The never-ending battle between the forces of heaven and hell can get pretty messy at times, I've learned.
Blizzard's new MOBA Heroes of the Storm just added a new "battleground" (read: map) today. Known as "Eternal Conflict," the level is exciting for Heroes fans because it's the first map that's based on one of the games represented in HOTS. It's modelled after Diablo III specifically, and the map definitely wears its inspiration on its sleeve. That's to say: it gets pretty insane sometimes.
Eternal Conflict is a large map by HOTS standards, but only has two lanes despite its size. That's because the whole center of the map is taken up by two large creatures called "Immortals" who appear at periodic intervals to start attacking one another. There's a blue one on one side:
...and then a red one on the other:
Whenever the immortals pop up, you and the rest of your team are supposed to stop whatever it is you're all doing, rush into the center of the map, and either defend your immortal or hack away at the enemy's. Once one of the immortals has been taken down to half of his original health, the two do a snazzy Dragon Ball Z style slow-motion attack in the center of their makeshift arena:
...before pivoting to the other set of circles on the edge of the arena, just to keep everyone else on their feet I'm sure.
Similar to some of the other Heroes of the Storm maps, your goal in completing this objective is to try and earn your team a powerful ally who will help all five of you press the attack against the enemy base. Once one of the immortals has been killed, the surviving one leaves the map's central fighting pit and starts attacking the closest enemy defences in one of the two lanes:
The immortal also gets a shield after his fight is over — the precise power of which is determined by how much health he had left before the other immortal was killed. So...yeah, this guy can definitely punch a large hole in a base if one team does a much better job taking out the opposing immortal whenever they appear.
One of Heroes of the Storm's defining characteristics — especially in comparison to other big MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2 — is the fact that Blizzard's game has a diverse array of themed maps like this new one. Each of the battlegrounds has its own distinct flavour that nudges you to play a certain way.
I haven't been able to play a lot of games on Eternal Conflict yet, so a single overriding theme hasn't emerged for me yet. The main thing I have noticed so far, though, is that the games I've played there have all been very, very crazy. Team fights break out very often, and don't seem to stay in one place once they have gotten started. They bounce back and forth between different locations at a rapid clip.
It makes perfect sense on one level that battles on this new map would be particularly chaotic. I mean, the objective and the way it's set up in the level means that Eternal Conflict has basically created a sinkhole right in the center of the map — a tactical point large enough for players to move around in, but small enough to keep the ebb and flow of battle focused in one discrete area.
I have no doubt that Heroes matches played on Eternal Conflict will change as players become more accustomed to the map's unique idiosyncrasies. But for now, I'm content to dive in and watch as heaven and hell battle right before my eyes.
Oh, and one more thing that Diablo fans will love about this map. Whenever one of the teams' cores is destroyed, it drops a ton of randomised loot:
Sweet, sweet loot. If only I could use it for something in this game.
Heroes of the Storm's update today also added a new character to the game: classic Diablo villain The Butcher. I'll have more to say about that guy once I've had my fill of FRESH MEAT!