Heroes of the Storm has been progressing well. Blizzard Entertainment remains steadfast that the company’s entry into the bursting multiplayer online battle arena is so not ready for prime time that the Alpha Development label is still prominently featured. Sure, Blizzard announced during BlizzCon 2014 that HotS is heading to beta testing in January, but that’s two months away!
This wasn’t the only exciting news that fans of the fledgling MOBA were given during the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2014. In addition to a rare release date from Blizzard, the company teased three upcoming heroes and two all-new maps set in the same, unique universe. These maps, which, if you’ve watched the MOBA Monday livestream, act as nearly-new game modes, aren’t tied to any existing Blizzard universe. Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall (as opposed to Go’el) are your more typical MOBA characters. At the front lines launching devastating attacks at opponents. The Lost Vikings, like Abathur before them, will once again shake up the expectations of MOBA players.
The full first impression, tons of screenshots and the trailer after the cut.
Sky Temple is the latest unique map to enter the Nexus. Not to be confused with any Egyptian-styling from Diablo or Warcraft, the Sky Temple is its own universe. The central conflict rests in obelisks spread throughout the map. Controlling them will launch attacks against the opposing team’s fortifications, not dissimilar to the canons of Blackheart. After a fistful of attacks are launched the obelisks guards will rise to defend their territory. Should your team defeat these rather powerful guardians, five far more powerful attacks will be unleashed. Obelisk control is key, so don’t let your guard down when the obelisks become active or they may end up being the last thing you see.
Tomb of the Spider Queen
The Tomb of the Spider Queen wasn’t available on the show floor, but Blizzard was happy to discuss the map. Below the lands of Sky Temple resides an extremely rich culture lorded over by the Spider Queen. Her majesty has been distraught of late. Her children, spiderlings to be exact, have escaped her side. Should you rescue you from the creepy labyrinthe she’ll award you by sending massive arachnids to send your foes to their graves.
Heaven and Hell (Diablo-themed Battleground)
Heaven and Hell is an early example of the Nexus taking the cross-universe dimensional struggle to the a land understood by at least some of its combatants. Blizzard provided no gameplay details for the map, but as the early concept shows, it’s an epic struggle of the High Heavens and Burning Hell.
Jaina Proudmoore has been built as a frost mage in Heroes of the Storm. As you may surmise she’s one to unleash a chilly death upon her opponents. Featuring great burst damage and the ability to chase down her opponents she’s a classic example of offense is the best defense. Her Blizzard ability unleashes some devastating shards of ice across a small area, which can completely swing the outcome of a team fight when correctly placed. Why doesn’t she have access to other forms of magic? Simple, Blizzard chose to emphasize her frost abilities and leave the other magics to upcoming heroes.
Thrall has been an incoming Heroes of the Storm combatant for over a year. Showcased at BlizzCon 2013 as a support character, his entire kit was passed to Rehgar. Thrall was reworked to focus on his time as the leader of the horde. More specifically, his early Warchief Thrall years. The age when he lead the charge, assaulting his foes directly while unleashing supportive spells for his allies and destructive magic against those that stand against him. Fear this interpretation of Thrall. He’s a highly sustainable damage dealer.
The crowd went nuts when Blizzard announced last year that older game characters, such as Blackthrone, would be entering the Nexus. We hadn’t seen it yet, until the crowd went nuts after seeing the ultimate ability of The Lost Vikings. Greenlit based on the rampant success of Abathur, the Lost Vikings are the third vastly unique “character” to grace Heroes of the Storm. Highly complicated to obtain their full potential, players can control the vikings individually or as a group. Talents may unlock abilities for the trio, a single aspect of the Lost Vikings or as impressive passives. The trio may act as a bit more than one hero when working together, but may have more of a team impact when broken up. And yes, you can put each viking in a lane separately. You know, if you’ve that amazing StarCraft micro that you want to apply to Heroes of the Storm.
Blizzard Entertainment continues to refine what players can expect from the MOBA genre. The company that saw the genre spawned from a mod of its Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos has unleashed a hero that shuns the front lines and one that dies more often than not. Now the game designers are attempting a minion-based hero that players control directly. And let’s not forget that three upcoming maps look to shake up team composition to boot.
Stay tuned for our upcoming full interview!