How maps evolved into battlegrounds in Heroes of the Storm

From the moment the first oddball trailer released, fans could tell that Heroes of the Storm would be something substantially different than how it was first conceived. The former "Blizzard DOTA" has come a long way since its origins as a Starcraft 2 mod, something that Blizzard art director Sam "Samwise" Didier attributes to its approach to the battlefield.

"The first thing would have to be the battlegrounds," said Didier, when addressing how much Heroes of the Storm has progressed in the last year. "Before, we had a map, a very standard map where you run around and beat up people. The battlegrounds we're making now, we're calling them that, because they're not just maps."

Didier elaborates with an example, citing a battleground called Black Heart's Bay. A wharfside map with towns, sailors, and pirate ships, this area features ghostly treasure chests that appear randomly within skeleton camps. Defeating the skeletons will yield doubloons that can be combined to reveal the skeleton pirate, Blackheart, who hulks in the center of the map. Paying Blackheart enough coins will grant one team use of his ship, which can be used to blast the opposing side. While teams will do battle, like normal, much of the conflict will also center around the strategy of collecting coins and defeating enemies to steal their loot, as well.

A second example is Cursed Hollow, which is presided over by the ruling Raven Lord. Teams that collect three tributes scattered across the map will be able to recruit the Raven Lord to cast a curse on the opposing team's town, significantly weakening enemy minions and structures.

Didier notes that each map will feature some point of interest, like Blackheart and the Raven Lord, creating the potential for different strategies. "There's always these big fights over these mechanics on the map," he added. "Just getting those, also compounded with you having an enemy team and you're trying to defeat them, it feels fun. It feels like a video game."

More battlegrounds are sure to be revealed in the coming months, as Heroes of the Storm now goes into closed beta on PC.