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Heroes of the Storm Review - Totally Not A MOBA

CJ Miozzi | 2 Jun 2015 21:30
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Heroes of the Storm review 9x4


Developed & Published by Blizzard Entertainment. Released June 2, 2015. Available on PC.


Heroes of the Storm is the perfect MOBA game for people who don't like MOBA games.

At least, that's how others have put it, and I find it difficult to disagree. I've tried a number of MOBAs over the years, from the big names to more obscure ones, and simply couldn't get into any of them. Yet here I am with around 500 games of Heroes logged - roughly 200 hours of play time - and I'm still having fun. But I know a number of hardcore DOTA 2 or League of Legends players who don't see the appeal.

Now, I should clarify that Blizzard insists Heroes isn't a MOBA, but rather a "hero brawler," a term they coined themselves to describe their game. Heroes sees two teams of five players fight on a battlefield with multiple lanes in which waves of computer-controlled minions from both teams march inexorably toward the enemy base. Both teams' bases consist of multiple towers, forts, and finally a central core, the latter of which much be destroyed to win the game. So... totally not a MOBA.

To be fair to Blizzard, Heroes does differ significantly from other MOBAs, in ways we've previously described, but the gist is that each of the seven maps offers a unique experience thanks to different layouts and game-changing objectives that are central to securing victory. Further, as a game progresses, every hero on a team levels up at the same time thanks to a shared pool of experience points, there are no items to purchase in-game, and there's a stronger focus on teamwork, overall. These last three points are what will either sell you on Heroes or get you running back to your MOBA of choice.

Blizzard's decision to cut itemization out of Heroes is a simplification of the genre. Shared experience and more team-oriented gameplay means individual players have less of an impact on the outcome of a game than in other MOBAs. Hardcore fans of the genre may consider these elements that make the game inferior, but both result in the game being far more accessible to new players and promote a less toxic environment by rewarding cooperation and diminishing the detrimental impact that an inexperienced player may have on the outcome of the game.

In-built mechanics that allow the losing team to catch up and even the score further promote an arguably "care bear" atmosphere, which again, can be seen as either a positive or a negative. Come-backs in this game are possible, regardless of how poorly the game may be going for one team. In one game, our team's core was taken down to just 1% health - a single hit from a single enemy minion would have lost us the game - and the enemy's core was still at 100% health. Yet we rallied, made a strong tactical decision and acted upon that decision as a team, and won. In another game, inexperienced players on our team were repeatedly feeding the enemy easy kills, which led to the enemy gaining a huge lead in the early- and mid-game. The level lead the enemy had on us seemed impossible to recover from, but by the late-game, we made a play that the enemy did not properly respond to - they made one very bad decision, and that cost them a game they seemed to have in their pocket.

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