Iconic Diablo villain The Butcher has been terrorising people in Heroes of the Storm since he arrived in the game last week, and not always for the right reasons. Despite being a very cool and well-designed hero, many HOTS players feel that he's ridiculously overpowered at the moment.
If you take a look on Twitter, for instance, you'll see a common refrain:
Hey @BlizzHeroes - Butcher is cool, but is a little OP; the dude can literally 1 v 4 like it's nothing. Seen in many matches. Please patch.
— LyonHart | Not @ AX (@LyonHart_) July 3, 2015
Heroes of the Storms new Hero the Butcher need to be nerfed.. Like the self regain health and chain lock down op much
— Dylan Omgad ツ (@DylanOwl) July 2, 2015
i had twice the siege and hero damage of any of my teammates last match so i guess you could say the Butcher is OP.
— mv101 (@JDammett) July 1, 2015
What is it about The Butcher that makes him such a terror? A few different aspects of his character add up to a hero that, when placed in the right hands, is practically impossible to kill by late-game in a given HOTS match.
First there's his passive trait, Fresh Meat. Whenever The Butcher kills an enemy, they drop a piece of meat (indicated by a small droplet of blood) that he can collect. These units of meat stack on top of one another to make The Butcher increasingly powerful — each one adding 1% to his attack damage. You can also upgrade the trait during a game so that the 1) fresh meat heals The Butcher whenever he collects it, 2) it improves his attack speed as well as his attack damage, and 3) he can collect up to 35 units of meat instead of just 25.
OK. That's all context to understand how The Butcher's fresh meat trait pairs with one of his core abilities: "The Butcher's Brand." This is a special attack that marks an enemy target for a few seconds. During that time, any of The Butcher's attacks on that target will heal him.
Butcher's Brand is a standard life-steal ability on one level. The trouble with it right now is how it pairs with the Fresh Meat trait. By the end of the game, The Butcher can turn enemy heroes into de facto health potions — killing them while simultaneously recovering from near-death scenarios.
See how this worked for me in a game I played as The Butcher over the weekend. This clip starts with the enemy team's Sonya character attacking me when I was very low on health. I was pretty sure I was done for...until I activated Butcher's Brand:
Wowsers. Just look at that life-steal.
I went from almost no health to full health in a matter of seconds, and killed my opponent in the process. That is insane. The man talking in that video is Kotaku reader Smi1ey. He's been playing HOTS since its early beta stages, and said that he's never seen anything quite like that.
Butcher's Brand seems particularly egregious when you lay it on top of the character's other abilities. Like his unstoppable charge move, which can track a character even when they try and teleport out of the way:
There are counters to The Butcher's abilities — even the ridiculous ones. Fellow video game writer person Chris Carter suggested to me on Twitter that Butcher's Brand is "super easy to deny," and that the unstoppable charge can easily be juked by teleporting away "at the last second." The Sonya I was fighting this weekend, for instance, should have avoided the fight until my W was on a cooldown. Some players on Reddit agree with his take, saying that people who complain about the life-steal being overpowered don't realise that they're really just supposed to run away from it. Also, it's worth noting that I was two levels ahead of the enemy Sonya you saw me kill, which gave me an extra leg up.
But still: Sonya is supposed to be a friggin' tank! And I was almost dead. The problem here isn't that it's literally impossible to kill The Butcher, or that he has too many hitpoints, deals too much damage per second, or anything like that. It's that his current character design adds up to something that sure feels like it's invincible for many players. And that's not a very fun enemy to play against.
Maybe the Heroes of the Storm community just needs more time to adapt to the guy. But I'm guessing that The Butcher is gonna need some fine-tuning before he really starts to fit in in Heroes. For the time being, we can enjoy him for being the OP god that he is, to quote another Butcher critic on Twitter.