Breaking news, fellow Blizzard fanboys!
Blizzard has been pretty tight-lipped about the specifics of the upcoming Heroes Of The Storm patch so we’ve put together a report based upon what they have told us and what makes sense given the upcoming open beta and full release dates (May 19th 2015 and June 2nd 2015, respectively). These details come on the heels of the following statement from Vaeflare, Community Manager on the Heroes Of The Storm forums:
We have indeed not yet announced when our next patch or Hero release are, so anyone claiming otherwise is factually incorrect.
We have, however, confirmed an official release date for Heroes of the Storm: June 2, 2015.
This vague response has many Blizzard fans frustrated. It’s been over five weeks and we still don’t know much about the next major patch. In a recent developer spotlight with Matt Cooper, HotS game designer, we did get some straight answers. Here is what Blizzard has confirmed for the upcoming Heroes Of The Storm patch:
- Healing Ward Rework – Healing ward will have scaling HP as a trade-off for being affected by all attacks, including AoE abilities. It will also have a higher targeting priority so enemies an’t sit on it to block attacks.
- The Rich Get Richer – Diablo and E.T.C. are both getting reworked a smidge with new Storm Powers. That’s right: the two most popular Warriors in the current meta are being improved further. The reworks, in a nutshell, will Diablo and E.T.C. will be even stronger in Heroes Of The Storm!. E.T.C. players will get more value from Mosh Pit and worry less about “hard counters”. While I play both Warriors and love them, I hope that other Warriors are buffed to keep pace.
- Balance Changes – Lots of hero changes are coming in addition to the aforementioned. Chen is going to be buffed so that he is more than just a trolling damage sponge. Anub’arak will now have more effective beetles and talent specs thereof. Abathur’s backdoor cheese plays will be essentially removed. Lost Vikings will have their Longboat nerfed and their less-used heroic buffed. Last but not least, Illidan is not being touched.
- Sylvanas, The Banshee Queen – Blizzard has confirmed that Sylvanas is well within their win-rate threshold, hovering at around 50%. The only change they are looking to do in the future is a rework of her Possession heroic; however, they do not have enough feedback to work off of currently.
There are some nice and, well, interesting design decisions but we are sure there is much more in the pipelines. Now for some speculation or, better yet, educated guesses…
First and foremost, the next major patch *HAS* to be this week as both Hearthstone and Heroes Of The Storm servers are going offline on Tuesday, May 12th 2015 3:00am PST / 6:00am EST. We already know what server maintenance means, especially when the expected downtime is estimated to go beyond 2-3 hours. There have been talks about new cross-game perks so it makes sense that they are going to roll out a Hearthstone perk for HotS players. Our guess is that it will be a limited edition card back. We also reckon this will only be available through the June 2nd official release as a reward for beta and alpha testers that have stuck through ’til the end. A Hearthstone mount would be nice too!
Our pals at Hearthpwn confirm our suspicions. Details on the Hearthstone and Heroes Of The Storm cross-game rewards/content can be found on their site. Note that the rewards won’t unlock immediately but they will be distributed retroactively. Work towards Player Level 12 on HotS and 100 wins on Hearthstone to qualify for the card back and mount, respectively.
The next thing we think will come sooner than later is overall buffs and reworks for Heroics. There are a few heroes, like Sylvanas, Muradin, Falstad, and Arthas, who have Heroics that are arguably useless. Blizzard is committed to reducing the instances of “autopick talents” so putting all Heroic abilities on equal ground would improve hero diversity tons.
Blizzard’s announcement about the next hero release has the community abuzz. There does not seem to be a hard date on the Kael’thas release but it would be a smart play to have him be part of the full launch effort on June 2nd. It doesn’t hurt that he’s only the second true mage in the game and he is a huge character from the Warcraft universe, which makes WoW players giddy.
Blizzard has plans on ramping up content development in the near future. They say their goal is to have new heroes released every 3-5 weeks, which is in-line with what popular alternatives, Smite and League Of Legends, currently do. We suspect that there may be one more battleground released before the launch but that may be a stretch. After the next map release, it’s very likely the focus will be on re-balancing, UI tweaks, performance fixes, and getting closer to that hero release schedule.
Oh, let’s not forget about Johanna the Crusader – finally, the Diablo franchise is getting some love! This leaves us to wonder when we’ll see a Diablo Support since Johanna’s kit seems very much Warrior thus far. We’d also like to see some more diversity in the Starcraft camp, too.
There are countless other features and fixes in the work, too. Matchmaking is something that is clearly a priority for Blizzard (and some folks won’t shut up about). Another thing we hope is sooner than later is a positive feedback system (i.e. honor/karma) to offset reporting abusy and bullying. These things are probably still months away, along with the new clan system and potential native voice chat (I hope not).
We can speculate a lot more but there’s one thing we are certain of: in just a few hours from now (when we publish this post), a major patch will be rolled out. There might be another patch right before the launch. We’re thinking tonight’s patch is a prep for open beta and the aforementioned tweaks. The launch patch in late May will introduce one or two new heroes and promo rewards. Hopefully, we’ll see more level-up perks. The game itself is a reward but, you know, some people need that extra incentive!
Extended Hearthstone & Heroes Of The Storm Downtime
Typically, game client patches are rolled out within a window of one to three hours; however, the projected downtime for the “server maintenance” is about 8 hours this time around (6am EST / 3am PST to 11am PST / 2pm EST). This is a strong indicator that not only is there content being added on the server-side, but also tweaks to the matchmaking systems on both Hearthstone and Heroes Of The Storm. Blizzard has heard the desperate outcry:
Matchmaking is broken – I keep getting matched up with players MUCH higher than me!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
Your prayers have likely been answered. Just remember: creating a better-fit, more competitive/balanced match means queue times will likely be much longer. We’re sure that the next complaint will be about ridiculous long queue times in Casual (Hearthstone) and Quick Match (Heroes Of The Storm) play modes. You can’t win!
Rumors have it that there are tweaks to HotS communications being rolled out, too. It’s likely a lobby/pre-game mute-all feature will be implemented. While this is clearly a band-aid/temporary fix, it may curb some of the toxicity we’ve seen on the rise since the Heroes Of The Storm beta opened up via the Founder’s Pack and beta key distributions. Hopefully, the mute-all does not disable pings because people already ignore those as it is… DOH!
Before we forget, the infinite sync/rejoin and dreaded reconnection Hell issues will likely be fixed both server and client-side. These issues wre arguably the most game-breaking (yes, more than matchmaking) so we’re excited to see how the game performs after the servers are updated and the patch is rolled out.
HeroesNexus May 12th 2015 Patch Notes
With less than two hours left before Hearthstone and Heroes Of The Storm are back online, here are some last-minute updates. HeroesNexus confirms a lot of what we suspected or saw teased for the past two months or so. Here are more HotS May 12th patch note insights, straight from their site:
- Kael’thas has been added to the game and is now available.
- You can now enable an interface option to right-click through the minimap.
- Reaching player level 25 will unlock all heroic abilities and talents on all heroes.
- The starter bundle now also includes a 7-day Stimpack. This will reward retroactively.
- Skins now have rarities – Rare, Epic, or Legendary.
- Diablo has a new mount called Terror Charge which lets him run on all fours.
- Team League registration now costs 500 gold.
Kael’thas will be here very shortly. Diablo gets the bad-ass rework that the community was hoping for, though I do hope that we can still be silly and have him ride a small pony.. for giggles. No Johanna The Crusader yet, as we figured, but she’ll likely be part of the June 2nd launch party!
The free 7-day Stimpack is something I plan to be taking advantage of right away. It’s refreshing to know that new talent rewards and bundle perks will continue to be distributed retroactively. This means early adopters do not get screwed over.
What’s particularly interesting is that they lowered the talent-gating removal from level 30 to level 25. I guess when the community raises a ruckus about something enough, compromises are made. I feel that talent-gating is a non-issue but I’m sure plenty of people will be elated to see this change. Similarly, the fixes to the minimap will relieve many people that have been frustrated by pathing and mis-firing issues.
The virtual economy is a matter of contention in many free-to-play games but Blizzard has managed to be competitive, provide more value, and give themselves enough margin to deliver frequent deals and bundles. Lowering Team League registration from 1000G to 500G is nice. Will there be a gold refund done retroactively? Probably not but you can’t win them all. The skin tiers make sense when communicating the value they create. Mega Tassador definitely has a Legendary feel to him. Will we see more pricing tweaks by launch? The potential is there!
Overall, this patch shows that Blizzard does indeed listen to and act upon community feedback. SUPER stoked to take our favorite games out for a spin!
Rock on, Stormers!