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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sploitz85

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Edited By sploitz85

"golden result"
LOL

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Kalebjking

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Edited By Kalebjking

It's important to note that the "champion grind" for new talents only lasts until your account level is 25. They implemented this into the system in order to not overload new players with extensive customization. Once you hit this level, which only takes about a week or two of moderate playing, every single talent of every single hero is unlocked. I only wish the reviewer knew this before placing it under *The Bad* section, which would give this game it's rightful score of a 10.

Also, for hardcore gamers like myself, this game may fit your style. It requires a tremendously less amount of time than League or Dota, with a fairly high skill cap in every aspect. The game focuses on micro only, promoting an action packed game that won't have you dreading the rest of the match.

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Dickyslamm

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ahahahh

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MasterTae

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I liked it. I dont like DOTA, I dont like LoL, but I really liked this one, specially cause its WAY EASIER. I tend to suck at MOBA's, but I have been winnng with scores like 33 4 and 27 2. So yeah, games should be fun.

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ZanderDF

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@MasterTae: they combine "assists" and "kills" into one number called takedowns

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MasterTae

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@ZanderDF: i figured that out yesterday, i was very confused.

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Dark_Wr4ith

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It's a pretty good game, not as deep as some of the other Mobas, but all the abilities available on each of the characters does add a lot to the game play. My main issue is the pricing, frankly it's insane. The gold pricing model seems strange as well, heroes which cost the same in real money have massive gold price differences for some reason. e.g. You might two heroes both costing 10 bucks in real money, but in gold one costs 10K and the other 15K?

Although unlocking everything through the game does give you something to work towards, I do still like to throw some money into the game to get started. But the amount of money you have to throw in vs what you get out makes it not worth it for me.

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ZanderDF

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@Dark_Wr4ith: league does the same thign with new champions after its initial release, its price is 7800 IP but stil 975 RP, after two weeks its ingame currency price drops to 6300IP and still remains 975RP

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Die_Bahn

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@Dark_Wr4ith: New releases seem to start at 15K. Sylvanas and TLV, for sure. Can't say of Kael'Thas or Johanna are 15K.

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ZanderDF

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@Die_Bahn: Kaelthas is now 10k.

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DRAKE08

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Edited By DRAKE08

Is this like League of legends were people are always throwing tantrums for losing like a 3 year boy would do for not getting what he wants. If not I am willing to give this a try

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Porphyriaa

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@drake08 lol from my experience the game is nowhere near as toxic as league, but I'm sure it will get there with time.

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DRAKE08

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@Porphyriaa: well time to play then before it's to late thanks.

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Kalebjking

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@drake08:

You will get this no matter where you play. However, it is greatly reduced in this game. Mainly because of the short match times, fantastic balance system, and currently undefined meta - you will experience a much more pleasant and extremely less draining time than League. And trust me, with 6 years of League playing and reaching Diamond 1, I've had my fair share of whining players.

Give it a go!

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sploitz85

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@kalebjking: There has been finger pointing in I'd say 90% of the HotS games I've played.
It's not as severe as other games simply because games are too short for it to get to that point.

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slickwilly06

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Can't stop playinnnnggggggggg

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ArunabhaGoswami

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@slickwilly06: You stopped playing to come here and type a comment :P

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GandoSpot

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@ArunabhaGoswami: multitasking which is essential for these type of games.

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sadface1234

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i did enjoy it, but still went back to Smite for my MOBA fix. I just like the 3rd person perspective so much better, feels like there is more going on

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Zeedware

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Edited By Zeedware

I played Dota since 2009 (not that good though). And I always think, what's the point of last hit? secret shop? and I think that 1 hour is too long for a game. Blizzard is erasing all the boring stuff in Moba/ARTS/Dota-like and push the most entertaining part, the team battle. The game is not as deep as Dota or LoL though.

Well, Comparing Dota to HotS is like comparing cleaning dish using a hand or a dishwasher. Hand more flexible and can make it cleaner, but a lot of work. Dishwasher in the other hand, cannot make it as clean as using hand, but much more enjoyable.

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BuzzLiteBeer

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Edited By BuzzLiteBeer

The game is young so I can forgive any current issues with depth and balance. Everything else is relatively well done, from the aesthetics-performance balance (low minimum system requirements) to the gameplay.

What bothers me is the F2P model, which only works if it's done right, which most of the time, it isn't. Unlocking heroes is a grind if you wish to pay in Gold rather than real money and talents for heroes is also a grind (albeit a shorter one per hero).

I suppose this is unavoidable until the player base is large enough to move to a system more like Valve's Dota2 microtransaction system.

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Frosternal

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@BuzzLiteBeer: don't expect dota2 system for heroes, trust me, valve would move away from that if they could. theres just more money to be made with the system that hots and other mobas use. as far as getting heroes with gold, its not that bad. if you do daily rewards and play all the free heroes to level 5 each week, you will be unlocking heroes left and right.

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bluefox755

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Blizzard does again what it does best. Takes a genre and restructures it to make it accessible to newcomers without oversimplifying it for veterans. With MOBAs being notoriously unwelcoming to newcomers, this should be a good thing.

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Moun7ainMan

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Edited By Moun7ainMan

Played all three of the top MOBAs. This is my least favorite. I like the competitiveness of the other two, which is also the biggest drawback to them as well since their communities are very negative. Heroes is a solid title and definitely has a place in the MOBA world for casual gamers but I personally wouldn't have given this game a 9. I'd give it a 7. There are definitely more "bads" than just the grind.

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Frosternal

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@Moun7ainMan: the game is very competitive if you play hero or team league. just because there arent pointlessly complicated item builds, doesn't mean there isnt a lot to learn as far as competitive gameplay goes. you need to know which heroes synergize well with others, what builds work on what map. i always hated how in dota and lol, theres all these items, yet theres generally only one top end build, with maybe a slight adjustment here and there.

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GraveUypo

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@Moun7ainMan: yep, i'm on the same boat.

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lorider25

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wasn't expecting that...

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Sardinar

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Edited By Sardinar

Sigh, I wish Blizzard would start working on hardcore games again.

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Frosternal

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@Sardinar: what do u consider a hardcore game? this game is very competitive in ranked.

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bhmg

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Edited By bhmg

This is hands down the WORST and most brain dead moba out there...you don´t even need to think...skills...Items....pfft.

ANY moba out there have more challenge than this and i did say ANY...

A tip of a friend, if you have a brain or some of it, go play dota/lol/smite/hon or ANY other moba in the market...

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Frosternal

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@bhmg: sounds like you glanced at the game and completely missed the difficulty of mastering this game. with a multitude of maps and the team cooperative nature of the game, the difficulty relies less on the build of your character and more on your ability to play your hero in a way that synergizes with your team and the map.

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DarpSyX

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@bhmg: I think is great game for CASUAL MOBA newcomers :) LOL and DOTA require lots of practice and gameplay time... so is really fun and easy to start playing well in short time

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bluefox755

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@bhmg: An accessible entry into a genre that's notoriously intimidating to newcomers? Yeah, that sounds like an terrible idea.

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Karan

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good review, awesome game !!

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fyrant

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This game got old pretty fast. I played in the Beta and put it down after a month or so. There's really no strategy other than zerg your way to win.

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McGuirex3

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Van O seems to be "standing in" (for someone else) waaaaaaaaaaaaay too often! Does someone else do reviews on this site cuz I'm really getting tried of hearing his voice?!! All too often!!

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ccusick

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@McGuirex3 the Van O vocabulary is missing in this review. So is the metaphorical imagery. This writing is clearly distinct.

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HellaStoned

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What is it about League of Legends that makes people be way too cool and mature for it?

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deactivated-5b0367b217732

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Was going to give this game a pass...

I am now Rank 1 in Hero League. That's how good this stupid game is. Curse you, Blizzard. Curse you.

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Wolv25

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Edited By Wolv25

For me it is great game better than Dota.

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al_is_here

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Edited By al_is_here

@wolv25: "better than dot" you are high off of shitty game design.

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StOoGiEmEiStEr

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@al_is_here: Dota is over 12 years old, we want something new. Unless you are "insane".

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al_is_here

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@StOoGiEmEiStEr: unless he is talking about warcraft dota then i confused it.

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al_is_here

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@StOoGiEmEiStEr: when we say dota we are not talking about warcraft dota, we are talking about dota 2.

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Kaobasa

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"it never feels like it will take days of playing to unlock whatever character you're looking for."

Uhm, I'm afraid to say, that this is just flat out false. Sure, getting the 2k gold coins isn't so bad and even the 4k gold coin heroes aren't dreadfully terrible, but the 7k coin tiers and beyond are a massive grind and absolutely can take days. Lets say you have 3 quests, you get 1 quest per day, one is 800, and the rest 300, that's 1400 coins. There's 5 heroes per rotation, you can get each of those to lvl 5, assuming you haven't already, and get get 500 gold per lvl 5. That's 2500. So in total that's 3900 you can make off of that alone if you're unboosted. Games on average will give you 30 coins only, again, if you're unboosted. Matches can last 25+ minutes at the least. So, yes, it absolutely CAN take days where the higher tiers are concerned.

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Die_Bahn

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@Kaobasa: Not only do you earn 500 Gold when you level Heroes to 5, but you earn more when you yourself Level Up. Polygon outlined some tips on maximizing your daily quests. You basically keep two of your 200 Gold dailies in your queue, increasing your chance of getting the 600 and 800 Gold daily quest. I never thought it felt like a grind to get multiple 7k and 10k characters.

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Kaobasa

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@Die_Bahn: So getting the 600 or 800 gold quests relies on you kind of manipulating the daily quest system to maximize your earnings. Good for the player I guess since it means slightly less grinding I suppose, but it's unfortunate that a player has to take such measures.

I suppose I did forget about the account level gold, but that stops at lvl 40 so that gravy train eventually comes to a halt. Once all the "easy" gold is acquired, it becomes a massive grind for those 10k heroes. Which is basically where I'm at. I'm close to account lvl 40, I've played nearly all the heroes to lvl 5. Now I don't all my dailies when I get them so that's the only real thing I've squandered. I don't have the time to game like I used to. Even if I did though, it's a mere drop in the bucket if you want to get all the characters.

Maybe you have more time to put into this game than I do so it feels like less of a grind, but for me that's a heavy grind.

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ILSATS

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@Kaobasa: Dude, are we playing the same game here.. Matches last 25+ mins at least ? seriously ?

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Kaobasa

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Edited By Kaobasa

@ILSATS: Yes. Most of mine are at LEAST 25 minutes. Why is that hard to believe?

You know what, nevermind, I just checked, they average around 20. Still, the length of a match is only half of the point.

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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)
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    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