Let’s be real here: League of Legends or Smite are not exactly known for their welcoming and warm player base, but rather for toxic behavior and flame wars. As an avid supporter of friendly communities, I've tried to stay as far away from MOBAs for as long as possible. When Blizzard announced its very first battle arena, however, I perked my eyebrow in interest, especially since Heroes of the Storm combines all three big franchises the popular game studio brought forward over the last decades. Having played through the Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft series, I just knew I was going to check this puppy out when it became available. So here we are, invited to take a look at the free-to-play title’s closed beta phase. Let’s do this!
Heroes of the Storm is a typical MOBA, meaning that two teams of five players each get to battle it out against each other while fighting for objectives. Here, instead of the classic jungle mechanic, there are mercenary camps to capture. Once a camp is seized, siege giants, bruisers or big bosses will make their way towards the opposing base destroying everything in their way. Other than that it’s up to me and my fellow team members to take down other heroes and collect experience. Compared to other genre contenders, I don’t have to bother with buying items to customize my character. Instead, I choose a new talent every couple of levels with which I can adjust skills to fit my preferred playstyle.
Just like most Blizzard games, Heroes of the Storm is easy to learn, hard to master. Pretty much anyone can just jump into a match and feel great about their achievements, and that’s what drew me to the free-to-play MOBA. After just a few games against both bots and actual players, I could see myself getting better and wanting to increase my skill. Heading out into the battlefield with my brother (we usually duo as Warrior/Support, say Sonya/Tassadar or Muradin/Rehgar) felt rewarding - even when we lost. And that's saying something!
After having played a good dozen hours, I can safely say that Heroes of the Storm is one my favorite MOBAs currently on the market. Similar to Hearthstone, it’s easy, quick, fun. While I understand that Blizzard’s newest project may not be the most complex in the history of games, I also know that it doesn't have to be, especially since I'm not looking to join the eSports scene anytime soon. I enjoy not having to fight my mates for last hits. I like the shared experience bar. I like how it encourages teamwork rather than arguments. And that's exactly why I think, with a little more balancing betweeen champions, Heroes of the Storm will do well in the long run and possibly even give League of Legends a run for its money.