Heroes of the Storm’s Gul’dan is the ultimate risk-reward assassin

Corrupter of the Orcs

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Blizzard doesn’t need an excuse to bring another Warcraft hero into the fray. Heck, it’s the flagship franchise for the publisher — World of Warcraft is still going strong, Hearthstone is Warcraft-tinted, and it just launched a major film for it.

So the addition of Gul’dan in Heroes of the Storm is no surprise, and he’s pretty true to his expected playstyle.

Gul’dan embraces his Warlock side with the main trait of Life Tap — which, as any Warcraft veteran can guess, sacrifices a bit of life to refill his mana. This is especially important because he has no mana regeneration capabilities as part of his base kit. So you’re constantly going to want to use Drain Life and find ways to top off your health which unfortunately puts you in a rooted state, but if you can get a pocket healer, you’re in business. Fel Flame is his main damage dealer, which can sear through both enemy heroes and function as a wave-clearing tool — it’s straightforward. Corruption is a bit more technical in that it casts three pools that deal damage over time, and is much harder to aim. Heroic-wise, he has Horrify (fear), and Rain of Destruction, a randomly scattered meteor shower.

It’s not the sexiest moveset, but after actually playing him I started to appreciate his design more. Unlike a lot of other mages that can basically just cast whatever they want unfettered by anything but cooldowns, Gul’dan is a bit different. At any given time, you could be mashing Life Tap (and you can mash it, as it has no cooldown and won’t trigger if you have max mana) to try to get another cast, putting you in harm’s way constantly. It’s the kind of character that probably won’t find himself on the top of the leaderboards right away, but instead will find success over time with patient and skilled players. His risky low-life situation also isn’t helped by a complete lack of escapes, and he’ll probably need some tuning post-launch.

Horrify in particular is one very big skill if used correctly. I found myself scaring people off of an objective just long enough to hold it until my team arrived, and it can be used as a foolproof initiation. Rain of Destruction isn’t bad either for the same purpose as it lasts a full seven seconds, but since he can’t move during the duration I don’t see it becoming all that popular outside of premade groups, who can use something like ETC’s Mosh Pit to hold everyone in place. I do have one major source of disappointment, though — his level 20 Rain ability doesn’t summon an Infernal (it just slows enemies)!

Heroes is also undergoing some massive changes at the moment, as this Gul’dan-centric PTR patch has a ton of character and balance tweaks. If you play regularly you’ll want to read through all of it several times. The next hero is going to be Auriel at an undisclosed date.

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Chris Carter
Managing Editor - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step in January of 2009 blogging on the site. Now, he's staff!