Opinions: How Heroes of the Storm Made Me a MOBA Player

Heroes of the Storm has the power to bring out the competitor in all of us. Nate recounts the lessons learned from breaking out from his comfort zone to become a true champion of the Nexus.

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Until recently, I had a passing interest in MOBA games. While I cut my teeth on popular hits like League of Legends and Dota 2, I mainly stuck to co-op vs. A.I. modes, too afraid to venture into the competitive waters. However, Blizzard’s recent release Heroes of the Storm managed to finally awaken my inner MOBA fire with its added focus on accessibility and familiar roster of popular Blizzard characters. However, I quickly learned that just because Heroes of the Storm is a more accessible, that doesn’t mean there isn't something new to be learned. Playing Heroes of the Storm allowed me to finally appreciate MOBAs, but more importantly, it also taught me some valuable lessons that helped me to be a better competitive player overall.

Speaking My  Mind

I am very much an introverted gamer, which means that Heroes of the Storm was a rather fitting online game for me. Thanks to the game’s built-in objective pinging system and the ability to mute teammates, I could play an entire match without having to directly communicate with my teammates and yet I could still convey my intentions and know whenever my teammates wanted to go for a specific objective or goal. I quickly learned, however, that even though it is more casual in nature, Heroes of the Storm is still very much a game that emphasizes teamwork and coordination.

I began to notice that the games I won were ones where my teammates and I spoke to each other. I began resisting my natural instincts stay silent, since the games where me and my teammates never said anything (or worse, began shouting at each other) were the games we most often lost. Sure it was easier to just stay in my metaphorical shell but Heroes of the Storm is not the sort of game that rewards trepidation and silence.

Getting Past the Good Looks

Back when I played Dota 2 and League of Legends, I never ventured into the competitive PvP modes and therefore I never had to worry too about picking champions for their practical use. Since AI bots can’t execute the complex team strategies that human players can, I could simply pick whatever champions I thought looked the coolest and go on my merry way. When I finally worked up the nerve to try out Heroes of the Storm’s competitive modes, I had to come to grips with how sticking to champions like Zeratul simply because he's my favorite StarCraft character wasn’t always going to cut it.

With multiplayer came a growing team mentality. I began to think more about what my team would want me to play instead of simply what I wanted to play. Sadly, this isn’t always easy to do in Heroes of the Storm because of how the game’s Quick Match system doesn't let you know what champions your teammates are playing as until after you’ve been paired up. However, breaking from my comfort zone let me experiment with characters I would have otherwise overlooked. If I hadn't taken the step to PvP, I wouldn't have discovered how Sgt. Hammer could siege towers with impunity or how Muradin made for an extremely mobile tank character.

Trading Kills for Wins

There are few moments more satisfying than seeing the bold “Quadruple Kill!!!” text flash across the screen. As in any MOBA game, scoring kills in Heroes of the Storm is a vital part of building up your team’s power and shifting the advantage in your favor, but it doesn't have to be the primary objective, thanks to everyone contributing to the same team experience pool. So, in Heroes of the Storm, focusing solely on racking up kills can actually do more harm for your team than good.

Not worrying about kills was a hard habit for me to break, since taking down enemy champions is such an integral part of attaining victory in other MOBAs. I also had to break other habits such as sticking to a single lane and killing minions, since the XP you earn from minion kills is far inferior to that gained by destroying enemy structures and completing map objectives. Once I got used to it, I actually found the shift in focus to be a welcome change, since I was never all that good at killing opposing champions. I thought being relegated to secondary goals would be a hassle, but it actually turned out to be a weight lifted off me.

As I mentioned before, I started out playing Dota 2 and League of Legends, but for a variety of reasons, it was difficult for me to get into their competitive multiplayer matches. Being able to play as my favorite Blizzard characters convinced me to try out PvP, but it's the game's accessible and team oriented nature of Heroes of the Storm offers that got hooked on competitive gameplay. Although more established games clearly have their own brand of competitive appeal, they're hardcore natures ended up being a big turn-off to me. It took Heroes of the Storm to transform me from a solo gamer to a team player.

Freelancer
From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 14, 2015 12:00 PM

    Nathaniel Hohl posted a new article, Opinions: How Heroes of the Storm Made Me a MOBA Player

    • reply
      August 14, 2015 3:00 PM

      They better not change it to a map rotation list. Stop catering to the newbs that can't think past more than a few maps. Map rotation being so large is what makes it fun. Learn the maps or don't play.

      • Zek
        reply
        August 14, 2015 7:31 PM

        At the rate they're adding maps it sort of makes sense. There will be over a dozen before long.

        • reply
          August 14, 2015 9:16 PM

          Yeah, I think Blizzard said in a recent interview that they're thinking of having a map rotation with a sub-set of all maps that changes every couple of weeks, to make it easier for players to learn the maps. Maybe that's already implemented - I'm not sure. I would hope that's only for Quick Match and not Hero League.

    • reply
      August 14, 2015 5:37 PM

      This was pretty much my experience with the game. It sold me on a genre I'd long dismissed as "not my thing".

    • reply
      August 14, 2015 6:55 PM

      The things that got me into it compared to DOTA:
      -The item shop is just overwhelming initially. I felt I had to look up the cookie cutter item builds for each character outside the game. The talent trees make it a lot easier understand builds off the bat though the talent tree isn't perfect.
      -I don't care for the last hitting mechanic despite whatever depth it adds to gameplay
      -The shorter match length feels good to me

    • reply
      August 14, 2015 8:14 PM

      Awful business model though. Game is ok I suppose, but it still suffers from DotA style required memorization of all the talents and abilities, despite being a MOBA-lite.

      • reply
        August 14, 2015 8:22 PM

        All I know is, it's the first and only MOBA that got me to drop actual money on it

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        August 14, 2015 9:30 PM

        The hero / ability / talent variety is what makes the match-ups fun and interesting. True, there's a lot to learn, but knowing which abilities are strong in which situations, when you need to engage or flee, is essential. If you don't know that the Butcher will f*** you up 1-on-1, or that it's a bad idea to wander around alone on large maps when there's a Zeratul and Nova on the enemy team, you'll die.

        As a new player, just focus on learning the abilities of your own hero and how to play with effectively with the rest of the team on the different maps.

    • reply
      August 14, 2015 9:02 PM

      PTR's been fun tonight. Played against complexity & the team formerly known as Zevron.

      I killed CauthonLuck (Abathur). Guess I'm pro now.

    • reply
      August 15, 2015 12:14 AM

      I love the game but it's been unplayably laggy for me for weeks now. Used to be ORD1 was the only server that gave me troubles now US8 does as well.

      Only game to give me consistent lag trouble, ping is always under 20ms, it just stutters, rubber bands, and pauses constantly, getting worse over time.

      Got a great cable modem, awesome router, and fiber is laid about 20ft from my driveway. My PC is overkill as well :( Clean Win10 install had no effect. New router no effect. No network issues with any routes to either server.