Review

Heroes of the Storm Review

  • First Released Jun 2, 2015
    released
  • PC

Taken by storm.

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Given the origins of the online battle arena genre, in which StarCraft and Warcraft III modifications played a major role, it was only a matter of time: Blizzard has thrown down its hand in the MOBA market. Heroes of the Storm is yet another example of the quality we expect from the developer: ideas that have been explored elsewhere are given a level of refinement and accessibility that makes the eventual result nigh impossible to dislike. Heroes of the Storm is fantastic, assembling Blizzard's colorful characters into a highly absorbing tactical arena game.

As with games like League of Legends and Dota 2, two teams of five face off with the goal of destroying the opponent's base. Unlike those games, however, the map upon which teams face off is not a near carbon copy of those from other genres. Heroes of the Storm features seven unique maps with various secondary objectives that can assist a team in their siege of the enemy base. Each of these secondary objectives serves to create interesting movement and points of conflict, thus preventing the game from devolving into poke wars or stalemates where teams are too afraid to engage with each other.

B.F.R.
B.F.R.

One such map is the Garden of Terror, in which players collect seeds from monsters upon nightfall in order to summon and take control of a garden terror of their own, which has the power to turn foes into zombie plants and plant vines that temporarily disable enemy towers. The garden terror's massive health pool forces the opposing team to take it down before it wreaks havoc upon their bases. Furthermore, controlling the garden terror can lead to an interesting minigame of keep-away in the early stages of the game, as you sprint to drop the vines in every lane you can manage before your empowered state runs out or your terror is killed.

In another map, The Haunted Mines, the secondary objective sends players underground, off the main area of the map to collect skulls that empower their team's massive grave golem. The power of each team's golem depends on the number of the 100 available skulls they are able to acquire. Teams must react and take position according to how well they managed to acquire skulls underground while the mines were open. A stronger enemy golem requires staunch defenses, while golems relatively even in power enable more versatile splits of defenders and attackers. Each team's golem pushes opposite lanes, and upon collection of another 100 skulls, revives wherever it died previously, adding a sense of dread when an enemy's golem dies close to your core. The battles with the grave golem are the main course, certainly, but the skirmishes in the mines and the tight interplay of fending off the enemy team while your team slays the mine's boss is quite the appetizing hors d'oeuvre.

No Caption Provided
..ladies...
..ladies...

Blackheart's Bay, the Tomb of the Spider Queen, and Dragon Shire are all battlegrounds supporting intense and exhilarating comebacks. The game's inherent comeback mechanics, such as longer death timers for higher level players, and map-specific secondary objectives, offer the trailing team plenty of opportunities to close the gap. In Dragon Shire, for instance, players may channel the great power of the towering warrior known as the dragon knight, allowing one hero to temporarily transform into the knight. Each successive dragon knight summon is stronger, leading to a progressively thrilling brawl each time the dragon knight is summoned.

One of Heroes of the Storm's primary draws is its cast of characters from Blizzard's various franchises. Warcraft's Uther, Malfurion, Illidan, Jaina, Thrall, and others face off against StarCraft's Raynor, Kerrigan, Tychus, Tassadar, and Zeratul as well as Diablo's Diablo, Azmodan, Tyrael, and a few representatives of the Diablo III playable characters. Despite being essentially recycled pre-existing characters, Heroes of the Storm's character design still greatly impresses. Diablo offers his signature red lightning breath as an area-of-effect team fight ultimate, while Raynor may call in help from the Hyperion Battlecruiser to rain down fire from above. Arthas summons Sindragosa to freeze all in her path. These characters bring their own signature moves from their franchises into the arena with them, while still sliding neatly into the mold of a different genre.

While most characters fit into the standard classes of Warrior (tanks with crowd control), Assassin (sustained damage and nuking mages), and Supports (mostly healers), Heroes of the Storm features a fourth classification: Specialists. Specialists all have mechanics unique to their characters and don't really compare to the other characters in the game. Abathur may attach a symbiote to an allied unit in order to launch his attacks from the safety of his own base. Azmodan empowers nearby minions while summoning a relative army all his own. Murky, the Baby Murloc, may lay an egg anywhere on the map in order to respawn there within a few seconds of death, rather than the long respawn timer to revive in base. The Specialist characters offer an entirely different perspective on Heroes of the Storm's gameplay.

No Caption Provided

Ideas that have been explored elsewhere are given a level of refinement and accessibility that makes the eventual, golden result nigh impossible to dislike.

Of the many heroes I played, only one made me question its usefulness--and only one other made me feel unstoppable. Overall, excellent hero balancing means that you rarely assume that a game is over before it starts because one team has a hero that yours doesn't--except perhaps when an opposing player has chosen Sylvanas. The slight imbalances that do exist are cleverly blanketed by the team-focused design that encourage grouping and teamwork, as well as by the game's matchmaking, which prioritizes balanced team composition over throwing five assassin players into a team. Occasionally, some combinations of heroes are a perfect storm that causes one particular hero shine--Illidan with a healer and an Abathur on his team is one such instance--which may lead to perceived imbalances. But once you realize Illidan isn't the only one doing work, the illusion is dispelled.

As your character levels up during a match, you choose how to customize your build using various stat-boosting talents that augment your character's skills. Skills improve in damage on their own as you gain levels, but talents may add additional damage or effects to those skills. For example, Stitches must choose between extending the reach of his hook or enabling it to snag a second target; Valla and Falstad may choose between empowering their basic attacks or shifting more damage to their abilities. Each character has a set of unique choices to customize your style either to your own personal preference, or to suit the map. There are no items to buy in Heroes of the Storm: all of your character customization is handled solely by the talent system. One of my frustrations with the game stems from talents, as two or three of the available talents per level are gated behind a hero mastery system that requires you to play several games as the hero before you are allowed to select some of the more advanced masteries. This cripples character potential in Quick Match and encourages players to grind for experience in matches versus the less capable AI in order to level up their hero's mastery.

Heroes of the Storm is a free-to-play game; thus, playable characters are limited to a free week rotation and characters are unlocked through Gold (earned by playing) or real money. With the existence of daily quests such as "Win three games" or "Play two games as a Diablo character," gold comes easily, and it never feels like it will take days of playing to unlock whatever character you're looking for. Bonus gold is also given out at various account level milestones and for reaching mastery level five of a character. Overall, the free-to-play structure doesn't feel greedy or insurmountable, even when you only casually engage. Admittedly, it may take a long time to unlock every character in the game, but unlocking a decent variety of characters should come rather easily. I'm admittedly not the best person to trust with regards to games labeled “free-to-play” though; I've spent over a thousand dollars in League of Legends over the years.

No Caption Provided
Chef Stitches brings the Meat Hooks.
Chef Stitches brings the Meat Hooks.

Match length in Heroes of the Storm is short, relative to other games in the genre. Rather than spending an hour or longer hoping for a game to finally come to an end, matches are often decisively ended within 20 minutes. There are outliers that drag on beyond 40, as evenly matched teams may have trouble managing to end the game against one another, but the game's rapidly scaling death timers generally enable one team to end the competition before that point is reached. Usually, games are over quickly enough that you'll convince yourself you always have time for one more game.

If you wish to shine individually, you may not enjoy Heroes of the Storm; the game is very team-centric, to the point that even experience is shared across an entire team--all players on the same team are the same level during a match. An individual's power to affect a match is limited. Grouping up is essential to winning matches, and attempting any sort of heroic 1-vs.-5 play will likely be met with death. This serves to reduce the amount of rampant toxicity the genre is rather notorious for bringing; most game and chat experiences feature very few instances of nasty epithets, and with cross-team chat disabled outright, there is no opportunity for insulting opponents.

The environments, animations, and sounds of combat all evoke a mental investment in the action. Animations are simultaneously flashy and elegant, and ability animations feature enough clarity that it's rare to be confused about what killed you. Tassadar's Psionic Storm crackles and flashes for each enemy it hits. As E.T.C. The Rock God leaps into the fray from across the map, a rocking guitar riff signals his landing. The comical trio of Lost Vikings mounts up into its longboat when activating a heroic ability, and the three sing a merry tune as they rain cannon fire down on nearby foes and towers. And the sound of a dead hero (with which you will become very familiar) features a bass "shoomp" to draw just the right amount of satisfaction for each and every kill your team secures.

Heroes of the Storm is a must-play for both MOBA players and Blizzard enthusiasts. It avoids stepping into the exact footprints of the games that paved the way for the genre, and delivers a beautifully graceful, unique experience with familiar characters. And should you not fall into either category, it is still a fantastic casual-competitive game that offers untold hours of enjoyment.

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Now Playing: Heroes of the Storm - Video Review

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The Good
Multiple maps, each with its own unique flavor
Recognizable characters fit smoothly into their new genre
Short matches keep excitement levels high
Specialist characters offer vastly different styles of play
Satisfying combat given oomph by impactful animations and audio
The Bad
Character potential is locked behind a mastery level grind
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tyler Hicks is a seasoned MOBA veteran and longtime fan of Blizzard IPs Diablo and StarCraft, with thousands of hours in each. For this review, Tyler reached account level 22 in Heroes of the Storm and leveled up several characters to level 5.
482 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

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Gluesticky

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Edited By Gluesticky

I love this game. It's the most fun moba in my opinion. Can't even go back to League of Legends after playing this. By the time LoL finishes laning the game in hots is over.

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nomailx

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This piece of garbage? Superb? RFLOL! Omg! Blizzard should invest money into their games instead of Gamespot's pockets!

3 • 
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Runock

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@nomailx: what a brainless f*cking moron you are. The only trash here is you. Two wrongs don't make a right and your parents are a perfect example. Bad genes made you such a dumbass punk.

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inuyashagalo

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Are MOBA players usually so closed-minded like those below? Every MOBA out there have advantages and disadvantages. I've had fun with all of them, especially this one. Many of you are criticizing this like spoiled kids.

5 • 
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pergolatios

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@inuyashagalo: dude,the game is fine,i play it too when i want to relax.But this is not a "superb 9" moba,like please

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ProphetKing

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I've played every single moba that's come out since the dawn of time, and this review is just bs.
Heroes of the storm is one of the most boring games i've ever played.
someone got paid to write this review i presume.
9? Shame on you.

2 • 
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50cratez

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it's just too little too late. to be real it doesnt matter anyway.

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CriticOfCritics

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Edited By CriticOfCritics

Awesome paid review .. this is a 6 tops. Poor mechanics, lopsided matches, poor map layouts, sloppy all the way around.

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UltraredM

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@criticofcritics: "I don't agree with the review and therefore it must have been paid for." Tinfoil hat much? What's next, complaining about chemtrails and black helicopters?

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CriticOfCritics

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@UltraredM: Don't agree, call them a looney? I've been playing since closed alpha. I can understand if this excuse for a MOBA is the only one of its kind you can play. The game is horribly executed from the choppy character movement onward to the poor character representation, but hey, if you want to talk about other weird stuff like hats and trails, you're on the wrong Web site. Troll elsewhere and do grow up.

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motopramaus

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@criticofcritics: Saying it's a paid review though, that's a little daft.

But just for your interest, got 85% on Metacritic from 54 critic reviews, so gamespot inline with the rest of the world, well except you of coarse.

http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/heroes-of-the-storm

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Shashank

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I love league of legends, I've put around 250 hours put into actual matches in terms of game time, but I have to say Heroes of the Storm, is a moba, but with a different view on it, nonetheless, it's still a great game. If you go in expecting dota or league, you will be dissapointed, if you go in with an open mind, you will be pleasantly surprised. I must admit, i'm pretty new to the game, but it already is a lot of fun, and I think that this game is under appreciated for what it is, the gamespot review does it justice, it is really fun, you should definitely try it with some friends, playing a match with people who've never played a moba before physically hurts..

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50cratez

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Too Late

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natanmir

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i REALLY love the units from warcraft and starcraft but this game gets a 9 and devil may cry 4 SE gets a 6? wth:?

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-Unreal-

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@natanmir Because they're not even remotely similar games and thus comparing the two by score is completely and utterly senseless.

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The_Tron

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Edited By The_Tron

@natanmir: because DMC 4 SE is a remake of one of the most easily forgetable DMC games, it was servicable, but not as memorable as DMC 3 and was full of a lot of repitition. This gets a 9 because well, surprise, it's really good. And actually brings some things to the genre that are fresh and welcome. it's not for everyone but it's definitely worth a try. While I wouldn't want to replay dmc4 again, not with so many better options for action games within the last 2 years.

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eporrini

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The easiest way to describe this game is a simplistic MOBA based on Blizzard's heroes. Having played Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo I love playing champs that I feel I have a connection to. Having played LOL (1,600+ wins) I find it to be a bit overly simplistic and it's hard to stand out as an individual while playing. Even with the free double xp week recently enacted on HOTS I found myself not really wanting to play it for any significant length of time. Blizzard does a great job of evolving their games over time, Diablo III being a great example of that, and I am sure it will mature quite a bit as it moves forward. If I had to rate it in it's present state, I would probably give it a 7 out of 10 based on the fact of how repetitive a MOBA is by nature, and the need for it to be highly addictive to keep you playing for an extended period of time.

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Tr4newreck

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@eporrini:yeah i agree, and am probably even more cynical and mean about this... blizzard is a AAA studio, why jump on an already crowded bandwagon, the world does not need another moba game.... should of stayed in partnership with steam and its DOTA project.

blizz will fix it, sort of...like d3...i guess... if you call it a fix, ehh its more like somebody doing a courtesy flush and spraying some febreeze in the air...the crapy aroma is still there, its just masked in flowers...maybe an improvement?...meh lets call it a wash

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The_Tron

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ugh, comments is full of unnecessary hate for a very good game. What is with people on the internet hating on stuff that doesn't deserve it and trying to promote crap as being amazing. Oh right, LOL and Dota fanboys...

2 • 
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thedarklite

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hots is rubbish

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Riddik373

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"...attempting any heroic play will likely be met with death" => No heroes in HEROES of the Storm. LOL

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Eigen-Vector

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Edited By Eigen-Vector

@Riddik373: Nicely taken out of context he referred to no solo Rambo like heroics

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murekkep

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It deserves a 7.5 at best.

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Alecrast

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I have 465 hours in this game, obviously I absolutely love it. I came from DOTA 2, it takes a bit to get used to the new mechanics but once you get there is amazing.

About the gold thing, you get gold rewards for a A LOT of things (not only winning/losing games), you get to buy a lot of characters really fast, 10k gold for the most expensive characters is not that big of a deal.

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Max_160

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Edited By Max_160

@alecrast: If you came from Dota you wouldn't need to get used to for this game. There are no items to purchase and very simplistic builds focused on hero skills. I started this game yesterday and already feel like I understand most of it.

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good_evil

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@Max_160: I was dota 2 player and played single game of HoS. It is incredibly shallow game with very little competitive aspect in it. Got bored after this single matched and uninstalled it

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ratchet3

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Edited By ratchet3

@good_evil: same here. there's little depth to the characters.

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ViggyNash

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@alecrast: About how long does it take to collect 10k to buy an expensive character? I'm assuming you're getting them from somewhere other than matches because even winning only gets you a pittance.

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mium_mium

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@ViggyNash: You can have 10k in less than 20 hours... there are 2k bonuses on certain levels so it is ok...

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ViggyNash

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In order to buy a "hard" character, you need 10000 coins. Winning a match nets you 30 coins.

Enough said.

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inuyashagalo

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@ViggyNash: I just won 2000 coins in a few matches doing dailies yesterday... For casual players this game is excellent. It's simple, efficient and fun. But I think most moba players want these games just for the competition...

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Eigen-Vector

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@ViggyNash: Not really. There are 2000 gold rewards a few times upto lvl 20 and many in the 100's for leveling toons and still more to be said!

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ViggyNash

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@eigen-vector: It would take getting to lvl 25 to buy one 10k character, and who knows how many dozens of levels beyond that to get another. It makes no sense that the core of the game, playing matches, gets you an amount of gold that's almost negligible towards the only thing of value to buy.

Even LoL's monetization scheme wasn't this absurd.

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The_Tron

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@ViggyNash: there's also the 500 you get for leveling 1 character up to lvl 5 (a task that can be done in under an hour) 1500 for 15 and 2000 for lvl 20. I've bought maybe 4 or 5 heroes and have 80% of all the heroes currently available. And that's only from earning in game gold from dailies (I can only earn at max dailies from 7 of 14 days every two weeks) and lvling my account and characters. Earning the gold is easy, you just have to actually do it instead of sit back and complaining about not having everything handed to you.

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sploitz85

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How do you not even include the GIGANTIC paywall this game is behind in 'The Bad?' How do you give a 9/10, indicative of a game that is truly remarkable, to something that deceptively requires you to pay hundreds in order to have full access to the game's features?

Very, very shady.

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ratchet3

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@sploitz85: once I saw you had to pay for the "heroes" I did not want to play it.

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SchwarzerRitter

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Edited By SchwarzerRitter

This game did not have much to offer to me. Not really engaging, the maps seem so random and the gameplay is just casual at best. I don´t see this game being succesful since there is no long-term motivation whatsoever.

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CriticOfCritics

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@SchwarzerRitter: 100% true. This is just a fanboy flurry that Blizzard whipped up. Protected by the fanboys and rated high by some because of promotional encouragement. Shame on you GameSpot.

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nomailx

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Obvious paid review is obvious.

Unpaid Version here with a score of 6.5:

http://www.ign.com/games/heroes-of-the-storm/pc-120619

PS: Magically IGN's score is almost the same average user rating score for this game by the gamespot community. But hey! Paid reviews are a myth right? Sure they are. In todays economy all companies can be trusted and NO way you can bribe anyone right?

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Eigen-Vector

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@nomailx: You mis-spelt unplayed

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ggregd

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@nomailx: This review is in line with the Metacritic average. IGN is at the bottom of all 38 reviews. It's common to toss out a few of the the lowest and highest ranked items in a set and use the rest as closer to reality. IGN gets tossed out.

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Suikogaiden

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Edited By Suikogaiden

@nomailx:

That is not technically bribery but yeah many reviews are obviously disguised advertisements or influenced by an agenda.

The "mainstream" corporate media news should always be taken with a grain of salt, studies show that 40-60% of their information tends to be inaccurate or false. That is why for example 45% of Americans still believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction 9 years after it has become proven fact they did not.

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willzihang

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Edited By willzihang

Uuuhh, hideous conceited Blizzard rubbish. "Look how great we are with our all-stars game, we're just like Disney."

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sploitz85

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@willzihang: I'm sure their masters at Activision demanded they make a moba of some kind and they reluctantly made this.

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CriticOfCritics

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@sploitz85: If you've been watching carefully they changed the game entirely like 3 times before releasing a stiff, unorganized mess in beta. This was purely made for fanboys of the characters that are represented. The game lacks ANY skill and is terribly unbalanced from the characters powers to the maps themselves. This is just something for the kids.

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Heroes of the Storm More Info

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  • First Released Jun 2, 2015
    released
    • PC
    Heroes of the Storm is the game formerly known as Blizzard All-Stars.
    7.5
    Average Rating222 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Heroes of the Storm
    Developed by:
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Published by:
    Blizzard Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Strategy, MOBA
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes