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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nomailx

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So After 2 weeks of bargaining they finally settled on a price and Blizzard bought a 9 for the most shty MOBA around. And yet, Gamespot will still make jokes about how "paid reviews" is a myth. The joke is on anyone who downloads and plays this pce of crp.

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GandoSpot

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@nomailx: 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000likes.

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miser_cz

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@nomailx: Do you even realize how silly you sound? Why buy better score for a free game, which anyone can try for themselves?

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misternathan

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@miser_cz: Don't try to reason with it. It never works. Its brain chemistry just isn't suited to logical progression of thought. Disagreement means war! Blergh! ;)

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nomailx

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@miser_cz: It's not a free game. They sell cosmetics. Good score creates a trend, brings customers, they may enter for free, but they will surely purchase something. Ever heard of free market and economics?

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miser_cz

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@nomailx: So IGN is the only honest knight, come on.

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nomailx

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@miser_cz: No, it's just that the reviewer in IGN actually really played the game, and refused to give this pc of crp any score beyond 7 even for 100.000.000.000 $.

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Frosternal

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@nomailx: 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."

but its alright, go back to lol or dota, we don't want toxic assholes like you, i left both of those games partially because of the toxic community, which luckily heroes has not attained yet.

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miser_cz

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@nomailx: Now its all clear to me. Keep on going.

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PortableXombie

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Did this not have a review score of 6 or something a few days ago...

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Gagomkd

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@PortableXombie: IGN gave them 6.5

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GandoSpot

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**** Hots

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dylandr

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"longtime fan of Blizzard" don't let these people write your reviews, you should take an average gamer not a fan to write these though, you don't get fair scores like that...

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dylandr

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eh, for me it's a 7 at max as your actions ingame don't have that much impact as the other MoBA's

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GandoSpot

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Edited By GandoSpot

my score 4/10 and that 4 is just because of Wacraft the score would be zero if there was no warcraft.

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Diegoh1212

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Edited By Diegoh1212

@gandospot: Using the name of the franchise as a grading aspect. You would never be a good reviewer.

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GandoSpot

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Edited By GandoSpot

i dont like HOTS but Dota2 will remain hardcore gamers choice what these ARTS gaming missed up is the differentiation where Dota2 is at the best. in ARTS genre you must recognize your enemies at level 1 because these are strategical game so in Dota2 i can easily recognize all of my enemies at level 1 . Hots and other ARTS game dont have that feature which is too too too imperative for such games.

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Argle

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Edited By Argle

more than 1 map, short matches, no meta, no 20 min farmfest. just a fun pick-up-and-play MOBA. this game is basically for anyone who likes the genre but is burnt out on LOL and DOTA

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Porphyriaa

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The game has some fun interesting game modes, but it's soooo incredibly casual it's just disgusting. The heroes are ridiculously easy to play and there is no skill cap at all. Each hero I played I already felt like that's the best I would ever play with them after 10 minutes.

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Tigzarr

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Edited By Tigzarr

All these people moaning that it is a grind ... it really is not, as you level up you get gold and once you reach max level of 40 you will have earned 16,000 gold purely from leveling up remember you are getting gold from your matches also ontop of that and 500 gold per hero you get to level 5. Plenty of gold to be earned.

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PortableXombie

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@gamersts: A review is normally the authors personal opinion...

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Freedomination

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@gamersts: i wouldn't want to be the guy who reviews the next paradox game

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ZanderDF

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Edited By ZanderDF

@Freedomination: or any1 who reviews a COD/BF game:
" okay umm... you shoot people like in every other iteration of this game and every other shooter, graphics slightly better than last year = 9/10"

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Gagomkd

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Edited By Gagomkd

@Freedomination: Lol yea, that would be a novel not a review.

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L3MNcakes

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I love DOTA2. I love HotS.

I think both games are awesome and I play and watch them both a fair bit. But, as a real lover of hardcore strategy games (Go, Dominions 4, Star/WarCraft, the Paradox Grand Strategies, etc.) , I can't help but laugh at those who try to glorify the MOBA genre as a super in-depth strategic experience. There is a bit of strategy involved, more than you get out of most popular games, just nowhere near the level that I usually hear touted when people talk about MOBAs. I see about the same strategic "depth" in HotS that I see in DOTA2, it just exists in different places.

These games are much more about coordinating and executing as a team than they are about in-depth strategic thought. You can have the most super awesome innovative builds ever and you'll still lose if you can't work as a team to accomplish the ultimate goal. On the other hand, you can have just mediocre builds and win games because you were able to execute better than the other team with what you have. If you're truly looking for in-depth strategy (which I doubt is the case) you're in the wrong genre altogether.

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misternathan

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@l3mncakes: If you say that stuff too loudly, the minds of the blind devotees will start dripping from their ears. Careful with your mature and balanced opinion, someone is going to accuse you of shilling, for... someone? I dunno.

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deactivated-5802a0b8a3a15

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After Hearthstone I cant trust/play/any game from this company.I will always wonder if my enemy is just very lucky or if he gets extra critical hits causeOfThe$$$

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Argle

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@anaxim777: there are critical hits in Hearthstone? and you realize its a card game right? luck in the form of draws is a very big part of all card games

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redpowder61

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@anaxim777: dude hearthstone is a card game, so yeah people that spend money may have better decks then you ever played any other card game ever lol?

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snaketus

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@anaxim777: Isn't that the case in ALL fremium games?

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deactivated-5802a0b8a3a15

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@snaketus@redpowder61 @Argle : I wouldnt mind if the advantage was from the equipment or from the extra cards but this is not the thing that happens in Heartstone.

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Kezzy123

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9???????????????????

After HOTS, I knew blizzard was turning into EA big time.....but I didnt expect they would start paying for reviews. This game is a generous 6 and it all starts and ends with very nice graphics.

I guess all the money they make out of the outrageous microtransaction prices are paying off.

Good for you GS for getting ur cut lol

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Frosternal

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@Kezzy123: oh boo hoo, go back to lol or dota. "its not my moba, so its garbage"

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Kezzy123

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@frosternal: i have stopped playing any form of mobas a while back to avoid people like you.

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Frosternal

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Edited By Frosternal

@Kezzy123: you are the one bitching that it got a 9 because you think they paid them off somehow. is it somehow possible it deserves that score? nah, thats impossible. you are obviously the arbitrator of what is good.

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Kezzy123

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@Kezzy123: For the record, I never once complained about a score...some are funny or seem off but I never truly thought it was off enough to warrant complaining about it. This however, is just hilariously wrong.

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Gagomkd

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Gone Home best game evur! /sarcasm

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georgirobot

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Edited By georgirobot

Really good game. Matches aren't unnecessarily long and there's actually more than 1 map. Also, much more fun than DotA.

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Code135

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Had 4-5 hours of fun, then deleted it, I can't accept such a game with fundamental flaws as "superb". Maybe I'll give it a try around the Holidays, hopefully it will be better than now ...

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Spectralfire0

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It's a fun game. I'm not really a fan of MOBAs but I enjoy that the game is relaxed and easy to play. The author made a good point about the secondary objectives on the map that keep things moving. But dude the amount he spent on LoL. In the future please don't do that to yourself man! Part of the fun is come up with the best result with tools that are available to you. As in utilizing the free stuff.

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Fallenstaph

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After playing it for a while I must say, this game is like blizzard games looks "easy" at the beggining but at the end its easy to learn hard to master, like wow and starcraft. While you don't pick items as other mobas its in the maps and in the talents system that the game makes heroes differ one of each other. Maps have side objectives that impact the gameplay a lot like in the pirate map you hunt doublons to give them to a ghost pirate if you manage to get them before enemy team you can use the pirate cannon to damage structures, around 8 to 10 shots of the 12 they give you is enough to destroy a step on the line, and so on. Talents impact heroes because they are like "items" make either your skills work different or gives you great passives, like muradin with talents can becone into a stun based character or rather a balanced damage dealer just pick your way. Another thing that differs from other mobas it's that there is another class "specialist" they like the name say specialize in something specific, like azmodan can create and empower minions so its a push lane character specialist, either way the game at launch is great, server works well, its easy to pick it up and learn but as i say it's hard to master and from a difference from the rest of the mobas its heavy team-based so you either win with your team or lose with it, there isn't a single champion that can carry an entire team, everyone do their part in the game and with the games being 20 to 30 mins the longer ones doesn't build enough "time" to make you "rage" well at least right now the game its great but i think a 9 it's way too much maybe a 8 would have been alright, but it's a great push up and refreshing wind into the moba genre.

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Igal-Ze

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@fallenstaph: Agree. 8 is what this deserves. The downside of shorter games is that you not care. True, you won't rage, but you won't experience any feeling of accomplishment either.

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Frosternal

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@Igal-Ze: in my opinion the shorter games are a plus. I loved playing dota, but always hated when games dragged for like an hour. but to each their own i guess.

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Ropy_Gamer

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Edited By Ropy_Gamer

Why cant i "like" people comments anymore ? Why GameSpot is so trash ?

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Wish01

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@Ropy_Gamer: People like me have lost interest in putting in efforts to comment in Gamespot anymore as every comment whether good or bad just gets lost in the comment section and good comments do not stand out anymore.

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GraveUypo

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Edited By GraveUypo

eh, no way it gets this score. it's a shallow moba with uneven grounds for players .

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mauro82

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HoTS is a good game but...9?? for a game that is nothing more than an improved version of a well knew formula? is too much. I wonder if the reviewer actually see some "bad" aspects of this game or simply gave a 9 out of 10 because he liked it.

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Frosternal

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@mauro82: its a lot more than just an "improvement", excluding there being 3 lanes and 5 heroes, there isnt much similarity between this and other mobas.

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wexorian

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i'm playng it but 9 is too much, either way gj

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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):
    MOBA, Strategy
    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