BlizzCon’s “What’s Next” for Heroes of the Storm Panel Review

If you attended BlizzCon, watched via the Virtual Ticket or just caught up on details released from the press, the new information got a little more perspective from the “What’s Next” panel for Heroes of the Storm. The trip down memory lane since last BlizzCon was set up in a way to help explain the common complaint of, “Why did the team choose to work on X instead of Y?” The breakdown is between features (voice chat, themed quests, third bans, team league changes, etc.) and content (new heroes, battle grounds, hero reworks, themed vents, etc.). So with patience, we as a community, get what we want and what the game needs. The main takeaways from BlizzCon are this: they’re focusing and working to provide more meaningful tutelage to the community that is already here while being more of a friendly book to peer past more than just the first few chapters with new players. Let me elaborate.

Role Update

The first new feature is the Role Update. Role updates are being broken up into: Tanks, Bruisers, Healers, Support, Melee Assassins and Ranged Assassins. The idea here is to make sure every hero can be understood on what their role is on the battleground and how the player should expect to interact with their team.

This setup allows Blizzard to set a standard experience. They’ve achieved that with their new Quick Match rules. Quick match is getting corralled into queuing a Tank, Healer, Ranged Assassin and two filling heroes. Which to me, is not only the death of miserable comps, but also tells me this is the baseline experience that Blizzard wants us to have. But, the last thing they had to actually correct is the part of the game that is out of the players’ hands: the rules behind the gameplay and how out of reach they can become when the snowball happens.

XP Changes

The experience system is both one of Heroes of the Storms greatest features and most feared. The dreaded snowball can come as early as the first turn-in and takedown on Tomb of the Spider Queen or the first objective channel on Alterac Pass. However, it is the team mentality behind the experience that brought a lot of other MOBA fans to the Nexus. With established roles and matches setup to succeed, the games themselves need to allow players to play their roles and have a chance of making good plays to get back into it. Going forward, when a Fort is taken down, every third wave will have a catapult. This is a wonderful tool to teach players about rotations, practice applying/against late-game pressure and it ups the ante much sooner and gives some heroes previously known as Specialists, room to exercise their pushing muscle. Beyond the addition of catapults, Blizzard has slowed down the snowball by adjusting how experience is earned. It is just easier to point out their changes:

  • Removed all Experience earned from destroying a Fort or Keep
  • Decreased Experience earned from destroying Towers by 50%
  • Passive Experience gain increased by 15%
  • Increased Experience gained by defeating defending Mercenaries by 100%
  • Defeating Laning Mercenaries will now grant 100% of Defending Mercenaries Experience

This all but removes a snowball entirely except from a poor draft or poor synergy to begin with. Which I believe correlates to closer matches, more fun, a more consistent time commitment, more opportunities to exercise the hero you’ve chosen to play, and a better overall experience.

Further Additions

With a newly established baseline match setup, they can double down on how to teach and educate players on their performance and how to get better. This was eluded to in a brief offering during the Q&A portion about post-game stat tracking and how that is a part of the education systems being worked on. It is not uncommon for games to review where they’re losing players in the process. I believe Blizzard is indicating their game has matured to the point where they need to think about bringing in new blood as well as tantalizing those who have fallen away. With the new experience coming, there are definitely other quality features coming out that make it that much better:

  • No more armor-stacking
  • Readable UI for what kind and how much armor someone has
  • No more promotion or demotion matches
  • Leavers are penalized over time in line with their history
  • Loss forgiveness after an ally disconnects
  • Displaying your MMR
  • Combining Hero League and Team League pools with an option to only queue into other solo players
  • Stitches rework
  • Sylvanas rework

2019 can’t approach fast enough. HeroesHype will see all of you in the Nexus!