A long time ago, back when World of Warcraft was still in the works and Warcraft III was extremely popular, a talented mapmaker called “Eul” released “Defense of the Ancients”, a mod which would, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, spawn an entire genre. The mod was created with the included map editor for Warcraft III, and was based on a previous Starcraft custom map, called “Aeon of Strife”. Then, in 2009, League of Legends, which is now the most popular game in the world, was released, being developed by Riot Games and other previous Warcraft III mapmakers. Upon seeing the enormous success, countless other MOBA games were created, including Dota 2, which was developed by Valve Software, and which is League of Legends’ main competitor.
Of course, when Blizzard saw that a mod which started on one of their games became such a great way to make money, they had to step into the game. Thus, Heroes of the Storm was born: a MOBA game (Blizzard prefers the term “Hero Brawler”) featuring well-known characters from Blizzard’s popular franchises.
However, unlike all the other MOBA games on the market, Heroes of the Storm actually brings new things to the popular formula. The game is designed in such a way that both a casual player who has never played a MOBA game before and a hardcore MOBA player can have fun instantly.
As with other MOBA games, Heroes of the Storm features two teams of 5 players battling it out on a map filled with defensive structures, passive mobs and three lanes, with the aim of destroying the enemy team’s core, which is located in their base. However, unlike other MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm features a rich variety of maps with not only different layouts, but with unique mechanics, which make the game extremely fun. The latest map, for example, called Tower of Doom, does not let players directly attack the core, but instead features several altars on the map which, upon spawning, can be captured in order to make the towers you control fire at the enemy core. Another map, for example, features treasure chests and doubloons with which you can pay for an attack on enemy structures.
All these mechanics make it hard to get bored of the game, with each map being original and requiring a different strategy.
Another important change from other MOBA games, which I find positive, is the fact that matches are short. While a LoL or DOTA match usually lasts around an hour, a HotS match lasts around 15-20 minutes, meaning you can play more matches in an evening, even if you have less free time, and if you lose a game it doesn’t feel like you’ve completely lost your time, as I found it to be the case for other games in this genre.
If you are an experienced player coming from other MOBA games, then you will find it hard to adapt at first, as Heroes of the Storm seems very casual, compared to LoL or DOTA. This is because Blizzard took the original MOBA formula and simplified it in order to create a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. One of the biggest changes in the gameplay is the fact that items are gone. This means that heroes no longer have complicated builds and you don’t have to focus on item purchasing. Another interesting change is the fact that all heroes in a team share the same level and the same experience bar. I think that this change is extremely welcome, as the individual leveling system of other MOBAs can often lead to fights about kill-stealing. However, this also means that a bad player can drag his whole team down, unless the others are experienced with having to carry.
Heroes of the Storm does another thing right: heroes. While other MOBAs keep releasing heroes that are pretty much the same, due to their strategic nature and the fact that everyone must have an assigned role, HotS releases original, fun-to-play heroes, which could never be created in another game. For example, one such hero is Abathur, which could be easily be confused for an AFK player, as his abilities have him sitting in one place, spawning minions and assisting other heroes from the distance. Another great example of originality are The Lost Vikings, which can be split into three heroes controlled by one player. On the other side, we have Cho’Gall, which is a hero controlled by two players, one moving the character and having melee abilities, and one directing spells at enemies. I could honestly go on for days, as HotS features a lot of original heroes with crazy abilities.
In conclusion, Heroes of the Storm is, in my opinion, the best MOBA around if you’re a casual gamer with not that much free time. Its characters and maps are phenomenal, and its simplified formula means that both a newcomer to MOBAs and a hardcore player can enjoy several matches in one sitting.