5 Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

Heroes of the Storm is coming out very soon. That means it's officially time to process my feelings about Blizzard's intriguing new MOBA. Yesterday, I gave the positives. Now let's do the negatives.

It's way too expensive.

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

I know I said yesterday that Heroes of the Storm has a great "try it before you buy it" system that more games with microtransactions should implement. But the whole reason this praise-worthy system exists and feels so necessary for HOTS is because the still-in-beta game is already ridiculously expensive. Overpriced, I dare say. Particularly for a fledgling work that still has to prove itself to many gamers.

It's worth noting how these prices compare to those of Dota 2 and League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm's two entrenched competitors. Dota 2 makes every single character available to play for free at any time. League of Legends doesn't do that. But it's most expensive champions (the newest ones) still only cost 975 Riot Points, which is less than $US10.

Skins in Heroes of the Storm, meanwhile, usually cost between $US5 and $US10 as well -- though some of them can be unlocked with large quantities of gold (like, 10,000). League has some skins that are much more expensive than that. Its "Ultimate Skins" cost more than $US20 each. But fans are willing to spend that much money because, more often than not, the priciest skins are also the coolest ones in the game -- they radically redesign their base champions with new animations, voiceovers, costumes, you name it. Even the most out-there skins currently in Heroes, like one that makes Nazeebo look like a creepy jester, pale in comparison.

Matchmaking is (currently) atrocious.

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

One of the biggest differences between Heroes of the Storm and League of Legends is the lack of pre-game team building options in Blizzard's work. Unless you're playing in the competitive "Hero League" mode (which you need to reach level 30 just to access in the first place) or playing with a group of Battle.net friends, there is no way to communicate with your fellow players and teammates before a match starts. This means you and your teammates often have little or no way to coordinate with one another to determine who's going to play which characters. Instead, you're just grouped in with four other players and dropped into a match.

Heroes of the Storm's brisk mentality that cuts out pre-game chatter would be fine, except for one glaring problem: the game's matchmaking is really, really bad right now. I've lost track of how many times I've been stuck in games where the majority of a team is made up of, say, support characters. Since there isn't any surrender option in the game, uneven team compositions often lead to players ambivalently griping at one another about how the game is unwinnable for the 15 or 20 minutes it takes to finish. I haven't played in Hero League yet (I just cracked level 29 in my Heroes profile), but everyone I've spoken to who has tells me horror stories of teams with wildly different rankings being matched together for games.

Heroes of the Storm is still in a close beta, so the game's matchmaking still has a chance to improve before it comes out. Hopefully it will. But improving the game's online functionality isn't a purely technical matter of stabilizing servers or concocting new and better ways to identify players and group them together. The game also needs to let its players actually communicate with one another far more often -- especially in the lead-up to a match. Given the ways Blizzard has already spoken about tamping down on toxicity in HOTS by limiting the ways players are able to communicate with one another, I'm not sure the developer will be willing to add any additional steps to its matchmaking and team-building processes.

Some of the maps are seriously underwhelming.

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

One of the coolest new ideas Heroes has brought to the MOBA table is its clever take on level design. Rather than building most of the game around a single map, Blizzard created a number of different ones with unique objectives -- bribe a ghost pirate to lob cannonballs at the enemy base, gather skeletons to summon a big ogre to help you, and so forth. When these distinct maps are good, they're really good. But when they aren't, the levels are pretty drab. Heroes isn't even out yet, and its maps have already started to clump into two general types: ones in which you fight over some powerful super-weapon that can attack one team's base at regular intervals, and others in which you compete to summon big scary monsters that deal a lot of damage to the enemy team's base. If the game is truly hoping to break the MOBA mould, it'd be nice to see them do so a bit more ambitiously.

The gameplay can get pretty mindless.

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

Playing Heroes of the Storm is a much less intense experience than playing Dota 2 or League of Legends. The plus side of this is that HOTS is a game you can play after a hard day at work or school without worrying too much about whether you win or lose. On the hand, however, Heroes of the Storm's pared-down approach to MOBA gameplay means it has far less depth and complexity than those other two games do. Not having in-game items like League or Dota 2, to give one prominent example, means that there are far fewer ways to customise a character over the course of a single match.

I don't mind Heroes of the Storm's carefree approach to MOBA gameplay. If anything, it's precisely what makes me enjoy and appreciate the game. But I've already found myself wondering: will Heroes of the Storm continue to hold my attention the way something like League of Legends has? Mindless monster-killing is good and fun. But only for a while. Eventually, we all hunger for something substantial.

It feels a bit too...insidery.

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

Another thing that sets Heroes apart from Dota 2 and League of Legends is the game's canon. More like Super Smash Bros. than those other major MOBAs, Heroes is a fan-servicey game. Or a piece of fan fiction in its own right. This usually works to its benefit. One of the main promises the game can make that League can't, for instance, is that HOTS will let all of the Diablo fans out there finally play as Diablo. And Azmodan. And probably (hopefully) some other creeptacular Lords of Hell in the future.

By the same token, though, Heroes of the Storm's reliance on the Blizzard canon can limit the game both narratively and creatively. Currently I see this potential weakness manifesting itself most visibly in the game's weak lineup of hero character skins -- most of which dress up characters from one Blizzard universe so they look like a comic version of a character from another Blizzard universe. Like the Warcraft-ified version of Diablo's Azmodan, who looks sort of like an orc:

Five Things I Hate About Heroes Of The Storm

Skins are just one small part of the overall problem Heroes of the Storm faces in this regard. Drawing entirely from Blizzard's existing library will undoubtedly make many fans of the company's great games happy. But by the same token, anyone who isn't aware of what a particular character, or skin, or map is referencing won't feel the same urge to run and start playing it. It also risks pulling the game in different directions if, say, StarCraft fans feel as if they're being underserved compared to Warcraft fans.

Even if its a piece of fan fiction on one level, Heroes of the Storm should be able to stand on its own as a self-contained game as well. I believe it has the potential to. But for every great hero like LiLi or The Lost Vikings who succeed as interesting characters regardless of their specific lore attachments, there are other, less imaginative ones in HOTS who seem like they have been placed there just to make a certain set of fans happy. At some point, the game is going to have to think of more and better ways to assert its own identity. I'm hoping that point will come soon.


Comments

    Been playing for a couple weeks and have only managed to play 1 quick match game. It takes way too long to find a game (3+ minutes). Only play co-op since it takes 10 seconds to find a game.

    I know the game is in beta but 9 million people signed up for it so there has to be at least 9 other players.

      Actually matchmaking has been pretty atrocious over the past 2 weeks; I'm not sure what Blizz did but they changed something and I think if you're outside the US you get shafted. You only get decent queue times if you're playing between 5pm-10pm in AU as far as I can tell. I tried playing one morning and I was in queue for 5 min and then just shut the game down and got ready for work.

    I'm a dirty casual with no patience for working out item builds or any such nonsense, and I still found smite to be more fun than hots.

    I like all of the Diablo stuff and the living maps, but smite has more personal combat and pretty awesome characters.

    Last edited 14/05/15 11:55 am

    Weird, I disagree with 4 out of the 5 points here, the prices are definitely far too expensive. But the rest come down to preference I guess. I love the fact that there is no pre-game chat, its one of the reasons I stopped playing League of Legends. The toxicity is far far far far less prevalent. I think the matchmaking will get better at launch, for now I guess they are matching people from a small pool and prioritising wait times over team compositions.

      Reading the rest it's a combination of both preference and ignorance. For example "But I’ve already found myself wondering: will Heroes of the Storm continue to hold my attention the way something like League of Legends has? Mindless monster-killing is good and fun. But only for a while. Eventually, we all hunger for something substantial."

      Yeah, but having played DOTA/DOTA2, item builds aren't really a choice. There are a handful of viable ones. In HOTS the same thing exists, except with traits, which is far more interesting.

      Also, DOTA/LOL involves far too much mundane, insubstantial things, like denying and farming.

        Yeah, but having played DOTA/DOTA2, item builds aren't really a choice. There are a handful of viable ones.

        Debatable. Some heroes have some items as core an that's that, but there's a lot who can be done in a bunch of different ways.

        Taking the carry Sven, for example: You can get a Black King Bar if they have a lot of spell casters (it makes you spell immune for a shot period) Maybe you just want to tank up and buy a lot of HP/armour items like Heart and Assault Curass.

        Heck, maybe you want to be a support and get arcane boots (gives mana on use) so you can give yourself (and the carry inlane with you) mana for a strong, agressive start to the game (Seriously, support Sven is a lot of fun. Max his stun and armour/movespeed buff and get arcanes/mek. Spamming stuns inlane and getting your carry kills is a blast, and then you can transitin to a semi-carry in the mid-late gae with the damage boost of his ult.)

        I could go into the different ways heroes can be played (I like my semi-carry Lina: Get bloodstone for the mana regen, then get maelstrom to get the most from her Firey Soul attack increase passive) but there is a lot of variety, not just the 'cookie cutter' item builds.

    The average price to unlock a champion in League is $6, in Heroes it's $8. Yes, it's more expensive, but not by much. In fact, if you bought your League champions when they came out, you'd have paid around $8 each on average anyway - it's only cheaper now because Riot does price reductions on batches of older champions. Every champion they've added in the last 3 years is full price (around $8).

    No comment on the other complaints, I don't know MOBAs well at all.

      while you may be correct League hides it better by changing the money to a separate points currency, stops you from actually thinking you are spending money, its the same idea with casinos and chips.

        Yep. League actually rips you off more in that respect because the amount of fun bucks (*ahem* Riot points) you can purchase doesn't match the amount anything actually costs, so you have to give them more money than the thing you actually wanted, always leaving some left over.

      You are wrong to analyse in absolute terms. You need to look at percentage terms. $8 v $6 is a 33%, which is a big deal.

    Price? I have been playing casually for about two months and I own 8 heroes, two of which are 10,000 gold each and haven't spent a single 'real' cent on it. The game just about throws gold coins at you. If you want to buy a character, do the dailies in the course of your normal games by trying different characters to match daily tasks, and also leveling each character to lvl5 to get 2k. Do that and you'll start hitting some of the overall levels which give you 2.5k.

    I'm only level 19 overall but have managed to pocket 30k in coins without even trying. Just playing quick match and using characters that fit dailies.

    Last edited 14/05/15 12:53 pm

      Same here, I havent spent a cent and have many of the characters already unlocked. they cost anywhere from 3000 gold to 10000 gold. Both of which are very easy to amass simply by playing. I dont however spend my money on skins, so i cant comment on the ones that you dont unlock through normal progression.

        I have never got the skin thing in games. Maybe I get it a bit in MMORPG but, there's nothing I find more satisfying than annihilating someone whose paid for legendary skin while using stock level one skin myself.

        Last edited 14/05/15 3:48 pm

    I was so keen for HOTS, but was very disappointed when it wasn't just another MOBA. Seriously, these stupid game modes are kind of fun for a little while, but in the end I just find myself going back to LoL or DoTA2 for that tri-lane goodness.

    And hot damn, dem prices... Just wow...

    Who the fuck cares about skins?
    Sure, some people do. But no one's gonna not play a game just because skins are bad or expensive. The game is what matters, and I can't really think of a one single reason why someone would think last hitting minions would be a fun thing to do.
    Just from what I HEAR of those games (lol and dota) I get bored to death... just the thought of having to know and buy and cotumaze with items and shit like goddamn boring as fuck Diablo or Wow and last hitting, and never ending matches of hours.... Wow. WHY??? Why would you play that shit???
    I know this was posted back when the game wasn't even ready, but now we have 57 I think heroes on the roaster for you to choose from. Every week we get the change to play 10 of them for free on the rotation there are, if I'm not mistaken, 13 different maps.
    The combinations are endless. If the enemy team has too much spellcasters, you can get yourself some spell protection talents and thats it. Simpler choices than freaking items. Objectives are objective. It's plain simple: you HAVE to get that thing. So just go there with your team and kickass. Teamfights are crazy, and the coolest part of mobas without a doubt. Why would someone even think last hitting is cool when you can just hide in a bush a gank someone who overextended knowing you got your allies soaking xp for your entire team.
    The comparison with lol and dota really boggles me. I get it, then came first, but really? Unless what you really want is competition and zero fun, really there are zero reasons why those games would be better than hots. zero.

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