Heroes of the Storm will be sending legendary villain Gul’Dan to the Nexus soon and he’s sure to wreak havoc on the other heroes already there. We had the opportunity to talk to Blizzard Game Designer Jade Martin to find out more about Gul’Dan and how he came to be the next Hero in the Storm.
MMORPG: How do you choose which heroes will enter the Nexus, both from a lore perspective and a meta-game perspective?
Jade Martin: We have a huge Excel sheet filled with all possible heroes that we could bring into the Nexus and it even includes information on heroes that are most frequently requested by the community. How we decide isn’t entirely based on lore or meta-game. Both may play a small role if we are trying to line up with certain events (like releasing Tracer with Overwatch’s launch). The Hero role, silhouette, and character type also influence which Hero we choose to do. For example, we knew we wanted a new Support and we wanted to bring Diablo’s Auriel into the Nexus.
MMORPG: Is this Gul'Dan based on the "real" Azeroth, Draenor version or movie version or is he a hybrid of all of the above? :smile:
JM: He really is a hybrid of all of those. Our model is based off of his Warcraft III character. His thirst for Fel Magic and Power are from Warlords of Draenor and we even get a little hint of the movie in with his Drain Life ability. J
MMORPG: This is the third Warcraft character in a row. Is this a nod to the movie and the upcoming Legion expansion? (Of course, Auriel is coming soon too!)
JM: We knew the Warcraft movie was coming this summer and the schedules aligned with the work we had done on Medivh and Gul’dan. It is such a cool thing for our players to see these iconic heroes on the big screen and then be able to hop into a game of Heroes of the Storm to play them!
MMORPG: Gul'Dan is a sustained damage ranged assassin. How do his skills compare to others in the same category?
JM: I would say Gul’dan’s abilities deal slightly more damage than other sustain damage heroes like a Lunara. However, having very high mana costs compensates for his extra damage. For example, his [Q ] Fel Flame has a 75 mana cost on a 1.5 second cooldown, which would just about deplete his mana pool in 6 casts or 9 seconds! Luckily, Gul’dan has a way to sustain his mana pool with Life Tap by exchanging his Life for Mana unlike any other hero!
MMORPG: What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses in terms of skills?
JM: Gul’dan is very strong at dishing out sustained damage. His [Q] Fel Flame is on a 1.5s cooldown that deals good damage to enemies within the area. The thing that makes this incredibly strong is the fact that he can continually cast this with proper health and mana management using his [D] Life Tap and [W] Drain Life allowing Gul’dan to stay in lane when other heroes would need to back out for mana or health!
Gul’dan is less effective against heroes that can apply pressure with hard CC like Silence or Stun that prevent him from managing his resource with [D] Life Tap and [W] Drain Life. [W] Drain Life is a 3 second channel that requires Gul’dan to be stationary in order to gain the maximum amount of healing. If a player is able to interrupt Gul’dan within this window it can be crippling. In addition, Gul’dan has no mobility abilities so it is very important for the player to critically think about positioning to get the maximum effectiveness.
MMORPG: It seems that many HotS characters have a "nemesis" or two, characters that are good counterbalances to skills. Which characters can give Gul'Dan lots of trouble?
JM: Heroes with Stuns are a choice to counterbalance Gul’dan because [W] Drain Life is such an integral part to cycling his ability to deal damage s well as manipulating his Life and Mana Pool. Kerrigan, Muradin, and Tyrande are all great examples. That said, Gul’dan can do well against these heroes too it just requires that players pay close attention to positioning. Baiting out Stuns by applying pressure with your low cooldown Fel Flame.
MMORPG: We know that Diablo 3's Auriel is also coming soon. Can you give us a hint or two about her and her abilities?
JM: I wish I could give a hint, but unfortunately I can’t. She is coming soon and we will have an awesome trailer and spotlight to show off her abilities! I can say that internally she has been one of my favorite supports to play!
MMORPG: New characters always come in slightly overpowered. When you're planning the new heroes, is this part of the design at first? Do you already have plans in mind for 'toning them down' in future patches (i.e. Sylvanas, Kel, etc.)?
JM: Our internal data shows that new heroes are not always overpowered. If we look at the last two releases for example, both Chromie and Medivh came in well under a 50% win rate. When our heroes go through balance we are trying to bring them into the game in a healthy way, which would ideally be balanced. When planning new heroes we don’t design them to be overpowered our goal is to create a fun hero to play! Speaking for myself based on the heroes I’ve worked on I always have ideas in my back pocket to help balance them whether its increasing their power or lowering it. Sometimes there are just things we don’t think of during the design process and it is a little too late to change them prior to ship. With our more frequent patches it gives us some liberty to implement balance changes based on a hero’s live performance.
MMORPG: One for the rafters... can we get Kyle Blackthorne? PLEASE?
JM: I’m sure one day! We’d love to see all our beloved Blizzard characters in the Nexus. J