game is played. For instance in Blackheart's Bay heroes collect doubloons by attacking chests and killing players with doubloons to pay off a pirate to bombard the enemy's fortifications. Another example is Haunted Mines where there are mines the heroes can enter in which they must kill undead and collect their skulls. When all of the 100 skulls are collected two golems are summoned, their strengths relative to the skulls collected by each team. These objectives mix up the way the game is played and provide ample opportunity for team fights throughout the course of the game.
Heroes of the Storm has towns which dot the lanes which differ slightly from just guardtowers in that they often have gates, fountains, or other structures nearby in addition to guardtowers. Said guardtowers also differ slightly from the typical MOBA model in that they have ammo they expend that slowly regenerates in order to enable more aggressive play. There are also capturable watchtowers that offer vision, defeatable Mercenary Camps which add to your creeps and brush/smokey areas that block sight heroes can hide in.
Most heroes are given two spells to quickly navigate the battlegrounds: mounts and teleport. Mounts are can be summoned with a three second cast and lasts until a player attacks or is hit. Teleport allows players to quickly return to their base and recoup their health/mana. There are exceptions to this. Falstad has a talent that costs mana per second and allows him to fly but cannot have a regular mount. Abathur can teleport anywhere his team has vision.
Heroes of the Storm streamlines a lot of traditional MOBA mechanics. Teams level up and gain experience as a group so that players don't "fall behind" if they do a lot of cross lane business like map objectives. There's also no store, no gold , no items, and no last hit. Stats are grouped into Attack (damage, attack speed and DPS), Defense (Health, Health Regen and Shields), Ability (Ability Power, Mana, Mana Regen and Cooldown Reduction) and Utility (Movement speed) categories.
Replacing items are talent trees. Talents are perks and abilities that heroes get to choose from every few levels. For each tier one will choose which 3 talents will be selectable in battle. What talents are available depend on the hero. There are talents that are relatively common (extra attack, defense, etc) and ones that are exclusive to individual units. ( such as Hover Siege for Sergeant Hammer, the Siege Tank hero) At level 10 each hero gets a powerful Heroic ability. At level 20 Storm powers are unlocked.
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 present fewer but more meaningful options in order to make things more accessible while still having a lot of flexibility in how one builds their hero over a game or in general.
The game will feature four basic types of hero:
- Assassin - They deal a lot of damage but can't take so much. Current assassins include Jim Raynor, Kerrigan, Nova, Zeratul, Falstad and Valla.
- Warrior - They can wade into melees, soak up damage and deal some as well. Current warriors include Diablo, E.T.C., Sonya, Tyrael and Muradin.
- Support - They're good with healing and buffs to help their allies. Current support includes Uther, Tassadar, Malfurion, Tyrande and Thrall.
- Specialist - They cover specialized roles ranging from those who can lay siege to those who can change the way the game flows. Current specialists include Abathur, Sergeant Hammer, Zagara, Naziba and Gazlowe.
Currently at the top of the screen the level, standing forts and kills of each team collectively is listed. Additionally information about map specific objectives, progress and timers often, are also at the top of the screen. 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.