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PTR Patch Notes: January 17

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A new patch is now live on PTR. It brings Valeera, custom sandbox games, Lunar Festival, new bundles and heavy changes to Tassadar and Rexxar.

We'll be doing a Valeera preview shortly. In the meantime, you can read the full patch notes below.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

General

Celebrate Lunar Festival 2017!

We’re ringing in the new year with a new Lunar Festival event, which includes new and returning skins and bundles, as well as new Special Event quests and rewards! Be sure to complete your quests and pick up a few skins before our 2017 Lunar Festival event concludes on Tuesday, February 14.
  • Lunar Festival Quests and Rewards:
    • Quest: Complete the Rooster Race once.
      • Reward: 200 Gold.
    • Quest: Complete the Rooster Race 25 times during the 2017 Lunar Festival event.
      • Rewards: Lunar Rooster Portrait and the Lunar Rooster Mount.
  • Lunar Festival Quest Details
    • Each day during Lunar Festival, players will receive a new event quest to complete the Rooster Race.
    • If any players on a team have not yet finished that day’s quest, there’s a chance that the Lunar Rooster, and many festive items, will appear in the team’s starting area.
    • Collect the required items and return them to the Rooster to advance his position. Return 4 items before time runs out to complete the Rooster Race!
  • PTR NoteWhile elements of the Lunar Festival event may appear on the Test Realm, players will not be able to make progress toward quests or rewards until the patch is released to the live version of Heroes of the Storm next week.

Sandbox Custom Games Now Available

  • A new version of Cursed Hollow has been added to Custom Games that will allow up to 10 players at once to use a wide variety of “cheats” to test the absolute limits of their Heroes in multiplayer, sandbox-style gameplay.
  • A cheat menu will appear along the left side of the screen in-game.
    • By default, only Player 1 will have access to the cheat menu.
    • However, Player 1 can check the “Share Cheats” box at the top of the menu to give access to all other players.
    • Players may close the cheat menu by clicking the “X” in the top-right corner of the panel. The menu can be restored by clicking the “Show Controls” button.
    • All players will receive an in-game chat notification whenever a cheat is used.
  • The cheat menu features a wide variety of different options:
    • Set Game Speed: Change game speed among Slower, Slow, Normal, Fast, and Faster.
    • Toggle Minions: Enable or disable Minion spawns for each team.
    • Reset Structures: Restore all Structures to full Health. If a Structure was destroyed, it is rebuilt.
    • Toggle Tribute Spawning: Enable or disable Raven Lord Tribute spawns. This button is only enabled before the first Tribute event begins.
    • Move Here: Instantly moves the player's Hero to the camera location.
    • Reset Talents: Reset all players’ Talent selections.
      • If “Share Cheats” is enabled, this button will only reset Talents for the player that pressed it.
    • Reset Cooldowns: Reset all players’ Ability cooldowns. Can be used once every 5 seconds.
      • If “Share Cheats” is enabled, this button will only reset cooldowns for the player that pressed it.
    • Set Team Level: Adjust each team's level from 1 up to 30. This will also affect the strength of Minions and neutral Mercenary Camps.
    • Toggle Infinite Mana: Enable or disable Ability costs for each team.
    • Set Damage Dealt: Adjust each team’s damage output from 0 up to 300% of normal damage.
    • Set Damage Taken: Adjust the amount of damage received by each team from 0 up to 300% of normal damage.

Performance Improvements

  • Improved the performance of a rendering system that is used across most Hero Abilities and environment effects. This should improve framerates during team fights on many systems.

New Hero: Valeera

For a time, the gladiator Valeera Sanguinar served dutifully as one of Varian Wrynn’s personal bodyguards. Now, her shadowy skills find her a natural fit within the secretive rogue order, the Uncrowned, in their fight against the Legion.

Trait

  • Vanish (D)
    • Valeera vanishes from sight, becoming Stealthed and increasing her Movement Speed by 10%. For the first second, she is Unrevealable and can pass through other units.
    • Using Vanish grants Valeera an alternate set of Abilities that she can use while Stealthed.

Basic Abilities

  • Sinister Strike (Q)
    • Dash forward, dealing damage to all enemies in a line. If Sinister Strike hits an enemy Hero, she stops dashing immediately and the cooldown is reduced to 1 second.
    • Awards 1 Combo Point.
  • Blade Flurry (W)
    • Deal damage in an area around Valeera.
    • Awards 1 Combo Point per enemy Hero hit.
  • Eviscerate (E)
    • Consume all stored Combo Points to Eviscerate an enemy, dealing increased damage per Combo Point spent. Valeera can store a maximum of 3 Combo Points.

Vanish Abilities

  • Ambush (Q)
    • Ambush a target, instantly dealing damage to them.
    • Awards 1 Combo Point.
  • Cheap Shot (W)
    • Deal a small amount of damage to an enemy and stun them for 1.5 seconds.
    • Awards 1 Combo Point.
  • Garrote (E)
    • Garrote an enemy, instantly dealing a small amount of damage to the target, as well as a larger amount of bonus damage over 7 seconds, and Silencing them for 2 seconds.
    • Awards 1 Combo Point.

Heroic Abilities

  • Smoke Bomb (R)
    • Create a cloud of smoke. While in the smoke, Valeera is Unrevealable, can pass through other units, and gains 25 Armor, reducing damage taken by 25%. Valeera can continue to attack and use Abilities without being revealed. Lasts 5 seconds.
    • Using this Ability does not break Vanish.
  • Cloak of Shadows (R)
    • Valeera is enveloped in a Cloak of Shadows, which immediately removes all damage over time effects from her. For 1 second, she becomes Unstoppable and gains 75 Spell Armor, reducing Ability damage taken by 75%.
    • Using this Ability does not break Vanish.

Art

Heroes, Abilities, and Talents

  • The following Heroes have received updated icon art to coincide with their reworks:
    • Tassadar
    • Rexxar
  • The following Heroes, Abilities, and Talents have received updated visual effects:
    • Blood Elf Tyrande: Sentinel (W)
    • Malfurion: Innervate (D)
    • Rexxar: Misha, Focus! (D) Will now display visual effects above Misha and her target or target location when cast. Only the Rexxar player will see these effects.
    • Tassadar: Basic Attacks in Archon (R) form will now display splash effects more prominently.
    • Zagara: Envenomed Spines (Active Talent) 

Shop

PTR Note: Many of the following changes will not take place in the Shop until the Public Test Realm is brought offline and the patch is officially released to the live version of Heroes of the Storm next week.

Bundles

  • New Bundles
    • Demon Hunter Valeera Bundle – Available until January 31, 2017
    • 2017 Lunar Festival Bundle – Available until February 14, 2017
  • Returning Bundles
    • 2016 Lunar Festival Bundle – Available until February 14, 2017
  • Removed Bundles
    • Luxorian Nights Bundle
    • Ultimate Luxorian Nights Bundle

New Hero

  • Valeera has been added to the in-game Shop

Mounts

  • New Mounts
    • Felsaber – Available by purchasing the Demon Hunter Valeera Bundle
    • Nimbus Cloud – Available by purchasing the 2017 Lunar Festival Bundle
    • Lunar Rooster – Awarded for completing the Rooster Race 25 times during the 2017 Lunar Festival event
    • Golden Rooster – Available for gold purchase only
  • Removed Mounts
    • Nexus Charger
    • Judgement Charger

New Skins

  • Demon Hunter Valeera
  • Master Valeera
  • Monkey King Samuro – Available by purchasing the 2017 Lunar Festival Bundle. Available individually starting January 31, 2017
  • Lunar Li-Ming – Available by purchasing the 2017 Lunar Festival Bundle. Available individually starting February 7, 2017

User Interface

MVP and Commendations System

  • Hover the cursor over MVP and Commendation icons that appear next to players’ names on the end game score screen to view a brief description of each award. 

Observer Mode

  • The first level of camera zoom (Z) for Observers has been lowered slightly in Replays and Custom Games.

Tutorial and Training

  • Gameplay tips that appear during Tutorial and Training games can now be accessed at any time while playing in those modes by clicking the new “Show Help” button added near the top-left corner of the screen.
  • Clicking “Show Help” will display a Tutorial Tips panel that lists all of the tips the player has received so far, organized by category.

Heroes

Assassin

Lunara

Divider_Hero_Lunara_crop.png

Talents

  • Level 16
    • Starwood Spear (W)
      • Will now generate an Indicator displaying Lunara’s new attack range while active

Multi-class

Varian

Divider_Hero_Varian_crop.png

Talents

  • Level 1
    • Overpower (W)
      • Added functionality:
        • Can now trigger multiple times per Parry
        • Now also increases the damage of the next Heroic Strike by 25%
Developer Comments:  These simple changes should allow Varian players to "live the dream" and get multiple Overpower triggers more often, particularly when combined with Live by the Sword or Twin Blades of Fury. We want Overpower to allow Varian to gain a lot of value when used at just the right time, and found even the best cases of the old Talent design didn't compare to the other options on the tier. By also allowing it to increase the damage of Heroic Strike baseline, we think it will an additional vector that will make it an enticing option for all 3 builds..

Support

Li Li

Divider_Hero_LiLi_Crop.png

Talents

  •   Level 13
    • Elusive Feet (Trait)
      • Now displays a button on the hotbar showing the cooldown
  • Level 16
    • Shake It Off (Passive)
      • Now displays a button on the hotbar showing the cooldown

Tassadar

Divider_Hero_Tassadar_Crop.png

Stats

  • Basic Attack
    • Damage reduced from 69 to 10
    • Attack speed increased by 400%
    • Added Functionality:
      • Your basic attacks are channeled and slow the target’s Movement Speed by 20%

Abilities

  • Oracle (Trait)
    • No longer costs Mana
    • Cooldown reduced from 40 to 30 seconds
    • Radius decreased by roughly 16%
  • Plasma Shield (Q)
    • Cooldown increased from 5 to 8 seconds
    • Duration increased from 5 to 8 seconds
    • Mana cost increased from 40 to 50
    • Shield amount increased from 342 to 510
    • Removed Functionality:
      • No longer gains 50% strength on allied Heroes
    • Added Functionality:
      • Now grants the target 20% Life Steal on Basic Attacks (while Shielded)
  • Psionic Storm (W)
    • Damage decreased from 55 to 42
    • Added Functionality:
      • Damage increases by 10% for each consecutive instance of damage
  • Dimensional Shift (E)
    • Cooldown increased from 20 to 30 seconds
    • Duration increased from 1.5 to 2 seconds
    • Added Functionality:
      • Now grants 25% Movement Speed for the duration
    • You can now cancel out of Dimensional Shift early by re-activating the hotkey (Default: E)
  • Archon (R)
    • Attack Damage increased from 111 to 175
    • Duration decreased from 12 to 10 seconds
    • Added Functionality:
      • Your Basic Attacks slow enemies by 40% for 1 second
    • Added Functionality:
      • Passively refreshes the cooldown of Dimensional Shift on activation
    • Removed Functionality:
      • No longer grants a generic Shield on activation
    • Added Functionality:
      • Now grants Tassadar a Plasma Shield on activation
  • Force Wall (R)
    • Range increased from 8 to 10
    • Added Functionality:
      • Passively increases the slow amount of Tassadar’s Basic Attacks from 20 to 30%

Talents

  • Level 1
    • Conjurer’s Pursuit (Passive)
      • Removed
    • Reinforce Structure (Q)
      • Removed
    • Overload (W)
      • Removed
    • Psi-Infusion (W)
      • New functionality:
        • Quest: Restores 1 Mana for every non-Structure enemy damaged by Psionic Storm
        • Quest Reward: After restoring 500 Mana, increase the area of Psionic Storm by 20%
        • Quest Reward: After restoring 1000 Mana, increase the damage of your Psionic Storm by 20%
    • New Talent: Templar’s Will (Passive)
      • Quest: Attacking enemy Heroes restores 4 Mana per second
      • Quest Reward: After slowing Heroes for 30 seconds, increase your Basic Attack range by 20%
      • Quest Reward: After slowing Heroes for 60 seconds, increase your Basic Attack range by an additional 20%
    • New Talent: Khaydarin Resonance (Passive)
      • Quest: Regeneration Globes grant an additional 50% Mana
      • Quest Reward: After collecting 20 Regeneration Globes, 50% of your Plasma Shield’s value remains after expiration
      • Quest Reward: After collecting 40 Regeneration Globes, your Plasma Shield’s no longer have a duration
  • Level 4
    • Leeching Plasma (Q)
      • Removed
    • Healing Ward (Active)
      • Removed
    • Promote (Active)
      • Removed
    • Mental Acuity (Trait)
      • Moved to Level 7
      • New functionality:
        • Quest: Each takedown lowers the cooldown of Oracle by 3 seconds, to a max of 15 seconds
        • Quest Reward: Upon reaching 15 seconds of cooldown reduction, increase the sight range of Oracle by 50%
    • New Talent: Khala's Embrace (Q)
      • Increases the Life Steal of your Plasma Shield by an additional 20%
    • New Talent: Khala’s Light(Q)
      • Upon the expiration or breaking of Plasma Shield, grant the target 25 Armor for 3 seconds
    • New Talent: Khala’s Celerity (Q)
      • Plasma Shield grants 25% Movement Speed for 5 seconds
  • Level 7
    • Khala’s Embrace (Q)
      • Removed
    • Static Charge (W)
      • Removed
    • Calldown: MULE (Active)
      • Removed
    • Deep Shift (E)
      • Moved to Tier 5
      • New functionality:
        • Dimensional Shift’s Movement Speed and duration are increased by 50%
    • New Talent: Psionic Projection (Q, W)
      • Increases the range of your Plasma Shield and Psionic Storm abilities by 40%
  • Level 13
    • Distortion Beam (Passive)
      • Removed
    • Prescience (E)
      • Removed
    • Scryer (Trait)
      • Removed
    • Shrink Ray (Active)
      • Removed
    • New Talent: Nullification (Active)
      • Activate to reduce target Hero's damage by 75% for 3 seconds
    • New Talent: Adun's Wisdom (Trait)
      • While Oracle is active, your Basic Abilities cooldown 50% faster
  • Level 16
    • Evasive Shielding (Q)
      • Removed
    • Dimensional Warp (E)
      • Removed
    • Resonation (W)
      • Moved to Level 7
      • New functionality:
        • Distortion Beam’s slow amount is increased to 40% while attacking an enemy affected by Psionic Storm
    • Second Strike (W)
      • Renamed to Psionic Echo
      • The window to cast the second Psionic Storm has been reduced from 3 to 1.5 seconds
    • New Talent: Phase Disruption (W)
      • Enemies affected by Psionic Storm have their Physical Armor reduced by 25
    • New Talent: Focused Beam (Trait)
      • While Oracle is active, your Basic Attacks deal an additional 1% of an enemy Heroes maximum Health
  • Level 20
    • Storm Shield (Active)
      • Removed
    • Rewind (Active)
      • Removed
    • Twilight Archon (R)
      • New functionality:
        • Basic Attacks while in Archon refresh the duration of Archon
    • Force Barrier (R)
      • New functionality:
        • Decreases the cooldown by 50% and increases the range by 100%
    • New Talent: Shield Battery (Active)
      • Activate to grant all nearby allies a base version Plasma Shield
    • New Talent: Prismatic Link (Passive)
      • Basic Attacks can now bounce to two nearby enemy targets for 50% damage
Developer Comments:  We absolutely love releasing reworks and this one was a long-time-coming, as Tassadar has had a bit of an identity crisis from the moment he stepped foot into the Nexus. We knew that the design direction and changes were going to need to be a bit more expansive in scope compared to most of our other reworks, but we did our best to keep him as true to his High Templar heritage as possible. Our goals were to embrace him as a true utility-based support mage. The new "Distortion Beam" Basic Attack should allow you to help peel for your allies as well as secure kills that would be otherwise unobtainable. Plasma Shield has gained baseline utility that will continue to empower Basic Attackers, while also offering more diverse talents in order to better react to enemy and ally compositions. Archon has been surgically buffed and given a passive reset for Dimensional Shift which should be great news for our old-school fans as we fully expect to see a resurgence of back-line infiltration play. Overall, we hope the changes reinvigorate our steadfast Tassadar players while integrating many new ones into the Khala. En Taro Tassadar.
LEVEL (TIER)   TASSADAR TALENTS    
1 (1) (!)Psi-Infusion (W) (!)The Templar's Will (Passive) (!)Khaydarin Resonance (Q)  
4 (2) Khala's Momentum (Q) Khala's Cradle (Q) Khala's Touch (Q)  
7 (3) Psionic Projection (Q, W) Resonation (Passive) (!)Mental Acuity (Trait)  
10 (4) Archon Force Wall
13 (5) Adun's Wisdom (Trait) Deep Shift (E) Nullification (Active)  
16 (6) Phase Disruption (W) Psionic Echo (W) Focused Beam (Trait)  
20 (7) Twilight Archon (R) Force Barrier (R) Shield Battery (Active) Prismatic Link (Passive)
  • (!) indicates a Questing Talent.
  • Italic text indicates a NEW Talent.
  • Bold text indicates a MOVED Talent.

Warrior

Rexxar

Divider_Hero_Rexxar_Cropped.png

General

  • Misha
    • Movement Speed has been increased from 100% to 115% when Misha has been issued an order to attack targets or when she is by Rexxar’s side.

Abilities

  • Misha, Attack! (D) / Misha, Follow! (D)
    • Removed
  • Misha, Focus! (1)
    • Moved to the Trait button (Default Hotkey: D)
    • Self-casting Misha, Focus! now calls Misha to Rexxar.  Once she reaches Rexxar, she will go to her neutral state.

Talents

  • Level 1
    • Survivalist Training (Passive)
      • Removed
    • Grizzled Bear (Passive)
      • Moved to Level 4
      • Renamed to Grizzled Fortitude
      • Added functionality:
        • Block charge gain rate increased from 5 to 7 seconds
        • Added functionality:
          • Rexxar now gains the Block charges in addition to Misha
    • Hunter-Gatherer (Passive)
      • Moved to Level 4
      • Regeneration Globes required to complete the quest decreased from 30 to 20
      • Rexxar's Health Regeneration amount increased from 1 to 1.25 per second
      • New Functionality:
        • Upon Quest completion, Rexxar and Misha now gain 10 Armor
    • Flare (Active)
      • Cooldown increased from 20 to 30 seconds
      • Reveal duration increased from 5 seconds to 20 seconds
    • Bird of Prey (Q)
      • Bonus damage reduced from 200% to 150%
      • Now only does bonus damage to enemy Minions
  • Level 4
    • Easy Prey (Passive)
      • Moved to Level 1
    • Crippling Talons (Q)
      • Slow amount increased from 40 to 50%
    • Taking Flight (Q)
      • Added functionality:
        • If Spirit Swoop hits an enemy Hero, the cooldown is also reduced by 2 seconds
    • New Talent: Animal Husbandry (Passive)
      • Rexxar and Misha gain 2 Maximum Health every second Rexxar remains alive. These bonuses are lost on Rexxar's death.
  • Level 7
    • Blood of the Rhino (E)
      • Removed
    • Bird of Prey (Q)
      • Moved to Level 1
  • Level 13
    • Bear Necessities (W)
      • Removed
    • Barkskin (W)
      • Removed
    • Aspect of the Hawk (Q)
      • Added functionality:
        • Misha Basic Attacks now increase the duration of the Attack Speed buff by 0.5 seconds
    • New Talent: Dire Beast (W)
      • Rexxar and Misha's Basic Attacks increase the damage of the next Misha, Charge! by 40%, stacking up to 400% bonus.
  • Level 16
    • Critical Care (E)
      • Removed
Developer Comments:  Our goals for Misha Rexxar were twofold: to streamline his control scheme as much as we could and to give his talents some love. All of Misha’s controls should now be centralized on the D button, which should make it easier overall to play the hero. While this does result in a tiny loss of control (Rexxar no longer has the ability to recall Misha to his side and to keep her in a passive state), we felt that overall this functionality was not that huge of a loss for Rexxar and was worth the gain of making his controls centered around one button instead of two. We also made Misha’s Movement Speeds during her various states more consistent so that she feels better when being commanded by Rexxar, and we’ve added some talents that should help better sell the fantasy of Rexxar and Misha working together to take down their prey. We’ve had a blast playing with the new and improved Rexxar, and hope that you enjoy it as much as we have!
LEVEL (TIER)   REXXAR TALENTS    
1 (1) Easy Prey (Passive) Bird of Prey (Q) Flare (Active)  
4 (2) Hungry Bear (Passive) (!) Hunter-Gatherer (Passive) Grizzled Fortitude (Passive) Animal Husbandry (Passive)
7 (3) Aspect of the Beast (W) Crippling Talons (Q) Taking Flight (Q)  
10 (4) Bestial Wrath Unleash the Boars
13 (5) Wildfire Bear (Passive) Aspect of the Hawk (Q) Dire Beast (W)  
16 (6) Thrill of the Hunt (Passive) Primal Intimidation (Active) Feign Death (Active)  
20 (7) Spirit Bond (R) Kill Command (R) Frenzy of Kalimdor (Passive) Hardened Skin (Active)
  • (!) indicates a Questing Talent.
  • Italic text indicates a NEW Talent.
  • Bold text indicates a MOVED Talent.

Bug Fixes

General

  • Display: Fixed an issue that prevented some laptops with Nvidia graphics cards from using Fullscreen mode.
  • Display: Fixed an issue that could cause the game client to switch to Windowed Fullscreen on startup.
  • Fixed a number of typos and tooltip errors across several aspects of the game.

Art

  • Diablo: Fixed a visual issue affecting Diablo's tail during certain animations.
  • Li-Ming: Fixed a minor animation issue affecting Li-Ming’s ball that could occur after exiting Archon form.
  • Muradin: Fixed an issue causing Magni Muradin’s leg plates to appear to clip into his thighs.
  • Try Mode: Grassy terrain will no longer appear inside of the allied Storm Portal.

Battlegrounds

  • Braxis Holdout: The Archangel will no longer leave its leash range to attack a nearby Murky Egg.
  • Haunted Mines: The Neutral Grave Golem will no longer chase an invulnerable Hero beyond its normal leash range.
  • Structures: Fixed an issue in which the Core could continue to reveal enemy Stealth Heroes in a small radius outside its intended reveal range.

Heroes, Abilities, and Talents

  • Fixed an issue in which certain debuffs could still be applied to Invulnerable Heroes, including:
    • Greymane: Marked for the Kill
    • Li-Ming: Charged Blast
    • Thrall: Rolling Thunder
    • Zul’jin: Grievous Throw
  • Scouting Drone: Will now properly reveal Creep Tumors and Toxic Nests.
  • Alarak: Telekinesis will now correctly interrupt a Hero who is channeling to launch a Nuke on Warhead Junction.
  • Alarak: The targeting reticle for Deadly Charge will no longer persist on the terrain if Alarak is killed while channeling.
  • Anub'arak: Burrow Charge will now correctly allow Anub'arak to escape Zarya's Graviton Surge.
  • Arthas: Army of the Dead will no longer fail to summon Ghouls if it is cast in the same moment that Arthas is targeted by Auriel’s Crystal Aegis.
  • Auriel: A.I. Auriel can no longer cast Resurrect on Murky after he has already revived at his Egg.
  • Brightwing: Polymorph will now properly interrupt an enemy Hero who is channeling on the Dragon Knight.
  • Brightwing: The Critterize Talent’s negative effects will now be correctly removed if the target is Cleansed.
  • Brightwing: The negative effects of Critterize will no longer persist beyond Polymorph’s duration.
  • Diablo: Shadow Charge will now be properly interrupted if it would cause him to enter E.T.C.’s Mosh Pit.
  • Gazlowe: Gazlowe’s Nuke Ability icon on Warhead Junction will no longer be visually replaced with a lock icon after casting Rock-It! Turret while carrying a warhead.
  • Greymane: The tooltip for the Block buff granted by the Thick Skin Talent now correctly states that it reduces the next incoming Basic Attack by 50%, rather than 75%.
  • Kael'Thas: The Burned Flesh Talent will now correctly deal damage equal to 8% of targets’ maximum Health, rather than 5%.
  • Kael'thas: Fixed an issue in which Sun King's Fury could deal bonus damage to targets who were already affected by Living Bomb.
  • Kharazim: Air Ally will now properly reveal Creep Tumors and Toxic Nests.
  • Kharazim: Fixed an issue that could prevent Kharazim from automatically acquiring a new target after activating Deadly Reach outside of his attack range.
  • Li-Ming: Casting Disintegrate a moment before Li-Ming would be hit by Abilities like Falstad’s Gust of Wind will no longer cause a short delay before she is pushed.
  • Medivh: The second Portal granted by the Portal Mastery Talent can no longer be self-cast.
  • Nova: The Holo Decoy’s Pinning Shot will no longer reset Nova’s Covert Ops Talent stacks.
  • Raynor: Killing Samuro’s Mirror Images after learning A Card To Play will no longer reduce Raynor’s Heroic Ability cooldowns.
  • Rehgar: Fixed several issues affecting Rehgar’s pathing while attempting to attack in Ghost Wolf form.
  • Rehgar: Becoming Rooted while attacking an enemy from maximum lunge range in Ghost Wolf form will no longer cause Rehgar to continue the lunge when the Root effect expires.
  • Rehgar: Fixed an issue causing Rehgar to become stuck in an attack animation when attempting to attack a moving Medivac Dropship while in wolf form.
  • Rehgar: Fixed an issue causing Rehgar to exit wolf form if he deals damage with a Ragnaros Blast Wave.
  • Rexxar: Fixed an issue with using the Hold Position (Hotkey: H) command causing Misha to move in an unintended way.
  • Tracer: Fixed an issue prevent Tracer from attacking a revealed stealth Hero.
  • Tracer: Fixed an issue preventing Tracer from changing directions immediately when using Quick Cast Blink (Q) while holding Right-Click to move.
  • Uther: Benediction can no longer reduce the cooldown of two abilities if used in rapid succession.
  • Valla: Fixed some inconsistencies with abilities that would reveal Valla at the edges of Fog of War or from Brush.
  • Varian: Can no longer be selected through Autoselect – Support.
  • Zagara: Fixed an issue causing the Creep Tumor tooltip to display an incorrect value.
  • Zarya: Fixed an issue preventing the “Drop and give me Twenty” quest indicator from disappearing after the quest was completed.
  • Zeratul: Fixed an issue preventing Zeratul from using Wormhole after casting a Blink gained from the Rewind talent.

Sound

  • Mounts: When ridden by a Hero in Stealth, mechanical Mounts will no longer play sound effects that are audible to nearby enemy Heroes.
  • Quest Talents: Kharazim’s Insight will now properly play its quest completion sound effect.
  • Tassadar: Distortion Beam will now correctly play sound effects when attacking enemy Walls, Gates, and Towers.

User Interface

  • Profile: Fixed a visual issue that could cause Hero Kills to double after switching from an individual Hero’s stat page in the Hero Collection to the Profile’s Statistics tab, and back again.

(Source)

 

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A) WHY THE HELL IS IT SMOKE BOMB AND NOT SHADOW DANCE?! Just because you can run out of it? Maybe the talents will reveal more on it. Especially the level 20 booster.

B) I'm in love with the tassadar redesign. I like playing him a lot and this seems to fit better to how he's already supposed to be used.

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Those changes to Tassadar and Rexxar were absolute fantastic. I can't wait to play them. 400% Misha Charge! 

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    • By Oxygen

       
      We present our twelfth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the Junkrat patch of October 2017.
      Our twelfth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the month of October 2017 is here!
      Welcome to Icy Veins's Meta Tier List for the Junkrat patch. The goal if of this list is to try and detail game's current metagame state. The prime goal of such lists is to inform players regarding popular and trending team composition drafting strategies (i.e. the drafting metagame). Although tier listings are generally the product of balance, many factors come into play when discussing the relative perceived strengths of heroes, including player regions, maps, play style, skill level, and, of course, personal perception. As such, any tier list—including this very one—should never be interpreted as gospel, but rather, as a guide to better grasp what to expect with regards to typical drafting experiences. One useful application of such lists is to allow you know which heroes to look out for in terms of practice and counterplay, ultimately improving your knowledge of the game.
      Using the list
      As stated above, tier lists are easy to mistake for gospel. As new strategies are discovered and experimented with, so changes the perception of the relative strengths of each hero. Tier lists still prove to be useful as a snapshot of player expectations in terms of drafting. Although it is generally considered preferable to focus on high tier heroes (Prime and Core tiers), it is important to note that Heroes of the Storm's wild character and map designs make it so that any given hero's tier position is prone to fluctuate depending on the situation at hand.
      One classic example of such is that of Kerrigan on the Infernal Shrines map. Although we currently judge her to be a low-to-mid-tier hero, her drafting priority shoots up to first-pick or first-ban material on this specific map due to the nature of its objective. Certain heroes also synergise so well with each other that the sole fact of having the opportunity of drafting them together is generally enough to increase their potential. Tassadar and Tracer, for instance, are generally nightmarish to deal with for many. There are too many examples of these interactions to reasonably produce here, but we invite you to consult our guides to know exactly where and when each hero shines. The guides have been linked in the lists below for your convenience - just click any of the hero names to access them.
      A ↑ next to a hero's name means its tier list position has increased since the previous month whereas a ↓ means just the opposite. Additionally, a + or - sign indicates short-to-medium term predictions (which is to say, about a month) for tier increase(s) or decrease(s), respectively. These are often updated after significant balance patches and/or when clear trends are emerging.
      If you're newer to the game, also consider visiting our glossary for a comprehensive list of discrete Heroes of the Storm terms.
      Current map rotation
       
      Prime Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Anub'arak- Genji Tassadar- Nazeebo↑ Arthas Greymane     E.T.C.↑ Malthael     Garrosh↑               Prime tier heroes are considered to be extremely strong in all situations, and show no obvious weakness. They are very often banned or picked right away, as they generally dictate the pace of most matches.
       
      Core Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Dehaka Falstad Brightwing Azmodan↑ Diablo Jaina Lúcio+ Sylvanas Sonya+ Li-Ming Malfurion Xul Stitches↓ Valla Stukov-   Varian (Tank) Zeratul Uther↓-       Lt. Morales↑   Core tier heroes are strong in a wide variety of situations and have few counter-picking possibility. They should form the core of your team, and be picked after Prime Tier heroes have been distributed.
       
      Viable Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Artanis Alarak Ana Abathur Chen Cassia Auriel Murky D.Va Chromie Kharazim Probius- Johanna Gul'dan Li Li Zagara Leoric Illidan Rehgar   Muradin Kael'thas Tyrande   Tyrael Kerrigan     Zarya Lunara       Ragnaros       The Butcher       Tracer       Zul'jin       Kel'Thuzad     Viable tier heroes are generally well-rounded that have either fallen out of favour, or, inversely, are on the rise in popularity, due to the current Prime tier contenders.
       
      Niche Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Cho'gall Cho'gall - Gazlowe Rexxar Nova   Medivh   Raynor   Junkrat (new!)-   Samuro   Sgt. Hammer   Valeera       Thrall       Tychus       Varian (Damage)     Niche tier heroes have niche application on certain maps or for certain team compositions. They are generally picked to "round out" your team composition when your team composition is missing out on key components, such as a "jungler" (mercenary camps), a solo laner, or solid waveclear.
       
      Bottom Tier
      The Lost Vikings Bottom tier Heroes are deemed to be either considerably weaker than the majority of other Heroes, or much more challenging to play properly. Although they may situationally shine, these Heroes are generally avoided by most players.
       
      Metagame assessment
      Junkrat felt quite undertuned on the PTR, yet suffered little more but nerfs to what was arguably his best heroic ability option, Rocket Ride. You  may have noticed that I labeled him as a specialist, and that's because he feels like one. I can't stop drawing parallels between Gazlowe and him, which are limited sustained area of effect damage and zone control. Heck, Grav-O-Bomb 3000 is just a RIP-Tire that pulls instead of knocking back, is it not? Junkrat's winrates are hovering around some 42% as it stands, making him one of the worst heroes in the game. On one hand, my PTR gut feeling seemed accurate. On the other hand, I think he's excessively difficult to play, but has potential, meaning that I think he will get a bit better over time, winrates-wise. Still, buffs are needed, and we're talking ~15-20% cooldown reductions and damage increases across the board. I would usually never dare suggest something as drastic, but Junkrat feels way off. Niche, probably bottom.
      E.T.C. has finally ascended to metal godhood, potentially as a response to Garrosh's popularity, or possibly because healers can't really shred him off due to Guitar Solo's near-infinite self-sustain and just enough basic attack damage to be threatening.
      Garrosh is now the most popular (and banned) hero in the game. The way armor works in conjunction with healing makes him ridiculously hard to kill in this healer-heavy metagame, while one good Wrecking Ball is often enough to secure a kill, granted you're not throwing E.T.C. Warlord's Challenge also happens to be a pseudo Mosh Pit that can't be interrupted and on a much shorter cooldown, which is really good for ripping kills away while healers can't... well, heal.
      Nazeebo's late game power was recently redefined (read: improved), and Gargantuan is a nightmare to deal with when disengaging or killing it is impossible. As it turns out, healers tend to lack the damage to quickly focus the thing down. In general, I feel that specialists begin to shine in such metagames, where proper waveclear and sieging tend to be rarer. This also means slightly longer games, which translates into more Voodoo Ritual stacks.
      Stitches is falling out of favour as blowup comps are. His lack of CC and single target damage are just what you don't want your tank to lack right now. Still, he's not bad by any means; simply falling out of favour.
      Uther no longer prime? What's going on! As stated for Stitches, blowout team compositions are a thing of the past. Uther's niche is just that: countering such blowouts with his burst healing and armor buffs, and setting up or following up with Hammer of Justice. These things aren't particularly useful in a sustain-oriented metagame. If Tyr's Deliverance wasn't such a late game talent, Uther may work, but it isn't.
      Lt. Morales is pretty much the polar opposite of Uther; high sustained healing, little burst, zero follow up potential, thrives in extended fights, and so on. Although she was slightly nerfed recently, it wasn't really enough to seriously affect her performance.
      Azmodan is rising for the same reasons Nazeebo is: waveclearing and sieging are in high demand right now, and massive health pools can become a problem, especially for teams that might run two low damage and waveclear support heroes such as Ana and Lúcio.
    • By Oxygen

       
      Oxygen goes over some of Heroes of the Storm's features that most need improvement.
      BlizzCon 2017 will be Heroes of the Storm's 4th showing at our favourite yearly event. Since Blizzard has certainly delivered on the esports side of the game with HGC, I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the game's systems. Here it is, then: Six aspects of Heroes of the Storm that need improvement.
       
      I) The Class System
      This point is extremely complex to discuss because it directly criticizes one of the core aspects of the game, and cannot be separated from resulting issues. I’ll try and break it down as simply as I can.
      The premise of this discussion point is a firm belief in the following statement: Heroes of the Storm was designed to be played with team compositions that include at least one tank, and at least one healer.
      I’ll develop this point further, but I’d first like to draw a parallel with World of Warcraft’s 5-player dungeons. In World of Warcraft, dungeons are specifically designed with parties composed of 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 damage dealers in mind. You are allowed to twist party compositions at your own risk, if you can field 5 players willing to partake to the experiment, but the automatic group finding tool will never deviate from the established “1-1-3” norm. Why? Because these dungeons are designed, and tested that way. The damage taken output is normalized for a single healer to handle; the kill timers are made for 3 competent damage dealers to handle; no tank-switching mechanics are present, and so on.
      I understand that the normalized team composition statement is very bold for Heroes of the Storm because we have all experienced those matches where the above rules were all but respected. But, you may have observed that matches involving irregular team compositions were either extremely long or extremely short, or that they featured absurdly high or absurdly low kill counts. Why do such extremes occur?

      Not my most memorable performance. Or match.
      Tanks and healers are what I might call “inhibitors”; they inhibit kills. The sheer resilience of tanks – which is generally about 3 to 4 times that of your typical assassin or support hero – and general access to long-range mobility allows them to scout with relative safety to contribute to the own safety of teammates. Their access to reliable crowd control allows them to protect teammates as well. On the flip side, this crowd control also punishes poor positioning dearly… which is where healers intervene.
      Healers’ ability to undo damage contributes to safely capturing certain objectives, razing structures, closing out games, and, of course, making mistakes less impactful. Have you ever tried sieging a guarded core without a healer? Unless your team has a 3-man advantage or the help of a map objective, and assuming relatively competent players, this is generally unreasonable to pull off. Structures hit hard in this game, and minions die very quickly.
      Actually, everything hits hard; most assassins can kill each other in less than 5 seconds; heroic ability combos are devastating and almost always lead to kills. But tanks and healers help reduce these outcomes drastically; they create breathing room, partly due to their defensive nature and utility, and partly due to the fact that they generally have limited or otherwise very situational sustained damage outputs.
      6 paragraphs in, and I have yet to explain why this is problematic. Here it is, then: in essence, I feel that matches where tanks or healers are absent are too different from so-called “normal” matches. Lacking either role closes off several strategic options for your team; the game loses strategic depth, and often breaks down to which team fields the greatest abilities to quickly wrench kills away – usually through raw combat mobility or long range poke which makes retaliation difficult. This is not a problem (beyond design intent) when the playing field is even, of course; when both teams do feature irregular compositions, but the playing field is seldom even in this respect. Why? Two reasons, both related to drafting.
      The first reason deals with player preferences and proficiencies. The tank and healer roles are essential, but by design, less represented in any given team composition. Due to their importance, the skill disparity between two opposing tanks or healers may be felt more strongly than for assassins; in other words I feel it is much less punishing to have to handle a poor assassin player, as team compositions generally feature at least one or two more. This is especially true when considering that tanks and healers tend to require more knowledge and practice to play well. In a random drafting environment, you may find yourself in a situation where neither you nor any of your teammates are proficient at either role versus players that do display proficiency in these roles. Of course, it makes sense to reward players that master multiple roles, but the set drafting order, inability to trade hero picks, and questionable ability to blanket-block all forms of communication with teammates makes coordinating a messy business. This contributes to making the drafting process random at best, and toxic at worst. How? Nobody likes being forced into playing a role they do not wish to play, especially if they know they might perform poorly. But, nobody likes having a sub-par team composition either, nor tilting teammates before a given match has even begun. After all, specializing one’s hero pool and role is the norm for the MOBA genre, not the exception. If a player is stuck playing a role they do not wish to play due to the game’s design heavily promoting specific team compositions, they may set their team at a disadvantage. Would you rather risk something unconventional, or stick to one of your weaker or less interesting roles? In both cases, you are setting yourself up for a potentially frustrating match.
      The second reason has to deal with drafting and in of itself; what if, for whatever reason, your team did not manage to secure either role? Most players are used to having a certain stability, and while I do not doubt that many would not mind experimenting, not everyone is capable of nor open to doing so. As I see it, the role system exists to guide players very strongly towards what the developers had in mind. We simply need to remember the Varian debacle to see what happens when the intended system fails to function properly. For those of you who weren’t around back then, here’s a recap: Varian, as a multiclass hero that can elect to become a tank or an assassin, used to be considered an assassin for matchmaking purposes. This left Quick Match players in a situation where they were consistently matched against a tank without one of their own. Blizzard addressed the situation by making him a tank for Quick Match-making purposes.
      This ties in nicely with my next point: Quick Match, as the most played game mode by far, and the “logical” introductory step to PvP, ill-prepares players for drafting. It makes little sense to me to, on one hand, have a well-defined class system around which the game is designed, to then have a game mode that essentially throws the concept of team composition right out the window. As it turns out, tanks and healers are less popular than assassins, which often forces the matchmaking system to deal with an unevenly distributed population of players. It then has to make a choice between creating irregular team compositions, or to keep players waiting for an indefinite amount of time. I’ll also argue that Quick Match, in its current form, tends to put players into an “I play what I want when I want” mindset that translates poorly into other game modes. This would be fine if the natural progression was not Quick Match into Unranked Draft into Ranked Draft, but it is. When you design a game around team play, you need to groom your players into becoming team players from the get-go.
      If Blizzard is bent on keeping its current role system, Quick Match mode simply cannot continue to exist in its current form. The solution is rather simple: Just like the World of Warcraft dungeon system, and, more closely related, League of Legends’ Draft Pick system, players should simply select the role they wish to play before a given match, and not the hero itself. Enforce a basic 1-tank, 1-healer, 3-assassins/specialists rule. If there aren’t enough tank or healer players around to make queue times reasonable, incentivize players to switch to these roles with gold and experience bonuses that scale directly with how many players for roles are necessary to regulate said queue times. This would have the positive side effect of pushing players towards experimenting with new, different roles, potentially increasing hero purchases, and giving players a better understanding of the game as a whole. The same system should certainly be introduced to non-Team-League-Draft modes as well.
      For the record, changes to the class system were announced recently. I’m certainly looking forward to attending BlizzCon and reporting on those changes.
      tl;dr: Heroes of the Storm’s class system puts an inordinate amount of importance on drafting a basic, functional team composition, as individual matches come apart at the seams by design when tanks or healers are not present. The importance of such roles puts a huge amount of pressure on players playing these roles, making them less popular and generally more punishing to experiment with. Quick Match ill-prepares its players for mid- and high-level drafting experiences.
       
      II) Lack of Transparency
      It’s no secret that the MOBA genre is extremely competitive from a business standpoint. Two extremely well established giants – DotA and League of Legends – are estimated to hold over 80% of the genre’s market shares, and have accustomed players to a number of transparent systems.
      Heroes of the Storm features several systems that could benefit from improved transparency. One of the most broadly discussed subjects in this regards has been the nonexistence of an API for the game. Such a system would essentially allow third parties to use Blizzard’s data to disseminate information about a wide variety of game-related statistics, such as player performance information. This might include information such as experience level and win rates.
      While alternative ways of obtaining this information do exist as of today, they must rely on clunky user-submitted replay scraping to gather said information, meaning that their success depends directly upon the goodwill of players to feed the system. This presents several problems. First, it is difficult for newer websites to compete fairly with older monopolies, as good data depends on quantity. Second, statistics at different skill levels may be misleading due to low and otherwise uneven player contributions. Third, the ability to “rig” one’s performance by uploading only desirable replays may skew data. Furthermore, some of the more well-known Heroes statistics websites have been notoriously poorly managed and come under fire like clockwork. Whether ill-intentioned or not, this poor management ends up hurting the integrity of the game.
      Still, I must hold back a bit and admit that I’m thankful – not only as a player, but also as a guide writer – to have a way of accessing such data at all. If it weren’t for third parties, we’d be left in complete darkness with regards to any of the aforementioned information.
      Could we live without having data about, say, individual hero win rates or talent pick rates? Of course; and we did for a long time. However, I’ll be capricious and quote myself here: “Two extremely well established giants have accustomed players to a number of performance-related information systems.” When trying to create a name for yourself, you need to offer more than the established standard, not less. Regardless of the state of Heroes of the Storm, I feel that having an API or an equally transparent system is extremely important to make your typical MOBA contender feel like a complete game.
      The first reason is about being able to find concrete information about the metagame. MOBAs are – at their core – complex strategy games; thousands upon thousands of strategic choices and permutations are open to players. Even though outstanding websites do exist to help players out, the complexity and highly competitive nature of MOBAs makes them particularly cutthroat for beginners. Having access to detailed and accurate statistics allows content creators to provide new players with the information they need to get off on the right foot. Veterans, too, can make use of such data to analyze, adapt to, and potentially exploit metagaming trends to their own benefit. Ultimately, information is power for all players, and power is player retention.
      Information also empowers players in another markedly different way that I might call watchdogging. Without basic data such as win and pick rates, players would never be able to meaningfully criticize the state of the game’s balance. Blizzard developers are known to use individual hero and talent win rates to dictate at least some of their balance changes, as they so often comment. We cry out when things feel poorly tuned or unappealing because we love Heroes of the Storm. But without data, we are left relying on subjective and ineffective hunches to discuss balance; with it, we can support our assertions, and be proactive when things aren’t moving. Having access to exact player statistics also allows players to track and compare their progress, instills players with a sense of competition, and allows for watchdogging of the matchmaking system.
      I feel I must insist on how difficult proper design- and system-related criticism is to produce without data at our disposal. Transparency might mean exposing yourself to scrutiny, Blizzard, but it also means significantly improving your image, and providing yourself with an effective way of self-regulating. I suppose this is where I mention that the company has been displaying questionable transparency as of late; Overwatch doesn’t have an API either (though it is regularly discussed by Blizzard staff, and scraping websites do exist as well), and Hearthstone players can’t see their win rates or match history. By contrast, Warcraft III still lets you browse its ladder.
      The creation of an API is not the only way Blizzard can improve its transparency, however. In fact, an API might not even be necessary if all desirable information was simply given to us somewhere or in some form. Some of it is available, such as individual player statistics, but remains hidden behind a clunky, hermetic system that requires you to work through the chat or friends list system to use. In other words, if you want to look a specific player up, they need to be in a chat room with you (general channel, in-game, and so on) or on your friends list. No ladder exists outside of the Grandmaster ladder and unofficial ladders spawned by data websites. The match history log makes no listing of who played with you. There’s no way to see anyone’s mmr (matchmaking rating), including your own, so you can never tell if you’re being matched with and against players of your skill level. And to this I must ask a resounding “Why?”
      tl;dr: Heroes of the Storm lacks the basic level of transparency other similar games have accustomed players to having. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to assess the quality of the matchmaking system and of balance and design changes. The reliance upon third-party websites for such basic data creates a number of ethical issues.
       
      III) The Reconnection System
      If I were asked to point out the most frustrating element in Heroes of the Storm, this might just be it. If you’ve never experienced being dropped out of match before, for whatever reason – crashes, connection or computer issues, and so on – here’s how it goes: after obviously relaunching the game, you are treated to a screen inviting you to rejoin your game in progress. There are no other options here, not even an exit button; you either hit “Rejoin” to, well, attempt to rejoin the match, or ALT+F4 your way out of Heroes of the Storm. That’s fine; it incentivizes players to not purposefully disconnect from their matches to go and play another match right away. For some obscure reason, however, this screen doesn’t always appear. I’m not sure what triggers this problem, but if this happens to you, you’re done. There’s no rejoining that game, and you’ll be awarded a loss, your rating will feel the consequences of a left game (that’s 600 points – or 3 wins worth of points, on average) regardless of the match’s outcome. You might also earn yourself a leaver status, on top of potential player reports. This is a rather rare occurrence, however.
      Under normal circumstances, the Rejoin screen will appear, and you’ll hit rejoin, naturally. If the game you’re trying to rejoin is in the process of ending, however (in the Defeat/MVP screens), you’ll be stuck on this screen for an indefinite period of time and have to reboot the game. Again, you’ll be awarded a leave & loss. If the Rejoin button does work, you’ll have to go through the classic Loading screen. Once this is done, you hop right back into the match and get the full control of your Hero and, ready to make a comeback. At least, that's what you'd expect from playing League of Legends, DotA II, or Smite.
      No. After this short loading period, you’ll experience one of the most bizarre and scary things in Heroes of the Storm: The “Reconnect Successful” screen. It looks like this:

      Well, is it? Where'd the game go?

      I’m not certain why it exists, and I certainly don’t claim to understand the underlying systems, but this screen might be best described as some kind of limbo where you hear every sound (including death “bings”) in the match and see every shattered screen from the AI controlling your hero’s inevitable, repeated deaths, in a fast forward kind of replay. As the image above shows, during this time, you’re trapped “catching up” because “the server is X minutes ahead” of you. The quirkiest part of this strange experience, however, is that the time it takes you to reconnect is directly proportional to the current length of the match. On average, you can divide this length by four and end up with a pretty good guess of how long it’ll take you to actually successfully reconnect. Since most Heroes of the Storm matches last between 15 and 20 minutes, disconnecting at any point after 12 minutes means you’ve probably lost, or at least made the match excessively difficult (and more importantly, frustrating) for your teammates. If you do manage to finally reconnect, you’ll have to deal with the AI’s suboptimal talent choices, just to add insult to injury. As it stands, disconnections simply end up being too impactful. Nobody likes their losses (and victories, for that matter) to be defined by outside factors. Online tournaments, too, are affected by this, as thousands of viewers often end up held hostage by the system.
      I feel like I need to reiterate here that I don’t claim understand how the system works. What I do know is that this is the most frustrating reconnection system I have ever experienced, in any game. There’s no sugar coating this one: The process simply needs to become faster; the dreaded “Reconnection Successful” screen has to go. Players need a way to force the system to put them back into matches if the Rejoin screen fails. AI-controlled heroes need to stop picking talents for you; have we considered implementing a shared unit control system instead?
       
      IV) The Replay System
      Heroes of the Storm’s replay system shares its biggest issue with the reconnection system: Skipping through replays also happens to be an awfully slow process. Jumping to the end of a 16 minutes game took about 2 minutes of loading time, leading me to believe that replays can’t “seek” any faster than their 8x maximum play speed. Thankfully, scanning only has to be performed once; subsequent skipping is much faster. This lengthy initial loading time can still certainly turn off content producers from browsing replays to create highlight reels or showcase certain aspects of the game if they have a number of replays to go through. This also disincentivizes players from reviewing their matches to go over specific events or study certain strategies. Other than that, the replay system is functional, but very bare bones. Blizzard is obviously aware of this because they’ve officially promoted Ahli’s work on a better replay interface. But even with these enhanced features, the system’s polish and features pale in comparison to DotA II’s and League of Legends’ own.
       
      V) The Queue System
      Although I find queues to be on the long side of things, I can at least understand how the system would struggle to find an appropriate match for players with unusually high win rates, let alone 5 of us – and especially when considering that the game’s population is split across six different game modes. What I do find completely unacceptable, however, is receiving the all too familiar “A player you were matched with has disconnected or left the service” message followed by the need to go through the entire queue again. My group typically has to wait between 8 and 10 minutes to find Quick Match and Unranked matches, and often twice as long for Team League matches. Forcing 9 people to go through the entire process is both insulting and inefficient; if the system has found a match, why not just toss all 9 of us back into the queue and just look for one more instead of wasting some 90 minutes of collective time? Again, I don’t claim to understand the system, but other games do it, and for good reasons. This behavior is considered baseline, not exceptional.

      Awfully typical.
       
      VI) The Drafting System
      Although Heroes of the Storm heavily touts itself as a team-oriented game, I find it rather strange that we still do not have access to a draft hero trading system. I say “still” here because, as with the above features, hero trading is considered commonplace in the MOBA genre. My guess is that, at this point, there was an active decision to not include one. If this is the case, I must protest: On top of promoting draft interactions, hero trading reduces the impact of randomness in picking order. In other words, the system allows specialized late-pick players to focus on their role, and early-pick flex players to cover a broader variety of roles without feeling forced to play high priority heroes, regardless of the randomized picking order. Imagine yourself in a situation where your tank player might be the 4th or 5th player to pick on your team, in a metagame environment where tanks are generally prioritized. As the 1st pick, would you push your dedicated tank player’s away from their role so as to secure heroes considered high tier? As I mentioned earlier in this article, specializing one’s role is the norm, not the exception; the flexibility of this system is needed to reduce the randomness of drafting. I will mention that about a year ago, there were talks of adding such a system to the game. Here’s to hoping the upcoming BlizzCon will bring us good news about this. If the system does end up implemented, blanket chat blocks will have to be reworked to exclude lobbies. Or, at the very least, an indicator should show who isn’t receiving messages so that attempts at communicating aren’t in vain.
      While we’re at it, I’d also like to quickly touch on the horror that is giving AFK players a random hero instead of outright removing them from the game at hand. I don’t really have an argument for that one; it’s just annoying, and players who are serious about playing should be present for the drafting process.
       
      VII) Bonus Comments About Other Systems
      Here are some other thoughts that I feel don’t really need a dedicated paragraph to be taken into consideration. In no particular order:
      I’d like to be able to check out mounts in Try Mode. I wish I could use my Stimpacks whenever I please. As it stands, I don’t open Loot Chests unless I know I’ll be playing for a while, and if I do open a Stimpack by accident, I just ALT+F4 my way out of the game to preserve it. I would love to have an item gifting feature for my teammate’s birthday. I don’t particularly care for the forced MVP cut scene after every single match. I rarely see more than 2 people vote anyway; let’s at least have the option to opt out of it. I’d like to be able to check out anyone’s profile, at any time, if I happen to know their BattleTag. I wish my heroes were available across other regions. Players who opt out of receiving messages from non-friends probably shouldn’t be able to whisper other players.  
      Conclusion
      Heroes of the Storm is relatively feature-rich as far as modern MOBAs go. Unfortunately, many of these features and systems feel unpolished or underexplored when compared to the game's competitors. While it's difficult to tell just how much they affect the game's popularity, Blizzard has a history of continuously improving and supporting its games over their extensive lifetimes. Furthermore, many developer comments hint at improvements for some of the topics underlined in this article to be announced no later than this BlizzCon, making me excited about what's to come. I'll be there in person to report everything, so stay tuned!
    • By Stan

      The free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of October 24.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: October 24, 2017
    • By Stan

      Heroes of the Storm Highlights are back with the 93rd episode of WTF Moments.
      If you have any interesting replays to share, you can submit them here, but don't forget to include a time stamp!
      Previous Episodes
      WTF Moments Episode 92 WTF Moments Episode 91 WTF Moments Episode 90 WTF Moments Episode 89