E3 2015: Heroes of the Storm discusses balance concerns with King Leoric

As part of the Eternal Conflict update for Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard is set to introduce King Leoric to the roster of characters. His Undying trait, however, is already raising balance concerns. With that in mind, Shacknews posed this question to Blizzard while at E3.


There was a general idea that Heroes of the Storm's upcoming Eternal Conflict update would be a big one. No one imagined just how big it would be, though. Blizzard is looking to go all-out with new Diablo-related content, but the latest reveal has become somewhat controversial.

During a closed-door session at E3 2015, Blizzard revealed some more details about King Leoric, the Skeleton King. For those that don't remember this character from Diablo lore, he was a former monarch that saw his kingdom destroyed upon being left broken and insane by the evil Diablo. His abilities include:

  • (Q) Skeletal Swing - This is a wide swing that can reach multiple foes, while also applying a slowing effect.
  • (W) Drain Hope - This will shackle foes affected and absorb their health.
  • (E) Wraith Walk - This is Leoric's teleport move. His body will get the Unstoppable condition, while his wraith form moves anywhere. Leoric will then teleport his body to that location, allowing him to get the drop on foes.
  • (R1) Entomb - This ultimate ability creates a set of walls that can trap any enemies inside. At level 20, anyone caught in these walls will also be impaled by spikes that pop up underneath.
  • (R2) Match of the Black King - Leoric marches forward and crushes anything in his path. At level 20, he'll conclude his march by tethering a poor, hapless foe.

What's causing the most buzz, however, is Leoric's trait, called Undying. Upon death, Leoric will fall and his ghostly form will emerge from his corpse. While Leoric's ethereal form cannot deal direct damage, he can still affect enemies on the battlefield by inflicting slowness. If Leoric continues using his abilities, he can shorten his respawn timer and eventually resurrect from his exact point of death. So with that in mind, I had to ask Blizzard if there were any balance concerns with such a powerful passive.

"It's funny, every new Hero that they come out with, I ask the exact same thing," technical director Alan Dabiri lightheartedly answered. "We were talking about Sylvanas and I'm playing around with her and I watch the video and I'm like, 'Is this even balanced at all? Does this work?'" While Dabiri conveyed that last sentiment jokingly, the result is the balance that the team has been aiming for. "And then we released [Sylvanas] and she's a really strong Hero, but she has her trade-offs and it's the same thing here. There's one thing to call out with Leoric. When you die, even if you don't leave the battlefield, it still counts as a death. The opposing team still gets that XP. So if you just keep dying and dying and dying, they're still going to get a ton of XP and keep leveling up."

With that in mind, I pondered who could potentially serve as a hard counter to Leoric, given that he's nigh-unstoppable. It took both Dabiri and senior artist Phill Gonzales a while to come up with a Hero that could fit this bill. Minutes later, they eventually came up with Murky, whose trait would allow him to keep the heat on Leoric wherever he may go.

There's still more set to hit the Eternal Conflict, with the Monk also revealed on Tuesday evening. While Blizzard wasn't ready to reveal specifics about this character, it was noted that this would be the first member of the Heroes of the Storm roster to have two selectable traits. Blizzard will be monitoring how players utilize this idea and are not ruling out the idea of potentially adding an additional trait choice to existing characters.

Look for this update to also include a special in-game event that will see the notorious Treasure Goblin spawn in prior to the start of a battle. Defeating the Treasure Goblin will allow players to earn additional gold.

The Eternal Conflict update is set to release on June 30 with the Diablo-themed Battlefield of Eternity battleground and the Butcher. Look for King Leoric to rise from the grave in July.

Update: The first quote in this article was originally attributed to senior artist Phill Gonzales. This has been correted.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 18, 2015 9:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, E3 2015: Heroes of the Storm discusses balance concerns with King Leoric

    • reply
      June 18, 2015 9:51 AM

      Murky being an effective counter? Didn't see that coming.

      I'm curious if he still soaks xp in ghostly form. That would def be unbalanced.

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        June 18, 2015 9:55 AM

        He does not cause damage or soak XP, but he'll set up opponents for your living teammates to take down.

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        June 18, 2015 10:25 AM

        HotS isn't about one hero hard countering another. The game's about team synergies and playing around what the opponent(s) are trying to do.

        There are certain heroes who are strong against others (Tassadar Vs. Nova/Zeratul for instance), but overall there aren't hard counters so the question is mostly invalid. Murky may have a certain presence or style that helps against Leoric, but you're not going to pick Murky against Leoric because "Murky counters Leoric."

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          June 18, 2015 10:39 AM

          Wait... wait.. so, what you're telling me, is that I'm not going to pick Murky during hero selection because there's a chance the random match making RNG () god (because there really is no logic behind it sometimes) might pick Leoric if he's in the hero rotation?

          WHOA . Mind.... ya, ya... that wasn't my point. It's more about that Murky hasn't really had a decent role after his big nerf. I've tried playing him several times. I liked him much better in technical alpha. The comment just hit me as funny that the dev specifically called Murky out to be a counter.

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            June 18, 2015 10:40 AM

            not a great attempt as humor.. blame the lunch-time sugar rush fading

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            June 18, 2015 10:47 AM

            Murky received a big buff in the Sylvanas patch and has been a solid character since then. His assassin/eraser style with the LTD/Octograb/Pufferfish build is the most popular and straight-forward style.

            His bubble build is still pretty effective since most people don't know how to play against it, and most of the time your teammates will play to it w/o realizing it. This style depends more on having the opponent blow their abilities on Murky and your teammates going HAM in the window that creates, which means it's harder to effectively play.

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              June 18, 2015 10:50 AM

              Also, I suspect the dev's were just joking with the answer.

              Murky counters everyone.

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              June 18, 2015 11:03 AM

              I guess my gripe is that his octograb is about the only real build option for the way I play if you want to really feel useful in a team fight. Part of my view is that I just don't see him get picked all that often.

              BUT, I could saw the same thing about Aba, but he was my first main and ya you really have to know how to play him. Like 1 in 25 people I see play him understand how to really play him effectively. ugh.... the ones that never leave the base drive me nutz.

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      June 18, 2015 9:58 AM

      I like your articles, but this is the best one I've read here. Good writeup.

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        June 18, 2015 10:51 AM

        Because: no fluff / concise, establishes the point, explains the surrounding details, proposes a possible resolution, successfully got me interested in leoric (who I didn't have any interest in before)

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        June 19, 2015 5:42 AM

        +1 :)

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      June 18, 2015 11:19 AM

      As a HotS fan, I like these preview / interview articles!

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