Oxygen

BlizzCon 2017 - Hanzo Hands-on Impression

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Oxygen had the chance to play Hanzo at BlizzCon 2017 and has listed his thoughts on the gameplay, design and viability of the hero. Hanzo is slated to be released December 4.

Abilities and Talents

Before going over our impressions of the hero, it's worth including a list of their abilities and talents. You can find all the information required in the spoiler tag below.

Spoiler

Abilities

  • [D] (Trait) Natural Agility (30-second cooldown): Target unpathable terrain or a Structure to jump to the other side of it.
  • [Q] Storm Bow (4-second cooldown): Activate to charge an arrow that deals 270 damage to the first enemy hit. Storm Bow's range increases the longer it is Channeled. Reactivate to fire.
  • [W] Scatter Arrow (8-second cooldown): Fire an arrow that deals 85 to the first enemy Hero hit. Scatter Arrow can collide with terrain and Structures, splitting into 5 arrows that travel extra distance, ricochet up to 4 additional times, and deal 85 damage each to the first enemy hit.
  • [E] Sonic Arrow (20-second cooldown): Fire an arrow that grants vision in a large area for 8 seconds. Enemies inside are revealed for 1 second. If Sonic Arrow lands directly on an enemy, it deals 150 damage to them and follows them as they move.
  • [R1] Dragonstrike (100-second cooldown): After 1.5 seconds, summon a pair of Spirit Dragons which travel forward, dealing 52 damage every 0.25 seconds to enemy Heroes in its area. Enemies in the center take 150 damage.
  • [R2] Dragon's Arrow (100-second cooldown): Fire a missile that travels across the battleground. Explodes upon hitting an enemy Hero, dealing 100 damage to all nearby enemies and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds. After traveling a medium distance, the damage is increased to 200 and the Stun duration to 1.25 seconds. After traveling a long distance, the damage is increased to 350 and the Stun duration to 2 seconds.

Talents

Level 1

  • Target Practice (Quest): Hit every enemy hero with Hero with Storm Bow. Reward: After hitting every enemy hero once with Storm Bow, its range is increased by 30%. Reward: After hitting every enemy hero 3 times with Storm Bow, its damage is increased by 100.
  • Simple Geometry: Hit a hero with multiple arrows from the same Scatter Arrow cast 20 times. Each arrow hit after the second grants additional progress. Reward: Upon hitting terrain for the first time, Scatter Arrow creates 2 additional arrows.
  • Redemption: Every 2 basic attack within 10 seconds grants 1 Redemption, stacking up to 15. Dying decreases Redemption by 3, and Redemption can be lost even at maximum stacks. At 15 Redemption, gain 50% increased attack speed.

Level 4

  • Explosive Arrow: Upon hitting a Minion or Monster, Storm Bow deals 100% of its damage to enemies around its target.
  • Serrated Arrows: Scatter Arrow deals 250% damage to Minions, Monsters, and Mercenaries.
  • Ignore All Distractions: Basic attacks instantly kills Minions and increase Hanzo's basic attack range by 2 for 3 seconds.

Level 7

  • Shieldbreaker Arrows: Basic attacks and Storm Bow deals 300% bonus damage to shields on heroic targets.
  • Never Outmatched: Reduce Scatter Arrow's mana cost by 40, down to 20. Basic Attacks lower the cooldown of Scatter Arrows by 4.
  • The Dragon Hungers: Hitting heroes with Storm Bow increases spell power by 5% for 10 seconds, stacking up to 20%.

Level 10

  • [R1] Dragonstrike (100-second cooldown): After 1.5 seconds, summon a pair of Spirit Dragons which travel forward, dealing 52 damage every 0.25 seconds to enemy Heroes in its area. Enemies in the center take 150 damage.

  • [R2] Dragon's Arrow (100-second cooldown): Fire a missile that travels across the battleground. Explodes upon hitting an enemy Hero, dealing 100 damage to all nearby enemies and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds. After traveling a medium distance, the damage is increased to 200 and the Stun duration to 1.25 seconds. After traveling a long distance, the damage is increased to 350 and the Stun duration to 2 seconds.

Level 13

  • Fleet of Foot: Hitting heroes with Storm Bow grants 10% movement speed for 6 seconds up to 30%.
  • Ninja Assassin: Hitting heroes with Storm Bow reduces Natural Agility's cooldown by 10 seconds. Additionally, hero takedowns reduce Natural Agility's cooldown.
  • Mounted Archery: Upon mounting, gain 30% additional movement speed for 5 seconds. Using Natural Agility instantly mounts.

Level 16

  • Flawless Technique: Hitting heroes with Storm Bow increases the damage of Hanzo's next basic attack within 5 seconds by 25%. Basic Attacks against heroes increase Storm Bow's damage within 5 seconds by 25%.
  • Piercing Arrows: Storm Bow and Scatter Arrow pierce, hitting an additional enemy. Additionally, Scatter Arrow can pierce through one additional enemy each time it ricochets.
  • Giantslayer: Enemy heroes hit by Scatter Arrow and basic attacks take 1.25% of their maximum health as damage.

Level 20

  • The Dragon Awakens: Hitting a hero with Storm Bow, Scatter Arrow or basic attack reduces the cooldown of Dragonstrike by 5 seconds.
  • Play of the Game: While in flight of up to 2 seconds after impacting a target, Dragon Arrow can be reactivated to teleport to its location and jump backwards. If used after impact, Hanzo shoots an arrow that deals X damage to each target.
  • Sharpened Arrowheads: Scatter Arrow limits the amount of armor heroes hit to 0 for 5 seconds.
  • Bullseye: Increase Sonic Arrow's speed and center radius by 100%. Additionally, heroes hit by Sonic Arrow's center are stunned for 1 second.

 

Hero Design

Hanzo is one of the two Heroes announced at BlizzCon 2017. He is an ability-focused, long-ranged Assassin that relies on pinpoint accuracy and environmental awareness to deal damage. His kit is an instantly recognizable and rather direct MOBA translation of his Overwatch skillset, as is the case for most Overwatch Heroes. It is worth noting that he cannot, however, deliver basic attacks while moving, something we have come to accept from Overwatch characters. His basic attacks are pretty strong but unusually slow for a ranged hero, starting at 0.67 speed, like Stukov. His sustained damage output is overall average. His health pool is also appropriately very limited.

Storm Bow (Q) is a two-part ability that first causes Hanzo to channel, causing him to be unable to attack but still able to move, and to ''aim'' towards your cursor's position. While in this state, which can be maintained indefinitely, the apparent range of the ability increases over the next 2 seconds to nearly double. Clicking or hitting the ability's hotkey once again releases a relatively fast projectile in the cursor's direction, dealing damage to the first target hit. If you've played Varus from League of Legends, you know exactly what to expect from this ability, except that the range isn't nearly as long as you'd hope it to be. The ability's damage is also (unintuitively, perhaps) completely independent from the channeling time, and the fact that it doesn't pierce by default (a level 16 talent allows it to do so) means that melee heroes end up being your main target for this one.

Scatter Shot (W) launches a tiny, long-ranged projectile that deals a trivial amount of damage to the first target hit. If this projectile hits unpathable terrain or a structure, it instead explodes to project fan of 5 new projectiles at an angle which damage the first unit they hit and will keep on bouncing off terrain and structures up to a maximum of 4 times. This ability would be quite unique if Junkrat's grenades didn't already use terrain to do something similar. The fact that Scatter Shot's doesn't pierce makes it difficult to use; you may find the right angle on a target that would be hit by multiple projectiles, but having something in the way can ruin an otherwise great shot.

Sonic Arrow (E) lobs an extremely slow arcing projectile which reveals a large area for 8 seconds upon landing. This effect also reveals stealthed heroes. If the projectile hits a unit, they take a bit of damage and the reveal circle instead "follows" that target for the duration. Reliably hitting an intended target was highly impractical, however, due to the projectile's really slow speed.

Dragonstrike (R1) causes Hanzo to channel towards the targeted area for 1.5 seconds. This area is not directly in front of him, but instead at a bit of an offset, meaning you could never hit heroes in melee range with this if you were to try (but probably shouldn't anyway). After 1.5 seconds, the iconic spirit dragons spawn and slowly creep forward to deal damage at a fast interval to anything near them, and about three times as much damage to enemies near the center of the area. This area is relatively thin, making this effect rather easy to sidestep even in smaller spaces. The expected Ryuugawa... ga teki... whatever-whatever Hanzo scream also warns you of the spirit dragon's impending apparition as a convenient reminder to all that they should probably move, not unlike Ragnaros' Lava Wave.

Dragon's Arrow (R2) fires a large arrow that moves quickly across the battleground, not unlike Sgt. Hammer's Blunt Force Gun. Upon hitting a hero, it deals a large amount of damage in an area around that hero and stuns all nearby enemies as well. The damage and stun duration scale at a set interval; hitting a hero close by does very little damage and stuns only for 0.5 seconds, whereas hitting a hero over a screen and two screens away respectively increase the damage and stun to more or less quadruple. It's impossible for me to not draw parallels with League of Legends' Ashe's own iconic ultimate ability here.

Natural Agility (Trait - D) causes Hanzo to jump above an unpathable piece of terrain or structure to land directy away from where the ability was cast. This one can't be used on terrain that was much larger than, say, two Diablos in size. I think I might just start using Diablo as a measure of game space from now on.

 

Impressions and Gameplay

If I could describe Hanzo's gameplay in a word, I'd probably have to go with disjointed.

I might just say something very unpopular here, but I've never been a fan of "imported" ability kits; to me, skills that were born in ARPGs and FPSs should probably remain there, unless tweaked beyond recognition to feel like they actually belong in a MOBA. I think something like Valla illustrates exactly what I mean: If I've always disliked Hungering Arrow and Multishot - two abilities initially created to be spammed in an ARPG environment at some outrageous rate against hundreds of monsters - for their gross simplicity, she, at, least, has the very MOBA-friendly Hatred to keep me interested, making her work for me. Hanzo, on the other hand, has no such thing; we are simply treated to a faithful yet dysfunctional port of the character that ends up feeling weird. Do I feel like an actual sniper when Storm Bow's range isn't much longer than that of most other abilities? Does Scatter Shot feel powerful when I can't target the floor to shotgun a nearby target due to the targeting limitations of a top-down game? Does jumping over a small wall every 30 seconds make me feel like an assassin seeking the perfect spot for a quick one-hit kill? No. None of this feels like Hanzo to me, which is really terrifying because Heroes of the Storm, we should never forget, is all about bringing these iconic characters to life in a MOBA. But what we got is Varus-Ashe-Legolas-McGeneric-Archer-Man, not Hanzo. This is a missed opportunity to have gotten way crazier with design.

To add to this, his abilities have no synergy with each other, making them feel thrown together without any real overarching design goal. Again, I want to blame the fact that the kit comes right out of an FPS, where skill synergy isn't nearly as important as in MOBAs to create appealing character gameplay.

Now that I've shared my general impression, I'm going to go over some of the things that stood out gameplay-wise.

Storm Bow was pretty difficult to use well, making hits satifying, but nothing too exhilerating like landing a headshot in Overwatch. I generally felt like Storm Bow dealt way too little damage for how long it had to be channeled, for how easy it was to avoid, and for the fact that it makes you unable to deliver basic attacks. The Flawless Technique level 16 talent (25% Storm Bow damage after using a basic attack) made it more reasonable. But right now, if you imagine a slower, shorter ranged, weaker hitting Chromie Sand Blast, you pretty much get Storm Bow. The short 4 seconds cooldown is worth noting, but the channeling time realistically made it more like a 6 seconds cooldown. I have the feeling that our devs didn't want Hanzo to fall in Chromie territories of arguably problematic design, but Storm Bow's range definitely feels off.

Scatter Shot was both fun and frustrating, if that's a thing. Fun, because I really liked the minigame involved in trying to land perfect 5-hit scatters against heroes. Frustrating, because that pretty much never happened. Let's put it this way: to get a good hit, your target needs to be close to a wall, but not too close nor in front of you, else they'll block the projectile, at the right angle, with nothing else between you and said wall. Much easier said than done. Moving your cursor just one pixel can completely change the angling of the shrapnels because of how "sensitive" the targeting is. But when it does work, it feels amazing... right? The damage is absolutely on the low side of things, making perfect hits cool, but nothing worth raving about. After a couple of games, I more or less ended up giving up on trying to get good hits and I'd just throw the thing in a semi-random fashion whenever I thought it might poke a few things. This is definitely not what I'd call a succesful implementation, which is a shame because the concept has potential.

Sonic Arrow was about as exciting to use as Lunara's Wisp.

Dragonstrike felt rather bland, though it did look amazing. I think the feeling of blandness is related to what I was talking about earlier. In an FPS, this ability makes sense as a novelty item and as a powerful ultimate: it passes through walls, travels through the entire battlefield, can surprise opponents from weird angles, and pretty much instantly kills anything it touches. It feels awesome because, to reiterate, in an FPS, it's not something you see often. In Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA, that's a completely different story; too much of the ability's depth has been lost in translation. It needs something because right now, it's a glorified Hyperion with a cast time that can't kill minions or hit structures. I'll say that it would be excellent for contesting boss captures, but so are most area of effect heroic abilities.

Dragon's Arrow also looked awesome and was frankly pretty fun to use. That's probably why every single MOBA out there has its own little version of the ability. The targeting reticle looked great and did a good job showing how the ability works with regards to its "growing" effect.

Natural Agility was probably the weirdest part of the entire kit. Besides the fact that it's a more situational (needs a wall or structure) version of Genji's Cybernetic Agility on twice the cooldown, using the thing just felt unresponsive. I think that part of the problem was that I couldn't easily gauge which environmental walls I was allowed to jump over. You also have to target near Hanzo and not where you're trying to land to actually trigger the jump, which is quite unintuitive. I wish Natural Agility could be used while channeling Storm Bow.

 

Balance and Viability

I'll keep this short: Hanzo brings very little to the table we haven't seen already, is difficult to play, and generally feels undertuned. Although Sonic Arrow is definitely on the strong side of scouting tools, other heroes don't have to give up an entire ability slot for a similar effect unless they're a Dryad that hits hard. I suspect Dragon's Arrow to be the heroic ability of choice because it actually felt rather powerful, and competes with something that wasn't all that good. His waveclear is poor, his siege/pve damage potential are both quite bad for an assassin, and he has no self-sustain (forget solo laning here), meaning he can't round off a team composition like a lot of other assassins can if you need some of the aforementioned niches filled.

 

Conclusion

Hanzo's skillset translates poorly into the MOBA genre. He feels undertuned numbers wise, and the fear of creating another Chromie has greatly limited the range of Storm Bow. His overspecialized kit makes him difficult to fit into a lot of team compositions.

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Well that is a rough review. Hopefully they are still interested in tweaking some things before the release in December.

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A monumental moment in HotS!

" I think I might just start using Diablo as a measure of game space from now on. "

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Almost none of this surprised me after reading the abilities and talents descriptions. Scatter arrow looks ridiculously hard to pull off. I am surprised about storm bow's review though. Well, they have an entire month... we'll see if that means anything.

I also noticed he has no talents for sonic arrow except 20. Probably need to adjust an ability if you can't even add talents for it.

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28 minutes ago, Warper said:

I also noticed he has no talents for sonic arrow except 20. Probably need to adjust an ability if you can't even add talents for it.

It's the WispWisp effect.

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11 hours ago, Oxygen said:

Let's put it this way: to get a good hit, your target needs to be close to a wall, but not too close nor in front of you, else they'll block the projectile, at the right angle, with nothing else between you and said wall. Much easier said than done. Moving your cursor just one pixel can completely change the angling of the shrapnels because of how "sensitive" the targeting is. But when it does work, it feels amazing... right?

I guess that is what we could call "Simple Geometry" (funny because he has a talent with this name). Maybe this Scatter Arrow has more value in very enclosed spaces, where you're more likely to hit when the arrow splits? Or maybe as just a waveclear tool because of "Serrated Arrows" at level 4.

But still, Hanzo has some pretty "in paper" broken talents, like "Ignore All Distractions" (insta-kill minions, wat) and "Shieldbreaker Arrows" (Storm Bow and Basic Attacks deal 250% shield damage, double WAT). Sure, he has very slow attack speed, but still. A talent that instantly kills minions on level 4? And one deals 250% shield damage on level 7? DAMN.

Anyway, I can't WAIT for your impressions on Alexstrasza, Mr. Not-Duck-Anymore-But-Now-Ethereal-Man. (Also, please check if she has a /dance command while in her dragon form)

Quote

I think I might just start using Diablo as a measure of game space from now on.

Well, the developers use Uther for scale, so you could do it your way and use Diablo, haha.

Edited by Valhalen

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1 hour ago, Valhalen said:

Maybe this Scatter Arrow has more value in very enclosed spaces

You'd think it would, but the initial projectile has to reach a wall, which can be awkward. Summons are annoying.

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1 hour ago, Oxygen said:

You'd think it would, but the initial projectile has to reach a wall, which can be awkward. Summons are annoying.

The projectile doesn't scatter unless it hits a wall?

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55 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

The projectile doesn't scatter unless it hits a wall?

Wall or structure, correct.

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Well, if you think Hanzo's purpose is to be useful/enjoyable to play, you are wrong.

He excels at a) being cancer (in whatever sense it is used), and b) make his team butthurt the moment he is picked. 

I see his true purpose translates to hots perfectly.ggwp

Edited by Jonar
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2 hours ago, Jonar said:

Well, if you think Hanzo's purpose is to be useful/enjoyable to play, you are wrong.

He excels at a) being cancer (in whatever sense it is used), and b) make his team butthurt the moment he is picked. 

I see his true purpose translates to hots perfectly.ggwp

Damn, that's meta. Well done.

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Your review mirrors a lot of what I had already been afraid of when reading his introduction/watching his spotlight... another lack luster champion it seems. Sad!

Edited by nie7e

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