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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm reveals new Winter Veil, Altered Fate skins

Heroes of the Storm revealed another new set of character skins today: two Winter Veil skins, a Winter veil mount, and two new "Altered Fate" skins -- that is, skins that flip established lore on its head. The skins are Great-father Winter Rehgar, Winter Veil Jaina, Betrayer Malfurion, and Warden Tyrande. We're all big fans of Jaina Proudmoore here at WoW Insider, so it's likely no surprise that I personally find Winter Veil Jaina to be the best of the lot.

These skins are not yet available for purchase in the in-game shop -- which doesn't matter all that much, given precious few people are currently in the beta. All of these skins, once made available, will remain available indefinitely, however. They'll be there when you get there.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

BlizzCon 2014: Heroes of the Storm Panel

At BlizzCon 2014 Blizzard held a Heroes of the Storm panel that went over where the game is now and where it's going in the future. Instead of a live blog I'm going to give the bullet points of each segment.

What's happened since BlizzCon 2013
  • Talk-home alpha started immediately after BlizzCon 2013. Internally only, just employees, who played from home.
  • Blizzard used the take-home alpha to "find the fun" of the game, and make sure that the designers could play the game, as well as work on it.
  • Technical alpha started in March 2014. It's a very small test group. They're using this group to learn how to refine their team and learn about the development of this particular game.
  • Patches every 4 – 6 weeks, constant evolution. Lots of smaller chunks, much more often.
  • Everything is fair game for improvements.
  • Technical alpha is the core gameplay, a lot more will come in the future
  • Added Garden of Terror battleground
  • Added a lot of heroes. Murkey, Brightwing, Zagara, Rehgar, Azmodan.
  • Invites
  • Currently adding 15x the number of players than were initially invited to the alpha
  • Closed beta starts on January 13, 2015

Read more →

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm adds Hallow's End skins

Hallow's End has made its way into Heroes of the Storm with a handful of new Halloween-themed hero skins: Countess Kerrigan, Skelethur Abathur, and Infested Tychus. Technically Infested Tychus is not a Hallow's End skin, but rather Tychus's Legendary skin, but it's creepy nonetheless. If you aren't in the alpha, no sweat. The skins are a permanent addition to the game and you'll be able to buy/acquire them when the game goes public if you so desire.

Countess Kerrigan is my favorite of the lot because it plays into one of the alternate universes presented by select alternate skins -- Vampire Slayer Valla's description specifically mentions the Countess. You can imagine Vampire Slayer Valla pursuing Countess Kerrigan in a Victorian Van Helsing-y landscape. Considering the characters are from two completely different games, it tickles the imagination. Throw in World of Warcraft's San'layn as a haughty aristocracy and the scenario could support a game unto itself.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Azmodan Week in Heroes of the Storm

It's Azmodan Week in Heroes of the Storm. As usual when Heroes features a new character, they've posted Developer Insights this week, examining the design philosophy behind the character. Azmodan is a Specialist in Heroes, pulling from his role as a general of a vast demon army in Diablo III. Though he can be played as a brawler if you wish, he's more heavily based around long-distance siege damage and commanding many summoned minions and mercenaries.

Head over to the Heroes of the Storm official site to keep up on this week of Azmodan.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Do we need bigger friend lists?

This is a problem I hear about, but don't actually have, because I'm not a terribly friendly person. Try not to be shocked. But I do have some friends, and a lot of those friends are very friendly people (they'd kind of have to be to be my friends, I suppose) and they often complain that they're full up on friends. I'm not sure how one can possibly manage that many friends, but nevertheless there are folks who have completely used up all one hundred potential friends and want/need more. However, it seems they may have to wait a while. Bashiok had this to say on twitter:

This is one of those issues that makes me wonder. For one thing, the friends list actually extends past World of Warcraft - it has to be coded to work with Diablo III, Starcraft II, Hearthstone and soon Heroes of the Storm. That's a lot of different games with different code, and WoW is certainly the oldest of them. I can imagine the limits of the oldest game holding back the development. Still, for the friendly souls among us, I hope it gets solved soon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone Insider

Heroes of the Storm technical alpha returns

Heroes of the Storm has been offline for over a week of super extended maintenance -- and now it's back! There has been numerous upgrades to the backend, and everyone's purchases have been wiped. You'll find the money you spent back in your account balance, and you'll be ready to re-purchase everything.

For the next week, XP will be earned at double the rate, and everything will be played in matchmaking mode. MMR has been reset across the board, and all previous progress has been wiped. However, there are no other planned resets, so your progress now will stay put.

Blizzard also notes that they're going to be inviting more people into the game, so you can expect the pool of players to grow nicely in the coming weeks.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Anub'arak week in Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm released a hero trailer for Warcraft III's Anub'arak earlier this week. The Traitor King has thrown off the shackles of servitude and taken to the Nexus for another shot at glory. In addition to the character trailer, the Heroes of the Storm website offers an overview of the new hero's abilities and playstyle, as well as a deeper look at Anub'arak with Game Designer Kent-Erik Hagman.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Three new Heroes of the Storm

Well, gamescom is tomorrow, and we're already seeing news from it (like for instance this gigantic and frankly somewhat terrifying statue of Grommash Hellscream) but one piece of news that might have gone out a little early is this trailer. It reveals three new heroes for Heroes of the Storm -- the cunning Anub'arak, the loathsome Azmodan, and the inebriate Chen Stormstout.

Blizzard's MOBA entry is as dependent as any game on the quality of its roster of heroes, so it's not surprising that they'd beef it up, but I'll admit to being surprised on who they've chosen here. With Diablo in the game already, does Azmodan bring anything? We'll find out soon. Still, count me in among players who might have appreciated a Jaina or a Sylvanas.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New hero announced

Today a new hero option was announced for Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm: Rehgar Earthfury. I'm not surprised that Blizzard is giving us a shaman hero--after all, shaman are an iconic group in WoW lore and gameplay--but I am surprised that they've chosen Reghar as the shaman's representative. Compared to more well-known shaman in WoW such as Thrall, Rehgar tends to fly under the radar. He does, however, have his own history and tale to tell. Rehgar is one of the older generation of orcs and was born on Draenor. When Thrall came to power he eventually served as one of his advisors but before that Rehgar was a slave master who owned a particularly infamous gladiator: Varian Wrynn.

Rehgar is a support character who posseses an ability set that goes along with his shaman class: he can turn into a spirit wolf, drop totems, and call upon the elements to aid him in battle. He seems to use a fist weapon for his basic physical attack, and I'm certain he'll have a range of fun shaman specialist attacks to go along with that. Frost Shock had better be on the cards! I'll also be interested to see what additional skins he gets--maybe a Thrall makeover, complete with epic braids?

The announcement of Reghar as a hero makes me very sad that Varian isn't a playable hero option. If you've been playing the alpha or watching streams, you may have noticed that heroes with lore connections in their respective franchises often have more personalized banter when they interact on the battlefield. I would love to see what Rehgar and Varian have to say to each other, but it doesn't seem to be on the cards just yet. Here's hoping for the future!

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm previews Master Skins

The Heroes of the Storm team has been busy today, previewing both a new map and, just recently, Master Skins. Originally, Master Skins were unveiled at PAX East as a reward for individuals dedicated to playing specific heroes. Heroes of the Storm boasts a number of dramatic and even comical skins, but Master Skins function a bit differently. They're essentially evolutions of the original skins, with characters showing unique additions to their visuals, such as horns, additional props, et cetera.

The video above shows off Master Skins for characters from the Warcraft universe including Arthas, Falstad, Li Li, and Stitches. They're all unique in their own right, but just how badass does Falstad look with his mohawk? Hopefully future videos will show us what we can expect from the Diablo and StarCraft universes as Master Skins go.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New battleground revealed

Heroes of the Storm Heroes
The Heroes of the Storm official site has released a new interview with Senior Technical Designer Meng Song all about the game's new battleground map: the Garden of Terror. The Garden is a three-lane map that cycles between daytime and nighttime, with corresponding changes to both lighting and map features. During the day, there are the usual mercenary camps for players to capture, but they disappear when night falls, and instead night horrors will appear in the garden sections of the map. The night sequence ends when all night horrors are killed.

In addition, players can gather seeds by killing certain mobs scattered around the map. Once 100 seeds have been collected, players can summon a Garden Terror in their base. Much like the Dragon Shire map, the player that summons the Garden Terror becomes it, granting you two powerful abilities: Plant Horror Overgrowth, which disables and damages enemy buildings, and Spore Queen's Curse, which turns your enemies into piddling little Plant Zombies.

It's great to see a new map being added to Heroes for some extra variety. I'm really interested to see how the day/night cycle works out in gameplay, particularly because the transition is player-controlled. I'm sure there will be a variety of strategies for when and why to try and shift the map into night, and for how long to leave it there. Mostly, it will just be nice to have another possible option on the battleground roulette wheel.

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Building the Nexus: The voice of Gazlowe

The official Heroes of the Storm Youtube account highlighted a familiar voice earlier this week in its Building the Nexus segments. Travis Willingham is a man of many voices, having lent his pipes to an incredibly diverse list of characters in anime, animation, and video games alike. In Heroes of the Storm, he takes a different direction from the usual heroic-voiced roles and takes on Gazlowe, a goblin that WoW players should be plenty familiar with. The NPC was the Chief Engineer of the Horde back when Orgrimmar was being built after the Third War, but later moved to Ratchet, where he stays today. Affiliated with the Steamwheedle Cartel, Gazlowe now hands out quests to Alliance and Horde alike. He's also one of the few goblin NPCs in the game with unique voice files.

In Heroes of the Storm, Gazlowe charges into battle armed with a load of mechanics and explosives strapped to his back, and a volley of well-placed quips to hurl at opponents. The latest edition of Building the Nexus features Community Manager Josh "Rokcet" Rester-Zodrow having a chat with Willingham about the game and the unique challenges of bringing a character like Gazlowe to life. We don't usually see a lot of voice actor highlights, so this is a pretty cool behind the scenes -- I'd love to see some of these done for Warcraft as well. Take a look at the video above, and if you like it, be sure to check out the rest of what the Heroes Youtube channel has to offer.

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm alpha patch notes

A huge patch for Heroes of the Storm has dropped today. In fact, it's so big that you'll need to uninstall your current Heroes and reinstall the game completely. You might find this odd, but in a alpha test, anything is game (and remember this is still an alpha test).

There are an absolute ton of UI and character changes. It's clear that Blizzard is working hard behind the scenes to make this game as friendly and competitive as possible. There really isn't a stone that they don't turn over and do something with.

You can find the complete patch notes after the break, and look at the hero changes over on Blizzard's site.

Read more →

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

The complexity of Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm official art
Ten years ago, players told Blizzard that WoW was too simple compared to past MMOs like Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Asheron's Call. More recently, many (including me at one point) said the same about Hearthstone -- that too much complexity had been removed from the genre compared to games like Magic: The Gathering. Today, Polygon posted an interview with Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder. His message: HOTS isn't "DOTA for babies."

"If you come looking for complexity in exactly the same places," Browder said, "you will be disappointed. If you come looking for complexity wherever it may be, I think you're going to be surprised and have a great time."

Blizzard has stripped away many MOBA hallmarks, such as the item store. Browder says that other features make up for this loss of complexity. Talent selection is crucial. Map-specific objectives also play a huge role in determining the course of the battle and require careful strategy to accomplish.

In a video included with the story, Polygon's "MOBA expert" Emily Gera had some further comments on the game: "The masses don't want to play big, scary MOBA games... Blizzard is trying to create a game that has less of a barrier to entry and bypass the classic issue of MOBA games -- that MOBA games are full of jerks... There's a lot of infighting. In HOTS, everyone on the team is in it together."

What do you think? Is HOTS dumbing down the genre too much, or are these the changes the genre needs?

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New hero Murky and other changes coming soon

The Heroes of the Storm team held their fifth Developer Q&A on today. The developers discussed sweeping future changes coming to the game's alpha including a complete overhaul of the game's UI. Other major additions and changes include:
  • New hero Murky. This week is Murky Week, so a great deal of information about him is on the horizon.
  • Many heroes will be receiving a talent overhaul based on data collected on talent usage. Not only talents chosen most often across the board, but talents chosen most often in winning and losing games.
  • Arthas, Illidan, and Tyrael are receiving complete redesigns and are unlikely to be the only ones. Their current iteration doesn't fit the vision of the hero and were early designs, too bland/generic to be such iconic characters. Players tend to consider these three underwhelming at best.
  • Personal achievements are being added so you can better gauge your personal performance in-game. Currently, in-game achievements only display team efforts.
In addition, themed maps from all of Blizzard's IPs will be coming eventually. The current Haunted Mines is being reworked. So, too, is the Cursed Hollow, which has a tendency to snowball in favor of who gets the first round of idols.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

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