I decided to sleep on whether or not continue playing. I only recently got into the game, bought stuff for it, and am trying not to regret it! 🙁 I've played plenty of MOBAs, but most especially League and Smite, and had always been interested in HOTS because of some of what it does differently. Here are my thoughts.
• Cast: I love the characters. They're great. It's one of the big draws, getting to play as the characters from different Blizzard games I've enjoyed over the years. This is by far the game's strong suit, and although there are some questionable choices, overall, they really do make you feel like this is some otherworld where all Blizzard universe characters get drawn to compete in eternal contests like gods (helped by the fact that they're so much larger than the people you see in the maps).
• General Mechanics: I really like the rules that are different here. Shared XP, no item shop, no gold, talent trees instead of items. This to me is really fun. You get your whole kit right out the gate and can just go. Then it's more about tailoring aspects of your hero to the needs of a given match.
• Variation: More variation is good! There are more maps, more objectives, more opportunities to experiment a little. I really like this, and I like almost every map, with a few exceptions. Blackheart's Bay is yet to be fun at all; I have gathered that it's a PVE map, but I don't like it at all. The layout is awful and the gameplay, which completely ignores the "teamfight-oriented" nature of this game, is similarly bad. I also dislike Hanamura, but that's no different from Overwatch. -_-
• Balance: This is where we run into problems. This game is very, very poorly balanced. It feels a lot worse than Smite or League ever did. Many of the game's heroes are subpar, have only one viable talent build, or both. Others are so oppressive they have little counterplay, like Samuro, Abathur, Zeratul, and so on.
This one is something my friend, who has been playing almost since the beginning, agrees upon, and has more to say. I noticed this sub is also so fond of Abathur that you can't say anything bad about him or you get piled on, but he's just not a healthy MOBA design.
• Matchmaking: Matchmaking is also astonishingly bad. Out of hundreds of games played now, maybe a handful were actually even. Most were a complete stomp for us or against us. You can't play QM, even though it's supposed to be the most popular mode, because it's not an enjoyable experience. Abathur ruins QM games, and team comps are often so uneven it's like the matchmaker deliberately tried to counter one team. Or you get all low-level players on the one side and high-level players on the other.
• Community: This is a rough one. I've played in a lot of gaming communities, including many that aren't usually very welcoming for me. The fighting game community is notorious for its toxicity, especially to anyone who is different in any way, and so is League. Neither one compare to this game. The disgusting stuff you see in General, the toxicity in-game, the moment I dare get on voice and get attacked for anything and everything: gender, character choice, gameplay, etc.
This is hands down the worst community I've ever seen in a game. It's hard to imagine that it gets any worse than this one. For a team-based game, this alone is pretty lethal. Add to that the matchmaking woes and the really poor state of overall balance and I am afraid I can see why the game never went as far as it was supposed to.
On to more positive things! Here are some of the heroes that I've found I really enjoy in each role, which is were this game shines. There are tons of honorable mentions, but this is where I'm at.
• Diablo: Diablo is very fun for a tank. I have always been a fan of the series and this makes it more fun, but I've noticed you can be a real terror if you play with some discipline. It's a little easy to dive in recklessly, but if you get out of that habit, he's tons of fun.
• Anub'arak: One of my favorite characters from WC3, Anub'arak is just as awesome here. I've found him so good for engaging, disengaging, and generally just doing tank things that I think he's my favorite overall. Kinky!
• Artanis: Probably my favorite Starcraft character, I really enjoy Artanis here, though his builds seem very limited. He also just seems watered down compared to most of the other melee guys, but he's one of my favorite kinds of heroes.
• Yrel: OMG looooove Yrel. Draenei in general. She feels so strong! You can't ignore her. She jumps in and has such a presence in the fight. I love her ability to disrupt, and trait + hammer to peel for teammates. So much fun. I just wish I could justify ever taking her other ultimate, but with so much displacement in the game, it doesn't seem to ever work better.
• Alexstrasza: Hands down my favorite Warcraft character by a huge margin (well, okay, maybe tied with Sylvanas), I love Alex in this game. Her playstyle, her design, it's all great. I love everything about her. Especially when it's time to pull out all the stops and turn into a Dragonqueen and fight for life itself.
• Whitemane: My other favorite healer and a fun character. I gather she was reworked, so I don't know 100% what she was like before, and she seems to be one of those ones with limited viable builds, but she is lots of fun. The voice acting is superb. Ohohohohoho!
• Valeera: Love me some Blood Elves, including Valeera. I played her in a game where the Zeratul kept diving our backline, and I made it my mission to ruin his life. It worked well! I countered him, especially with the silence. She is one of those with very little talent variation, though. Shake it off, Valeera!
• Sylvanas: Another Warcraft favorite, I made a thread about her. She's great fun. This is the DPS where I feel like I make the most impact in team fights. She does so much damage, and her trait is great for making a push lethal. I really love playing her. FOR THE HORDE!
• Lunara: Dryads are always fun, and I really like her in this game. Second favorite ranged DPS to play. Mobility + Sentinel Wisp + poison is too good. For the wilds!
• Varian: Deserves special mention, since he can play two different roles. Of all his three modes, by far I prefer Taunt Varian. He feels like a high-damage tank and if you have a decent team, the lockdown makes for a great focus fire to take out a dangerous enemy. No potions!
• Illidan: FEEL THE HATRED OF TEN THOUSAND YEARS! Love it. He's very feast-or-famine, but when it's feasting time, Illidan is so much fun. I like his character from the source quite a lot. And his playstyle is great in this once you start to get the hang of him. He's so tricky, though. It's just so all or nothing with him.
• Kerrigan: The Queen of Blades! Yay! What else can I say? She's a lot of fun if you are hitting combos. She has some really awesome skins, too. She's like Illi: really risky, kinda go all-in, so you have to learn to wait and have some patience to only go in at the right moment.
So the verdict? I decided not to give up on the game yet, but it was pretty close. The positives are great. I like how the game differs from the normal MOBA formula. I love the cast (these universes are what drew me to this game to begin with), for the most part. Certain heroes, like Abathur and Samuro especially, are almost enough to ruin the game completely. They're that bad. The community also makes it very difficult to want to stay.
However, the gameplay itself, outside of either a couple maps and a few really game-breaking heroes, is a lot of fun. I love all the skins and the obvious care that once went into the game. When everything is going right, this is way more fun than the other MOBAs are. The problem seems to be that between matchmaking, toxicity, and balance, everything more rarely seems to go right.
I'm in it now at least to learn, and though I spend money cautiously on it, I have been buying lots of heroes and checking out lots of guides, videos, etc. I've been studying for a couple years now before I really got into the game (I have a friend who swore by this one over the other MOBAs), so it's fun to finally get in and experience it all for myself.
Thank you for reading. These are my thoughts as a player really coming into Heroes of the Storm in a serious way after watching, reading, and hearing about it for years.
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