The Heroes of the Storm (HotS) closed beta has been going on for a little over two months now, and it is a blast. I was lucky enough to get into the alpha back in November of 2014, but without any friends to team up with, I placed the game to the side in hopes that my friends would get into the beta when it launched January 16th.
Now, this closed beta is a bit different from other closed betas; anyone can spend $40 to purchase a “Founders Pack” which consists of three characters, three alternate skins for the three characters, and a mount. I think that the money spent to get into the beta is worth it because the game itself does not feel too much like a beta. Yes, Blizzard is still balancing characters and tweaking their skills, but the game runs smoothly and looks good doing it. Blizzard has also been good about listening to player feedback and have made many changes accordingly. I think it is always a good sign when a developer listens to the people playing their game.
On March 24th Blizzard launched the second new map since the beta began, another new character, and the biggest User Interface (UI) overhaul I have seen since I started playing.
The new map, Tomb of the Spider Queen, is a small sized three lane map that requires players to kill small spider minions to collect gems. The gems are then turned-in at one of two points on the map (Gem battles at the egg sacks!) and when one team reaches 50 gems a Spider Queen is summoned in each lane. The Spider Queens each push down a lane while summoning minions to fight with them. They seem to have a little less health than the Boss, but the team under attack needs to focus on them to avoid a brutal push and the attacking team can use this time for some nasty split pushing. However, I do have a few minor gripes concerning this map. The first issue: When turning in gems the sound they make are the exact same sound that the skulls make when they are picked up on the Haunted Mines map. The second issue: The Boss on this map is a barely re-skinned version of the Boss from Sky Temple. These issues are very minor, but I have a fairly high expectation based on the other maps that are available. Despite those minor issues, the map is a lot of fun and I really like the close quarters feel that it has. Along side the new map came a new character: Sylvanas.
Sylvanas is a Ranged Assassin and her abilities give her a solid presence in fights or when pushing down a lane. I do not own Sylvanas, but I did take her into “Try Mode” to see how her attacks worked out; I was not disappointed. Her trait, Black Arrow, stuns minions, mercenaries and structures for one second whenever she hits them with an ability or her basic attack. This trait simply makes her dangerous, especially if she is paired with a good Warrior or Support character. Her other attacks help her trait's effectiveness, but my favorite ability is the Wraith attack. The Wraith attack sends out three Wraiths that do damage when the pass through an enemy, but Sylvanas can also travel to where the Wraiths are before they expire. This gives her a solid chase/escape ability that I can already see coming in handy. I can't comment on how she plays in an actual fight, but I will be getting her when her gold price drops in the next few weeks or so. The rest of the updates are small, but some are worth noting.
First, I must say that the UI changes needed to happen. The UI was not bad, but it really did need some fixing up. Blizzard delivered. The biggest change that I am thankful for: Players can actually see their full stats at the end of the battle instead of just being able to see kills, deaths, and mechanics. This is a really great addition. It is crucial to see all my stats at the end of the game so that I can see where I faltered and also make sure I was putting out the right amount of damage, experience, siege damage, and healing. On top of the end game screen changes, all of the menus have been reworked and the different screens have a new 3D look about them. The character models when selecting a character have all been remodeled to look bigger on the screen and All of the revamping to the look of the UI has given HotS a fresh scent about it.
Blizzard also raised the max level of heroes from ten to twenty, which gives players a reason to play with their characters that have a master skin unlocked. There are many more little changes that were implemented, so feel free to dive in for anyone that wants to read through the official patch notes.
I took a break from playing HotS to write, but now it is time for me to go back to the battle grounds. Cheers.