The hype has been building over the past few weeks for the imminent launch of Heroes of the Storm 2.0, but the question really seems to be “Is this enough to save the game?” I’m going to take a look at some of the features announced and try to answer the question today! Keep reading to hear my answer.
What were the problems in the first place?
Some of the biggest issues with Heroes of the Storm are just a matter of growing the game, things like lack of Heroes, balance, and matchmaking imbalance are constantly improving due to the growth and evolution of the game, but from a very basic level there are some significant problems that need to be addressed.
The first issue that I don’t think will be resolved anytime soon is that Heroes of the Storm is based off the Starcraft 2 engine. This isn’t bad right off but it has some major limitations. If you have played Heroes of the Storm much you have no doubt encountered the incredibly inefficient “Reconnecting” Screen. Players who lag behind or lose connection to the server will be forced into a screen that tells them “Server is ____ Seconds ahead. Reconnecting” and on multiple occasions a lag spike of 3 or 4 seconds has taken me thirty or more seconds to resolve. This has to do with the Starcraft engines method of recording mouse clicks and button presses then forcing the player to resolve them all before just allowing them to play. Of all the problems this game has this is without a doubt the worst. I don’t think its going to be resolved soon, but if Dota 2 and League of Legends can launch new game engines hopefully Heroes of the Storm can too.
The second problem is bad character design. This has been slowly improving but the developers started with some very poorly designed characters and although the game has introduced some amazing new ones since then there are still some broken characters, for better or worse. Let me put it this way, while League of Legends will redesign older characters every few months to bring them back into the meta Heroes of the Storm has had to do MASSIVE changes to almost every launch character to keep them relevant or from breaking the game. There was also a lack of thought when it came to the characters that were released late last year and even up until recently. Nearly every character released entered the game massively overpowered or laughably underpowered. In cases like Zarya the characters would have a win rate swing of roughly 30 points in a week as the developers tweaked and changed them. In a game without an item shop characters that are so powerful or weak represent a massive problem. With that said the new balance team seems to be doing a better job of late. Characters enter the game and need only a few tweaks and their win rate usually only changes a few points. I hope to see this continue but it’s worth keeping an eye on! (I’m looking at you Genji!)
The third issue is lack of progression. Heroes of the Storm launched with players having to buy characters with real money or with gold they could earn after matches or by completing challenges. The trouble is that some players would earn gold faster than they could spend it. They would own all the characters, own their master skins, and still be accumulating gold. Obviously this represents a small percentage of players, but it’s not just gold. Players can level their profile and each hero. Both of these had caps. A player can hit level 40 but after that the levels stop. Heroes can be leveled up to 20 but once again after that point the leveling is capped. I never understood why either of these arbitrary level caps were placed in the game, but luckily Heroes 2.0 will remove the cap and give players rewards for leveling up just like in Overwatch.
The fourth problem I have met was lack of loot chests. While some players will loudly proclaim their dislike of loot chests the much louder sound is the opening of wallets. Giving players a way to earn random rewards is better on both sides of the game. Players may get something for a character they’ve never played and decide to try them out, and developers get cash from people who want to get items and buy lots of chests. The new loot boxes are a great addition and will undoubtably fix this problem. It also gives the developers a way to introduce new items. Things like announcer packs, UI packs, and terrain changes have been in Dota 2 for a while so seeing them added to Heroes is awesome.
What is changing?
There is a “roadmap” of changes up on the Heroes of the Storm site now but let’s take a look at what’s been announced. So far things started off with the announcement of Cassia, the Loot chests, and player progression. After that the new map Hanamura, and Genji were announced. Last night Mega Hero bundles were announced, these granting 20 heroes to any player who logs in during the launch celebration. All of these are great, and I believe a watershed moment in the development of Heroes of the Storm. In the past the team was so focused on eSports and growing the pro scene that the completely ignored the fact that if there are no new players there won’t be any Pro players. The update is beautiful because it gives new players incentive to play, it also will tip people who were on the fence into playing since they will finally be able to earn tons of new stuff when they log in!
Make sure you watch the intro video and check back on April 25th to see the final update and launch of Heroes 2.0!