But I have hope
Having first looked at her kit, Auriel really spoke to me. She has a straight-up resurrection spell — something no other support in the game sports. She also has a very cool mechanic that sort of “brands” another player, allowing her to sap extra energy from them if she stays in range.
Auriel is a direct response to fans who want more active healers in Heroes of the Storm, and having taken her for a spin, she’s very close to how I thought she’d play out.
Auriel’s entire gimmick lies with her “Bestow Hope” trait, which allows players to manually select someone to spring a golden crown above their head (and a handy icon near your status bar). It’s not a buff for your ally per se (until you spec into it with later talents), but a way for you to gain extra energy (which replaces mana) used for healing with her area-of-effect “W.” Her other abilities are conveniently used whenever they’re available. Her trait is really fun, and reminds me of Zenyatta’s Orb of Harmony from Overwatch. If you have one driving force melee assassin, it can be a “set it and forget it” kind of thing though, so I have a feeling Blizzard isn’t quite done with it yet.
The animation for her Q is one of the smoothest-looking things in the entire game. It has a real weight to it (and a much wider area than you’d think), and is useful for clearing waves as well as doling out decent damage to heroes. I also appreciate that you can aim her W, so if you’re constantly acquiring energy, you can heal your party at a decent rate. Remember what I said before about being active? You really need to micromanage this ability on a constant basis to top people off. Her E, which is a line knockback that stuns enemy heroes if they collide with terrain, is zippier than I thought — it’s a big upgrade from some of the clunkier abilities the team has implemented in the past. Plus, that stun can really come in handy if she’s tagging along with a pocket assassin that she constantly grants Bestow Hope on.
Ultimate [Heroic]-wise I think most people will take her resurrection spell because of how big of a game-changer it can be, especially during late-game pushes where you can have an extra body on-hand without having to wait for a lengthy death timer. It has a three-second channel, sure, but in most situations you can cast it behind the safety of teammates after a trade or after you win a fight, and merely have a fallen ally waiting in the wings. I also had a ton of fun resurrecting a wandering Leoric one game!
Crystal Aegis has potential, but I just don’t dig it at the moment. It’s a spell that puts an ally (or yourself) in stasis for a few seconds before exploding in a circular area. The main caveats? You can’t control or time the explosion, so it’s easily avoidable (or can be countered, like diving underground as Dehaka), and it doesn’t do that much damage. Plus, I can see a lot of troll-like situations where people cast it on allies just to screw them. Like her passive, changes for her secondary ultimate down the line are inevitable.
So yeah, Auriel? I like her a lot. The animation and design team really outdid themselves, and made one of the coolest-looking heroes yet — and I’d extend that praise to any MOBA, not just Heroes of the Storm. But in terms of balance, she has a few questionable areas. We’ll see how she does next week, as she’s scheduled to enter the Nexus on August 9.