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 
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darkstar4471

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Edited By darkstar4471

What HotS is is first and foremost, is a team game. You WILL NOT and I repeat WILL NOT win a game unless your playing as a team. This, to me is the biggest downfall of the game, simply because most of the games you play will be with people you don't know. Sure you'll get to create your own team at lvl 40 and go into team league and find friends online and play Hero Leagure, but expect to lose a lot of games and losing constantly because you're with players who, at lvl 30+ are still incapable of understanding the basics (you don't attack tanks when ADC's are picking you off from a distance, or leaving healers to heal in peace for example).

This is frustrating. Then it gets annoying. Then it gets repetitively boring that you put down the game for a while.

Unlike in LoL, you don't equip your player with various equipment. It's an easy plug'n'play and choose one of 'x' options for character development which aren't really all that great after 5 or so levels.

What's really losing it for me though is the losses. Now at lvl 40, playing Hero League, unlike in LoL you can't rise up levels faster than others through kills, giving you more cash to upgrade your player faster. So, unlike in LoL, if you're stuck with bad players, you lose the game period and there's nothing your can do to change that outcome, other than wait for the inevitable destruction of you Nexus. There's no surrender either. Worse still, once you get past lvl 40 in game ranking (not your own rank) you start to lose XP and therefore ranking. I got to level 35 and then 10 straight losses in a row, or so, I was back down to lvl 40 again. Escaping is also pretty much impossible as well. Later on in the game you get access to a teleport, but this, as said comes late on and considering that with a press of the 'z' key, your enemy can jump on their ride and close you down instantly, if you're getting ganked by two players then you will die as you won't be able to jump on your ride fast enough without the ride summon countdown being stopped by an enemy attack.

Like I said, it's incredibly frustrating playing with players who still won't play the basics.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. The whole design of the levels, the interface outwith games is really innovative, but the game mechanics are just not good enough to warrant me playing any more games and spending any cash. If you're getting bored with LoL then play this, you'll be going back to LoL after realising that it's a team game and solo effort will do nothing to help you win. Constant losses in this game has driven me away. For example out of 73 games in Hero League, I've won 21 and lost 52. To me these statistics simply suck, worse still as I said that if you're with a team that doesn't play as a team you will lose, regardless how good a player you are as everyone stays at the same level in your team. More so, the more kills the enemy gets the level gap increases. Being 3 levels behind your enemy, while already losing badly is the final nail in the coffin.

Blizzard make visually beautiful games, but HotS, just doesn't give you wins in team play unless you're playing with friends. Hearthstone is a far better option if you like winning as it's up to you.

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cajun53

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@darkstar4471: I agree that team matching is a problem. I just hit level 40, and I'm still getting matched with noobs that don't know how the map events work. That's frustrating.

I am trying to use the channels more to find teams. I find that people who do that generally have a little more experience than just taking a shot in the dark with the "Ready" button.

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LinguiniSteak

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Aside from hating on blizzard, (which is irrelevant, you wow nerds) or hating on f2p models (which are everywhere), i would be interested in hearing anyones opinion about why this falls behind other mobas (aside from competitive curves) or other large incongruities or short comings from this review. Honestly, im not soiling my pants over this game, but after 50+ hours its safe to say that this review sums up a general outline pretty well (not that that means im spending money on it.)

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sploitz85

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@LinguiniSteak: Because this particular f2p model is impractical. A couple bucks for a hero? Sure, that makes sense. Maybe $50 or $60 (average retail cost for a AAA title) and we should have full access to all heroes. Charge for cosmetics and all that. The heroes are incredibly expensive and it forces most people to pick one or two to 'main' and people won't be able to enjoy the full game.

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Fishslap33

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If I had to choose between playing MOBAs and a curtain design simulator it`d be a toss-up. Nice to see the game reviewing community hurling out ill-founded reviews as early as possible though, to sucker slow people into wasting more money on Actiblizz. God knows they need some more money. That`s so much more important than having good ideas. Fortunately only grumpy meanies have boycotted Actiblizz since their inclusion of an RMAH in Diablo III. That was such an awesome design decision in an ARPG!

I love greed and fascism!!!!

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Oni

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@fishslap33: The sad part is I've already seen many people praising them for the amazing $10 skins they're selling. Blizz sure loves to exploit their fan base.

Needles to say this was a shoddy review ..... curiously absent of any depth or insight. So, yeah I can see why it scored so high. /rolls eyes

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cajun53

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@Oni: Free games with IAP are here to stay, for better or worse. Which would you rather play: A free game that charges for cosmetic customizations, or a free game that's play-to-win?

I will support developers who avoid the pay-to-win schemes.

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Oni

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@cajun53: Free Games are here to stay sure but that still doesn't mean we should excuse these companies who exploit the % of players (whales) who are weak and will keep spending money on these games.

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GandoSpot

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Edited By GandoSpot

Blizzard Greatest franchises ever

1) Warcraft

2) World of Warcraft

3) HearthStone

4) Starcraft

Blizzard's& gaming world worst franchises ever.

1) Diablo

2) HOTS

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GandoSpot

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@jimmy_russell: **** ALLAH & Jimmy

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naasum

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@gandospot: Diablo 3 is nowhere near Diablo 2 but it is not the same piece of garbage as it is at launch. Ros really saved the game and now it is a decent game to play regularly. Please share your ignorance elsewhere.

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mobywv

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@gandospot: Diablo II was arguably their BEST game.

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Ethario

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@gandospot:
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Tabarnaque

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Where the Warcraft 4 at?

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dani_i89

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## Me in 2002: "Blizzard are the best games developer....everything they do is gold...can't see it ever changing".

Me in the present day: " I fu$%^ng hate Blizzard.

How things have changed....f^ck you Blizzard.

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nomailx

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The Reviewer doesn't even have a real Photo. I get it. No one wants this review to stick on their carrier. When they are listing paid reviews, they should use a "$" sign as an Avatar.

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GandoSpot

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Edited By GandoSpot

@nomailx: 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 LIKES.

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Xirtahm

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Edited By Xirtahm

@nomailx: Yeah, because GOD FORBID someone actually enjoys this game and happens to have positive things to say about it. I get it. We're all supposed to only like what you like.

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Avantyr

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@Xirtahm: Well, there are a lot of problems/downpoints he doesn't even acknowledge. For example the cost of new characters.
See the IGN review.

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@Avantyr: Please don't mention the moronic garbage that is the IGN review. for one the price of heroes is no worse than LoL champions, dota is the only moba that offers all of the champions from start, and they really can't go back from that. as far as the ign reviewers belief that the maps are unbalanced, they are all unfounded. as the only map he mentions is the tribute map, which offers a VERY negligible advantage to a team, and then the next tribute it gives it to the other team. needing 3 tributes before any effect is even given, and 1/3 tributes is always smack dab in the middle, its very balanced. the only downside to the game is the locking of talents until you hit level 4 on the hero(which takes 3-5 games. luckily once you hit level 20 all talents are unlocked on all heroes. getting to level 20 takes maybe a week or 2 with casual play, if you play a ton, you can achieve it in a day. and that 1 drawback is hardly enough to warrant the stupid rating of 6.5/10 that ign gave it.
I lost faith in IGN when i saw their review of infinite crisis, but then when i saw the heroes review, i knew they were full of shit. basically "it's not dota, so it's shit."

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Eigen-Vector

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@frosternal: Lol +1 from me

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Zerohournow

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@nomailx: the tinfoil is in aisle 5...

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Fishslap33

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@zerohournow Is it near the Kool-Aid?:

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Zerohournow

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@fishslap33: I can only hope it is...

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LinguiniSteak

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Edited By LinguiniSteak

so the reviewer based this whole thing off of the quick match after playing only a number of characters? so theres no opinion as to the actual competitive play? as in the way the game was intended to mesh with all the players knowing how to build their hero on each map? so theres not much of a reason to trust his opinion, hmm?

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Frosternal

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@LinguiniSteak: having over 1000 games and playing hero/team league quite frequently solo and 5 stack team. I can say the competitive nature of the game is amazing, the major drawback is their ranked system. if you play a lot you will eventually reach rank 1, even if you are moderate. luckily they realize this and mentioned in the last update that they plan on changing it, they just want to give new people starting the game at launch to brush up on the game before they implement the new system.
heroes has a nice balance of casual and competitive. its very easy to pick up, but very hard to master. as there are multiple builds for characters that work depending on the team make up and the map makeup. theres also certain team comps that work amazing on certain maps and ones that faulter on other maps, no one team comp beats all others. there are some heroes that are higher tier than other for ranked, but no hero is useless in ranked, they can all serve a purpose on a competitive team. teams rely a lot more on synergy between characters than other mobas, because of the cooperative aspect of hots.

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darkstar4471

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Edited By darkstar4471

I started playing this game last week. With all the daily bonuses, you can really level up fast, get cash to get to play in the Hero and Team league.

At first I really loved the game. I really loved LoL but left it because quite simply it was full of authoritarian grasses who would report you for the slightest insult or whatnot. I got tired of it because of this. The constant ingame fighting, noob calling, bitching, complaining about KS etc etc etc. I left and haven't looked back.

However.......

I though with HotS that the community wasn't like LoL. I was wrong. I thought that by lvl 30 (when you go into Hero League) people would have learned the basics of the maps and what was needed to be done in order to win. More so, when you hit lvl 30 and own 10 characters (very easy to attain by this time) you go to Hero League and get ranked. You start at lvl 50 and with each win get XPs and move up in level ranking. When you reach lvl 40 and lose a game, you start losing ranking points and slip back levels. I found that high level players were still oblivious to working as a team and not paying attention to what was going on, regardless of pinging. When I get into games like these, I simply don't want to play them, because I know what the outcome will be - A LOSS.

So I simply came to the conclusion with online games, is that the community is VILE and that's it. What I find disturbing about online games is they're breeding a generation of 'grasses' who report like it's going out of fashion.

I deleted it, along with Hearthstone and Battlenet.
I won't be touching them again. I will say that the games are beautifully done, but I simply hate playing with authoritarian a**holes, who like to report constantly.

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miser_cz

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@darkstar4471: TL;DR "I was being asshole, got reported, deleted tha game."

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Zerohournow

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@miser_cz: You wouldn't get reported if you were being a dick! I don't even communicate in the game, there is zero need to. You sound like just another player who cries when he gets reprimanded for his own poor behavior...

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Oni

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@miser_cz: Way to miss the point! Someone, quick, get this guy a cookie and possibly a hug ASAP.

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darkstar4471

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Edited By darkstar4471

@miser_cz:

And you sum up the type of ignorant, nerd, troll, bullies online gaming is full of.

LMAO!!!

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dr_jashugan

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IMO, Overwatch is more interesting than this game.

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Xirtahm

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@dr_jashugan: They aren't even the same genre. This is like saying "Super Mario Bros is more interesting than The Legend of Zelda"...

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magul

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I've never played moba before and I could endure only for 5 minutes. Are all mobas same? I better continue to play sc2...

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Frosternal

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@magul: this is the easiest to pick up of all the mobas. mobas are a game genre that require some time to learn, you won't know if u are capable of playing the game well after 5 minutes.

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Edited By ZanderDF

For a moba the game is all around fun, teamwork is a MUST , one person cant win games like in LoL. Sharing the EXP means everybody is at the same level of power and your role feels more fulfilling compared to LOL if you want to go tank you will grow very tanky with the tank hero, if you go heal support your going to be healing ALOT. Everything feels on point and your preferred role is allways fulfilling to play. games are ussually quick and intense with the emphasis on the map objectives, sometimes games are long if the map objective is being contested very tightly such as the dragon shrines, or if teams seem to be taking turns getting the objectives. If people say this game sucks they are denying the entire MOBA genre. Its not meant to be played like LoL or DOTA, its simple gameplay and the lack gold and items makes the game very easy to pick up and play, the complaint that this causes the game to be simple is not true, since it is easy to play it is instantly competitive.

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Frosternal

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@ZanderDF: as i like to say, easy to pick up, difficult to master.

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misternathan

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The salt is real in this comment section.

Not that anyone should have expected better. LoL, DotA, and to a lesser extent HoN have been pulling this "hate every game but mine" crap for as long as they've existed. Who knew they'd all pounce on the new guy. <eyeroll>

Everyone wants to hate HotS, because it's Blizzard. Hating Blizzard is fashionable.

Everyone wants to hate a new MOBA, because it's not what they're used to. (These same people will complain about the genre stagnating, using their chosen objects of hatred as incredibly poor examples.)

I wish someone could get it through the thick skulls of fanboys that all they're doing is making themselves look petulant.

Soooooo sorry other people are having fun with something other than what you prefer. Sometimes we forget that some opinions are simply wrong, and don't wait for you to enlighten us as to what we are allowed to enjoy.

Now go ahead and make your empty mechanical comparisons, and spout your conspiracy theories about bribery.

I'm going to go play another match that isn't full of pubescent vitriolic homophobes.

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inuyashagalo

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@misternathan: Well said. I've never liked Blizzard, but I thought this game was really good. It makes me sad that people are usually so close-minded, bashing everything they see because they love this "hating" vibe.

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Eigen-Vector

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@misternathan: Well said that man +1 for you

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nomailx

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@misternathan said:
Everyone wants to hate HotS, because it's Blizzard. Hating Blizzard is fashionable.

Smartest thing I've ever read in Gamespot. (Reviews included). You can rhyme that with "reasonable, formidable, and of course, normal).

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darkscape

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If anyone needs confirmation reviews are paid for this is a prime example.

Take away the Blizzard iconic Hero names and you are left with a very, very shallow game. It is not in the same league as LoL and DOTA, Blizzard has lost their way.

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nomailx

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@darkscape: LoL! so true. Nice point. If HotS was from a company called "boringgamesinc", here's the review:

"Game is shallow, Heroes abilities feel more like small slaps on the enemies face and never truly satisfy the player in anyways. The shared experience denies any senses of self accomplishment. The planet has never seen such adoration to communism since Stalin's URSS."

Pros: Nova looks hot. (that's why she's the face of the game btw).

Score: "5"

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misternathan

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Edited By misternathan

@darkscape: I know, right?! And isn't it awful how Team Fortress is so different from ARMA? I wish Peggle would be more Tetris!

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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