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?