Is Heroes Of The Storm Too Much Like DOTA, Or Too Little Like DOTA?

Blizzard's new take on the MOBA genre, Heroes of the Storm, has a complicated relationship with DOTA. The original mod was spawned inside Warcraft 3, a Blizzard game, but now it's property of Valve, and Blizzard is making their own. If you've been lucky enough to be invited already into the alpha, you've had your first taste of HOTS — so with DOTA 2 already well established, is HOTS too far or too close to the existing format?

In fact, DOTA is just plain complicated. The history of how it came to be, the paths of each of its creators, and subsequent games... But the separation of DOTA and Icefrog have resulted in this odd situation in which heroes kind of belong to both companies. Blizzard can certainly claim to have created the original Warcraft 3 heroes, but they didn't create the mechanics of how those heroes operated in DOTA.

As a result, I don't know how to feel when I look at the below images, which put Warcraft 3 models up against DOTA 2 models up against HOTS models. It's like my hatred of blatant clones confusingly wants me to be angry, even though I know everything is technically legit.

There are many more similar comparisons here. It also kind of highlights my main beef with Heroes of the Storm. While it's sold and described as an assembly of your favourite Blizzard characters, that's not really the case. It's a bit more accurate to say they've analysed which Blizzard characters can easily fit into the roles of classic DOTA heroes.

Hence, Stitches. Does anybody really have that big of an emotional connection to Stitches?

I daresay the Butcher from Diablo 2/3 would have been a better inclusion, if your goal was "an assembly of your favourite Blizzard characters". But if you're going the other way 'round, with DOTA as your source material, Stitches is what you get. There are several other heroes I'm equally "meh" about, and collectively it makes me quite underwhelmed looking at the roster. In the middle of the venn diagram are heroes that fit both roles, like Illidan, or Diablo. But does anyone care that much about Brightwing? It feels like a missed opportunity, as if tunnel vision on existing hero aesthetics caused us to not consider heroes we would have loved more.

And again, it's tricky, because these were originally Blizzard heroes anyway. There's also the obligatory disclaimer about it being an alpha. It's not really, of course. It's a beta. We're just calling in an alpha because "beta" has lost all its meaning, and soon we'll need another new word in the arms race of developers trying to hammer home their point that the game isn't finished yet.

But the hodge-podge mix of Blizzard aesthetics and DOTA mechanics/dynamics results in something I can't really get over, and that is abilities that don't really fit their character or universe.

On the smaller scale, we can talk about Nova somehow having a magical vampiric health steal on her shots. But I kind of get that she's a part of a ranged assassin archetype, for which that is a talent, and some consistency across archetypes is necessary. But then we can talk about outright ridiculous stuff like a siege tank that moves and stealths while in siege mode. Whoever thought that was okay inhaled a bit too much vespene gas.

There's lots to like about HOTS, but more and more I think the elements I like are those which take steps away from traditional MOBA tropes. There are a few outside-the-box heroes which really push the envelope, and that's great to see. New maps with different objectives are great, and of course it's fantastic to have a 20-minute match instead of 40.

How many here have had a crack at the alpha? How do genre veterans feel about it? Do you wish heroes were a bit different? Cosmetically, or mechanically? Or is this wild experimentation with the format just sacrelige? Are there any heroes you would rather see in the roster?


    I'm thoroughly enjoying heroes.. I could never get into LOL / DOTA, but heroes is lots of fun. It's actually my main game now (replacing SC2). I'm not too fussed with heroes looking like other heroes from dota.. I only wish we'd get less warcraft and more SC / Diablo heroes.

      Yes. More Diablo/SC heroes would be fantastic. More Skins. More Mounts. Steam Workshop type approach.

      Last edited 27/08/14 4:01 pm

        And perhaps a bit less than $11 for them :P

          I'm hoping those 50% "temporary" discounts are made permanent. I can't see as many people spending the $10+ per hero they currently ask for.

    Having no particularly strong connection to either Blizzard or Dota2 I'm not fussed about the origin, I just want it to be a fun game. I have a lot of respect for Blizzard as a developer (with the exception of the launch version of D3 for PC). If anyone's going to do a simplified MOBA, I'm glad it's them.

    Last edited 27/08/14 3:37 pm

      I guess that's the most important thing, and they've pretty much succeeded with that already

    As someone who has played original DOTA a lot, quit, and has played now, a lot of HoTS. I think they are substantially different.

    A lot of big improvements (imo) have been made to the formula in HoTs. I wouldn't say its simplified, I would say it has a different focus, and streamlines a lot of artificial knowledge barriers out of the game (i.e. items), and places the onus on player and team skill/coordination.

    With a truly ludicrous number of hours in LoL and Dota 2, I can safely say that it isn't the game for me (though judging it after five games might be a little premature, since I stopped having fun the moment I left bot matches, I have no interest in returning). That isn't to say that I think it's meritless, I love Hearthstone, but can see why MtG players don't like it, and I think I'm just on the opposite side for Heroes of the Storm.

    I dislike the lack of progression options (don't get me wrong, the changes to your abilities is rad, but the lack of items pains me inside), I dislike how everything is shared (meaning I can make the game bad for my entire team all on my lonesome), and I dislike the lack of, err, mild choices? I guess? Like, it's not "do I risk missing a last hit to attack this guy?" It's "Hahaha, attack everything because whatever." (Bad example, I'm a wizard, not an explainy person)

    With this in mind, I do agree with the article. Some of the stuff feels a little forced. Not that it really changes much for me, since I won't be playing it, I guess!

    As soon as I stopped treating it like DOTA it became a lot more fun. That being said after a few days spamming matches I lost interest.
    I think they've a made a pretty great game but unfortunately I want high risk/reward, difficult choices and individual glory for the good of the team which HOTS doesn't offer as far as I experienced.

      Same here, after a while it loses it's novelty.
      It felt a bit too easy and I basically only kept playing to unlock more champs to see how different they were from each other.

    I wonder how long MOBA will survive as its own game type, and how long it will take before it just shows up as a mode in other games.

    I think I'd actually quite like to a MOBA-style match in the next Unreal Tournament, for example. I'm pretty bored of the current clickfest style, and always prefer more direct controls.

    Just seems like a shallow and expensive version of Dota.

    Who doesn't love Pudge!? (Stitches?)

    He was one of the favourite's for a lot of people back when playing on the Bored Aussie server on Warcraft 3. I'd have been fairly disappointed if he wasn't in Heroes of the Storm.

    Maybe everyone is forgetting that this was originally a Warcraft 3 map... so of course Blizzard are going to have something similar...

    I'm currently love playing HOTS. Played a little of DOTA, and played a lot of LoL. I think the structure and team play is much different and more enjoyable in HOTS in my eyes.

    I love the idea how one person doesn't need to carry, but more of the focus is on the team.

    Sure, you can point out similarities in some of the heroes visuals (again, going from Blizzard game, to Valve game, then to another Blizzard game, it's bound to happen), but did the author actually pay attention to how these heroes play? Most of them have completely different abilities than their counterpart. Sure both the abominations have a pulling hook, but so what? Just about every MOBA has a champ with a pull, so why not use an abomination? Stitches is likely to receive a Butcher skin, and even if they released the Butcher in place of Stitches, he would probably end up with an abomination skin, so it zeroes out (besides, with that route we wouldn't have all the great/hilarious Stitches' skins we got, so yippie!).

    Judge whether someone is being copied based on how things play; DOTA and HOTS play very different, as do each of the heroes in this article. Would it be any better if HOTS had heroes with the exact same skillsets of DOTA heroes but looked completely different? This article is just rehashing "criticism" that any person jumping from one game to another in the same genre makes the first couple of times they play.

    "Oh I get it, X is basically Y from the other game." It's just people's first reactions when they're exposed, but unless something is a blatant ripoff, people will start to see the real differences once they get more experience (even the things that appeared similar at first will start to become distinct).

    It hurts me that you said the butcher was a Diablo 2/3 character.

    He is from the original Diablo. And he was terrifying (except for his inability to open doors)

    I still remember the first time opening that door as a mage. 'Ahhhhh, fresh meat!', and then promptly getting hacked to death.

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