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heroes Why I Think Blizzard Must Revert the Hero League Party Size Change

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Blizzard has now limited Hero League to solo players and parties of 2. Check out why we think this is a mistake here.

 

On September 2nd 2015, Blizzard announced their plans to limit the party size for Hero League to 2, effectively preventing groups of 3 or 4 players from queueing together (groups of 5 players hadn't been able to queue in Hero League since the August 18th patch). Despite a massive amount of negative feedback from the community to the September 2nd announcement (hundreds of comments to that post stand testament), the change finally went live with the patch introducing Rexxar, on the 8th of September.

 

In this article, I will go over my reasons for thinking that this change is not good for the future of the game, and I will make the case that Blizzard has to revert the change, or at the very least promptly offer new systems for parties of 3 and 4 players.

 

Refuting Blizzard's Arguments

 

In the September 2nd announcement, Blizzard provided 3 reasons for why this change was needed and/or a good idea.

 

  1. Players within a party (of 4 players, according to Blizzard, but presumably also of 2 or 3 players) can have varying skill levels. Blizzard claims that while these partied players are happy playing together despite differences in skill, the solo-queuing player on the team should not be forced to suffer this skill discrepancy.
  2. Parties of 4 (though, again, presumably also of 3) communicate internally and are inclined to exclude solo-queueing players from the strategy discussions, reducing the team's efficiency and causing frustrations for the solo players.
  3. There are far fewer parties of 3 and 4 players in Hero League than there are solo-queueing players or parties of 2. As a result, Blizzard felt comfortable removing the former from Hero League in order to improve Match Quality for the latter.

 

In the comments to Blizzard's announcement, which are brimming with outrage and disappointment, players were quick to point out the flaws in Blizzard's logic. I will limit myself to making the simplest cases against Blizzard's argument.

 

Argument 1

 

Argument 1 is Blizzard's strongest argument, on the face of it. Varying levels of skill within a Hero League team can lead to issues. Players who solo-queue end up being placed into a team with much stronger or much weaker players, who are only there to compensate for the skill levels of others in the party. Similarly, they may face much stronger or much weaker players on the other team for the same reasons.

 

An example of the problem (or a connected problem, anyway) is a Rank 1 Hero League player queueing together with several Rank 50 Hero League players. The opponents that the Matchmaking system finds for them will be stronger than the Rank 50 players, but so much weaker than the Rank 1 player that this player can overwhelm them and single-handedly win the game.

 

While this is indeed a real problem, Blizzard is applying a band-aid fix to it, one which causes a number of players to no longer be able to play the game with their friends (which will likely drive some of them not to play at all).

 

The obvious fix to this issue is for Blizzard to improve their matchmaking system. Dota 2, one of the greatest rivals to Heroes of the Storm, allows groups of 3 players and groups of 5 players to queue together. Their limitation only excludes groups of 4 players, but it is still much better than Blizzard's solution of locking out groups of 3, 4, and 5. Moreover, Dota 2 is a game in which individual players can have a greater impact on the outcome than in Heroes of the Storm (levels are not team-wide, there are no "map objectives" as such, Heroes can grow disproportionately strong through items). In other words, it is much easier for an exceptional player to carry in Dota 2 than in Heroes of the Storm.

 

Dota 2 solves the issue in part by having two separate MMRs for players. One is a solo MMR, and the other is a party MMR (in addition to which there is also a separate team MMR). This allows players to enjoy ranked games both solo and with their friends.

 

Another game with similar problems, albeit in a different genre, is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There, players are not limited in the least for how they queue for competitive games (parties of 2, 3, 4, and 5 all work), and somehow Valve have managed to create a working matchmaking system to accommodate such parties. And what is true for Dota 2 is also true for Counter-Strike: individual players have a much greater impact on the outcome of a match than in Heroes of the Storm, meaning that rank discrepancies are even more problematic.

 

How the matchmaking algorithms of these two titles work I do not know, but it is obvious that you can have reasonably balanced games (no one claims, I believe, that the matchmaking in Dota 2 and CS:GO is without problems) without overly long queue times and without blocking entire segments of the playerbase from accessing the game.

 

Argument 2

 

Argument 2 is based on a seed of truth, but its connection with the party size change is tenuous at best. Communication in Heroes of the Storm games (be they Quick Match or Hero League) is not strong. Many games go by with only a few map signals and little or no text chat. This much is true. However, I would argue that a Hero League team comprised of a party of 4 players and a solo player will have much better communication and teamwork, overall, than a party of 5 different solo players, or two parties of 2 players and a solo player. The notion that 5 solo-queuers placed in a game together will suddenly begin communicating and discussing strategy where a party of 3 and two solo-queuers were not is far-fetched.

 

In my personal experience, parties of 2 are often very detrimental to teamwork in general, because they have the ability to lane together and, for the most part, isolate themselves from the rest of the team. On the other hand, parties of 3 and 4 players are forced (with exceptions, of course) to cover different lanes and, as such, be involved in the team's actions over more of the map.

 

Moreover, while a solo-queueing player who is matched with a party of 4 may indeed feel somewhat left out as the 4-player party communicates over Skype or some other voice program, most players would be happy to suffer this loss in socialisation for the added benefit of having 80% of the team working together towards a common goal, therefore greatly increasing the chances of an enjoyable, coordinated game (if not of outright victory).

 

Bonus Tip: What Blizzard could do if they want to alleviate communication issues in the game is make communication easier! One obvious way of doing this is including voice chat in the game. When we asked Dustin Browder about this during our Gamescom interview, he said that it is a feature they are interested in but which they have no timetable for (read: it's not a bad idea but they have no plans to implement it).

 

At the very least, incentives could be given to players who communicate. A system that allows players to commend others for "good communication" and which offers soft rewards for a certain number of commendations (a mount, a player profile) might incentivize communication a lot more.

 

Argument 3

 

Argument 3 is perhaps the most non-sensical. The very idea that there are not many parties of 3 and 4 players in Hero League undermines Blizzard's original point. They claim that since there are few such parties, it is fine to remove them completely from Hero League. However, if there are few such parties to begin with, it means that they show up in few games and therefore also negatively affect the experience of equally few solo-queueing players. What we are left with, then, is the notion that Blizzard were happier removing players from the game completely instead of having a proportional amount of players have a less-than-optimal experience (an assumption which, as we pointed out just above, is very doubtful).

 

Regardless of the number of players affected by this change, the point stands that it is a change in the wrong direction. This is the first time that I can think of that Blizzard is actually pushing players away from playing one of their games. No matter how many parties of 3 and 4 players show up in Hero League, this solution is a poor one.

 

Suggested Alternatives

 

In a recent tweet from Dustin Browder, an Unranked Draft Mode was proposed as a solution. In addition to this, a number of community members have been quick to offer possible solutions. It is my opinion than none of these proposed solutions are viable, and that instead Blizzard must simply revert the party size limitation and improve their Matchmaking system.

 

Unranked Draft Mode

 

An Unranked Draft Mode is a solution put forward by those who think that the appeal of Hero League lies mainly (or exclusively) in the ability to draft Heroes for a known map, and counter-pick the other team. There is a strong probability that this Unranked Draft Mode will make it into the game, as Dustin Browder suggested on Twitter.

 

This would allow players to experience the drafting process without having Ranks to fight over (and for which the MMR system would need to account). It would be, in a way, like a parallel Hero League where there is no stake and no party limitations.

 

I believe that the end-goal of potentially reaching Rank 1 (or at least, a high rank) in Hero League is the main reason people choose to play in that format. The drafting process is a necessary requirement of any competitive match system, but it is not the main reason to play competitive matches.

 

The lack of stake in Unranked Draft Mode leads to a possibly extremely frustrating problem. Imagine that you and two friends queue into Unranked Draft Mode to get as close as possible to a "competitive" game feel. You sit through (and enjoy) the drafting process, you load into the map, and then you realize that your two teammates have either no idea how to play their Heroes or have no real interest in winning the game. Why? Because there is no more incentive to winning this game than there is to winning a Quick Match. Can the same happen in Hero League? Yes, but the incentive of ranks makes it much less likely.

 

Finally, even if Blizzard begin working on an Unranked Draft Mode today, it will still probably take some time to make it into the game. Time during which segments of the player population are left without any viable option for competitive play (and which Unranked Draft Mode does not really solve, anyway).

 

Quick Match and Team League

 

Quick Match is often suggested as an alternative to players who want to play together as parties of 3 or 4. It can be an enjoyable experience, and indeed many players (even those over the level 30 required to access Hero League) only play this format. It is a good learning tool. It allows players to complete their quests or play new Heroes without too much pressure to perform on their shoulders. It allows experienced Heroes of the Storm players to bring their friends into the game without throwing them into a very tough, competitive environment.

 

But Quick Match also has a slew of problems. Because most people use Quick Match to complete quests with Heroes that they do not like to play, or to try out new Heroes, the overall quality of games suffers. Furthermore, since it is impossible to know what Battleground you will queue into or what composition the other team will have, ideas like countering the other team's Heroes or choosing a Hero that is strong on a given map are thrown out the window. These are aspects that add a lot of depth to Heroes of the Storm.

 

Quick Match games also often feature players who are trying out the game for the first time(s), and they have the potential of being mirror matches (which can be boring and, at any rate, reduce the immersion of players).

 

But the biggest problem with Quick Match is that there is nothing to play for. It has no stake. Most people who play Hero League do so not just for the increased level of competitiveness, but also because they want to improve their rank. They want to be able to quantify their improvement and their success. Even if most of them will never reach Hero League Rank 1, it is still a goal to aspire to which motivates players. Quick Match lacks such an end-goal, not to mention that it lacks the ability to pick and counter-pick Heroes based on Battleground and on the other team's Hero picks.

 

Team League is often touted as the go-to alternative for 3 and 4-player parties who cannot engage in Hero League. But this is not a viable solution either.

 

Chances are that groups of 5 or more friends are already playing Team League, provided that they can and want to play Heroes of the Storm together competitively. And if a group has fewer than 5 players, playing in Team League involves a number of things.

 

For one, 1-2 strangers must be found and then brought into the group of friends. Then, a schedule must be devised where all 5 players can now be online at the same time in order to engage in Team League games (and everyone knows how difficult synchronizing the schedules of 5 different people can be). Finally, the aspirations of the new recruit(s) must be appeased (these new players may not be satisfied with losing games, since they joined a team to perform well, and not to play with friends).

 

More than anything else, though, switching from a group of 3 friends to a team of 5 players (including 2 recruits) and using this team of 5 players to play exclusively against other 5-man teams considerably raises the intensity of the competitive level. Long gone are the relaxing 2-3 hour playing sessions after school or work; now you've got "team practice" and you had better not fail!

 

Mixed Hero League

 

This is a suggestion I have not seen thrown around very much, and which I have tentatively named "Mixed Hero League". I propose that this be implemented instead of "Unranked Draft Mode", and that it should essentially be a Hero League that is open to solo-queuers and parties of 2, 3, 4, and 5 players. Any solo-queuing players who do not want to participate here and instead only play against other solo-queuing players would have an option for "Solo queue only", which would instead place them in a sort of "Solo Hero League".

 

This would allow partied players to enjoy the game with their friends in any combination whatsoever, while still giving players the option to participate in a ranked environment where there are no parties. It is possible that not enough players would tick the "Solo queue only" option, of course, resulting in poor matchmaking and long queue times for these games, but this would speak volumes for the popularity of a Solo Hero League.

 

It has been pointed out that it is problematic to have so many parallel matchmaking queues running, but I fail to see how much of a difference there is between two ranked queues (Hero League and Team League) and 3, especially if you consider that both Quick Match and Unranked Draft Mode use MMR, even if this is not reflected in any visible ranks.

 

Reverting the Change

 

In my opinion, Blizzard have no choice but to revert this change and allow parties of 3 and 4 players back into Hero League. I would go so far as to say they should allow parties of 5 players in as well (as Dota 2 does). They must do this or else see a significant loss of interest from a solid chunk of their playerbase.

 

Not everyone who is playing in groups of 3 and 4 will outright quit Heroes of the Storm because of this, but some will. And why wouldn't they, when they can play together with their friends in any number of other online games.

 

I would argue that the proposed benefits of this limitation (improving the experience of solo players and improving team communication) are not worth excluding parties from Hero League, and are also probably not even attainable by excluding these parties from Hero League.

 

Instead of having these limitations, Blizzard must simply improve the matchmaking system of Heroes of the Storm and provide players with the tools and the incentives to promote communication and teamwork.

 

What is your opinion? Are you happy that solo-queueuing players no longer have to be paired with and against groups of 3, 4, and 5 players? If you are playing in a group of 3 and 4, will you switch to Team League? Quick Match? Unranked Draft Mode? Or will you give up altogether?

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So much truth in this post.

I was so dissapointed with these changes, because I was just about to start playing hero league with my friends, and then this happens. HoTS does have alot of potential, the game is fun and all that, but this is just isn't healthy for the game anymore.

The fact that this game is supposed to be heavily based on team work to accomplish your goals, and instead they're pushing us more to queing solo. Just plain ridiculous.

I pretty much agree with your point of fixing the matchmaking system, it still isn't working as it should. Fixing that would solve most of the problems this game has.

Adding voice chat also seems like a good idea, since stopping to write is mostly too slow. In case you're playing in a group of 4 friends, and the 5th one being solo, you can easily share your strategy with him/her with in-game chat, while using skype etc. With your friends to goof around or something similar :D Of course there should also be the option to toggle it off, in case you don't want to use it.

I'm also one of those that would prefer to get rid of random team comps and add drafting in quick match too (it isn't that quick anymore though :D) Sometimes you'll just get so bad team comps that some matches become unwinnable only because of that. This is just my opinion. It wouldn't be that bad to add un-ranked draft mode in the future, when the most problematic things have been solved.

I won't give up on this game yet, as I said, this game does have alot of potential. Blizzard just has to listen to the feedback they're given, especially when the recent changes have left majority of the fans unsatisfied.

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      Loot Chests are a new way to unlock cosmetic items and other rewards in Heroes of the Storm, and players will now receive a Loot Chest every time they level-up! Open Loot Chests, or purchase new ones, by heading to the new Loot screen added to the top navigation bar in the game’s menus. Each Loot Chest will award 4 randomized items of varying rarity: Common, Rare, Epic, or Legendary. Click on an available Loot Chest to open it, revealing 4 Nexus Coins, which will shimmer and glow with a color that matches the rarity of their items. Click each coin to unveil the treasures they hide. There are currently 4 different types of Loot Chests: basic Loot Chests, Rare, Epic, and Hero-specific. While all Loot Chests may drop items of any rarity, Rare and Epic Loot Chests are guaranteed to contain at least one item that matches that chest’s rarity level, or higher. Hero-specific Loot Chests are guaranteed to contain at least one item associated with that Hero. Re-Roll Loot Chest Rewards The items awarded by a Loot Chest can be re-rolled using Gold. Each Loot Chest can be re-rolled up to 3 times. The first re-roll costs 250 Gold, and the price increases by 250 per additional re-roll on the same Chest. Upon confirming a re-roll, that Loot Chest’s original contents will be permanently discarded, and replaced by a new set of 4 randomized Nexus Coins. Re-roll carefully! Loot Chest Rewards and New Items
      Loot Chest rewards may include Heroes, Mounts, Skins, Stimpacks, and many new items being introduced with Heroes of the Storm 2.0:   New Legendary Skin: Prime Evil Diablo
      Prime Evil Diablo has joined the Nexus as a new Legendary Skin. Announcers Replace many in-game announcements with voiceover from one of a variety of Heroes. Hero Announcers will call out takedowns, kill streaks, destroyed structures, and much more. Voice Lines Equip a line of dialogue from the selected Hero and play it in-game for all nearby players in a match to hear. Voice lines can be played at any time while alive. Default hotkey: I All Heroes will start with one “Nexus” Voice Line unlocked and automatically selected for use in-game. Banners Automatically plant a stylized flag upon destroying Keeps and Forts, capturing Merc Camps, or completing Battleground Objectives. All Heroes will start with one “Nexus” Banner unlocked and automatically selected for use in-game. Sprays Tag the terrain with unique icons and artwork that are visible to all players in a match. One Spray per Hero can exist on the terrain at any given time, and will last approximately 8 seconds. Default hotkey: T All Heroes will start with one “Nexus” Spray unlocked and automatically selected for use in-game. Emoji Packs A massive collection of stylized and Hero-specific chat icons have been added, and can be used during in and out-of-game messages. Each Emoji Pack contains 5 Emojis. View all available Emojis by clicking the new Emoji button added to the out-of-game Chat bar. Up to 10 Emojis can be set as Favorites. Right-click Emojis to add or remove them from Favorites. Use Favorites during a match by clicking the heart button added to the right side of the in-game Chat bar. Players’ Emojis will automatically convert to match the Heroes they are currently using, so long as they own that Hero’s Emoji Packs. This will occur in-game, as well as after choosing a Hero during Hero Select or in Draft Lobbies. Portraits Many new Portraits, featuring unique artwork and a variety of art styles, have been added to the game. Shards Shards are a new crafting material that can be used to Forge unowned cosmetic items. All cosmetic items that can be found in Loot Chests can be Forged, and all Forgeable items can be found in your Collection. Varying amounts of Shards can appear as Loot Chest drops. Any duplicate items received in a Loot Chest will automatically fragment into Shards. Revamped Progression Rewards
      Player Level Progression Rewards Certain progression milestones will award Loot Chests of different rarities: Loot Chest: Every player level that does not award a Rare or Epic Loot Chest. Rare Loot Chest: Every 5 player levels. Epic Loot Chest: Every 25 player levels. The level requirements to unlock Free Hero Rotation slots have been adjusted: Slots 1 – 10: Are still immediately available at player level 1. Slots 11 – 14: Now unlock at player levels 5, 10, 15, and 20, respectively. Players will earn additional rewards upon reaching the following levels: Player level 5: 1,000 Gems This Gem reward will be granted retroactively to existing players who reached level 5 in the previous progression system. Player level 10: 7 Day Stimpack Every 25 player levels: 150 Gems Gems are a new currency introduced with the arrival of Heroes of the Storm 2.0. Learn more about them by clicking here. Hero Level Progression Rewards Hero progression rewards have also received significant changes, and can be earned at the following milestones: Hero level 5: Hero Portrait Hero level 15: Master Hero Portrait Every 5 Hero levels: 500 Gold Every 10 Hero levels: Hero-specific Loot Chest Hero-specific Loot Chests are guaranteed to drop at least one item that’s usable by the Hero who earned it. Collection
      Introducing Your Collection
      The Heroes of the Storm in-game Shop has been transformed into your Collection, which is the central location where players can browse through the Heroes and cosmetic items they own, and unlock the ones they don’t. Switch among item categories using the row of tabs found along the top of your Collection screen. Hover the cursor over an item to use the purchasing options available for that item, or to Forge it using Shards. Click Heroes, Skins, Mounts, and Banners to view them in more detail. Use the dropdown menus found on each category page to filter items by owned, unowned, release date, and more. Enter keywords in the Search bar to find specific items. The Bundles tab has been removed, and all available Bundles will now appear on your Collection’s Featured tab. Upon receiving previously unowned items in a Loot Chest, the total number of new items added to your Collection will be displayed on the Collection button in the top navigation bar. Additional new item notifications will appear on each category tab in your Collection where a new item can be found, as well as on the sub-category buttons found on the left side of each category page. Clear new item notifications by right-clicking the associated category and sub-category buttons in your Collection, and then selecting “Mark items as seen.” Alternatively, navigate to each new item manually and hover the cursor over them to clear the notification for that item. New Currency: Gems
      Gems have replaced real money as the primary currency in Heroes of the Storm. Gems can be used to purchase Heroes, Bundles, Loot Chests, Stimpacks, and Featured Items. Additional Gems can be purchased using real money in the Gem Shop. Enter the Gem Shop by clicking the “+” button found next to the Gem counter added to the top navigation bar in the game’s menus. Existing Currency: Gold
      Gold can be used to purchase Heroes and Loot Chest re-rolls. Gold will still be awarded through Hero progression, as well as upon completing matches, Daily Quests, and Heroes Brawls. New Crafting Material: Shards
      As mentioned previously, Shards are a new crafting material that can be collected and used to Forge cosmetic items, including: Skins, Mounts, Announcers, Banners, Emoji packs, Sprays, Portraits, and Voice Lines. Varying amounts of Shards can appear as Loot Chest drops. Any duplicate items received in a Loot Chest will automatically fragment into Shards. New Items
      The items listed below have been added to the Collection, and will be available for Gem purchase for a limited time. New Skins Genji Oni Genji, Vengeful Oni Genji, Moss Oni Genji Auriel Sakura Auriel, Spring Sakura Auriel, Scarlet Sakura Auriel Zarya Cyberdemon Zarya, Indigo Cyberdemon Zarya, Cyborgdemon Zarya New Bundles and Skin Packs Genji Heroic Bundle Sakura Auriel Skin Pack Cyberdemon Zarya Skin Pack Skin and Mount Changes
      Skin Variations, Mount Variations, and Master Skins have been reclassified as individual items. Players can receive these items as Loot Chest drops, or Forge them using Shards, but they are no longer unlocked via Hero progression. Players who owned any Skins, Master Skins, and Mounts prior to Heroes of the Storm 2.0 will still be able to use them after release. In addition to the base version of those Skins and Mounts, players will also permanently receive both of those items’ variations —whether or not they had previously unlocked them through progression. Featured and New Items In addition to Forging Skins and Mounts using Shards, or finding them in Loot Chests, a number of Featured Skins and Mounts will be available for Gem purchase in the Collection. To keep things fresh, the list of Featured Skins and Mounts will rotate on a regular basis. Many newly released Skins and Mounts will also be purchasable using Gems for several weeks following their arrival to the Nexus. Much like new Heroes receive a Gold price reduction once they’ve been in the Nexus for a few weeks, new Skins and Mounts that are unlockable using Gems start at a higher than normal Shard price. These items will receive a Shard price reduction a few weeks after they are added to the game. New items that are only unlockable via Loot Chests and Forging (such as a new version of an existing Skin) will not start at a higher Shard price, or receive a Shard price reduction. Seasonal Items Some existing holiday-themed Skins and Mounts, including Winter Veil, Hallow’s End, Lunar Festival, and other seasonal items, will only be unlockable during in-game events for those holidays. Unlock seasonal and holiday-themed items during their associated in-game events via Loot Chest drops, or by forging them with Shards.   User Interface
      General
      Keep track of Gem, Gold, and Shard totals using the counters that have been added next to the Party Panel at the top of the screen. The Stimpack, First Win of the Day, and XP Bonus indicators have been moved beneath the Player Portrait in the upper-right corner of the screen. Attack Move Target Point Attack Move Target Point has been added to the Gameplay Options menu. If enabled, attack move (default: A + Left-Click) concentrates on the closest enemy to the target point. If disabled, attack move concentrates on the closest enemy to your Hero. Quest Log A Progression section has been added to the bottom of the Quest Log, which will display upcoming progression system rewards. Clicking the Progression section of the Quest Log will open the Progression tab or Hero Detail page in the Player Profile, depending on which type of reward was displayed. Loadouts
      Loadouts offer the ability to customize which Skins, Mounts, Banners, Sprays, Voice Lines, and Announcers each Hero will use in-game. A new “Loadout” button has replaced the “Skins” and “Mounts” buttons in the lower left corner of the Hero Select screen and Draft Lobbies. Click the Loadout button to bring up the customization window, and then use the row of item category buttons at the top to choose which gear to equip in the selected loadout. Use the dropdown menu beneath the row of category buttons to filter by owned and unowned items, or enter keywords in the Search bar to find specific items. Items that have not yet been unlocked can be Forged directly from the Loadout window using Shards. The items that are currently equipped in the selected Loadout will be displayed at the center of the screen above the Ready button. Up to 3 Loadouts can be set per Hero, and they are automatically saved whenever a change is made. Switch among a Hero’s Loadouts using the dropdown menu in the upper-left corner of the customization window. Enter a name for each loadout using the text bar at the top of the customization window. Player Profile
      The Player Profile has been reworked and received additional visual polish. Profile navigation has moved to the top of the window, and each Profile tab has changed in the following ways: Summary The number of Most Played Heroes displayed has increased from 3 to 4. A number of new statistics, as well as award and reward information, will now be displayed in the bottom half of the window. Current player level, and Ranked play badges have moved to the right side of the window. The chart detailing the number of games played per Hero role can be found in the lower-right corner. Progression Current player level, and the 3 Heroes who are closest to leveling-up, will now be displayed at the center of the Progression tab. Upcoming progression rewards will populate along the left-side of the window. Roster (Formerly: “Hero Collection”) All available Heroes, and their current Hero level progress, are visible on this tab. Click a Hero to view additional statistics and upcoming Hero progression rewards. Buttons have also been added for the Collection and Try Mode. Favorite Heroes and a number of new statistics can now be found on the right side of the window. Match History Has received additional visual polish. Statistics Use this tab to view a number of new Hero statistics, Battleground win-rates, and a variety of other performance data. Portrait This tab has been removed from the Profile. Players can now select their Portraits and Portrait Borders using the Portraits category in the Collection. Mastery Taunts
      Issuing an in-game Taunt using a Hero who has reached level 15 or higher will now display unique “mastery” visual effects. The Hero will also play its taunt animation and voiceover. Issue an in-game Taunt using the radial emote menu (default: X), by pressing the Taunt hotkey (default: J), or by typing “/Taunt” into chat. Additional Hero Mastery Taunts will be added to the game in future patches, unlocking at levels 25, 50, 75, and 100. Read our recent blog on Mastery Taunts for more information. Heroes Brawl
      Completing matches in Heroes Brawl will now award Hero XP. In cases where multiple Heroes are used during the same Heroes Brawl, the total XP earned will be divided evenly among them. Completing the weekly Heroes Brawl quest will now award a Loot Chest, rather than a Portrait and Gold. In-Game U.I.
      The in-game Chat box has been slightly lowered to provide more visibility in the center of the screen. Expression Wheel An Expression Wheel has been added, which can be used to quickly drop a Spray, play a Voice Line, as well as issue Dance and Taunt commands, in-game. Press “X” to bring up the Expression Wheel, and then drag the cursor in the direction of the desired expression. The Voice Line and Spray that are available in-game can be set using the Loadout button during Hero Select, as detailed above. Art
      General
      The Loading Screen displayed upon launching the game client has received new art! Visual effects that indicate Movement Speed bonuses have received updates. Sprays have received additional polish that should help them feel more integrated with battleground environments. Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Tassadar: Nullification (Talent) has received updated visual effects. Battlegrounds
      Layout Adjustments
      The following Battlegrounds have each received a number of minor layout improvements in order to alleviate certain areas that could create awkward gameplay moments. Sky Temple Cursed Hollow Dragon Shire Garden of Terror These changes generally consist of small adjustments to the terrain, and some areas of brush have been pruned or removed. Battleground art has been updated to match the areas where these changes were made. Heroes
      Assassin
      Valeera

      Abilities
      Eviscerate (E) Damage reduced from 100 to 85 per combo point Talents
      Level 13 Death from Above (Q) Teleport range reduced from 7 to 6 Level 20 Coldblood (E) Removed Specialist
      Probius

      Abilities
      Photon Cannon (E) Can now be self-cast Support
      Auriel

      Abilities
      Resurrect (R) New Functionality Increased cooldown from 70 to 120 seconds Reduced channel time from 3 to 0.5 seconds Added a 5 second delay between finishing the cast and the Hero coming back to life Talents
      Level 20 Light Speed (R) New Functionality Removed the increased Health upon reviving Now causes the cooldown of Resurrect to recharge 100% faster while previous target is alive Brightwing

      Abilities
      Soothing Mist (Trait) Now displays a range ring around Brightwing that conveys the radius of her heal. This is only visible to Brightwing. Uther

      Stats
      Removed passive Armor Base maximum Health increased from 2054 to 2156 Health Regeneration increased from 4.28 to 4.49 Abilities
      Holy Light (Q) Healing amount reduced from 427 to 380 Now also heals Uther for 190 if cast on an ally Holy Radiance (W) Healing amount reduced from 219 to 160 (now matches damage) Mana cost reduced from 65 to 60 Eternal Devotion (Trait) Added Functionality: When Uther heals anyone with a Basic Ability, they gain 25 Armor for 2 seconds.  This effect does not stack with itself. Talents
      Level 1 Conjurer’s Pursuit (Passive) Removed Wave of Light (W) No longer has a cap on the Mana return and Cooldown Reduction amounts Now grants the benefits when enemy Heroes are damaged Increased the amount of Mana returned from 8 to 10 Added a quest component: !Quest: Heal or damage 60 Heroes with Holy Radiance !Reward: Increase the duration of Eternal Devotion’s Armor effect to 3 seconds Hammer of the Lightbringer (E) New functionality: Uther’s Basic Attacks restore 1.5% of his maximum Mana !Quest: Hit 75 enemy Heroes with Basic Attacks !Reward: Basic Attacks also reduce the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 1 second Fist of Justice (E) Removed (New) Silver Touch (Q) !Quest:  Reduce damage taken from Heroes using Eternal Devotion's Armor effect !Reward:  After reducing 40 sources of Hero damage, reduce the Mana cost of Holy Light by 20 !Reward:  After reducing 80 sources of Hero damage, reduce the Mana cost of Holy Light by an additional 20 and increase the cast range by 50% Level 4 Beacon of Light (Q) Moved to level 16 New functionality: While below 50% Health, Uther receives 200% more self-healing when healing others with Holy Light Boundless Conviction (W) Removed Protective Shield (Active) Removed (New) Pursuit of Justice (E) Casting Hammer of Justice increases Uther's Movement Speed by 20% for 3 seconds Level 7 Burden of Guilt (E) Removed Holy Fire (Passive) Moved to level 4 Damage reduced from 18 to 16 per second Cleanse (Active) Removed (New) Armor of Faith (Trait) Holy Light recharges 100% faster for 6 seconds when Uther is Stunned, Rooted, or Silenced (New) Guardian of Ancient Kings (Trait) Healing a Stunned, Rooted, or Silenced Hero with a Basic Ability increases the Armor bonus of Eternal Devotion from 25 to 75 (New) Hand of Protection (Active) Activate to make target ally Unstoppable for 1 second.  Cannot be cast on yourself.  90 second cooldown.  Basic Attack reduce this cooldown by 5 seconds. Level 13 Blessed Champion (Q) Healing from Basic Attacks reduced from 20% to 15% of Holy Light, but is calculated from the combined total of Holy Light’s Ally and self heal Holy Shock (Q) Moved to level 4 No longer increases the value of Uther’s next Holy Light, but instead refunds 45 Mana when cast on an enemy Holy Shock still heals Uther for 200 if cast on an enemy Shrink Ray (Active) Removed (New) Well Met (E) Hammer of Justice also reduces enemy Hero Movement Speed by 25% and damage by 25% for 3 seconds Level 16 Hardened Focus (Passive) Removed Righteous Defense (Q) Removed Gathering Radiance (W) Removed (New) Tyr's Deliverance (W) Hitting an allied Hero with Holy Radiance increases their healing received by 40% for 6 seconds Level 20 (New) Divine Protection (Trait) Eternal Devotion's Armor can now stack twice. Each new application will refresh the duration of both armor effects LEVEL (TIER)   UTHER TALENTS     1 (1) (!) Silver Touch (Q) (!) Wave of Light (W) (!) Hammer of the Lightbringer (E)   4 (2) Holy Shock (Q) Pursuit of Justice (E) Holy Fire (Passive)   7 (3) Armor of Faith (Q) Guardian of Ancient Kings (Trait) Hand of Protection (Active)   10 (4) Divine Shield Divine Storm — — 13 (5) Blessed Champion (Q) Well Met (E) Spell Shield (Passive)   16 (6) Beacon of Light (Q) Tyr's Deliverance (W) Benediction (Active)   20 (7) Bulwark of Light (R) Divine Hurricane (R) Redemption (Passive) Divine Protection (Passive) (!) indicates a Questing Talent. Italic text indicates a NEW Talent. Bold text indicates a MOVED Talent. Warrior
      Anub'arak

      Abilities
      Burrow Charge (E) Hovering over this ability will now show the range indicator for distance traveled, as well as the area affected when he emerges from burrow Locust Swarm (R) A range indicator will now appear to Anub’arak while Locust Swarm is active Talents
      Level 13 Urticating Spines (W) Hovering over the ability button after selecting this talent will now show a range indicator Bug Fixes
      General
      Mac: Launching Heroes of the Storm using the Mac 10.12 OS will no longer adjust the player’s mouse acceleration setting. Battlegrounds
      Battlefield of Eternity: Fixed a rare issue in which an Immortal could be awarded to the wrong team if both Immortals were killed at nearly the same time. Haunted Mines: The terrain surrounding Sapper Merc Camps will now correctly block vision of the camp. Haunted Mines: Leoric will no longer fail to respawn properly after being killed via damage dealt by a nearby spawning Grave Golem. Tomb of the Spider Queen: Webweavers will no longer become distracted by Summoned units. Try Mode: The Complete Quests button will now correctly set Zul’jin’s You Want Axe quest to 120 attacks, rather than 500. Try Mode: The Reset Talents button will now correctly remove bonus Hungering Arrow strikes earned by previously completing the Puncturing Arrow quest. Try Mode: Tassadar’s Oracle cooldown will now be correctly reduced by 15 seconds when completing the Mental Acuity quest via the Complete Quests button. Art
      Cyber Ram: Fixed an issue in which the Cyber Ram’s hind legs appeared slanted. Gazlowe: Restored missing visual effects during Gazlowe’s transformation into Robo-Goblin form. Greymane: Restored missing visual effects during Go for the Throat. Rexxar: Misha, Focus! now uses the same Ability icon in-game as it does on Rexxar’s detail page in the Collection. Valla: Strafe visual effects will no longer continue to play after the Ability expires. Varian: Will no longer appear scaled-down on the Ranked Play screen. Xul: Will no longer appear offset on the Ranked Play screen. Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Quest Talents: Fixed a bug that caused quest talents that track every second to ping continuously. They will now only ping every 5 seconds as intended. Regeneration Globes: Will now play an animation upon expiration rather than suddenly disappearing. Spell Shield: Toggling Spell Shield will no longer cancel an active Hearthstone channel. Abathur: Heroes can no longer push a player-controlled Monstrosity by walking into it. Auriel: Detainment Strike will now correctly stun enemies who collide with corners of terrain. Auriel: Fixed an issue that could cause Resurrect’s revive message to appear on the MVP screen. Chen: Freshest Ingredients will no longer grant 3 Health Regeneration stacks for Regeneration Globes collected during Storm, Earth Fire. Diablo: Fixed an issue preventing Diablo from using Basic Attacks against his Overpower target if Overpower was interrupted by Zeratul’s Void Prison. Cho: Twilight Hammer will now deal damage to Murky’s Pufferfish. Gall: Fixed an issue that could cause Gall to use his base skin on the MVP screen despite using an alternate skin during the match. Gazlowe: Can now correctly issue commands to active Rock-It! Turrets while dead. Illidan: Fixed an issue that could cause Illidan to respawn at his death location if he cast Sweeping Strikes in the same moment that he was killed. Murky: Can no longer call down a Nuke during Safety Bubble on Warhead Junction.
      Nazeebo: Corpse Spiders will no longer prioritize Kharazim’s Air Ally or Lúcio’s Boombox over enemy Heroes. Probius: Pylons and Photon Cannons will no longer be affected by Power Overflowing when Probius is not inside a Pylon’s Power Field. Samuro: Way of Illusion will no longer continue to generate quest progress icons after its quest is complete. Tassadar: Prismatic Link will no longer cause Basic Attacks to continue to hit the tertiary target if the primary and secondary targets move out of range of one another. The Butcher: Victuals will no longer stop functioning after completing Fresh Meat’s quest. The Butcher: Butcher’s Brand visual effects will no longer persist on a Punisher until it is killed. The Butcher: Will now properly receive Healing for Basic Attack damage dealt to a Punisher affected by Butcher’s Brand. The Lost Vikings: Fixed an issue causing Olaf to begin attacking the nearest enemy after using Charge, rather than the intended target. Tracer: After using Blink, Tracer will now correctly continue to walk in the direction she was originally moving prior to the cast. Tyrael: Fixed an issue that could cause Archangel’s Wrath to immediately explode on death, and prevent Tyrael from respawning. Varian: After learning Second Wind, Varian will now correctly earn bonus Healing for bonus damage dealt by Shattering Throw against a Shielded target. Zagara: Damage dealt by Hunter Killer and Roach summons will no longer be reduced by Armor. Zeratul: A revealed icon will no longer appear above enemies hit by Rending Cleave. Zul’jin: Taz'dingo! Will now correctly prevent Zul’jin from dying when cast at the same moment that he would have taken fatal damage. Sound
      E.T.C.: Enemies affected by a Mosh Pit that was cast from inside of a bush or vent will now correctly hear the Ability’s sound effects. User Interface
      Hotkeys: Control group hotkeys in the default Standard for Lefties profile now correctly mirror the Standard profile, with the first slot bound to the 7 key. Heroes Brawl: Brawls that only require completion of 2 matches will no longer state that 3 matches are needed in order to earn rewards. Kill Feed: The Kill Feed will no longer display blank portraits for Heroes who are killed by an Immortal while the Immortals are dueling on Battlefield of Eternity.
    • By Starym

       
      With Heroes 2.0 released today, there's also a new Nexus Challenge upon us! Appropriately enough, it's Overwatch themed, which makes sense since the latest two heroes and a lot of the new 2.0 loot system arrived from that particular side of the Blizzard universe. You can get new skins, mounts, sprays etc. for both games by simply completing a weekly quest, up until May 22nd, and the final prize is 10 loot chests/boxes in each game!

      While the first quest this week will be very easy to steamroll if you don't feel like spending too much time (since you can just play vs. AI which goes very fast), the later ones will require you to do 5 quick match/unranked/ranked matches and you'll need to get all the quests done in order to get the whopping 20 total loot containers! In case you start out later you will still receive the earlier quests, as they'll pop up as soon as you finish their prerequisites, as long as their due date has already arrived, so you don't have to worry about starting right away.

      Update: and there's a video!
       
      Blizzard (source)
      The Nexus Challenge is back and better than ever! Play Heroes of the Storm® with a friend to earn sweet rewards in Overwatch® and Heroes of the Storm.
      After Heroes of the Storm 2.0 goes live in your region, a new Quest will unlock each week. Quests must be completed in order, and only one can be active at any given time. All 4 Quests remain open until May 22.
      Play Overwatch on console?
      You will need to link your Heroes Blizzard account with your console Overwatch account to earn rewards. (Log into Battle.net and go to Account Management > Security Options > Connected Accounts.)
      Quest 1
      Opens Week of 4/24 Play 5 games with a friend in Versus A.I., Quick Match, Unranked, or Ranked.
      Heroes Rewards
      Orochi Hovercycle Mount (6 color variations) Oni Genji Warbanner Oni Spray Oni Genji Portrait Overwatch Rewards
      Oni Genji Skin Oni Genji Player Icon Oni Genji Spray Quest 2
      Opens Week of 5/1 After completing Quest 1, play 5 games with a friend in Quick Match, Unranked, or Ranked.
      Heroes Rewards
      Busan Police Hovercycle Mount Overwatch Rewards
      Officer D.Va Skin Quest 3
      Opens Week of 5/8 After completing Quest 2, play 5 games with a friend in Quick Match, Unranked, or Ranked.
      Heroes Rewards
      Overwatch Nexagon Mount Officer D.Va Banner Badge Spray Officer D.Va Portrait Overwatch Rewards
      Officer D.Va Spray Officer D.Va Player Icon Quest 4
      Opens Week of 5/15 After completing Quest 3, play 5 games with a friend in Quick Match, Unranked, or Ranked.
      Heroes Rewards
      10 Loot Chests Overwatch Rewards
      10 Loot Chests
      Complete as many Quests as you can before the Challenge ends on May 22.
      Good luck, Heroes!
       
    • By Stan

      Blizzard unveiled D.Va as the next Hero to join the roster in their Hanamura Showdown trailer.
      Hana "D.Va" Song will be a Warrior in the Nexus. Skills and abilities Tba.
      You do not have to fight alone! Battle over Hanamura, ancient home of the Shimada clan, with Genji and D.Va while you experience a world of new content in our game-redefining update we’re calling Heroes of the Storm 2.0. It’s a whole new era for Heroes, and we can’t wait to see you in the Nexus!