If you want to try out Heroes of the Storm and you’re coming from League of Legends, DOTA 2, or another Moba game, then here nine things you need to know about how Heroes differs from these other games.
1. Varied Maps
Heroes has seven different maps, or battlegrounds, to fight on, and more will be coming in the future. These maps don’t just differ cosmetically; they also have different sizes, layouts, and most importantly, they each have a unique game-changing objective. The two teams must compete to complete the objective, and the team that does so gains a huge advantage.
While killing the enemy team and pushing their towers remains a big part of the game, you could actually see a team that has half the kills of the other team make a comeback and win the game through strong teamwork and coordination in capturing the objective. For example, on the map Dragon Shire, two shrines located on opposite ends of the map activate every few minutes. Once one team controls both shrines, one player on that team can transform temporarily into the Dragon Knight, which makes them a wrecking ball against enemy forts.
2. Experience Is Shared
Rather than have every player on a team gain XP toward leveling up only their character, XP is shared in a pool among all players on a team, and every player on that team levels up at the same time. So rather than have individual player levels, you have team levels – you never have to decide whether you want to feed XP towards a certain player on your team.
If at least one teammate is up to roughly half a screen away when an enemy minion dies, your entire team gets XP for the kill. This means that as long as you have at least one player in each lane to soak up XP, other players could be freed up to roam, gank, or go after mercenary camps without falling behind.
3. No Items
A defining characteristic of Heroes relative to other Mobas is the design choice to drop itemization altogether. There is no in-game currency, there is no last-hitting to gain that currency, there are no item shops – there are no items to buy.
Instead, your hero customization comes in the form of talents. Every few levels, you get to select one of a few different talents which shape the way you play your character, much the same way a build would in an RPG. By level 20, two identical heroes may have different play styles based on the talent choices that the players made throughout the game. Oftentimes, these talent choices may help you complement a strength in your team’s composition, or make up for a weakness.
For instance, if your team lacks a dedicated healer, you may grab a talent that grants you life steal to make up for the fact that you wont be healed by someone else. Or, if you’re a healer and have another healer on the team, you may pick talents that specialize you more toward crowd-control or debuffing.
4. Mercenary Camps
Every map in Heroes has mercenary camps, of which there are three different types. Once you defeat a mercenary camp, you can get the defeated mercs to fight for you by standing next to them for a few seconds. These mercs will then push down a lane toward the enemy.
What’s interesting to note is that the mercs don’t fight for those who defeat them, but those who stand next to them after defeating them. So a tricky play may involve waiting for your enemy to defeat a challenging merc camp, then swooping in to either gank them or scare them off and take the camp for yourself.
5. You Start with Basic Abilities
Rather than accumulate your abilities over the course of the game, you start off at level 1 with three or more skills that you activate manually. As you level, you pick talents that will shape and alter those skills in various ways to specialize you towards different purposes. At level 10, you pick one of two ultimate abilities, and certain talents choices can grant additional skills.
6. Free Mount, Free Teleport Home
Players have free access to a mount and an ability that lets them teleport back to base. By hitting Z on your keyboard and waiting through a brief channel time, you hop onto your mount, which allows you to more quickly get from location to location. If you are struck while mounted, you will be dismounted, and once you’ve dismounted, you cannot mount again for three seconds.
The teleport home power has no cooldown, but it does require a few seconds of channeling, during which you are extremely vulnerable to interrupts. Having access to these two powers means a lot less time is spent slogging your way across the map when you want to either retreat, re-position, or get back into the fight.
7. Fast Pace
Heroes is a relatively fast-paced game. A typical match is over in about 20 minutes, and because you start with several powers that you can use as of level 1, the game feels faster, like you’re hitting the ground running, because you don’t have to spend several levels just getting to a point where you can start to attack enemies. Ganks can happen in Heroes as of the early game.
8. All About Teamwork
A stronger focus is put on teamwork and communication than in other Mobas. Because players level up as a team, and because map objectives are so important, the performance of the team as a whole is more important than that of individual players. In Heroes, you won’t see one player soar ahead in levels and carry his teammates. The MVPs will be those players who are best able to work with the team, execute on their role, and effectively communicate and rally the team when it’s important to make strategic decisions about what the team should be doing.
9. Easy to pick up
Heroes is an easier game to pick up than most Mobas. A huge part of this is the loss of gold as a resource. Because there are no items to buy, there is no in-game currency to gain, and thus there is no resource to be managed.
This makes it easier for a new player to approach the game and wrap their head around everything that needs to be done, and while some people may call that dumbing the game down, game director Dustin Browder explained that it’s about finding complexity in unexpected places. So while yes, losing itemization does eliminate a lot of complexity from the game, the talent system, for instance, is a place where you’ll end up finding more complexity than there initially seems to be.
While you could just stick with a single build that you use every game, the highest-level players will pay attention to every talent that every one of their teammates and enemies selects and shape and evolve their build throughout the game to minimize their weaknesses, maximize their strengths, and counter the enemy team.
CJ Miozzi is a Senior Editor at The Escapist and is also known as Rhykker on Youtube. You can follow his livestreams on Twitch and Tweet to him @Rhykker.