Heroes of the Storm Patch Offers More Free Characters Every Week

Blizzard also introduces a new refer-a-friend system, extends its Black Friday sale, and more.

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The latest update for Heroes of the Storm has been released, and among other things, this latest patch increases the number of characters that can be played for free every week.

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After teasing on Twitter that some kind of surprise was coming today, Blizzard made good on a previous promise to increase the size of the free hero rotation. Rather than seven characters, as in the past, everyone will now have access to a maximum of 10 free characters every week. Four of these characters will be restricted to players who have reached certain account levels; you'll get one extra slot by reaching levels 5, 7, 12, and 15.

With players having access to more characters than before, Blizzard is doing away with one of the game's more controversial features: talent gating. Until now, players had to reach a certain level with each character in order to access all of the talent choices they have. (Alternatively, they could reach a certain account level that would unlock all talents on every character.) This was originally intended to ease the learning curve for players, but proved to be problematic.

Now that that's out of the way, Blizzard has introduced a new feature that's angering some players in its place. Heroes of the Storm now has a refer-a-friend feature that allows players to earn rewards by recruiting new players to the game. Bringing one person to the game who then reaches level 10 will reward the recruiter with a special portrait. Get four people to try the game and reach that point, and the reward is an exclusive Vulture Hover Bike mount (pictured below). Those who are recruited get rewarded too, first with Raynor and a 5-day stimpack (offering bonus XP and in-game gold), and then with Sylvanas and the aforementioned portrait.

Where people are taking issue with this is the requirement that recruits be signed up before they've reached level 5. That essentially means you need to bring either a brand-new player to the game, or someone who has played very little. The system doesn't account for anyone you might have brought to the game in the past--those who have already convinced all of their friends to play are left with no option but to try recruiting strangers online or making fake accounts and leveling them up to 10.

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Finally, today's patch brings with it two other pieces of news. First, Blizzard is offering a 50 percent XP bonus for the next week, running from now until 10 AM PST on December 16.

The other tidbit is that the game's Black Friday sale--which saw the real money price of all heroes, skins, and mounts cut in half--will remain in place until the end of the year. Previously, it had been scheduled to end today.

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