Heroes Of The Storm Open Beta Patch Preview & Upcoming Changes

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.

Heroes Of The Storm / Blizzard Game Designer, Matt Cooper

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.

Hearthstone Heroes Of The Storm Card Back

The Hearthstone Heroes Of The Storm card back is right on time for the May 19th HotS open beta!

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!

Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi!I am the founder of GANG.My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online.My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design.I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!

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About Yogizilla

Hello, my name is Yomar but friends call me Yogi! I am the founder of GANG. My goal is to help the little geeks create a voice for themselves and grow their audience without the usual exclusivity and snobbery found in the world, both offline and online. My background is in IT, marketing, writing, and game design. I'm excited to put my diverse skill sets to some good use and help others!

Comments

  1. Official patch notes, for anyone that may have missed the preview and in-game deets. Overall, this was a patch that addressed everyone’s concerns and added much more polish, performance boosts, and functionality. We’re very happy with the direction of things!

    http://us.battle.net/heroes/en/blog/19067455

    What do you guys think? =oD

  2. I want to believe in Heroes of the Storm. I really do. But I can’t get past the feeling that it’s basically League of Legends using Blizzard Characters. And while that’s inherently kinda badass, it presents me with a problem. I never really got into StarCraft, so all of those characters would be lost on me. I was addicted to WoW years ago, but the story was all over the place, so those characters wouldn’t mean much to me either. I’m well versed in Sanctuary Lore so the Diablo characters call to me…..but what of the others? I know it’s a competitive kind of thing, but Lore is important to me …. even when I played LoL, I chose champions based off their personal lore.

    I thought I might give it a spin since it’s new and it’s free…but I dunno. I just love questing too dang much 🙂

    • … And LoL has actually dumped lore. Maybe due to Nika Harper’s departure and the loss of creatives?

      Those are very fair points. I have mixed feelings as I freelance as a ghostwriter, content marketer, and game designer. Lore is a powerful tool but it’s not the only way to create immersion and attachment to your toons.

      There’s a lot I can say but mainly HotS is the MOBA for people that always wanted to love the genre but couldn’t get into the arguably boring aspects of farming, item builds, stringent roles, etc. Then there is the toxicity that comes with PvP, which is further compounded by a focus on individual performance instead of teamwork. HotS has rebuilt the MOBA/ARTS from the ground up. You have team experience, objectives, and stats. Matches are faster and more intense.

      I feel anyone that really gives the game a chance and plays with friends will enjoy it thoroughly. Heroes of the Storm will appeal most to Blizzard fans and team players. You have to like PvP and be okay with the isometric view.

      Quests are there but not central. I love quests but get with them tend to require a much greater time commitment. The same goes for story-driven experiences. For me, I want fun gameplay and something I can enjoy with friends. Gaming is mostly my limited time to take a break from my work and family obligations. It’s a brief escape. If the gameplay is fun, that’s all that should matter. Consider the countless games that are essentially awesome interactive movies with bad or at least unremarkable game mechanics. Last Of Us comes to mind and I know many will disagree.

      It all comes down to what you enjoy most in games, how competitive you are, and how much time you can commit. I used to love MMOs but they took me away from my loved ones. It was hard to play casually and get enjoyment or any sense of progression. MMORPGs also suffer from cookie-cutter paths/builds, heavy nerfs that ruin months of work, and repetitive gameplay. They have a strong social, customization, and overall immersion but they’re more exclusive than inclusive to me.

      I would like some story-driven campaigns and the PvE is there but that’s not the focus now. The core of HotS is very well done. This is a MOBA that’s accessible and tons of fun. It offers a fresh experience every time, tons of options, and never-ending depth and mastery opportunities.

      The MOBA scene is growing rapidly. HotS has done tons to carve out their own niche. You can compare it to LOL but you could also do the same with Smite, Gigantic, and Airmech.. Yet they’re each very distinct experiences in spite of their differences. If anything, LoL shares more in common with DotA 2 (with good reason), HoN, and Strife. Some prefer the latter but they can be rough if you lean more towards team plays and fast action.

      MOBA were born of the RTS genre and innovative games like Herzog Zwei and Total Annihilation (Planetary Devastation).. But it’s nice to see a pure MOBA experience, though the RTS remnants are certainly there. But I digress.. I’m not trying to sell anyone on the game but I’d love our friends to give it a real shot so we can play together! =oD

      Again, if you are not keen on PvP, isometric view, or MOBA/ARTS games, it may not be for you.. Or it may sell you on the genre finally. Smite and Gigantic also have that potential. If you need a narrative and lore, you may have to give it some time.. But the foundation is there. =o)

      • You, sir, have seduced me with your wares! I will give it a shot one of these days. Questing and character progression will probably always be the most important to me, but I will certainly try out HoTS, if only to say “Well, I tried it” ….. I’m always saying to people “you can’t know if you don’t like something unless you try it” lol …. I’m TERRIBLE at pvp, but it’s never stopped me from trying, and every once in a while, you have an OP AWESOME game and it feels good. 🙂 Thanks for your well-thought out response.

        • You got it, bud! Speaking of character progression, HotS has it in spades. There are hero and player levels, daily quests, and more unlockables/rewards on the way.

          I actually prefer PvE myself but usually the scope of such games can be overwhelming and you need much greater investment before you can really feel your progress, you know? With HotS, I feel you get the best of both worlds. Every session feels like a step towards a significant goal… And it’s just fun with friends!

          I have an old friend I’ve known since around 1999. He played the game twice and then gave up on it. That was before the last major patches. He was even in the alpha. Yet he loves LOL.. Facepalm… You really gotta give it a go and playing with friends enhances the experience big time.

          The good news is that there are heroes you can use that are very straight forward yet viable at all levels of competitive play. Raynor comes to mind.

          You have four main roles you can take on: Warrior, Assassin, Support, and Specialist. I find the latter offers the most versatility and utility. Raynor is an Assassin who has the siege potential of a top-tier Specialist. As such, he can push lanes and destroy enemy structures just as well as he can contribute in team fights or duel. The only tricky part with him is watching out for bursty enemies and timing his knock back so that it delivers the killing blow or allows him to escape.

          I love this game and can’t wait to share it with all our homies here and throughout the geekosphere! =oD

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