First, I think Aba is an incredibly inventive design. I think he is way better designed than similar characters in other MOBAS (Yuumi). He is one of those "reasons why HotS is HotS." I think the dev team has updated him many times to coincide with changing map philosophies, and that's pretty insane to think about how hard that is.
That being said, I think Abathur currently hurts a lot of player's enjoyment of this game (with only anecdotal evidence to prove that). I play with a lot of Abathur mains, against a LOT of Abathurs in QM, and he's banned a LOT in high ranked (top 10 in bans). It is entirely possible that some of my frustration is painted by an overabundance of Abathur games played both with and against. But as I go forward, you'll see that's one of the problems I have with him…It…That…The Slug. Here they go:
- Bad Abathur players have very few ways to feel that they aren't playing well. There are Abathurs that can sit quietly next to forts and keeps and never be in danger. While you might say that the good Abathurs go out and body soak xp, a bad Abathur has no way of really feeling that difference. Dying, getting ganked, missing skillshots, or getting forced off an objective is how players are told that they aren't playing well. Abathurs don't receive any of these punishments. I would love data of team chat to see how often Abathur players type "mb".
I have regularly played with Abathurs that I've outsoaked in xp, and they think they did fine because they didn't die, and did okay in xp soak. This leads to the next problem.
- There are so many Abathur players. A hero where you never feel like you're the reason the team lost is very appealing. A hero that never has to sit out a death timer is very very appealing. Now this is fine in a vacuum, but Abathur completely changes how you have to play the game. The game was designed in a specific way, and Abathur's whole shtick is that he tweaks the way the map can be played. Similar to The Lost Vikings, and to some degree Murky. It really is a cool twist, and is exciting… every once in a while. HOTSlogs says that in QM, Abathur has a 30% popularity rate. A little less than 1 in 3 QM games will have an Abathur in it. Adding in Murky (16.9) and TLV (3.7), and we have a large amount of games that are funky in some way shape or form. I know, it's Quickmatch. But that's how most people play this game. "Go play unranked" you say. Most of my friends don't want to. But then they groan when they see an Abathur! Unless they're the one playing it.
- Evolve Monstrosity & MULE. I strongly believe these talents are not in accordance with the current game philosophy, as I understand it. I am not the devs, and I can be wrong here, but it seems like they actively tried to take out the "AFK push" specialists from the game. They even changed Abathur's talents to be in line with this! Yet Evolve Monstrosity still exists which encourages an AFK pushing mentality more than it doesn't. And it wins! In QM it has a 37.3& pick rate and a +50% win rate. That talent also forces the rest of the team to adjust their game play. I have a common refrain with a few of my friends. "Oh, they took monstrosity not clone. No more team fights for the rest of the game!" It forces your team to always be fighting 4.5 v 5.
It ends up feeling like a selfish, uncontestable choice made by the Abathur that shifts how the rest of the 4 have to play.
MULE has been removed from every other hero in the game. It has extremely feelsbad counter play. Its counter play encourages opponents to overstay to take down a tower. It is currently the only ability in the game that undoes a map objective. It is extremely frustrating to play against (especially on Sky Temple and Warhead Junction), has the highest winrate on that talent tier in ranked, and requires minimal skill to actually use.
- He combos with heroes in ways that require drafting to counter. I know, "that's quickmatch" you say. You don't get to draft. But we've all played the Ill-bathur game with no stuns. It is the kind of combo that Tassadar used to encourage with Tracer. They changed both of those heroes away from that synergy, not necessarily because of that combo, but I don't think anyone's really sad that they don't have to play against it anymore.
IDEAS!!! While none of these may be feasible, or actually good ideas, maybe it will generate some thinking that leads to good ideas in the future.
- Have the strength of Abathur's Symbiote shield and damage scale with Abathur's proximity to the target. This would provide reasons why Abathur's target died that can actually be attributed to Abathur, and reduce the "AFK push" mentality. It would also encourage and compliment good and AGGRESSIVE Abathur positioning, especially when all the forts are down. To really get that push value, you need to move up outside of your base abby. On the flip side, "Way to go Abby, how did they not see you there?? Good dig out!"
- Have Abathur take a portion of the damage that is dealt to the Symbiote target. This would prevent the Ill-bathur, or the forever hatted Muradin insanity. It could work for a bit, but then Abathur would HAVE to un-hat his target. Maybe base or go to fountain? It would give Abathur some sort of management to deal with. Poorly managed, it might let Abathur die!!! Imagine the thrill of killing him when you're against him. Imagine hearing a "mb" from your own Abathur! A recognition that they misplayed!!
- Give Abathur mana or energy, or a time limit for how long he can use symbiote on a target. Some sort of management could really help Abathur players feel the sting of playing sub-optimally. Make them have to think about doing things outside of spamming Symbiote abilities and mines. It also gives the enemy team a way to counter play against Abathur without having to kill him. "Abathur just spammed a bunch of abilities, he's probably down for a bit. Force a fight! NJNJ"
Thanks for reading! I hope I did what the devs value in explaining why I think something is a problem, not just stating that it is a problem. My goal is to provide valuable feedback, not just rage/complain, so if there are ways that I can improve, please let me know.
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© Post "A Quick Positive, Then Problems I Have With Abathur, Then Ideas" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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