This week I had the opportunity to visit the Heroes of the Storm Spring Summit to get a sneak peak of what Blizzard has in store for the MOBA, and it turns out they’re planning a whole lot. So much so that they’re even touting this as the beginning of “Heroes 2.0”. So what does this entail? Let’s dive in.
Essentially, Heroes 2.0 is a radical revamp of Heroes of the Storm’s reward structures to add long term incentives to keep players engaged. Like most MOBAs, Heroes currently keeps players engaged with the eternal pursuit of ladder rankings, rewarding a slow drip of currency that can be used to unlock new characters for free. With a few exceptions – most notably every hero’s one master skin – cosmetics are locked away in the cash shop. That’s all about to change, the result is a system that’s going to look a whole lot more like Overwatch than League of Legends.
Heroes 2.0 Feature Highlights:
- Revamped Progression System
- Loot Chest Rewards for All Players
- Gems Replace Real Money Currency
- Forge Cosmetic Items with Shards
- Fun New Social and Customization Rewards
Leveling is getting a big overhaul in Heroes 2.0. The level cap for heroes is being removed, and the XP requirements are being reworked so that level ups will be much more frequent for higher level heroes (see graph below). Additionally, the player level itself is being reworked to be a sum of a player’s total levels across all heroes.
Now, every time a player levels up, they’re going to be rewarded with a brand new loot chest – packages that contain four random items from nearly every reward in the game, including playable heroes, skins, and many new items coming with Heroes 2.0. This introduces a way for strictly free-to-play players to finally access any of the cosmetics in the game without spending a dime.
- Basic chests are awarded with every Player Level
- Rare, Epic & Hero-specific loot chests are awarded for reaching specific milestones
- Reroll loot chest contents using gold
- Loot chest exclusives such as Prime Evil Diablo
- Guaranteed to drop at least one item of that chest’s rarity or higher
A neat touch is that on every tenth hero level, the player will be rewarded with an additional loot chest that’s unique to that hero. These hero specific chests narrow down the pool of available items to guarantee that players are rewarded with something specific to the character they’re actively playing, which is a great touch to make sure players who are dedicated to a few specific heroes aren’t constantly getting items they never plan on using.
Blizzard also informed us that there is a form of bad luck protection working behind the scenes to make sure players can’t go too many loot chests without getting something of value. This only works to help the player though, and it won’t prevent you from rolling all four items as legendaries if you’re really, really, extremely lucky.
In addition to the mounts and skins players can already collect, a variety of new unlockables will be making their way into the hands of players with the launch of Heroes 2.0:
- Announcers: Let some of your favorite Heroes call out your takedowns, kill streaks and more
- Voice lines: Cheer on your allies and jeer opponents with quotable catchphrases
- Emojis: A massive collection of stylized and Hero-specific Emojis make chat much more expressive both in and out of the game
- Banners: Rase a flag whenever your assert your dominance on the battleground
- Sprays: Make your mark on the field of battle by dropping unique icons and tags on the terrain
- Portraits: Show off your personality and expertise on loading screens and in your profile
If you’re wondering how you’re going to be able to manage all of this – fear not! The current system for selecting mounts and skin variations before a match is being overhauled to make it easier to manage. There will be more tabs and 3 unique loadouts available for each hero, so if you’re the type of person who likes to change often, that’s not going to be a problem.
Currencies are getting a bit of an update as well; there will now effectively be three for players to contend with:
- Gold will be used to unlock new heroes as it is now, but can also be used to reroll loot chests if the player wants to give try for something better.
- Gems are Heroes of the Storm’s new premium currency, and replace the current system of using real money for transactions. I got the chance to ask about the implications of this, and the big change here is that using a premium currency allows Blizzard to reward the player with gems from progression when they weren’t able to before. This can be used to unlock new heroes and purchase feature items from the overhauled shop.
- Shards are the new crafting currency, and are obtained after looting a duplicate item from a loot chest (and they sometimes drop on their own as well). Players will be able to use shards to craft exactly what they want, circumventing the randomness of the crates once they’ve saved up enough.
Heroes 2.0 is going to be a pretty major shake-up for the game, but even as someone who’s generally opposed to lockboxes, it’s hard to see the new system as anything other than a step in the right direction, as it adds an in game avenue to unlock cosmetics where the previously wasn’t any. While you won’t be able to purchase whatever you want directly from the shop (unless it happens to be featured), shards will provide a method of mitigating the potentially frustrating effect of RNG as players work towards unlocking specific collectibles.
It’s a big step for Blizzard’s popular MOBA, but one that should add a lot of stickiness to the title – particularly for players more interested in casual gameplay than pushing the leaderboards.
Be sure to head over to GameSpace.com to read an interview with Kent-Erik Hagman!