The biggest is the addition of a new hero and new map, though technically the reveal wasn’t new—Tomb of the Spider Queen and Sylvanas were already teased at BlizzCon. But at PAX, game director Dustin Browder revealed more about each, including the kit for the siege assassin Sylvanas.
The banshee queen, Sylvanas is a dark archer who uses her power to control the undead to dominate enemy minions. Her basic attacks suppress enemy minion and turret attacks, making her a powerful pusher. One of her abilities allows her to fire on the move, with another, Haunting Wave, shooting out a projectile that she can teleport to. She also has a plague-like damage over time spell that spreads to nearby enemies.
The kit adds up to a split pushing monster, and her two ultimate abilities support that play style. One is a long-range arrow that silences enemies in a radius when it hits, similar to an Ashe ultimate in League of Legends, giving Sylvanas more power to affect other lanes while she split pushes. Her other ultimate allows her to mind control enemy minions, including mercenaries.
Sylvanas looks like a split push powerhouse, capable of destroying a lane fast and escaping when the enemy comes to assassinate her.
The new map, Tomb of the Spider Queen, represents a change from the others in the game in that it’s tiny. The focus is on pushing lanes with minions, since the size means that buildings will start falling fast.
In addition to the new content, Blizzard is implementing a number of new changes.
One of the most popular among competitive players is the removal of talent gating once a player reaches level 30 on their account. Talent gating, blocking the access of certain builds for heroes until a player reaches a certain level on that hero, is supposed to ease new players into a new hero and play style. But for veterans, it ruins the experience of playing a new hero since your options are limited to often suboptimal builds. This change allows players who are familiar enough with the game to know what they’re doing even on a new hero to avoid the annoying gating.
Another change that could prove a boon to competitive play is another revamp of the user interface. It’s the second time Blizzard has overhauled the UI, but it’s a needed change after many new game systems, like the competitive Hero League, were added to the game.
Blizzard is also adding the ability to mute allies to allow players to opt out of toxic teammates, and introducing support for clans, essentially a social feature that allows non-competitive players to conglomerate and play. Blizzard is also looking into implementing a better “rating system.”
One thing fans were really excited about was a change to progression. Many feel that gold gains are too low to give players the feeling like they’re actually earning new heroes. Blizzard is adding “moar gold,” though the method probably isn’t what players would have preferred.
It’s adding 10 more levels to hero progression, the leveling system for each individual hero. And it’s adding two one-time gold rewards in that progression, which means players can earn 3,750 more gold per hero. Also, every five levels from account level 20 to 40 will earn the players 2,000 gold. The one-time bonuses certainly make it easier for a new player to earn another character, and the extra gold from hero levels will help the more hardcore. But an extra 3,750 gold per hero purchased only goes so far in buying heroes that cost 10,000 and even 15,000 gold.
The Heroes of the Storm PAX East panel revealed nothing ground breaking, save perhaps the new Heroes of the Dorm collegiate competition, but the tweaks Blizzard is making shows they’re committed to building a title that challenges games like League of Legends and Dota 2 in the crowded MOBA space.
Screengrab via Blizzard