It’ll seem like forever is a really long time
Heroes of the Storm is in a good spot, relatively speaking. It’s probably the smallest Blizzard game, and came into the MOBA market pretty late after League of Legends already had a massive foothold, but it’s doing well enough for the monolithic publisher to keep supporting its development and eSports efforts — including its massive presence at BlizzCon 2016.
To get an idea of what’s happening with the current state of the game, I got the chance to speak to lead live team developer Matthew Cooper about a few of Heroes‘ most recent developments, and what’s planned for the future.
What I immediately wanted to get a sense of is some sort of timeline for the game, pointing out that it really isn’t like any of Blizzard’s other releases. This is an ongoing platform so to speak that’s free-to-play, and instead of taking Hearthstone‘s system of leaving legacy content behind in several modes, it’s constantly just adding and snowballing onto everything that’s been there since launch. So I asked about hero limits, map limits, and even brawl limits, but Cooper was very optimistic about having no real end in sight.
“We don’t really think in finite terms like that,” he said. “We’re looking at two or three years right now and we think we have a good formula for one hero a month even throughout that timeline. We did about 12 heroes this year and we’re doing the same for 2017. Once we get to…let’s say 2019 or so, it will be a challenge to balance everything. In fact we’re already looking at cycling in map rotations, say, maybe half a season or a full season at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming for new players to learn so much at a time…but we’re not there yet.”
The same philosophy applies to Brawls, apparently. “I think we’re going to make them indefinitely,” Cooper says. “We might have a point where we’re bringing back in an old Brawl to stave off some development time for a new idea, but we have so many already, and if people keep playing the mode, we’ll keep making them.” And about those ideas — I asked about Hammer Time, the second Brawl that didn’t go over as well as the first with the community, and if ideas like that would persist (if you don’t play Heroes, the first Brawl was a really fun random pick mode that felt like an arcade game of sorts, and the second was merely a full round on an existing map where everyone is forced to play the same character).
Cooper responded that “they might not all be winners, but we want to be able to experiment like that, so we might see a few more like that until the community says they don’t want to see it anymore.” But from what we’ve heard, Hammer time might be one of those we take off the line for a while until we can get it right. Speaking of getting things right — I definitely wanted to check in on the status of Samuro, a strong hero that came out of the gate kicking and is still rocking the win charts even after a post-release nerf. Cooper admits that “the nerfs were not enough,” and thinks that his burst damage is too hard to handle chiefly, and that they’re “looking” at nerfing his teleport range (his coveted must-pick level 13 talent). Those changes might even be live as of next week. Leoric will also get some love in the near future, and they’re “looking at his March heroic” at the very least.
As for Haunted Mines, it’s coming back for sure! Every few months or so I’ll check in and there’s nothing new to report, but I obtained a full confirmation and some extra details at the Heroes panel. Now it’s going to feature four mine entry points in the center, two Sapper mercenary camps, and a more streamlined mines layout with the main boss in the middle. It’s allegedly coming “soon,” before the end of the year. Cooper seems confident that they can right a lot of the wrongs that have plagued the community as of late, and based on their swift response at BlizzCon, I’m hopeful that will be the case. All eyes are now on Varian and Ragnaros, the two heroes revealed at the event this week.