I Hate MOBAs, but I Love Heroes of the Storm

I remember the first time I ever played League of Legends. I was at a LAN party, and had just come from a showing of the movie Avatar in San Jose. Someone mentioned it offhand in the car, and said that we should try it. Man, do I wish I didn’t…

What happened next was laughable. No one told me anything about how to play the game. I picked who I thought to be the coolest looking character at the time (Twisted Fate) and proceeded to go 0-23 and lose the game. That loss soured my opinion, and remains with me to this day.

Admittedly, I’ve eased up on it a little bit. I still loathe playing iti, but every once in a while someone can convince me to pick it up for a couple of games playing as iiDunkmaster Darius. Also admittedly, I’ve improved on the game. It’s very rare that I end a game 0 and anything. Despite that, I’ve never gleaned any enjoyment from it. My video game policy is if I don’t enjoy it, why should I waste my time playing it? Considering how many other games copy League wholesale in design, I thought I would never enjoy a MOBA again.

Enter Blizzard Entertainmentiii.

I was never super into World of Warcaft. I never had the opportunity to get into StarCraft. I enjoyed Diablo 2 quite a bit and even moderately enjoyed Diablo 3, I even wrote about Diablo 3 for the Arizona State Newspaper. Despite this I never had a deep connection to the series. When Heroes of the Storm was announced as a MOBA featuring Blizzard’s biggest names, I was nonplussed. League had given me a mild disdain for the genre, and I had almost no connection to Blizzard’s lore. I simply couldn’t care any less.

At GameStop Expo back in September, my mind was changed. Blizzard had a setup where players could try the game out and see how they liked it. I picked Murky the Murloc iv and gave the game a go. I had little idea what I was doing, but unlike League, it didn’t matter. I was having fun.

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Fast forward to last week. Polygon.com was kind enough to provide Ruben and I with a beta code through a giveawayv. I downloaded the game, and started up the tutorial. It was a MOBA alright. You clicked, characters moved, you leveled up and attacked a base. God damn it if I wasn’t having fun.

The thing I appreciate most in Heroes is the streamlining that went into the game. Instead of pushing attention into minutia like last-hitting and item builds, I was able to focus on the game itself. The addition of specialization abilities instead of item builds make individual characters feel like unique individuals instead of deviations of other builds. This also allows for customization of individual characters outside of buying items to simply change stats. Want to build the typically support-based Uther as a damage dealer? There are specializations that let you do exactly that. Want Kerrigan to have more sustain through a bolstered passive ability? The options are therevi. Not to mention the fact that characters start the game with their three main abilities already set, which makes so much more sense to me than picking only onevii.

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Another streamlined aspect that I truly appreciate is how teams level instead of individual characters. In order for a team to come out ahead, they have to work together. They will be strong together, or they will fall apart. Add to that the map-wide events that require coordination from teams, and it’s truly a team based experience. Meanwhile, what I felt in League of Legends was an experience of 5 players trying to be individualsviii who happened to be on a team together. By making teamwork a mechanic of the game, Heroes seems ix to be easing that problem up considerably.

And the maps, oh dear god how I love the maps. Gone is the boring repetition of “Oh look, another three-lane top-mid-bot.” there are a whole bunch of maps in the game, and they’re all unique in various waysx. Blackheart’s Bay for example, has players killing creeps in order to find golden dubloons. The team that turns in a quota of dubloons to the ghost pirate gets to turn a flurry of cannonballs at the opponents that will do a considerable amount of damage. Conversely, in the Egyptian-themed Sky Temple, players will try to take control of a specified number of three points on the map, where holding control of them will fire damaging lasers at opponents turrets and buildings. These maps and their objectives add a considerable amount to the game to shake up the proceedingsxi, and simply make the game a lot of fun to play.

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I didn’t know what to expect when I first went into Heroes of the Storm. I certainly didn’t expect to like itxii, considering my history with MOBAs. There are still some things I think that could use some work. Heroes are very expensive, and I don’t think players earn gold fast enoughxiii. However the game is in beta right now, after all. If this is the direction the game is headed, then I sure am glad to be along for the ridexiv.

 

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