I have been playing Heroes of the Storm (HOTS) for about five months and have played over 700 games. I enjoy playing HOTS because it improves in areas that other MOBAs have been lacking in. This review was written at launch.
The first thing that makes HOTS great is that the games are shorter. Games on average range between 15 to 25 minutes. This reduces the frustration that players experience in the matches, which reduces the occurrence of toxicity.
The second thing that makes HOTS a great game is that teamwork matters and the team’s members are not left out of the fun. The team shares the experience so no one is left behind as their team snowballs out of control.
The third thing that makes HOTS unique and great is that there are no items and no last hitting. Now I know some people love these things but I do not. While items can be fun they also contribute to increased game length, because players want to farm items to become excessively powerful. Last hitting seems to be unnecessary in a game without currency and it increases the burden on new players. Last hitting for experience gain would only increase the toxicity towards a player having a rough game. I think encouraging new players to join a game only makes it better.
Instead of items Blizzard has added talents to HOTS. At certain levels each Hero can pick between 4 talents, or at level 10 two heroic abilities. These talents allow for your Hero to become fairly unique, and encourages players to design a build they enjoy and that would benefit the current match. It is also worth mentioning you do not spec abilities in this game, they all gain power as you level up.
For Blizzard Fans the fourth thing that makes HOTS great is that the Heroes and maps are interesting! The Heroes are all from Blizzard’s other games, so you can know a great deal about their back stories. This may appeal to you or it may not. The maps also have different themes which helps keep the game fresh.
The fifth thing that HOTS does right is that it makes ranked play locked until player level 30 and requires players to have unlocked 10 heroes. Player level 30 takes most people more than 100 games to achieve. This prevents ranked matches from becoming a new players “learning experience” and prevents extremely toxic players, who get banned, from being able to play in ranked as often.
The last major thing that HOTS does right is that it is free to play and not pay to win. All the items that are bought only contribute to cosmetic apparel, or unlock access to more Heroes. New players get access to five free heroes right away and by leveling up as a player eventually get access to all seven. These Heroes are rotated weekly.
Gold is the in game currency and you earn it by completing a daily quest, winning or losing matches and leveling up as a player or an individual Hero. Some have complained the rate at which gold can be earned is too slow. However I do not feel this is the case, the game is free to play after all.
I only gave Heroes of the Storm an eight because I feel it is not perfect.
The matchmaking system still needs some work because some games are not matched very well. I have seen the system pair players poorly before, however Blizzard has stated they are monitoring the structure of ranked, so improvements are possible. Quick match also needs work because sometimes one team clearly has an advantage based on class types.
Through Blizzards attempts to reduce toxicity, which plague this genre, they have had to make changes that some may not like. For example there is no all chat and players can choose in the options to mute all teammates. However you can always send a private message after the game if you really want to chat. Toxicity is still present in the game’s community but I feel it is greatly reduced compared to other MOBAs.
Some people have also claimed that HOTS is not as “hardcore” as League of Legends and DOTA 2. This is probably true but I think it is still very competitive and fun.
At this point I would also like to note there are still a few balancing issues with Heroes and maps. Blizzard has already stated they are on top of it and will make any necessary changes. Considering the fact that Blizzard plans to add more Heroes and maps, the game will regularly change.
Overall I think Heroes of the Storm is a great MOBA. It has made me return to the genre and I am actually having fun. However HOTS does not reinvent the genre, it only improves on it. Ultimately the game is free to play so you can decide for yourself.