Heroes of the Storm: I Love it and I Hate it Review

 

 

I have been playing Heroes of the Storm for about four months now, and I can honestly say I am hooked and loving it. In fact, I find it hard to go back to League of Legends (Riot fanboys don’t shit your assholes out across the room; I’m not saying one game is better than the other. I’m just stating my sexual preference for HoTS :).  However, as much as I love HoTS, I find myself wanting to flip over furniture more than when I’m playing other MOBAs (Massive Online Battle Arneas), so I have this love- hate relationship with the game.

My biggest gripe with HoTS right now is the player base. Yes, I know toxicity is just a set of herpes that gets passed from one MOBA to another, and there’s no cure. However, it is a virus that can be treated, which I don’t think Blizzard really has a handle on yet. I have a few theories on this. For one, it is easy to get trolled by shitties in Blizzard. I can’t tell you how many times I have to pickup my mouth off the floor when the biggest degenerate on our team has the nerve to say I’m bad the first time they notice the game is going terribly. So many times matchups have tanked beyond any possible hope of a comeback because an Illidan thought he was invisible and charged into a 1v4 over and over and over again. But, god forbid if I miss one stun as Tyrande.

OMG THIS TYRANDE SUCKS AND CAN’T LAND A SKILLSHOT!

Or I’m playing as Nova, and my entire team is in top and mid with bot lane left empty. Me, being the non moron that I am,  decide to go xp (experience) absorb so we don’t fall behind in levels when no one responds to my pings.

OMG WHY ARE YOU FARMING AS NOVA?! YOU SHOULD BE GANKING!

LOL, didn’t you know? Nova’s the best lane pusher in the game.

/facedesk

It’s easy for bads to call other people bads in HoTS, because there aren’t any deterrents built into the game for doing so. For one thing, there are no metrics within the game that can hint that you are in fact the problem and should probably shut the fuck up. In LoL, if an ADC (attack damage carry) only has 30 CS (creep score) by the ten minute mark, then it is safe to say that he should just shut the fuck up and not say SHIT about how bad anyone else is. Rest assured that if he does say anything, the rest of the team will hit tab and proceed to troll the shit out of him. In HoTS there really isn’t a score that can accurately measure a player’s performance. The scoreboard just lists takedowns, deaths, siege damage, hero damage and xp contribution. There’s some value to these numbers; for example, if your Malfurion is out-­DPSing your Valla then you have a problem. But the issue is that none of these stats are a deciding factor in winning the game. HoTS is very objective based, and relies heavily on teamwork and coordination. There’s no “carry” that can snowball and decide the outcome of team fights. Maybe your Valla’s hero damage is lower than the enemy assassins’ damage. That doesn’t mean that she is playing the game worse, maybe she’s lower in damage because she is actually focusing on the objectives that have more of an impact on the game. Whereas in LoL, if your ADC is drastically further behind in CS than the enemy ADC, then you know that the enemy ADC is outperforming your teammate. So without a metric that can prove someone’s performance in the game, I think it is easy for players to place blame on others without the fear of a scoreboard shaming them.

Another deterrent that HoTS is missing is the ability to report toxic behavior. As of right now you can only report a player for hacking or harassment in HoTS. If I could applaud Riot for one great idea, it would be their tribunal system. It doesn’t obliterate toxicity altogether; that would be naive to think that it does. However, it does give you a feeling of recompense having the ability to report someone for just being an asshole at the end of a game. My favorite posts in the Riot forums are when someone screams innocence about being banned for toxic behavior, and then Riot publicly posts the chat logs of the asshole in question. ZING! Justice was served!

OK enough negative talk about HoTS–­­onto why I love it! When I first played HoTS, my first impression was that it was a dumbed down MOBA. After playing it for a few months, I realized I was wrong. I have seen a lot of posts stating that HoTS does not take any skill to play. If you are applying the same skill set needed to play LoL to HoTS, then yes, you’re correct. It’s like saying that football doesn’t require any skill because you don’t have to accurately throw a ball through a hoop likes you do in basketball. They’re both team sports, but they require different skill sets. The same logic applies to different MOBAs. What people don’t understand is that HoTS emphasizes a different skill set to be successful. In other MOBAs there’s a lot of weight given to how you can advance yourself as an individual. You hear the term “carry” thrown around a lot.

L2carry if you want to go up in rank.

In HoTS there isn’t a carry in the game. The experience is shared among your team. There is no gold farming, item builds, or last hitting for K/D/A (kills/deaths/assists) or CS. The only individual choices you have to make in HoTS are deciding what talents to pick at certain milestone levels. The skill set for HoTS is how well you make judgment calls with your team in mind. Sometimes your team can take objectives without your help and it would be wiser to push a lane in order to xp  soak. That very same instance could be a turning point for the enemy if they are able to wipe your team because you weren’t there to contribute. When picking your talents, do you choose something that increases your damage against the enemy, or something that provides a utility for the team? Should you leave your lane unattended to take a mercenary camp which would provide further distractions for the enemy? What if they gank you and steal the camp?  Now you just added another headache for your team to deal with. I know that judgment calls are a big part of any MOBA, but HoTS is a game where your team truly is as strong as it’s weakest link. If you have one fuckup on your team, there’s no carry to compensate. I find this particular style of gameplay both drastically more rewarding and frustrating. Therefore I’m much more engaged. I’m sorry, but I don’t find basing my success on how well I can last hit the health bar of a minion with a gnat’s ass health enjoyable, so HoTS has offered a refreshing take on the MOBA genre for me.

Another aspect I love about HoTS is that the matches only last for roughly 20 minutes. A game might be as low as 15 minutes if you steamroll the other team. If you do, by any chance, enter a matchup that lasts more than 30 minutes, it’s because your teams are trying to out­-fail each other at the game. I’m no longer stuck in a game for 45 minutes to an hour with a terrible team that won’t surrender.

Aside from the play­style, I really love the emotional connection I have with the characters. Riot has basically given zero fucks about their lore, and I think that is more costly to them than they realize. OK they might have given a half ­fuck recently, but too little too late. Blizzard has years of lore behind some of their characters. When Sylvanas was released, I did not care if she was the most shit­-designed hero in the game. I knew I was going to buy her. I have been following her story arc for years and thus have an emotional attachment to this character. Now, I have the capability to be her in the game. The same is true for other characters I love such as Kerrigan and Tyrande. And what further gets my rocks all in a jolly is that Blizzard has added banter in line with the lore of the characters. For example, at the start of the game Illidan professes his love for Tyrande, and she basically responds with, “NO!… I don’t want cho numbah!” (That was not a direct quote btw).

HoTS has a lot going for it. I admit, some of the matches I play in HoTS send me into way more nerd rage than some of the other MOBAs I’ve played, but when I do have victories in HoTS I feel that they are so much more rewarding. I know that the victory was earned because of better teamwork than the opposition, and furthermore I get to experience a taste of what it’s like to be the heroes and villains I have grown to love over the past 20 years of playing Blizzard games.

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Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X
Genre: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
KZoku Rating: 3.5

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