Daily Egyptian

New contender “Heroes of the Storm” enters the multiplayer online battle arena

The multiplayer online battle arena genre is all the rage today.

More commonly referred to as MOBAs, it is one of the highest grossing genres in the world. For the most part, games in the genre have the same setup with minor differences.

Blizzard Entertainment’s “Heroes of the Storm” tries to change that, while still being able to stand out among its competitors. 

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If you were to look at “Heroes of the Storm” for the first time, it looks like your classic MOBA. Two teams of five people control their avatars, which have unique abilities. A person’s avatar is selected at the start of a match and usually fills a certain role for the team.

The objective is to fight against the other team to destroy their core, a structure deep in each team’s territory, while simultaneously defending their own. The match ends when a team’s core is destroyed. Similarly, you control your avatar from a bird’s eye view, and use your mouse and keyboard to issue commands to the avatar.

“Heroes of the Storm” operates like your standard MOBA. It has a free to play business model, meaning you can play the entirety of the game for free. The developers make money through users purchasing characters, their outfits and experience boosters to help you level up faster.

This game stands out because it tweaks much of the standard aspect of games in the genre.

The average match length is only about 20 minutes, compared to around 45 minutes in other MOBAs. There are seven different maps to play on, while other games usually only have one or two. Also, they have removed the purchasing of items that are used to upgrade your avatar in each match.

The match length is a breath of fresh air. Because a “Heroes of the Storm” match is shorter, it lets you get right to the good part, brawling with the enemy team. This makes the game much more fast-paced and rewards you more quickly than its competitors.

The map variety is a huge bonus too. It keeps the game very fresh because you never get bogged down or bored going through the same routine because you are constantly playing in a different environment. Each map also has its own specific team objective that when gained or won greatly benefits the team that obtains it.

A fun little touch to the game is individual character leveling. This is a nice added feature that rewards you and gives you something else to work toward. Ultimately, it leads to a very cool looking custom outfit for the character that can be bought using the in-game currency once it is unlocked.

The most drastic change however is that you can no longer upgrade your character in a match by purchasing items. Customizing your character’s attributes and upgrading them is a large part of the fun of playing MOBAs.

Blizzard’s solution to this is in the form of talents.

As you play through a match you gain experience. When you gain enough experience, you will level-up and become stronger. You will continue to do so until the match ends. At specific levels you get a choice of abilities that tweak or upgrade the way your character performs. This is the perfect answer to not having to buy items.

This quicker upgrade system keeps you in the fight longer and allows for less downtime between the action. This removes an aspect of MOBAs called “last hitting,” which requires the player to deliver the finishing blow to enemies to gain currency. Some think this is essential to an MOBA experience, while others would argue it is a tedious distraction. Ultimately, it fits perfectly in “Heroes of the Storm.”

The game has very few problems. The only real issue is how restrictive the talent system can be on new players. Each avatar has talents that can only be unlocked after you play them long enough. Restricting those talent choices can sometimes be a bit of a chore and give you a disadvantage.

For experienced veterans who are new to “Heroes of the Storm,” this can be a very big turn off because it feels as if the developers are handcuffing you. This is just an unnecessary hurdle. Fortunately, once you reach overall player or account level 25 it removes this restriction.

As far as aesthetics are concerned, the game looks and feels great. The graphics are crisp and retain a cartoon-like art style that will age well in the years to come.

The sound design is also excellent. The alerts in a match are varied and stand out to help you communicate with your allies. The sound also adds a ton of flair between the characters in a match as they often smack talk with one another.

If you are a long time Blizzard fan, you will notice a lot of familiar faces such as characters from their bigger titles like “Warcraft,””Starcraft” and “Diablo,” as well as some old classics.

“Heroes of the Storm” definitely adds a freshness to the genre that seems to be very good at staying the same. But, if you enjoy your classic MOBA style, perhaps this is not for you.

Either way, it is a high quality experience that respects your time and is worth checking out.

Playable on Windows or Mac personal computers.

4.75 stars out of 5

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