Heroes of the Storm
|Heroes of the Storm|
|Release date(s)||June 2, 2015|
|Genre(s)||Multiplayer online battle arena|
Heroes of the Storm (Originally titled Blizzard DOTA and later changed to Blizzard All-Stars) is a multiplayer online battle arena developed by Blizzard Entertainment for Microsoft Windows and OS X. The game features heroes from Blizzard's franchises including Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft. The game uses both free-to-play and freemium models and is supported by micropayments, which can be used to purchase heroes, visual alterations for the heroes in the game and mounts. Blizzard does not call the game a "multiplayer online battle arena" or an "action real-time strategy" because they feel it is something different with a broader playstyle; they refer to it as an online "Hero Brawler".
Heroes of the Storm revolves around online 5-versus-5 matches, operated through Blizzard's online gaming service Battle.net. Players can choose from three game modes, which include playing with/against computer-controlled heroes or other players. When players first start the game, they may play 5 heroes provided by the free hero rotation, a methodically selected list that changes weekly, but by using gold, the in-game source of wealth, or through microtransactions, they can gain permanent access to a hero. Two additional heroes are available to players who have reached level 15. There are currently 37 heroes in the game divided into 4 separate roles. Of the currently released maps, 6 of the 7 have the standard 3 main lanes where players can fight, while the exception, named Haunted Mines, has two main lanes but a separate objective-based area. Killing enemy/neutral units and the opposing side's heroes grants experience points, which are shared with the entire team. When a certain experience threshold is reached for a team, each hero on that team levels up, acquiring slightly amplified statuses and gaining a talent point upon reaching levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. Talent points allow players to customize their hero's abilities and generally result in large increase in power, especially for levels 10 and 20. This leveling system emphasizes the importance of teamwork, since a player's action can affect the whole team. Players can also mount different creatures, such as horses or unicorns, to increase their movement speed, automatically unmounting when dealing/receiving damage or using an ability. Minions at neutral camps can be defeated to gain mercenaries that fight for the player. Each map has a different side-objective that will help either team deal significant damage to the other.
In non-draft modes, players choose their heroes in a party before entering the game or knowing what map they are playing. In draft modes, teams cannot play the same heroes as the opposing team. However, they can base their decision around the map that is announced during the draft period.
- Tutorials - The tutorials are composed of three scripted 'levels' that are aimed at new players with the intent of teaching them movement, use of abilities and other basic controls. The player controls Jim Raynor, who is teleported from the Starcraft universe into the Nexus, receiving instructions from Uther Lightbringer from the Warcraft series.
- Training - A reduced XP mode that a player can only play without a party versus five AI opponents set at an easy difficulty.
- Versus A.I. - Players face off against five AI opponents. Before beginning, the player can choose to have human controlled or AI allies. Like in StarCraft II, the AI gets increasingly harder as the player wins matches.
- Quick Match - This mode sets two teams of five human controlled characters against each other on one of the seven maps in Player Versus Player style combat. These teams are selected based on the player's past performance (a somewhat hidden statistic not available in-game) to create a level playing field, as well as the roles of heroes chosen. For example, if a player queues without other party members as a Support, they are extremely unlikely to be matched with four other Support teammates.
- Hero League - Draft mode. As players compete in these matches they will be awarded ranked points which will progress their League Rank within their community and begin to place them in more challenging match ups. League Ranks reset at the end of each competitive season. Hero League is unlocked on level 30. Each rank represents 2% of players in the league.
- Team League - Draft mode. Players who choose to play competitively as a team can use the Team Ranked Match to be matched with other five man teams in their region. The League Rank gained by these teams are assigned separate to the ranks gained within Hero League. Team League is unlocked on level 40 and 10 Heroes as well. Each rank represents 2% of players in the league.
- Custom Games - Often used for tournament play, players can create a lobby and make a predetermined matchup of up to five players versus five players, with the ability to choose the map, whether or not it's a draft mode, and add AI controlled characters and up to two observers.
As players win or lose their fights while playing Heroes of the Storm a hidden formula, called Matchmaking Rating (MMR), is applied so that the players will always be matched with other players of equal skill. MMR uses the Elo formula with proprietary adjustments.
As a part of the arcade feature for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, a custom map called "Blizzard DOTA" was announced alongside several other mods of Blizzard Entertainment at BlizzCon 2010. At that time, the map was developed to showcase the modding abilities that were to be added to StarCraft II. In 2011, however, development of Blizzard DOTA was rebooted and demoed at BlizzCon 2011. In comparison to the previous iteration previewed at BlizzCon 2010, the gameplay was described as "fast" and "streamlined."
Following the announcement of Dota 2 by Valve Corporation, Rob Pardo, the executive vice president of Blizzard Entertainment, expressed concern at Valve using and trademarking a name that originated from within the Warcraft III community. Following a failed trademark injunction on the part of Riot Games, Blizzard acquired Riot's subsidiary, DotA-Allstars, LLC., the original company that represented the servicing of Defense of the Ancients. Subsequently, Blizzard filed an opposition against Valve for claiming the DotA trademark. On May 11, 2012, Blizzard and Valve announced that the dispute had been settled, with Valve retaining the commercial franchising rights to the term "Dota", while Blizzard would change the name of Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars.
In June 2012, Dustin Browder, the director of StarCraft II, stated that Blizzard All-Stars did not have a release date, but that it would definitely be after the release of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. In an interview in January 2013, he noted that parts of the game were "starting to feel really good", with "a really tight multiplayer experience", but that there was no way to project a timeline on it, since it was not complete enough to run a company-wide internal alpha test. In February 2013, the Activision Blizzard fourth quarter 2012 earnings report listed Blizzard All-Stars as one of the areas of continued investment for Blizzard throughout 2013. Dustin Browder commented in March 2013 that a few artists had transitioned from the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm team, to work on Blizzard All-Stars for the time being along with the few designers on the team.
In August 2013, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime said that the game had reached a significant internal testing milestone, and was going into wider internal testing. Describing it as an "action real-time strategy" game, he said that Blizzard was looking to put their own spin on the genre and challenge some of the existing design paradigms. The Blizzard All-Stars team was expanded in May 2013, from some of the resources who were reallocated when Blizzard's Titan project was rebooted and the team downsized. On October 17, 2013, the name of the game was changed to Heroes of the Storm.
Heroes of the Storm entered a technical alpha testing phase on March 13, 2014, which went offline on September 22, 2014. The technical alpha went back online on October 7, 2014 for North America, Latin America, South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The servers for Europe, Korea, China and Taiwan went online in the following weeks. The technical alpha continued until the beginning of the closed beta. Closed beta testing started on January 13, 2015. As of February 2015, over 9 million players had signed up for eligibility to receive an invite to beta testing. The open beta of the game began on May 19, 2015, and the full version of the game was released on June 2, 2015.
To mark the release of Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard has crossovers implemented between Blizzard games. Players who reach level 12 receive the Heroes of the Storm themed card back in Hearthstone and after winning 100 play mode matches in Hearthstone receive a flying card mount. Players who reach level 20 receive a Grave Golem pet in World of Warcraft and after reaching level 100 in World of Warcraft receive an Ironside Dire Wolf mount.
Heroes of the Storm received generally favorable reviews upon release. Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating in the 0–100 range, calculated an average score of 88 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 20 reviews. GameRankings assigned it an average review score of 85.14% based on 11 reviews.
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