Some time ago, I wrote a piece about whether Heroes of the Storm could achieve the same casual success as Hearthstone, comparing Blizzard’s two new entries to the MOBA and online TCG genres, respectively. It’s difficult to determine just yet how financially profitable is HotS after its official release in June, but it anecdotally seems to have engendered a great amount of critical and community acclaim. It remains to be seen whether Blizzard’s new MOBA will attain the same success as Hearthstone, but it’s at least clear that HotS is well-suited for casual players, even more so than its competitors. Here are five reasons why!
5. Try Heroes Before You Buy Them
Heroes of the Storm isn’t the first MOBA to allow you to try characters before you buy them, but it does so with such a fantastically seamless implementation that it will appeal to even the most indecisive of players out there. You can access HotS’ trial mode directly from each hero’s summary screen in the store, and tinker with different options, including the level of your hero and whether or not minions are enabled. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with not only a variety of heroes, but also the different types of roles that are typically required in most MOBAs.
4. No Itemization
Games like League of Legends and DotA 2, although moderately accessible in their own ways, depend on varying degrees of itemization that can quickly comprise a high barrier of entry for new players. HotS does away with items completely, requiring you instead to focus solely on your hero’s skill tree and a few metagame unlocks. While this departure from the norm may seem like an oversimplification of gameplay, it actually works very well to distill the sense of character progression into something more easily comprehensible, in much the same way that Hearthstone streamlines the traditional TCG model.
3. Varied Map Design
Unlike conventional MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm features a variety of maps with different objectives, rather than only a standard three-lane arena. At first glance, it would seem as though this would add to the complexity rather than detract from it, and that’s certainly true, but it also has the byproduct of leveling the playing field for meta-strategies, at least until the game reaches a more widespread popularity. If you’ve ever started a MOBA match and been yelled at for not knowing the exact tactics required of your character and lane, you’ll probably still experience the same in HotS. The difference is that a good amount of people with whom you’ll be playing will also still be learning the mechanics of the new map dynamics.
2. Serviceable Tutorial
HotS’ tutorial is not the best by any means, but it is fairly thorough, guiding you through the basics of MOBA gameplay with a full helping of practice matches before tossing you into the deep zone of online matches. Paired with the game’s streamlined and easy to understand character progression, the tutorial will familiarize you not only with the game but also with the genre, which will in turn prime you for other MOBAs if you’re interested.
1. Less Early Dependence On Individual Skill
When it comes to individual skill level, Heroes of the Storm is a bit more forgiving than other MOBAs. In the more hardcore-oriented games of the genre, the success of your party depends wholly on each member’s adroitness with her/his character and the ability to communicate with one another. To some extent, these skills are still required in HotS, but the game allows for more flexibility in hero roles and map objectives, which in turn provides for more resilient parties - at least in newbie matchmaking. You’ll still need to learn the lay of the land and your chosen hero(es)’ place in it, but you’ll find the uncompromising nature of other MOBAs to be mitigated somewhat here.
Heroes of the Storm is a great game for casual players, and it features a striking amount of depth and replayability. It’s similar to Hearthstone in its distillation of a genre to its core components, which turns out to be a lot of fun, and more intuitive than a lot of its competitors. Even if you like the crunchiness of other MOBAs’ more complex feature sets, you still might enjoy HotS’ accessible gameplay.
Are you playing Heroes of the Storm? What do you think Blizzard’s MOBA adds to the genre?