Heroes of the Storm

QuickMatch and Raid Finder: Different Games, Same Problem

HeroesoftheStorm 4 - QuickMatch and Raid Finder: Different Games, Same Problem
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I realised the parallels that exist between these two "game modes" today, and the similarities in the impact that they have on each community's social interaction, learning and enjoyment of each game.

I no longer play WoW, but I have raided in every expansion so far – Shadowlands will be the first that I do not get involved with. The original three versions of the game were the most enjoyable to me; Vanilla, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Players wanting to get involved had to talk to each other and get along when they formed groups. People would take you or leave you based on your character and its gear, which promoted a degree of responsibility for setting yourself up well and creating effective group/raid setups.

Dungeon and Raid Finders destroyed interaction within the WoW community. Dungeons – and raids especially – can now be run without ever paying attention to mechanics, speaking to another player, or even knowing the names and classes of the others in your group. This feature was added with an aim to cater to a casual player base that Blizzard believed would use it as a "stepping stone" before wanting a taste of the real thing, and starting raiding for real. This did not happen. Casual players did their Raid Finder wings each week, took their welfare epics and logged back out. Meanwhile more advanced players were obliged to participate in order to keep up with various daily/weekly log-in incentives. The "bridge" that Blizzard believed would lead more players into the raiding scene did no such thing.

QuickMatch is essentially Raid Finder for HotS, with all of us being obliged to trudge through it when we want to play a new hero. And it has the same negative effect on the player base's understanding of the game. It is low quality. It is chaotic. It is not remotely balanced – nothing more than a tech demo of the maps and heroes. It removes any need for players to ever interact with each other and work together. And it is what everyone who comes to play HotS experiences for a full 50 account levels before they are even eligible to play draft modes. There can be no argument that competitive HotS represents the vision of the game designers when they set out to create the game – carefully drafted synergies and counters being used together to create a team which is stronger than the sum of its parts. QuickMatch rarely – if ever – offers anything resembling this vision, leading players to draw false conclusions about what this game is about, and how they should act.

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By dragging everyone through QuickMatch, a significant number of players will be put off and will decide not to continue playing. They do this because the gameplay they are exposed to is so disorganised and of such low quality compared to what they see when they log in to a fresh copy of League or DotA. Both of these games provide game modes that are structured for their newest players, either making draft modes the default game mode (with detailed hero tags to help people understand what their team has and needs) so that drafting skills are learned from day one (DotA), or through a role queue and assigned lanes system (League). These setups allow both rival titles to make far more sense to new players, and support them far better in forming skills related to drafting, responsibilities around the map and so-on. With more understanding comes more comfort. Comfort develops the confidence to branch out and get involved in the game to a greater degree.

QuickMatch offers no such support. A new player picking Jaina into a 5v5 assassin headshot-fest does not experience Jaina gameplay. They will never have a tank to stay behind, or a healer to sustain them. They are never "the guy" who delivers the killer blow after their tank has locked down a target for them. Thus they will never learn to play Jaina sensibly and effectively, and they never understand the benefits and drawbacks of Jaina compared to other heroes. Unless they have a pre-made group of friends to play with, these players never have the choice of setting up a reasonable draft, where heroes like assassins have the supporting cast of tanks and healers around them that many hero designs require in order to function.

QuickMatch is not how Heroes of the Storm was meant to be played, any more than Raid Finder represents the true, challenging and satisfying experience of raiding in WoW. Nobody ever uploaded a (non-sarcastic) video of nerd-screams echoing through Discord when a raid finder boss was killed. Because nobody ever worked for it. And if you don't work for something, obtaining it has no satisfaction attached. I would say that "we" deserve better than this, but if you're here reading this then you/we are not really the people who need the support. New players to HotS deserve better than what they get. And we the existing player base deserve not to be mis-represented by QuickMatch as our de facto game mode.

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