Heroes of the Storm. © Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment was probably frustrated by the fact that its iconic heroes from Warcraft were used to create one of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena video games. More than a decade after DotA became popular worldwide (read the full review of Dota 2 here), they decided to counter with a MOBA game of their own. This is how Heroes of the Storm came to be and the game can be played on Microsoft Windows as well as OS X. Released in June 2015, it draws inspiration from the popular Warcraft Mod, while emphasizing the importance of team play.

Key facts about Heroes of the Storm

  • Heroes of the Storm is defined as a “hero brawler” by its creators, as the game combines elements of action-strategy and MOBA.
  • There are dozens of Heroes of the Storm characters and plenty of builds combinations, as players are supposed to react to their opponents’ strategy.
  • Compared to other MOBA games, Heroes of the Storm is played at a faster pace, with frantic fights and players focusing on completing various objectives.
  • HOTS has an impressive set of maps, each with its own objective and the importance of completing them dwarfs individual performance.
  • In Heroes of the Storm players don’t level up individually but as a team, therefore there are no discrepancies between the best and the worst players.
Screenshot of Heroes of the Storm. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of Heroes of the Storm. © Blizzard Entertainment

The Heroes of the Storm games

In Heroes of the Storm players can choose between several different types of games, starting with the tutorial. This introductory mode allows players to get familiar with the abilities of several characters as well as the basic game mechanics. Players assume the role of Jim Raynor and complete a few objectives in a highly scripted mission, before moving on to the next level.

Training is an intermediary mode in which players can compete against five opponents controlled by the AI, to hone their skills. The third type of Heroes of the Storm game is also played against the AI, but the difficulty bar can be increased. The first real challenge is to win a Quick Match, in which two teams of five players compete against each other on the official maps.

Some of the most challenging Heroes of the Storm games are played in draft mode, with only those players who have reached level 30 qualifying. The result of each match counts towards improving their position in the hierarchy and they can monitor progress by checking out the ladder system. Team League is following the same format, only this time players to compete as a team rather than individuals and this type of game is only unlocked when all players are level 40.

Some of the most popular Heroes of the Storm games are custom matches, where players enjoy more freedom in setting the rules. They are preferred by those who host tournaments, as they can prepare a predetermined game of up to five players against just as many opponents. Since these games are more suitable for tournaments, they also allow players to enter as observers.

What is Heroes of the Storm?

Heroes of the Storm is one of the latest games developed by Blizzard Entertainment in which characters from some of the most popular games produced by the videogame developer compete against each other. StarCraft, Diablo, Warcraft characters use some of their original abilities as well as new ones, while engaging in team fights. Cooperation and preparation are far more important in Heroes of the Storm than in other multiplayer online battle arena games, as each hero plays a specific role.

Gameplay of Heroes of the Storm

The Heroes of the Storm gameplay revolves around two teams of five players each trying to complete various objectives on one of the 8 maps. Some heroes are free to play on a weekly basis, while others can be unlocked using in game currency as well as real money. The game is funded through micro-transactions and real cash can also be spent on special skins and hero bundles, without actually affecting the balance of the game.

The Heroes of the Storm maps are slightly different from the ones made popular by MOBA games, as not all of them have the standard three lines. Special buildings, mercenary camps and other key objectives are scattered across the map and players need to control them to win the match. Computer-controlled units are pouring from each base and they fight each other on the two or three lanes, with players earning cash and experience when killing them.

As players level up, they get new abilities while improving existing ones and they get to spend talent points to empower and customize their heroes. The leveling system is truly different from other similar games, as players move up the ladder as a team, rather than individuals. You won’t see heroes that have several levels above their teammates in Heroes of the Storm, although the more successful teams can gain a significant advantage over their rivals.

Plot of Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm doesn’t have a single player campaign and except for the tutorial and training missions, players have little to do by themselves. While virtually all 40 Heroes of the Storm characters have their own compelling narrative, they don’t bring any elements of the original story from the classic games. Their connection to StarCraft, Diablo and Warcraft was partially severed, as it is relegated to a couple of lines uttered on the battlefield and the jokes they crack when they fight their arch enemies. In the absence of a fully fledged single player campaign, we can’t talk about a Heroes of the Storm plot.

Development of Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm was announced back in 2010 at BlizzCon, when a couple of maps from StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty were adjusted to support an arcade feature. The audience was impressed with the modding abilities introduced in StarCraft and soon after, Blizzard Entertainment started to work on a standalone product. Their intention was to come up with a game that was played much faster than classic MOBA titles, while emphasizing the importance of teamwork.

When the Heroes of the Storm release date was announced, the fans expected the game to go by the name of Blizzard All-Stars. The name was eventually dropped and the software developer chose Heroes of the Storm instead, as this title better captures the essence of the game. Beta testing started in 2015 and resumed a couple of months later, with 9 million players signing up for a chance to test the game before the official release. The full version of Heroes of the Storm was released on June 2, 2015.

Where can I download Heroes of the Storm?

Heroes of the Storm is a free to play game that can be downloaded from the official website but also from the Blizzard Entertainment Launcher. This serves as a unified game client for Starcraft, Diablo and Warcraft as well as all other games released or announced by Blizzard. The game is free and you don’t have to pay for a Heroes of the Storm download, but players can spend real currency to purchase skins or to unlock hero bundles.

What are others saying about Heroes of the Storm?

Heroes of the Storm’s release date was postponed several times, but when it is finally available, the critics were swept off their feet. The enthusiasm generated among the fans was just as great, despite the fact that there were plenty of bugs to fix in the early stages. Blizzard took a chance and decided to release the game a bit faster, due to the tremendous pressure exercised by the anxious fans. Some Heroes of the Storm reviews complained about the numerous flaws, but the average score still hit 88 out of 100.

Screenshot of Heroes of the Storm. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of Heroes of the Storm. © Blizzard Entertainment

Heroes of the Storm tournaments

Heroes of the Storm is a very new game, therefore the number of tournaments is relatively small but the game shows tremendous potential. There are already Heroes of the Storm tournaments sponsored by Blizzard and players host similar competitions on various servers. The custom game features allow a great deal of flexibility and those who want to host such an event have all the tools they need to do it.

Millions of players are already playing Heroes of the Storm and Blizzard Entertainment succeeded to spread the news across its entire gaming ecosystem. StarCraft and Warcraft fans are also playing the MOBA game and its surging popularity makes it a strong contender for a place at the World Cyber Games. There is now a Blizzard World Championship launched in 2016.

My rating of Heroes of the Storm

I couldn’t resist the temptation of playing a game inspired by the entire Blizzard universe and bringing together characters I grew up with. Heroes of the Storm aspires to be the best MOBA game out there, but it has a long way to go to outshine its world-famous competitors and for the time being I rate it 8.5 out of 10. It builds on the popular ideas of the genre, but it is bold enough to challenge some of the basic concepts, to highlight the importance of team play. I wouldn’t pass any opportunity of playing a Blizzard game and I would recommend any multiplayer online battle arena fan to check it out.

Overall Score