Video Game Review: Heroes of the Storm

Details: Released in 2015. For PC only. Requires an internet connection. Don’t know how many hours I’ve played since Blizzard doesn’t show that information. My player profile is level sixteen.

I’ve played games in the genre of Heroes of the Storm for a long time. I first started over a decade ago with the first Dota game which was just a used map settings map in Warcraft III. The next game I tried out was League of Legends. I went into this game hoping for something new, some new twist on the mechanics established in Dota. What I found was an inferior clone of Dota. While League of Legends was still better than Heroes of Newerth (which was almost an exact clone of Dota), League of Legends introduced some new ideas, relabeled some existing ideas, and took out a lot of the mechanics established in Dota. In League of Legends, I did not find a new experience nor did I find progress. I found a money-grubbing Dota clone with less strategy, less complexity, and what was overall a lesser game.

Now, years later, I’ve replayed League of Legends and, though there’s some progress, League of Legends still strikes me as an inferior game to what is now known as Dota 2. Furthermore, it fails to push the genre into new territory and offer an improvement or at least a distinction from what Dota is. However, where League of Legends fails, Heroes of the Storm succeeds. Heroes of the Storm is a sufficiently different experience so as to fill a need in this genre of video games that is not filled by any other game.

Where League of Legends is arguably an easier version of Dota, Heroes of the Storm is a far easier of even League of Legends. Heroes of the storm seeks to create a game in this genre that is accessible and easy for newcomers to pickup. It does so by doing away with game mechanics that can be considered pillars of this game genre.

There are no items to purchase in Heroes of the Storm. Characters progress purely through leveling and gaining to skills/spells. Items is a profoundly intrinsic part of League of Legends and to a greater extent, Dota 2. To do away with items is huge and simplifies Heroes of the Storm greatly. There are also no individual levels. The team levels together and has an team experience pool. It’s a very interesting idea and different from other games.

Heroes of the Storm also attempts to tackle a problem that both Dota 2 and League of Legends have: there’s usually only one main map to play. Both Dota 2 and League of Legends have tried to introduce other maps, but most players choose to play games on the primary map and nothing else. The reason why makes sense if you think of these games like sports. Imagine if someone wanted to make changes to a soccer or abaseball field by adding hills or hurdles or perhaps even a small pond in the center. It’s a stupid idea and no sports fans really wants to see it. The same applies to games in this genre. Any changes to the field greatly affect play and may give unforeseen advantages or disadvantages to either side. However, changes to the map can be interesting, even if it is a risky endeavor. While both League and Dota 2 have introduced other maps and game modes, only Dota 2 has attempted changes to that single primary map.

Heroes of the Storm goes even further and creates multiple maps with multiple varying objectives in each map. Objectives generally relate to collecting things or holding a point on the map which will subsequently cause damage to the enemy’s base. But how does Blizzard convince players to try these other maps? After all, players’ behavior generally cause them to play one primary map and one map only. Blizzard solved this problem by forcing players to play a map at random. That’s right. You cannot choose which map you play in Heroes of the Storm. Maps are chosen at random and players are forced to play that map. Normally, I would say this is a stupid idea. However, Heroes of the Storm is so easy and its maps so straightforward that this isn’t really that bad. The primary maps in League of Legends and Dota 2 are much more complex and require much more time in order to master.

Something I don’t like about this game and League of Legends is that heroes/champions are not all unlocked from the get go. You have to grind out in-game currency and unlock them or pay real money to unlock them. However, Heroes of the Storm gives out loot and in game currency much more often than League of Legends does so the feeling of progression and pacing in regards to unlocking heroes and cosmetics is much better than in League.

Also worth mentioning is that all the heroes in Heroes of the Storm are trademarked characters from other Blizzard franchises. This isn’t a big deal for people who haven’t played Blizzard games before, but as a fan of the company’s past games, it’s a whole lot of fun running down a lane as an angel from Diablo or a medic from Starcraft.

Visually, this game is arguably the best looking game in the genre. It’s easily better than League of Legends and arguably a little better than Dota 2.

Overall, Heroes of the Storm offers something new to the genre. Games are simpler, faster, and more accessible than any game that came before. And yet there is that classic element of teamwork that games in this genre require. I will say that since this is a new game, there is a noticeable lack of skill an ability in the player base that is otherwise present in Dota 2 and League of Legends. Heroes of the Storm hasn’t been around that long and people are still figuring it out. Even so, I enjoyed the game and can easily recommend it to anyone wanting to try this genre of video games out without wanting to invest the time and effort that games like Dota 2 and League of Legends require.

Score: 7/10

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