I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually incredibly excited about Blizzard’s upcoming MOBA Heroes of the Storm – and not just because I want the opportunity to watch Diablo beat the piss out of Arthas. As a game developer, Blizzard has a reputation – they’re a business that’s all about quality, and it’s rare that one of their products doesn’t eventually end up reaching some level of perfection – even if it takes a while to get there (I’m looking at you, Diablo 3). Given that it was a mod for one of their games that started the whole MOBA craze in the first place, any such title put out by the company absolutely has to be good.
Of course, the problem here is that the MOBA space has already been thoroughly dominated by two major players: League of Legends and Dota 2. In essence, these games together hold so much of the market – and have been around for so long – any game that comes after them ends up being either a cheap knockoff of being completely unable to compete in spite of its innovations. In essence, what Blizzard is looking to do is akin to creating an MMORPG that can stand up to World of Warcraft.
Basically, Blizzard is doing the next best thing to going up against itself (though in a way, it kind of is, given its hand in the development of Dota 2).
So…how exactly is Blizzard going to attempt to take on (and take down) the two biggest MOBAs in the world? How is it going to beat League of Legends at its own game? The answer to that is simple: it’s not.
What Blizzard intends to do with Heroes of the Storm is an entirely different approach from the vast majority of MOBA developers.It plans to use the same strategy with Heroes of the Storm that it did with World of Warcraft: it’s going to trim the fat. While Heroes of the Storm will still have all the qualities of a basic MOBA, many of the more complicated systems will be omitted altogether. For one – and this is perhaps the biggest change to the formula – there is no currency. Killing monsters (and other heroes) does not give you gold; you wouldn’t have anywhere to spend it even if you did, as item shops are completely absent from the game.
The dynamic of jungling has changed completely, as well. There’s no need for a dedicated jungle champion, and defeating monsters in the jungle doesn’t give you any global experience, or power. Instead, it’ll bolster your forces – defeat a jungle creep, and it’ll immediately march to lane to fight by your side. In addition, each map also has an additional ‘gimmick’ to it, like a pirate ship that’ll fire on your foes if you bring it enough gold.
The playing field is also a hell of a lot more even – your team levels up together, meaning you won’t have someone on your team lagging behind and thus unable to contribute to teamfights. Factor in that champions have access to all their abilities at first level, and this game might very well be a downright horror for MMO purists…but tons of fun for everyone else.
So, can Heroes of the Storm take on League of Legends and Dota 2? Probably not. But the way Blizzard’s designing it, it won’t need to – it’ll fill a niche that’s entirely its own. And I mean, it’s a Blizzard game, so people are going to play it either way, right?
After all, who doesn’t want to know who’d win in a fight between Tyrael and Kerrigan?