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Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard offering one more apology bonus XP period in Heroes of the Storm


Now until 1PM PST Monday
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
Blizzard has been running bonus XP events for Heroes of the Storm for roughly a month now, but the last one ended a bit abruptly in the US  -- specifically, a day earlier than expected. To make up for it, Blizzard i...
Hearthstone photo
Hearthstone

Hearthstone's new card back gives trolls much-needed love


Card back for Zul'jin
Jul 01
// Chris Carter
Normally I don't bother covering Hearthstone ranked seasons, but I figured "what the hell" for this one since it has a card back I actually like. Earning rank 20 or above this month will net you a Darkspear back, which i...

Blizzard: 'We have the freedom to bring any character we want into Heroes of the Storm'

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: Let's start out with a simple question -- what inspired Blizzard to create Heroes of the Storm? Kaeo Milker: It all started out as just a cool way to show off what the StarCraft II Editor was capable of for BlizzCon back in 2010. We’d just launched StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and set a few very small teams of developers loose on creating fun mod maps for the show. These teams built several maps, and we selected four to bring to BlizzCon, including one that was an homage to Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients that we called, “Blizzard All Stars.” The expectation was that we’d release these maps to StarCraft II shortly after the show, but something special happened with Blizzard All Stars and the feedback we received changed the course of things.  There was so much excitement about the game from our team, from Blizzard, and from the BlizzCon attendees that we had to take a step back and reconsider how much additional work should go into the map before its release. We ended up holding it back and we assigned a handful of developers to continue working on it en route to BlizzCon 2011, where we showed it again as, “Blizzard DOTA.” There were new heroes, a redesigned map, and some different takes on game mechanics, and we got even more positive reinforcement on its potential. This growing excitement from internal folks as well as our community led to some very intense conversations about the scope of the game and how we should approach it.  Some serious discussions spawned where we started asking questions like, “What if we ignore the recent games in this space and approach this as a reimagining of what those early mods could have become?” Those conversations led to a decision to make a standalone game where we’d throw out the expectations and rules, and simply make the game we wanted to play. That decision was super scary in its departure from the norm, but also very liberating, and we ended up calling that game Heroes of the Storm when we re-announced it at BlizzCon 2013. D: Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the MOBA genre and its origins. How did the team react to this level of engagement out of a use map settings creation? K: The genre originated all the way back with our own mapmaking community’s Aeon of Strife UMS maps from the original StarCraft. Those maps set the stage for the now-familiar single-hero control and multi-lane map layouts that later inspired mapmakers in Warcraft III to create offshoots including the immensely popular Defense of the Ancients maps. Along the way, many of the RPG-like mechanics that were core to Warcraft III’s gameplay like individual heroes, unlocking and empowering abilities via hero leveling, and item-based stat manipulation were creatively used to evolve the gameplay from Aeon of Strife into that of DOTA and everything that’s come since. It’s inspiring to look back on the game genres that have incubated and spawned from the Blizzard mapmaking communities. The team responsible for Heroes of the Storm also made the original StarCraft as well as Warcraft III, and many of the people working on Heroes of the Storm today were either here at Blizzard or active in our communities when this all started. We’ve all watched this evolution with equal amounts of respect and admiration for everything our players have created. D: Can you give us a rundown of what to expect going forward after launch, both in terms of timelines and content? K: Historically for our team, launching a game has meant that it is “done,” but with Heroes, launch is truly just the beginning. The content and features in the game today represent the foundation of a game that we expect to be in constant evolution moving forward, and we have a growing team that’s been refining our tools and processes to allow us to create and deliver more stuff, more often. We’re moving into a phase now where we’ll be bringing new heroes into the game every 3-4 weeks and are planning for incremental changes and additions to the game even between hero releases.  We currently have several battlegrounds in development and we’ll continue to bring them into the game multiple times a year, starting with the Eternal Conflict release where we’ll introduce a collection of Diablo-themed battlegrounds, heroes, skins, mounts, and events over the next few months. There’s a lot more in store that I can’t talk about yet, but know that we have some amazing things in development and our team is just as excited about this game as our players are! D: What niche do you believe Heroes fulfills in the current MOBA scene today? K: Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s take on a genre that has been around for over a decade. We’ve set out to capture and accentuate the elements of these games that we found most compelling, while improving or eliminating the things that we found detracted from the fun. We approach this process with all of our games from the perspective of gamers, and again, we set out to build the games that we want to play.  The game we created features some pretty dramatic departures from the norm like action-packed 20 minute games, an ever-growing pool of objective-based battlegrounds, team leveling, per-hero talent trees that let players modify each hero’s playstyle, and of course, real Blizzard heroes and worlds – all wrapped up in the fun, light-hearted humor we’re known for. It’s free to play, so I invite everybody to check it out and see if it’s the kind of game they want to play, too. D: What is the current state of the MOBA genre financially as a whole? Is there room for more major releases? K: I’m much more of a development guy than a business guy, but clearly there is a ton of interest in this genre and there has been since the Warcraft III days. I’m excited about that interest not because of some potential financial opportunities, but because it represents players who might be open to checking out our game and I think we’re doing something really different with Heroes that can build on the things they’ve loved from past games, while also addressing concerns from players who may not have liked those other games.  Ultimately, I think there’s always room for great games. Our focus is to make the best games we possibly can, and history has shown us that if we stay true to that goal and uphold our commitments to quality and fun, success is within our reach. D: Who is your biggest competition currently, and what do they do right? K: We’ve always looked at other game companies less as competition and more as part of a community that’s pushing game development, technology, user experiences, gameplay, genres, and the industry forward together. Coexisting in a creative space like gaming can help lead to refinement and innovation, and that’s a very healthy thing for us both as developers, and as gamers.  We’ve clearly benefited from the things other developers have learned with similar games – the right choices as much as the wrong choices  –  and as we’re starting to see already, they will in turn benefit from the things we’re trying as well. D: What efforts are you going through in terms of growing Heroes as an eSport? K: This year will be a time where we establish Heroes as an eSport alongside establishing Heroes as a game. We’re off to an amazing start with Heroes of the Dorm, where we brought college teams together from across the US and Canada to battle it out for full college tuition. That event cemented the legitimacy of Heroes as an eSport given the intense competition and its undeniable strengths as a spectator event. The recently-announced 2015 Road to BlizzCon will be the professional extension of that path we’ve started down, and we’ll all get to watch the very best teams from each of our regions work their way through their regional qualifiers and semi-finals en route to the ultimate global showdown at BlizzCon. Like the game, our eSports support will be in constant evolution and I’m very excited to see what develops. D: Walk us through a basic outline of what it takes to create a hero from start to finish. K: Hero creation is a very involved, multi-month process that relies heavily on iteration tied to ideas and feedback from many people across our team, and even across Blizzard. It all starts with paper design, where a Hero Designer comes up with a written pitch for the hero, its playstyle, and its kit. After several rounds of feedback and refinement, that paper design gets approved for prototyping. Our tools allow our Tech Designers to stand up a first playable version of the hero with placeholder art, sounds, and effects very quickly and an exhaustive process of playtesting and iteration begins amongst our design team. This process can span several weeks, with constant reaction to feedback every step of the way.  Once the design team is feeling good about a hero’s progress, it graduates to team playtesting. These tests take place several times per week and several hundred of our team members and support personnel are invited to participate and provide feedback to help further refine the hero’s design.  Another multi-week reaction cycle begins based on that ongoing feedback, and only after successfully making it through the team playtesting phase does a hero graduate to full production where we unleash the full power of the development team on its finalization.  During production, our art, user interface, writing, sound, localization, and quality assurance teams begin their respective processes creating, refining, and testing the version of the hero you’ll eventually play in the game. Throughout the hero’s journey, each developer bolsters their part of its creation with a ton of polish and love, and that really shows in the final product. D: Can you give us an idea of potential heroes or kits you've been working on for future patches? K: Sure, up next is…wait a sec…nice try!  I can confirm that we’re spending some time with Diablo heroes for the Eternal Conflict before returning to heroes from other game worlds. Beyond that, all I can say is that anything’s possible – any hero from any Blizzard game, ever!  D: As a follow-up, are you concerned that certain franchises like Warcraft may be overrepresented? K: We currently have a disproportionate number of Warcraft heroes, but more than anything that is a function of the abundance of incredible Warcraft heroes to pull from when we started out. Our goal moving forward is to bring in excellent heroes from all of our games – past, present, and future. We value variety tremendously in this game and are trying to provide players with a dynamic experience where they have choices to make which give them the ability to directly impact that experience. This starts with selecting the hero they want to play and continues with choices in skins, mounts, team compositions, battleground strategies, and talent builds. Be on the lookout for an ever-increasing number of non-Warcraft heroes coming into the game with our Eternal Conflict event starting later this month! D: What is one hero from the Blizzard universe that will absolutely not fit in Heroes of the Storm? K: So far, this hasn’t been an issue. We have the freedom to bring any character we want into the game and enough flexibility in our game mechanics and design to re-interpret each one in a way that captures their essence while tailoring their gameplay for the best possible experience in Heroes. It’s an amazing space to play around in and we’re really enjoying this limitless potential. D: Finally, what is your favorite current hero? K: I love Kerrigan and have played her extensively since the first day of our Development Alpha. Her combo-driven, melee assassin kit brings out the overcommitting lunatic in me and I play her much more aggressively than perhaps any other hero in the game – for better or for worse. She’s incredibly powerful early game and can scale really nicely into late game, especially when paired up with another hero to complement her kit (Tassadar is one of my favorite partners). Beyond her gameplay, I have a personal connection to the character dating back to my passion for the original StarCraft and leading through my 8+ year investment in producing StarCraft II. And I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but my daughter is even named Kerrigan! While Kerrigan is my all-time favorite, I’ve been maining Nazeebo lately and have him on the cusp of hitting Level 20.  I relish the perfect Zombie Wall and am thrilled pulling off the well-timed Ravenous Spirit to clean up a team fight from afar after all of the enemy interrupts have been blown. Ayyyeeeee!!!
Heroes of the Storm photo
A Q&A with the game's lead producer
Heroes of the Storm has been out for almost a month now after a lengthy set of alpha and beta sessions, and I'm still enjoying it as much as I did at launch. Blizzard has vowed to constantly support and update the game w...


Heroes of the Storm's Butcher is another great addition

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
The Butcher is an interesting mix of styles, despite his labeled as an assassin. While he is big, he's not necessarily "tanky" in that he's an easy target while being focused. You also have to micromanage him at the start, as he needs to collect "meat stacks," power-ups dropped by enemy minions to charge up his attack power. Using the various talents acquired on your journey to level 20, you can reward yourself for constantly staying on top of your meat meter, with abilities like a higher meat cap and the ability to heal yourself from pickups. Or, you can simply build up your abilities. His standard "Q" is a straight line skillshot, and slows enemies in its path. It's very aggressive. You can chase down enemies, Q them, and a few seconds later, Q them again. Much like wandering with enemy stealth combatants unaccounted for, going solo with the Butcher roaming around isn't a great idea. This is exacerbated by his "E," which is a mad dash that grants him "unstoppable" status and stuns the enemy for a second after reaching his target. I actually found some neat ways to use this, like running away from enemies by targeting minions, or saving teammates who are being chased. It's also a dramatic move, with the target getting a demonic mark on their head and the Butcher giving in to his inner, terrifying bloodlust. It's powerful for sure, but it also has a long cooldown of 20 seconds. His "W" is probably his least interesting ability, as it can mark a target for a limited time which grants him health while attacking said marked enemy. I've found that for the most part in teamfights, the amount of healing involved isn't really sufficient enough to prevent you from dying, and it would have been more interesting if it gave teammates a low leech percentage (though you can spec it to heal more and grant movement speed). [embed]295040:59292:0[/embed] His ultimate (Heroic) powers are much more interesting. Furnace Blast is an area-of-effect (AOE) blast in a circle around him, and Lamb to the Slaughter chains an enemy to a hitching post for four seconds (it chains anyone in the radius at level 20). The first Heroic doesn't sound all that interesting, but it has a cool visual effect and can be used while charging with your "E," making it a bit more nuanced. The hitching post is my personal favorite, as it augments the Butcher's keen ability to kill lone heroes while they're hilariously chained in place. This works even better if you're ganking enemies with a partner like Nazeebo, who has enough time to set up his Zombie Wall. I also had a chance to test out the "Iron Butcher" skin as well as the "Butcher's Battle Beast" mount that's exclusive to his bundle. The mount isn't anything to write home about, as it's mostly just an existing Battle Beast with some iron armor added on top. It's exclusive to the bundle though, so some of you may want to spring for it. As for the Iron Butcher, it's a pretty safe choice, but it does fit the character and the fact that his face is covered does give him a new enough look compared to some of the other skins. While the jury is still out on whether or not the Butcher is balanced (it's the first day!), he certainly feels like it. To really capitalize with the hero you'll need to play your cards right, and with a distinct lack of escape abilities and the meat mechanic, players will need to master his ins and outs to truly perform. For now though, I'm happy with the results, and I'm tempted to work on my fifth master skin with him.
Heroes of the Storm photo
15,000 gold or $9.99
Heroes of the Storm has just kicked off its Eternal Conflict event, which will bring more Diablo-related content into the game over the course of the next few months. Characters, mounts, and a new level are a part of the cele...

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm gets the Butcher today, after maintenance


Watch the awesome backstory video
Jun 30
// Chris Carter
The Butcher is coming to Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm today as part of the multi-month Diablo celebration, which start this week. He's a melee assassin hero, who has the ability to slow, mark targets to...
Overwatch photo
Overwatch

Zarya and Bastion are looking sharp in Overwatch


Bastion, the gentle robot
Jun 26
// Chris Carter
I'm pretty excited for Overwatch. Not just because we rarely get a real arena shooter these days -- the track record of Blizzard is near-flawless (yes, I even enjoyed vanilla Diablo III). It's interesting to see them go...

Heroes of the Storm's Battlefield of Eternity may be the best map yet

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
[embed]294694:59216:0[/embed] The layout is extremely simplistic. It's the game's only other two-lane map, in addition to Haunted Mines, and sports a few extra hallways for mercenary creeps, as well as its main event in the middle (which I'll get to later). In short, I'm happy to see another smaller map in the fray, as Heroes is built on short matches and fast, frantic team fights even towards the beginning of the game. New minion and creep skins make everything feel fresh, as does the Heaven vs. Hell theme which permeates throughout the entire arena, and differentiates both sides more than any MOBA I've seen. Random Treasure Goblin events (which can happen on any map) featuring Deckard Cain as a guest announcer only drive this point home. The main gimmick (objective) is flashier for sure. In short, two immortals will be locked in battle after a certain period of time passes, and it's up to both teams to tip the scales in their favor. While your respective God is fighting, you can either defend it, or go after your rival, which will test your teamfighting mettle right off the bat. You'll have to do this while the other immortal is occasionally stopping to attack your team, so it can be a really risky affair (much like the Grave Golem) -- but it's worth it not only for the reward, but to see the badass animations that the immortals boast while fighting at certain intervals. It's a thrill, to say the least. Unlike some other objectives it feels paramount to help your God out, and constantly keeps you entertained. After destroying the other God your ally will jump into a lane and help you push, which usually destroys an encampment as long as most of your team is there to assist. The key is that the skirmishes feel like they matter, but they don't completely determine the flow of the game -- you can win some, and lose some. Another main reason why the immortals are a good idea is because they don't take you out of the game or force new players to learn a new strategy, like the Garden Terror and Dragon Knight do. Really though, it's just great to have another Blizzard franchise properly represented in Heroes of the Storm with an original work. Many complaints were levied against the current maps for being "Heroes of Warcraft"-esque, so adding in one that helps balance the scales a bit is a good move. It will be available on June 30, and a smaller map rotation will be implemented until July 7 so you have a higher chance to get Battlefield of Eternity.
Heroes of the Storm photo
Angels and Demons
The newest patch for Heroes of the Storm has hit the public test realm (PTR), which includes a number of character changes and reworks, in addition to the big piece of new content set to hit next week -- the Battlef...

World of Warcraft photo
World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Patch 6.2 lets you whale on Gul'dan


He deserves it after Hearthstone BS
Jun 23
// Joe Parlock
Blizzard have rolled out a new, huge patch for everyone’s favourite destroyer of lives, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Patch 6.2, dubbed Fury of Hellfire, brings a lot of new additions to the game. The Tanaan ...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

The Hearthstone card mount is now in Heroes of the Storm


You need 100 Play mode wins
Jun 19
// Chris Carter
Recently, Blizzard announced that a special flying card mount would be available for Heroes of the Storm players who completed a certain task in Hearthstone. What's do you have to do, you may ask? Only win 100 games in t...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Take a gander at pretty much every upcoming Heroes of the Storm addition


Characters and skins
Jun 18
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is getting some new content soon, starting on June 30th with a new Diablo level and The Butcher, and following up with King Leoric and the Monk a bit later on. In the meantime, you can take a look at...
Hearthstone photo
Ragnaros vs Nefarian
Hearthstone just rolled out its first ever Tavern Brawl event, which features premade decks squaring off against each other. The event will change every week, and as of today, it's Ragnaros vs Nefarian. Each big ba...

Starcraft II photo
The first hit is free
Blizzard took the penultimate spot in the PC gaming show at E3 tonight. Executive Producer Chris Sigaty and Game Director Dustin Browder started off talking about Heroes of the Storm, but eventually got to some juicy informa...

PC at E3 photo
PC at E3

Diablo's Treasure Goblin, Monk, King Leoric confirmed for Heroes of the Storm


New map on June 30
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is going to get a major update later this month. Blizzard's Dustin Browder stated it plainly at the PC Gaming Show today at E3: "Heroes is all about Diablo for the next few months." Not only wit...
Heroes of the Storm, photo
Heroes of the Storm,

Heroes of the Storm's last XP bonus is in effect this week


Until 11:59 PST on June 24
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Blizzard has flipped the switch to their final XP boost event for Heroes of the Storm's launch. Starting today until June 24, you'll earn a 100% extra XP boost, which applies to both your player level and individual hero leve...
Hearthstone photo
Hearthstone

That new Hearthstone mode is called 'Tavern Brawl'


You need to have a hero at level 20
Jun 13
// Chris Carter
A few days back Blizzard was teasing an all new mode for Hearthstone, and now they have revealed their plans just before E3. It's called "Tavern Brawl," and it's another versus mode with a twist. Basically, every week feature...
Reinhardt photo
Reinhardt

Overwatch adds a robotic knight to its roster


Go team silver foxes
Jun 11
// Nic Rowen
Well, Steven asked for more old men and Overwatch delivered. Reinhardt, the latest character to receive a personal sizzle reel, is a 61-year-old self-styled knight who fights evil by encasing himself in a robotic suit of arm...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's XP bonus event is boosted this week


Up to 50%
Jun 10
// Chris Carter
Blizzard was holding a launch event for Heroes of the Storm, where players would net an extra 25% extra experience boost for playing the week of release. Now, the publisher is upping the stakes with a 50% boost from June 9 un...
Hearthstone photo
Hearthstone

Blizzard is teasing something new for Hearthstone


A new mode?
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Hearthstone is still a great way to spend an afternoon in my household. I really dig the mobile port, and the newest Blackrock expansion is superb. Even if I haven't played in weeks, it's incredibly easy to jump bac...
Overwatch photo
Overwatch

Overwatch might appear in Heroes of the Storm, but only after its launch


I'd be up for it
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Overwatch, the newest IP from Blizzard, looks like their biggest gamble yet. It's not banking on an established franchise like Hearthstone did with Warcraft, and the cast is composed of completely original character...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm goes Diablo-crazy with 'Eternal Conflict' event


New hero, level, mount, and skins
Jun 07
// Chris Carter
[Update: Blizzard has released a piece of key art for the event, and it looks like it teases a number of different skins, and even a potential new character, the skeleton king Leoric. Like The Butcher, he was also featured in...

Very Quick Tips: Heroes of the Storm

Jun 05 // Chris Carter
General tips: Regeneration globes drop from the mage minions in each creep wave. It took me forever to realize this, but you can use it to your advantage with characters like Kael, and the Mana Addict skill. Do you see the eye above your character when you're hidden? If it turns red, you've been spotted by some source. You do not need to kill creeps to get XP for your team, nor do you need to last-hit them for more rewards. You just need to be near them. Likewise, you don't always have to go after objectives, even though you should in most quick matches where you can't communicate. For instance, it's advantageous to lane for the first tribute spawn on the Cursed Hollow map, and have one player poke the enemy team while everyone else lanes. That way you're outleveling your opponent's team, and giving up one tribute isn't a big deal. Tactics like this require communication however. Ever wonder what the "Bribe" statement is for neutral mercenary camps? Only certain heroes can do this if they buy that ability when leveling up or at the start, like Falstad and Brightwing. Right clicking  on your profile in the top right-hand corner of the main menu can yield a ton of information that's worth reading, like win rates on certain maps and your affinity towards specific heroes. Additionally, you can sometimes locate hidden heroes that haven't launched yet in the Hero Collection screen. Abathur can  be tricky when controlling a stealthed unit. Almost nothing will actually break the cloak, but any ability, including the shield, will sort of show their location to enemies. Any skillshot or AOE can take a unit out of a cloak, and you can see said cloak a bit by way of a shimmering effect. Likewise, Rehgar's chain heal can jump to an "empty" spot -- be aware of every ability that can expose a stealth character. If you see someone with a flaming health bar, it means they're on a killing spree. Depending on that character's build, they may have the skill that adds ability damage for consecutive kills. Death with reset some of this progress. You can swap your active abilities (the bar right above your core Q through R keys) by holding down left click and dragging them. Destroying a keep (the big fort) in a given inner base will spawn super minions (catapults) in that lane. If you hold alt while left clicking, you can bring up an extended ping menu with options like "on my way" and "need assistance." If you want an idea of who top players use, check out the Heroes of the Storm Logs website. Players often use this to decide "tiers," but it's just one piece of data to use when choosing a main, or a new character to try. Want to try out a hero you don't own? Go to the shop, click a hero, and hit "try." For a better shop view, click the hero while in the "Play" section of the game to get an easier, bigger layout with gold and real money prices. "Random" may also grant you access to a hero that you cannot play yet due to your rank. On Quick Match, players will often fight over the "vision" points on maps at the start (especially in Blackheart's Bay). Be aware of this meta-skirmish and plan accordingly -- get behind your warrior/tank and be cautious. If your team looks like they're going for it, think about helping them out, or go to the very bottom and just start laning to get a head start on XP. Laning isn't always sexy, but it pays off, especially if you're outleveling the opposing team. Be patient when buying heroes. Buy ones that cost very low amounts of gold, and level them up -- levels one through five are extremely easy to do. You'll in turn have more chances to earn gold with those cheap character levels, which can buy you more characters as you level up your player level. Before you know it you'll have tons of gold. Exercise restraint and only try to buy heroes on sale with real money. Eventually, they will all go on sale. Speaking of XP, when you hit player level 10, you'll get a free 7-day Stimpack that boosts XP gain. Think about hitting this landmark when you'll have more free time ahead of you -- in other words, if you're about to go on vacation, don't pull the trigger on level 10 just yet. If you're redeeming the retail Starter Pack, redeem your Ronin Zeratul skin first, as it will unlock the Zeratul character. You can give your other unlock to a friend.
Heroes of the Storm tips photo
Make Uther proud
Heroes of the Storm might have some streamlined mechanics when it comes to the MOBA genre as a whole, but it's anything but "dumbed down." While I'll refrain from educating players on MOBAs as a whole (the 15-minute tutorial does a good job of that), here are some tips I've compiled over my long sessions of play.

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Giveaway: Diablo + Skin for HotS!


Free stuff for your face!
Jun 05
// Mike Martin
[Update: I am still going. It's slow yes, I apologize for that. This turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated and I didn't ask for help to do it. Don't blame anyone but me for that. I am devoting almost all my fre...
Torbjörn photo
Torbjörn

Blizzard multiplayer shooter Overwatch gets an old Swedish dwarf


Torbjorn
Jun 05
// Steven Hansen
Blizzard's first new franchise in 17 years, Overwatch, keeps adding to its cast of original characters. Well, as original as grouchy dwarves and Man With No Name knock off cowboys can be, anyways. The defensive-minded Torbj&...
Hearthstone DLC photo
Hearthstone DLC

Hearthstone adding new heroes for $9.99 each


Only they aren't really new per se
Jun 04
// Jed Whitaker
Blizzard has announced it is releasing new heroes for Hearthstone at $9.99 a piece. Don't worry though, the meta will stay exactly the same because the heroes are little more than cosmetic changes on existing classes. Your te...

Review: Heroes of the Storm

Jun 02 // Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentMSRP: Free-to-playRelease Date: June 2, 2015 Fundamentally, Heroes is still very much a MOBA experience. It's a five-on-five, top-down, click-heavy affair with various roles such as support, tanks, and DPS, and there's a variety of different characters to choose from. To help break down the barrier to entry, Blizzard has made a number of concessions that set it apart from its competition. Perhaps the biggest difference with Heroes of the Storm is that there are no longer items of any kind, and that's something I'm really, really happy about. While I definitely appreciate the "me-too" nature of adding items to every new MOBA, as it did initially stem from the original DOTA (and by proxy, Warcraft III's shops), learning new item-meta in addition to every map and every nuance for each character can be taxing. I'll often spend hours upon hours theorycrafting builds when returning to specific MOBAs just to figure out the best course of action, which can get tiring if you have to do it for every game. Potions have been replaced by healing wells, found at every fort checkpoint -- making it even easier to get back into the action without any boring moments. Now, there's still plenty of theorycrafting to be had with Heroes of the Storm as characters do get the ability to choose between different abilities after hitting certain level milestones, but you don't need to worry about that one extra crucial layer that can make or break a match. But without items, newer players will be able to pick up any hero and play. Builds are initially limited as you start to level-up within the game's ranking system, offering only a few paths for heroes you've never played as before. It only takes a few games until everything is available though, and at player level 25 (a few days of heavy sessions), every skill will be unlocked automatically. In short, it'll be very easy to come back to Heroes months down the line and learn new playstyles. [embed]292749:58760:0[/embed] The open-ended build system is also great for another reason. Even if you don't build the perfect group composition for any given team, all hope isn't lost at hero selection. For instance, you can spec your support or tank characters into a more damage-centric role over the course of the game. Healers can spec entirely for damage if there's multiple support members on the team, and warriors can go a more tanky route if there's no one to soak up damage. It's far more forgiving than most MOBAs, where you can get yelled at for picking a hero that doesn't fit the current meta, much less your group. Shared experience is the other huge mechanic that Heroes of the Storm is pushing. Basically, it allows everyone on the team to be on the same exact level as one another at all times. For example, you won't have one master player who knows exactly how to lane amassing all of the XP on your team. Instead, the worst player is just as strong as the best one. I dig this system for multiple reasons. For one, it doesn't discourage players from attempting to mount a comeback. While another team can still theoretically outlevel their opponents as a collective, everyone can now feel like they're contributing without having fingers pointed at them. The cast itself is also a huge draw, mostly because it calls upon the rich lore already established in the Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft universes. There's not much backstory in terms of the world itself (unlike Riot Games, which does a fantastic job of keeping its lore interesting and fresh), but each hero has a ton of personality to make up for it. Old familiar characters like Thrall or Raynor have a lot of the same icons and skills from their respective games, as well as updated designs and sound effects. It's a joy to play as Nova and hear the classic StarCraft Ghost phrases, running up against the Lord of Terror himself, Diablo. It sounds hyperbolic, but I really do like playing as everyone (the only hero I straight-up don't like is Tychus), and there's more than enough variation to keep everyone entertained. Abathur, for instance, is a character that doesn't directly fight on the battlefield, but instead hitches a ride on other heroes (as well as towers and creeps) to do battle in the form of a sentient spirit of sorts. The Lost Vikings are a lot like Meepo from DOTA, in the sense that they're actually three different units that can be controlled independently, all in different lanes if you can handle it. There are plenty of more traditional platstyles available, as well as more unique choices like Zagara, who summons minions from StarCraft and can create creep (that barren-esque Zerg terrain) to buff herself. Other characters like Ghost and Zeratul can go stealth to pick off enemies. Sylvanas can disable towers or creeps by attacking them. Uther can heal for a short time after his death. You've seen some of these mechanics before in the genre, but the way each style plays out is unique to Heroes. If you're bored of playing the same exact five-on-five, three-lane map over and over in every game, Heroes can offer some respite. There's tons of maps to learn (seven in all at launch, with another Diablo-themed map in development), all of which have objectives built into them. These mini-quests range from collecting coins to pay a ghost pirate to blow away an enemy base, or defending a circle that shoots lasers at opposing forts. While a lot of folks likely won't enjoy the fact that a team can come back and win because of these events, they're actually just a more streamlined and flashy way of handling the Dragon and Baron Nashor objectives in, say, League of Legends. They're also designed to expedite matches -- an average Heroes game is usually 20 minutes, which is a stark contrast to 45-60 minute matches elsewhere. It's a great philosophy, as one of the common genre complaints is the fact that games take forever. The less Blizzard copies the status quo, the better. Heroes of the Storm also provides a more relaxed environment in general. There's far less pressure in unranked matches (as there should be), and there's even an option to turn off allied chat, thus avoiding taunts from angry players -- instead, you can rely on the fairly extensive pinging system on the mini-map to communicate. "All" chat is also entirely disabled, so you won't hear enemy trash-talking either. There's a few bad apples here and there, but in my experience, this is by and large the most welcoming MOBA community. This should help alleviate a lot of the concerns people have in regards to starting up the genre. For those of you who are more competitive, there is a ranked option called Hero League. There's no bans currently, but you can solo or group queue for it, and hero selection is done by a "draft" style format, where players switch off selecting characters. From what I've played of ranked, the community is just as understanding and helpful, and in every lobby I've been in, players have suggested picks for inexperienced folk and adjusted their picks to help the team. At the highest player rank there's also a team Hero League option for all five players to enter. Currently, the ranked system needs a bit more work in terms of the infrastructure behind it. Blizzard has noted that it is building a system in line with Hearthstone's ladder rankings, but top-tier players will require a lot more to keep playing. In terms of monetizaton, Heroes is roughly on par with League (which is fine by me), but with a slightly lower earn-rate for in-game currency. Yes, it's awesome that Dota 2 has all of its heroes unlocked from the start, and I wish we could have that strategy implemented in every MOBA. But the reality is, Blizzard has created enough avenues to earn gold, and the free-to-play rotation every week will still allow you to play every role and get the full Heroes experience. To earn gold, you can complete daily quests, which will net you around one character per month (depending on the price). By playing frequently, you'll earn gold inherently through completed matches, and by leveling up heroes, you'll earn a nice gold bonus at specific ranks. It's not really hard to do any of these tasks -- they merely require you to play heroes from specific franchises, roles, or play the hero itself a certain amount. There's also a few bundles, including a $20 physical boxed set at launch, that provide a large number of characters. A handful of heroes are also very cheap, to the point where you can buy a few after only a day or so of play. Ever since the beta, I've always had a reserved take on Heroes' economy. In short, it's a bit too conservative in terms of rewards, and Blizzard doesn't put out nearly enough sales (the weekly is usually just a middling one character). That could change over time, but for now, I would like to see a higher earn-rate overall. The good news is that all real-money purchases are just that -- real-money, with dollars and cents. You don't need to wade through and calculate "Riot Points" to figure out how much something costs. Skins are only available for purchase with real cash, which doesn't really bother me as they are a completely optional affair. Plus, when you see how much work goes into making a skin, the prices feel justified, especially when they're on sale. Heroes of the Storm has unfairly been branded as a "just a casual game" due to the removal of many tried and true MOBA mechanics. With over 100 hours of play under my belt, I can say with authority that those claims are untrue. Heroes has a ton of depth, it's very well balanced (though not perfect), and nearly every cast member is a blast to play. It achieves almost everything it sets out to accomplish, so I really hope it catches on with the non-believers and continues to grow. [This review is based on a retail build of the free-to-play game, but Blizzard provided us with 60,000 gold to spend in the shop. A $20 retail starter pack was purchased by the reviewer. I am currently player level 40, the maximum.]
Heroes of the Storm photo
My new go-to MOBA
When people hear the term "MOBA" they usually groan. I tend to respond with, "Tell me more." I grew up with RTS games since I could grasp a mouse and keyboard, and my first MOBA was the original DOTA back in 2005. Over t...

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard debuts Johanna footage for Heroes of the Storm


The Crusader from Diablo III
Jun 01
// Chris Carter
Johanna, based off the crusader class that was added into the Reaper of the Souls expansion for Diablo III, has been hiding in the current build of Heroes of the Storm for a while, but isn't playable just...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard is holding an XP boost event next week for Heroes of the Storm


For launch
May 30
// Chris Carter
When Heroes of the Storm launches next week, Blizzard will be offering up a 25% XP boost event that will run from 12:01AM PST on June 2 until 11:59PM PST on June 9. It's not a whole lot on its own, but it will seemingly ...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Out of closed beta, Heroes of the Storm continues its weekly sale schedule


Anub'arak
May 27
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is now readily available to everyone, and that means more weekly sales -- any purchases in the open beta will carry over to the full launch next week on June 2. This week the character on offer for 50...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Tychus' cigar isn't in Heroes of the Storm


I need someone to hold me... please...
May 25
// Joe Parlock
STOP THE PRESS. We have received word of possibly the most important, most groundbreaking, lifetouching and soul-rending story this website has ever seen. Your life will never, ever be the same after reading it, so please do...

Weekend Deals: Witcher 3, Blizzard & WB Games titles on tap

May 23 // Dealzon
Top Deals Spintires (Steam) — $7.20  (list price $30) <- In Russia, mud plays in you Project Cars (Steam) — $33.99  (list price $50) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $39  <- use code DEALZO-N35OFF-WITCHE Humble Store Encore Sale <- over 300 titles to throw your $$$ at Bundle Star May Sale <- just added, better SoM value here Blizzard Games (US Only) StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm — $9.99  (list price $20) Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty — $9.99  (list price $20) Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls — $19.99  (list price $40) WoW: Warlords of Draenor (PC DVD) — $29.99  <- raise your hand if you still play WoW WB Games Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $20  (list price $50) Gauntlet (Steam) — $6.40  (list price $20) The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Mortal Kombat Komplete (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Bastion (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) <- muy excelente Recent Releases 05/21: Xbox One White Special Edition Halo Bundle — $349  (list price $399) 05/19: Farming Simulator 15 + $10 Gift Card (PS4, XOne) — $49.99   05/14: Galactic Civilizations III (Steam) — $40  (list price $50) 05/14: Not A Hero (Steam) — $9.09  (list price $13) <- not to be confused with the excellent Japanese manga 05/12: Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (Steam) — $12.80  (list price $16) 05/08: Euro Truck Simulator 2: Scandinavia (Steam) — $14.40  (list price $18) 04/30: Solarix (Steam) — $12.99  (list price $20) 04/30: Block N Load (Steam) — $8.40  (list price $15) 04/28: Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (Steam) — $24.79  (list price $40) PC Game Deals Battlefield: Hardline (Origin) — $30  (list price $60) Need for Speed Rivals: Complete(Origin) — $19.99  (list price $40) Prototype Franchise Pack (Steam) — $16.83  (list price $60) World of Diving (Steam) — $13.29  (list price $20) Life is Strange: Complete Season (Steam) — $12.48  (list price $20) I am Bread (Steam) — $9.74  (list price $13) <- play as a bread. duh. Rugby 15 (Steam) — $7.98  (list price $40) Command and Conquer The Ultimate (Origin) — $4.99  (list price $20) Console Deals Wii U + Super Mario 3D World + Nintendo Land — $274.99 Evolve (PS4, Steam) — $39.99  (list price $60) Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate (Nintendo 3DS) — $29.99  (list price $40) Xbox Live Gold 3 Month + $10 Xbox Gift Card — $24.99  (list price $25) Turtle Beach CoD: Adv. Warfare Headset (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $80) Power A Mini Series Wired Controller (Xbox One) — $19.99  (list price $40) LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (PS Vita, 3DS) — $7.99  (list price $20) Laptop Deals 17.3" MAINGEAR Pulse, i7-4700HQ, GTX 870M, 16GB — $1,799  (list $2,399) 17.3" Alienware, i7-4710HQ, GTX 980M, 16GB — $1,699  (list $1,999) 15.6" Alienware, i7-4710HQ, 4K Touch, GTX 970M, 16GB — $1,599 <- actually decent specs 17.3" Lenovo Y70 i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 16GB — $949  (list $1,500) 14" Lenovo Y40-80, i7-5500U, Radeon R9 M275, 8GB — $629  (list $1,150) HDTV Deals 55" Vizio 4K Smart TV — $899.99  (list $1,000) 65" Sharp 1080p Smart TV + Wireless Speakers — $799.99  (list $1,000) 49" LG 4K Smart TV — $649.99  (list $1,600) - perfect for seeing Geralt's hair down sampled to 900p Game deals from Dealzon. FYI: sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
All digital products must go
Got nada in plans for this Memorial Day weekend? For $7, you can enjoy getting stuck in mud while trucking around in Russia via Spintires. Currently historic lowest price that we've spotted. Rare discounts on Blizzard titles ...


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