PAX East 2014: A Storm is Coming!

As Blizzard continues to develop their entrant into the battle arena style of game, fan attention is climbing for Heroes of the Storm and its promised changes to a genre that is increasingly moving towards build maximizing and pre-set strategies as the surest paths to victory.

This morning’s presentation by Dustin Browder and other senior staff from Blizzard Entertainment kicked off by revealing some confirmed new heroes:

– Lili, a support character from World of WarCraft
– Brightwing, another support character that I believe is also from the World of WarCraft
– Zagara, a siege character from StarCraft
– Murky, a unique hero type that befits its historical stature as a small murloc neutral creep from Warcraft III

The last confirmed entrance best exemplifies a core tenant of design behind Heroes, creating original hero designs that do not currently exist in any other MOBA genre game. Described as a kamikaze Wile E Coyote, Murky is weak in every traditional stat (attack, defence, health) but can thrive on a Brood Host from StarCraft 2-esque persistent respawn to wear down enemies through attrition.

These new heroes will join the existing heroes already in the alpha as well as (likely) additional entrants drawn from existing Blizzard franchises such as Sylvanis to round out the selection of classic Blizzard heroes. The interplay between the increasingly diverse selection of combatants is further emphasized by the battlegrounds, with goals ranging from traditional opponent base destruction to capturing the most gold for a pirate NPC to achieve victory. It adds a lot of variety of the different win conditions, and further distinguishes Heroes from an already crowded genre.

Each existing hero has undergone a significant improvement in model quality and detail enhancement since the debut of the technical pre-alpha, featuring increases in model articulation and further adjustments to make them as faithful as possible to each hero’s presentation in their originating games. Players can totally skew that in the other direction with skins such as Infested Tychus and a pajamas wearing Abathur, all part of a huge and ever expanding treasure trove of unlockables that are tied to hero progression.

The new reveals today at PAX East 2014 combine with the existing adjustments such as shared team levels and mercenary camp requirement to make Heroes of the Storm really stand out as a game to look out for in…well, whenever it’s done (as is the Blizzard way). I’m anxious to customize both heroes and mounts in an assortment of fun ways, and I hope the audience Q&A shout out for Snake Sanders from Rock ‘n Roll Racing (shout out to Chaos!) as well as other blasts from the pasts are brought back to mix with Blizzard’s many new and exciting ideas.

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