For the next ten days, Dan will be posting picks for the Games of the Year in no particular order. These are favorites from 2015 that he actually played and were released during the calendar year. Enjoy!
Blizzard Entertainment's Heroes of the Storm is the fourth multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) that I have ever played. I played the genesis of the genre Defense of the Ancients (DotA) very sparingly and it never caught on to me. For about six months, I had a flirtatious relationship with League of Legends that fizzled because of sheer frustration. Valve's Dota 2 sustained me all of last year to the point of obsession, but there was never a time I felt confident in my own abilities. My nightly Dota 2 group splintered when my ranking was just not high enough. In 2015, Heroes of the Storm (HoTS) was released and I found my MOBA home.
HotS does away with a lot of the usual MOBA game mechanics for something that is more approachable. The game retains enough of the strategic elements and player skill that it feels like a good compromise between the insane detail of Dota 2 and beginner friendly. Heroes level as a team, no equipment is purchased, and, most importantly, games take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to complete (compared to the 45-90 mins) other MOBA games can take.
With a roster fulled with Blizzard characters, the heroes in HotS is probably the most appealing feature. One of my primary gripes with League of Legends is the relative sameness of a lot of the heroes. Dota 2 does a better job at this, but some of the roles, like a carry, are simply much more important than a support. Having played a lot of support roles, Dota 2 can make you feel really unneeded in later stages of the game. HotS still has different roles for its heroes, but everybody seems important at every stage of the game. Of course certain, character are still better than others, but the balance feels better. I've been on teams that have been criminally unbalanced and still rolled over the competition. While this is probably dismaying for the traditional MOBA player, I find it fun and a great change of pace.
Blizzard has even taken character roles to a new original place with the addition of the Specialist. Certain specialist heroes function in unique and different roles from the usual tank, support, damage trinity. Abathur is from the Starcraft series and functions as a hero that spawns zerglings and mostly interacts indirectly. Murky has a low amount of HP but spawns rapidly from death and helps with lane-pushing and general chaos around the battle arena.
Heroes of the Storm succeeds because of the gentle learning curve and great new ideas. It reinvigorated my interest in the genre with nightly sessions. If you are looking for a window into the intimidating world of multiplayer online battle arena games, Heroes of the Storm is a great addition to the genre.
Come back tomorrow and delve into a game about games inside an unfinished game.