Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s attempt at the currently popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre. This review will cover what I’ve experienced so far in the technical alpha version of the game so keep in mind many things can change including adding/removing of characters, changing of skills and gameplay mechanics all together. From what I can tell, for an alpha, Heroes of the Storm is already a very solid title. Much like other MOBA’s including League of Legends you are on a team of 5 that is facing off against another team of 5. You must destroy the other team’s core in order to win the match. There are upgrades during matches, other areas to conquer to get new units and towers to take down. I’m going to go about this a little different in that I’m going to describe each and every character in alpha. The nice thing about HotS is that even though many characters are behind a pay wall, there are 5-6 random characters at a time that are unlocked for f2p, you can still try out each character in 1v1 mode to see the skills and see how it handled. That is how I’m mostly going about learning about the characters/vehicles. Now most of these game modes have various traits that you unlock as your team levels up but for the most part they either enhance your damage, attack or abilities. After you reach level 8 you unlock new talents for characters to choose while you level.
Nova – Nova is one of the ghosts from Starcraft II. Her abilities are her sniping and cloaking. Her starting abilities include snipe, which fires a damaging shot in a straight line to the first enemy it hits, Pinning Shot, which slows an enemy down and Holo decoy, which puts a decoy unit on the field to distract enemies. Her passive ability is cloak and that will hide her from enemies as long as she isn’t attacking. Her 2 heroic abilities include triple tap (hitting the enemy 3 times at a long range for high damage) and precision strike (hitting an area once for a high amount of damage). From what I could tell from her she is a great starter class as she easily can escape from battle with her cloak, allowing the player to get used to the game without dying too often.
Stitches – Everyone’s favorite giant blob from Warcraft. He has a giant Axe that he wields around and uses his disgusting bile of a body as a weapon as well. His Starting abilities include Hook, a sort of scorpion come over here ability that grabs the first enemy, Slam that does AOE damage in an arc and Devour which eats an enemy restoring stitches health while damaging the enemy. His passive ability is a gas that is emitted when he is hit. His Heroic abilities include putrid bile that does a lot of damage to enemies around him and slows them down and Gorge, which like Devour eats an enemy for longer restoring stitches health and damaging the enemy.
Arthas – Also known as the Lich King, from Warcraft. He wields his cursed blade Frostmourne and most of his attacks are very much based on that sword’s ability. His starting abilities include Frost Strike that damages an enemy and slows them, Howling Blast that roots an area of enemies (not letting them move) and damages them and Frozen Tempest that damages enemies while you have it active at the cost of a constant drain on your mana. His Combat trait is another active ability that attacks an enemy and gives him 15 mana per hit. His Heroic abilities include Army of the Dead that as it sounds summon minions that you can sacrifice and Summon sindragosa that summons a frost dragon that destroys enemies and units in a straight large line.
Kerrigan/Queen of Blades – Kerrigan is a melee type character that pulls enemies close to her and uses her wings/blades to attack. Her starting abilities include Ravage that lets her leap to her enemy and do damage, Impaling Blades that do AOE damage and Primal Grasp that targets enemies in a cone pulling them towards her and doing damage. Her combat trait grants her a temporary shield when she does damage to enemies. Her 2 heroic abilities include summoning an Ultralisk and Maelstrom that does lightning damage all around her.
Diablo – Pretty obvious where he is from. Diablo is a primarily melee class with fire attacks and health regeneration. His starting abilities include First Stomp that shoots fire waves in all directions, Shadow Charge that charges the enemy dealing damage and pushes them backwards and Overpower in which Diablo grabs his enemy and throws him on the other side stunning and damaging him. His combat trait allows him to gather souls from killing enemies so that if he dies he’ll resurrect faster. His two heroic abilities include Apocalypse that damages enemies on the battlefield regardless where they are and lightning breath.
Tyrande – She is the High Priestess from Warcraft. Her character is very much a support role in that one of her starting abilities heals, another stuns and the 3rd scouts the area ahead in a straight line. Her Combat trait marks enemies she is attacking and if allies attack that same enemy they gain health. Her Heroic abilities, Shadowstalk, cloaks all allies for 8 seconds on the battlefield and Starfall, hits enemies with dots in an area.
Tychus – Tychus is Raynor’s good friend from Starcraft 2 and he is a ranged character more often than not. His starting abilities include Overkill in which he sprays his minigun at an enemy causing splash damage, Frag Grenade which does what it sounds and Run and Gun which allows him to run to a spot near and enemy with his minigun already charged for firing. His combat trait is that of his minigun that fires faster than any other character’s weapon. Tychus’s Heroic abilities include calling in his Odin and Draken Laser drill that drops down and targets any enemy you are targeting dealing constant high damage.
Tyrael – Tyrael is the Archangel of Justice from Diablo and uses the sword El’druin as his primary form of attacking. His starting abilities include Punishing Blade in which he throws the blade to do damage to a group of enemies and if it is activated again will teleport Tyrael to the place you threw the blade, Righteousness that gives him a shield for a period of time and Hand of Sacrifice that allows him to take the damage that a friend is taking at a reduced amount. His combat trait is the might of El’druin in which when he is near death he becomes invulnerable for 6 seconds and then explodes dealing massive damage. His Heroic abilities include Judgment that stuns and does high damage and sanctification which makes allies in an area invulnerable.
E.T.C. aka Rock God – ETC is rocking tauren from Warcraft that attacks enemies with his guitar axe that will stun them. His starting abilities include Powerslide that has him dashing to an area damaging and stunning enemies, Face Melt that knocks enemies back along with stunning and damaging them and Guitar Solo that lets him regen health. Rockstar trait allows him and allies around him to gain attack speed after he uses any ability. Mosh pit stuns enemies and forces them to dance essentially allowing your teammates to wail on them and Stage Dive has ETC jump in the air landing on an enemy and stunning the.
Barbarian – This character is the generic Barbarian class from Diablo 2 that uses two swords to attack. Her “Mana” works a little different from others. Instead of her having an amount that regenerates, she starts with 0 and as she attacks she gains Fury, this is exactly what her combat trait allows her to do. She can then use her 3rd attack whirlwind repeatedly until she runs out of Fury. Her starting abilities include Ancient Spear in which she throws a spear damaging enemies and stuns then, Hammer of the Ancients which does a large amount of damage and whirlwind that has her spinning around using adrenaline (this can be spammed). Her Heroic traits aren’t that impressive though as the first one Leap, has her jump in the air at an enemy and Wrath of the Berserker that gives her an increase and attack and speed.
Mountain King Muradin – Hammer and Axe wielding dwarf from Warcraft that either does massive damage or slows enemies and regenerates his health. His starting abilities include Stormhammer where he throws his hammer and stuns, damages the first enemy hit, Thunderclap which does AOE damage while slowing enemies and Dwarf Toss in which he leaps in the air and does damage to enemies. His combat trait allows him to regen extra health while not being damaged. His Heroic abilities are Avatar where he gains a large amount of health, turns into a sort of statue and his attacks stun enemies. The other Heroic ability is that of Haymaker where he throws a punch that does massive damage and knocks enemies back.
Wildhammer Thane Falstad – A Dwarf from Warcraft that uses his eagle to get around and his hammer to do damage from range. His starting abilities include Hammerrang that has him throwing his hammer damaging and slowing enemies, Thunderstorm which is an AOE lightning attack and Barrel Roll that has him dashing to a location which gives him a shield shortly after. While he isn’t being damaged for 6 seconds he gains an additional 20% speed increase. His Heroic abilities are Ariel Blitzkrieg (AOE damage in an area to all enemies) and Shock and Awe (Powerful lightning damage in a straight line).
Demon Hunter – Demon Hunter is another generic class from Diablo that uses her crossbows with her many different long range attacks. Her primary abilities include Hungering Arrow that seeks out and damages multiple enemies, Multishot that damages enemies in a cone and Vault which has her dashing towards her enemy or area designated. After 8 consecutive attacks she becomes enraged and gets an increase in damage and speed. Rain of Vengeance launches shadow beasts in an area that does damage and stuns enemies. Strafe is her other heroic ability that has her spinning around shooting arrows at all enemies for a brief period of time.
Illidan – Illidan is the first demon hunter from Warcraft that uses his two double sided blades on both hands to do damage. Most of his abilities give his enemies Marks of Azeroth which when Illidan hits those enemies his abilities recharge at a faster rate per hit. His starting abilities include Betrayer’s strike that applies one of those marks and does extra damage, Crescent Sweep that damages enemies in a cone area and Lunge that has Illidan charging to his enemy and marks them. His heroic abilities include The Hunt in which he is launched at an enemy and does damage and stuns and Metamorphosis which changes Illidan giving him health and marking enemies. Metamorphosis lasts the longest out of any Heroic ability I’ve seen so far. Illidan has no Mana or Fury, his attacks are all based on timers.
Raynor – Everyone’s favorite marine from Starcraft uses his weapon to do long range attacks. His starting abilities include Penatrating Round that does a lot of damage and knocks enemies back, Inspire that increases allies and his speed and attack and Adrenaline Rush that is a passive ability that heals him extra when his health is low. His Combat trait allows him to reduce his cooldowns on his abilities by killing enemies. His two heroic abilities include being able to call down Hyperion to do damage in a general area while flying forward and being able to call in two cloaked banshees to do damage to whoever Raynor is targeting.
Uther The Lightbringer – Uther is a paladin from Warcraft that was the founder of the Order of the Silver Hand. He is primarily a support character that heals allies and stuns enemies with his hammer. His starting abilities include Holy Light which heals a target, Holy Radiance that heals allies and damages enemies in a line and Hammer of Justice that stuns and damages enemies. His combat trait, Eternal Devotion, allows him to stay on the battlefield after death as a spirit that can attack enemies temporarily. In the matters of his heroic abilities he has either Devine Shield that makes an ally target invulnerable or Divine Storm that stuns and damages enemies in a area around Uther.
Malfuron Archdruid – Malfurion is another support class character from Warcraft that is purely long range with his staff and most of his abilities are healing spells. His Starting abilities include Regrowth which heals a target, Moonfire that damages targets and reveals an area and Entangling Roots that damages enemies and Roots enemies. Innverate, his combat trait, allows him to give allies 100 mana for 10 seconds. Tranquility Heals an area of allies constantly for a certain amount of time and Twilight Dream has a slight delay then deals massive damage out in an area.
Tassadar – Tassadar was a high templar that sacrificed himself to destroy the Overmind in Starcraft. He uses long range void magic to attack enemies. His starting abilities include Protective Shield that shields an ally or himself, Time Warp that slows down enemies and damages them and Voidshift that allows him to be invulnerable and invisible for a short period of time. Oracle allows him to increase his vision radius and detect all enemy characters cloaked or not. Twilight Messiah transforms him into an Archon that increases his damage and speed and Force Wall forms a wall that can’t be passed for a temporary period of time.
Witch Doctor – The Witch Doctor is from Diablo and he uses nature magic and necromancer magic as his abilities of attack. His first starting ability allows him to damage enemies and summon spiders in an area. Zombie Wall summons a ring of zombies that will trap enemies and attack them and Plague of Toads summons exploding waves of toads. Voodoo Ritual allows him to poison enemies every time he attacks. His two heroic abilities, Gargantuan and Ravenous Spirit, are both summons with the only exception being you control Ravenous spirit and he slows enemies.
Gazlowe – Gazlowe is the boss of Rachet from Warcraft that does most of his attacks with his robot he has on his back. His starting abilities include Rock-It Turret that builds a turret to attack enemies, Deth Lazer that charges a lightning lazer to do damage (the longer the charge the higher the damage and range) and Xplodium Charge in which he throws a bomb that damages and stuns. Salvager is his combat trait and it lets him collect salvage from turrets and enemy buildings which helps regain mana and reduces cooldown. Grav-o-bomb 3000 pulls enemies in and explodes and Robo-Goblin transforms Gazlowe into a larger robot that increases damage and does more damage to buildings.
Abathur – Abathur is the Evolution Scientist for Kerrigan in Starcraft and most of his abilities are support roles. Abathur is a little strange with his abilities. His first ability, Symbiote, puts Abathur himself in an egg and puts a symbiote that you control above a ally’s head. This Symbiote gives you new abilities that will help your ally do more damage. Toxic Nest allows him to spawn mines that do a ton of damage when they explode and Deep Tunnel allows him to burrow to any location. His Combat Trait spawns a locust every bit of time that helps attacking. Abathur only has one Heroic ability and that is the ability to clone an ally and use all of the same abilities for a period of time.
Sgt. Hammer – Sgt Hammer is a Siege Tank from Starcraft. Her abilities include Siege mode that gives extra range and damage (this is extremely effective against turrets as they can’t reach her), 100 Caliber Blast that blasts enemies in a cone area and knocks them back and Spider Mines that are Mines that move around and explode. Hammer’s combat trait gives her the extra range and damage while in siege mode. Napalm Strike is a quick cooldown heroic ability that allows her to fire napalm on an area and do damage over time. Blunt Force Gun shoots a giant shell in a straight line that does massive damage.
Zaratul – Zaratul is personally one of my favorite characters. He is a Dark Templar from Starcraft who has a permanent cloak and attacks using his energy sword. His primary abilities include Cleave in which he spins around hitting all enemies around him, Singularity Spike that hits the first target doing damage and slowing them and Blink which teleports Zaratul to the targeted location and doesn’t break his cloak. His combat trait is just that, his cloak that is permanent. His two heroic abilities include Void Prison which freezes enemies and allies in a ball for a period of time (they can’t be attacked or attack) and Shadow Assault that gives him an increase in damage and steals life every time he attacks.
Now this game only has 23 characters for now but that is possible to change. The real beauty about how this game works is if you want you don’t’ have to spend a cent on unlocking characters permanently as you can gain in game currency through leveling up and completing daily quests. Even though this game is in alpha it is a very solid build and from what I can tell so far there is nothing wrong with it bugs or otherwise. There might be some balancing issues but what game doesn’t. I honestly believe if Blizzard wanted to they could easily release this game as is right now and it would be highly successful.
Now there is no story so I’ll just move on to graphics and sound. The Graphics are what you would expect from a Blizzard title. They are very colorful, very aesthetically pleasing and resemble their recent games very much so. The maps are all very detailed with many items all over the maps. Now because Blizzard always went with a more cartoony approach to their games this game doesn’t have to be super powerful in terms of graphical fidelity as it is more important to have an artistic aesthetic feeling then massive detail. As for the sound, they got all the voice actors that have done the characters in the past and did a fine job with their voiceovers. However they don’t have many lines and they get repetitive. There is also only a few songs in the game so those also get repetitive.
Overall for an alpha this is a very solid game and I will be keeping my eye on any changes Blizzard makes in the future. As I haven’t played any other MOBA besides Demigod, I like the simplicity of the abilities and combat while at the same time, the complexity of how your abilities work in conjunction with your teammates. Keep an eye on this one folks as it could be arriving at the esports scene very soon.