When Blizzard first unveiled Heroes of the Storm (originally code named "Blizzard DOTA"), there was a mixture of skepticism and intrigue. The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre was clearly being dominated by League of Legends and DOTA 2 (sort of to Blizzard's chagrin, given that they arguably used the DOTA name first), so Blizzard faced something of a tall task. On the surface, it looked like the idea was to simply recycle the classic MOBA formula using characters from across Blizzard's pantheon.
However, Heroes of the Storm has turned out to be far more than that. While it retains the foundation of what makes the genre so enjoyable, there are also a number of new twists and strategies to the typical formula. Doing so should theoretically make the game far more complicated, but instead, Heroes of the Storm turns out to be one of the most accessible of the major MOBAs and one that casts an appeal to both newcomers and experts alike.
"Who needs something kicked into overdrive?"
By their very nature, MOBA games feel intimidating, with multiple skills to manage, a huge emphasis on teamwork and resource management, and a hardcore crowd that isn't always friendly or willing to help. It's a 5v5 experience, but unless those four teammates are friends, one shouldn't expect much help. Heroes of the Storm rectifies most of this, particularly thanks to a friendly early game.
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There's no trial by fire here, as Heroes of the Storm won't allow players to jump into Quick Matches until they reach Level 5. The tutorial goes through all the basics, walking players through the game's overall pace. It didn't take long for me to learn the finer points of aiming for minions, buffing teammates, and most importantly, never traveling alone.
Even the characters themselves are easy to learn, thanks to the overall Hero design. As a MOBA newcomer, finding a character like Raynor that only used two skills (while his third skill would kick in automatically) allowed me to concentrate more on learning the basics of the game. Once I completed enough training sessions, I felt comfortable enough to start switching around to other characters that use more skills and different play styles. While I don't feel confident in using a more advanced character like Diablo, Heroes of the Storm is balanced well enough that I don't feel completely blown out of the water by picking an "easier" character to stand against the likes of the Lord of Terror.
Heroes of the Storm has a healthy slew of characters, but it's the game's battlegrounds that truly help it stand out. While battlegrounds offer standard two and three-lane play expected of MOBAs, there are a number of potential strategies laid out. Some are tied to specific maps, meaning that battleground selection matters when taking on any given team.
I ran across a number of different strategies when playing, all of them perfectly viable.
Heroes of the Storm is the least intimidating of the major MOBAs and that's a good part of what makes it so easy to keep coming back to. It's easy to pick up and learn, while the option to turn Allied Chat off makes the game a pressure-free environment. The stereotypical angry MOBA player has yet to turn up for me in unranked matches, though I'd imagine the intensity increases with the ranked Hero League.