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Heroes of the Storm: Xul Hero Week

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A new blog post is dedicated to Xul, the latest Hero to join the Nexus. Let's see some highlights of his talents, as well as designer and artist insights!

 

After Li-Ming, this is the second blog post entirely dedicated to a new Hero! Xul was quite anticipated and it's interesting to see the whole design process behind him.

 

Blizzard Icon Ravinix

"Those who disturb the Balance shall be unmade." - Xul, The Cryptic Necromancer

 

Buried deep in the Jungles of Eastern Kehjistan, the enigmatic Priests of Rathma dedicate themselves to the challenge of upholding of the balance between chaos and order in Sanctuary, but few of Rathma’s disciples have met the challenge with the skill and vigor of the necromancer Xul. Now having freed Sanctuary from the grips of the Prime Evils, Xul – the Cryptic Necromancer – must rise again to conquer the Nexus!

 

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Talent Highlights:

 

Mortal Wound – Enemies hit by your Spectral Scythe suffer a 75% reduction in healing received for several seconds. Effective use of this talent could cripple Support heavy compositions during crucial moments.

 

Amplify Damage – Inflicts a Vulnerable debuff (25% increase to damage taken) upon enemies caught in a Bone Prison, the combination of a root effect and the bonus damage taken from this talent can be a devastating tool for picking off problematic enemies.

 

Corpse Explosion – Diablo II players will recognize this iconic Necromancer ability. With this talent, Skeletal Warriors summoned by Xul’s passive trait will explode when destroyed, dealing increased damage to non-Heroic enemies, making them an undead force to be reckoned with in team fights and lane pushing scenarios.

 

Bone Spear Another Diablo II fan-favorite ability, Bone Spear is a high-damage linear skillshot on a short cooldown. Choosing this talent grants Xul some extra wave clear and ranged poke potential, and an extra burst of damage in team-fights.

 

Artist Insights:

 

Senior Art Director Sam Didier and 3D Artist Andrew Kinabrew:

  • Ravinix: First off, Xul looks awesome, albeit a little different from what I remember from D2. How did the decision to equip Xul with a Scythe instead of the Necromancer daggers, flail, or bone shield come about?
  • Sam: We wanted to pick the most iconic Diablo II look for the Necromancer to get that immediate recognition from players, so we went with the base leathers with a dagger in one hand. With the outfit established, we added the scythe to really push the silhouette, and to make Xul a unique and distinct Heroes character that comes across as the living embodiment of death. As for the flail and bone shield, they weren’t considered options since Xul’s Diablo III buddy, Johanna, is all about that combo and we didn’t want Xul to visually compete with her kit.
  • Ravinix: There are a lot of die-hard necromancer fans looking forward to this Hero’s launch. How did knowing they were out there clamoring for this Hero affect your design decisions?
  • Andrew: We totally felt this! Many of us played necromancer hard core in Diablo II, so we had high expectations to live up to just around Blizzard HQ, let alone around the world. We're definitely as passionate about these characters as our players.  When Diablo II came out, the Necro really helped shape my ideas and artistic style. There are beats we wanted to hit to really echo the D2 flavor: the leather vest, the skeletons, the idea that Xul’s been around and seen stuff, maintaining the balance as it were. We wanted to make sure those came across while bringing some of Sammy's style into the Diablo universe, and also making him what we felt was best for Heroes.    
  • Ravinix: Xul definitely has a super creepy vibe to him. Did you look to anything specific for inspiration when designing his appearance?
  • Sam: He had a lot of cool imagery and lore to pull from already. The direction was to combine the elements of the established Necro and weave them into Xul which ended up making him look very unique to Heroes.

Designer Insights:

 

Game Designer Jade Martin:

  • Ravinix: I love that Xul brings a lot of Diablo II Necro goodness into the Nexus: Corpse Explosion, Bone Spear, and Poison Nova are great examples, but he seems to be missing those iconic Golems. Was there any particular reason those didn’t make it into his kit, and is there anything else you wish you could’ve brought over from D2?
  • Jade: We knew we wanted Golems or Skeletons from the start and we even tried both at one point in time, but found the golems really didn’t add to Xul’s kit and cluttered up team-fights. Knowing that that Diablo II’s Necromancer had so many cool abilities and it would be really hard to get them all into one hero, but we did what we could by adding curses, skeletons, Bone Armor and Bone Spear. As former Diablo II players, we're nostalgic for Golems, Iron Maiden, Bone Teeth, and more types of Skeletal Mages, but we feel like Xul really captures the essence of what made the Necro so much fun to play!
  • Ravinix: Let’s talk strengths and weaknesses. What Heroes, from a gameplay sense, would you say are Xul’s best friends and worst enemies in the Nexus?
  • Jade: Xul is great against enemy Heroes that rely on high attack speeds such as Illidan, Thrall, and Raynor, etc. Xul synergizes well with heroes like Kael’thas, Muradin, or Johanna, since these heroes have long range crowd control options that allow the Necromancer to get close enough to land a successful Bone Prison. As for enemies, Xul has low mobility, so heroes that have the ability to keep their distance, such as Lunara and mages, are good counters to Xul.
  • Ravinix: Both of Xul’s Heroic Abilities look like a lot of fun, but I’m not sure when it would be best to choose one over the other. Can you give a brief rundown of when they each might shine?
  • Jade: Poison Nova is fantastic against teams with dive Heroes such as Illidan, the Butcher, and Tyrael, etc. Using Poison Nova as soon as they dive in can quickly turn a fight in Xul's favor. Skeletal Mages are great for battlefield control and zoning the enemy team. If your team is engaged in a fight at a chokepoint, you can strategically place Skeletal Mages to split the enemy team, forcing them to choose between tanking the damage, splitting further, or spending precious time to kill the Skeletal Mages.

(source)

 

Don't forget to check Stan's review on Xul, as well as our build guide!

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