Oxygen

Six Aspects of HotS That Need Improvement (The Aftermath)

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BlizzCon 2017 has been Heroes of the Storm's 4th showing at our favourite yearly event. Those who, like me, were poised for sweeping changes and improvements to the game were left quite surprised by some of the announced changes.

About two months ago, I produced a lengthy article about what I perceived Heroes of the Storm's main weaknesses to be. The article – named Six Aspects of HotS That Need Improvement – was generally met with positive reviews and generated much, much discussion, racking up some 400 reddit comments over a 48-hour period. If you haven't read the piece yet, I suggest you do, as I'll be referring to it quite a bit. Here's a quick recap:

Quote

1 – 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.

2 – 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.

3 – The reconnection 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.

4 – Heroes of the Storm’s replay system shares its biggest issue with the reconnection system: Skipping through replays is an awfully slow process. This lengthy initial loading time turns off content producers on top disincentivizes players from reviewing their matches to go over specific events or study certain strategies.

5 – The game’s population is split across six different game modes, which increases queue times significantly. “A player you were matched with has disconnected or left the service” message followed by the need to go through the entire queue again is unacceptable.

6 – 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. Giving AFK players a random hero instead of outright removing them from the game at hand is frustrating.

7 – Bonus issues:

  • 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.

Although it would be rather pompous for me to assume that my vision of the game lines up perfectly with Blizzard's, I was left rather shocked to see that none of the aforementioned issues were actually publicly announced. I specifically say publicly here because some more upcoming changes were in fact discussed during interviews, but were either judged unimportant or not quite ready in time for BlizzCon. The changes that were instead officially announced are as follows: 

  • Structure ammunition removal.
  • Regeneration globes rework.
  • Map objectives reorganization and standardization.
  • Stealth mechanic and related heroes rework.
  • Performance-based matchmaking.
  • Camera distance improvements.

These changes – most of which seem to be aimed at improving new player gameplay experience – are good for the most part, if not a bit unexpected.

My BlizzCon 2017 experience would then become one of hunting down developers and engineers alike to try and figure out what exactly was going on behind the scenes to ultimately see whether or not something was going to be done about the issues I discussed (or if something could be done at all). 

Without further ado, here's what I learned.

I) The Class System

The class system will be expanded to include 7 roles instead of 4. Specifically, warriors will be split into bruisers and tanks, and supports will be split into healers   and "true" supports (Tassadar, Tyrande...). The 7th category was not discussed, but I expect it to split assassins into two more categories which would include ability-based damage dealers and those who tend to rely on basic attacks.

I think the goal of these changes is to give players a better sense of what their role is going to be. However, this information is not going to be particularly useful to anyone if no information about how to play said roles is available. Right now, they're just a label. This just adds more labels.

For Quick Match, the introductory PvP game mode, I'd argue that whether or not players have a better name for their role is irrelevant. Match quality and learning how to play Heroes of the Storm depends on key playmaking pieces such as initiation and healing. These playmaking pieces are often missing from team compositions because tanks and healers being less popular than assassins, and the matchmaker has to deal with whatever it has available or have players wait longer for games. For Draft and Ranked modes, players don't really care about role information because team compositions aren't generally built around the game's class system anyway; they're simply a coincidence because, for the most part, resilient initiators happen to be tanks, and healers are often support heroes.

Other MOBAs have never embraced a hard class system to instead list what individual heroes are capable of, and ultimately simply let players build their compositions from there. If Heroes of the Storm were to ever embrace such a system, heroic abilities would probably have to be changed to no longer dramatically shuffle what individual heroes are capable of. But I digress.

I feel like I need to reiterate here: If Heroes of the Storm is hell bent on having and being designed around a class system, it needs to not throw this system away in its most popular game mode. Words like "tank" and "bruisers" are meaningless without a context.

II) Transparency

In an interview with Travis McGeathy, Lead systems designer, it was stated that Blizzard were afraid of showing player MMR because they feel like like players are going to see it as a thing to chase. I must admit that I'm not too sure how this is a problem; if a player's MMR is going up, it must mean that they're winning... and if they're winning, their MMR needs to go up to account for this. If having one's MMR displayed incentivizes players to play better, I'm all for it. Besides, third party websites already give players something to chase, with the obvious downside of running the risk of being inaccurate. What we currently have is basically the worst of both worlds; we might as well just give players the information and make it clear that it isn't related to their rank.

III) and IV) The reconnection and replay systems

These two systems are artifacts of the Starcraft 2 engine salvaged to build Heroes of the Storm. In a nutshell, this engine keeps track of every action made by players. Upon attempting to reconnect, each of these actions are checked in order to "catch you up" to where you should be. This presents several advantages such as being lightweight and making cheating extremely difficult. The main downside is the loading time experienced by players. In general, and as frustrating it is, the upsides outweigh the downsides. Changing this system would mean rebuilding an entire engine from the ground up, which would be completely unrealistic time- and money-wise. We always need remember that Heroes of the Storm was a passion project turned actual game for Blizzard to ride the MOBA wave. I assume that this came with pretty harsh constraints financially and that reusing the Starcraft 2 engine was just one of many concessions that had to be made to see the project come alive.

Everything else

Most of the other topics I discussed back in October fall under the "quality of life change" and the "on the radar" categories. Things such as shop features or interface options are always in the works but never a priority. Other topics, such as any improvements to drafting (third ban, hero trading, etc.), have their own sets of challenges; how do you clearly communicate these changes, and how do they impact overall game balance are the kind of questions that need be asked. Deeper still, anything that involves microtransactions is kept tightly under control even if it makes little sense to us laymen. Questions such as "why can't I use my Stimpacks whenever I want?" or "why can't I purchase skins directly" all find answers somewhere in the grand Loot Chest scheme which was found to be so successful through Hearthstone and Overwatch that Heroes had to get in on the action.

I wish I had a bit more information to share with everyone, but lips tend to seal up when you mention anything about writing (which, I have to because I generally try and stay out of trouble). And although I did not get to interview anyone this year, fellow Icy Veins writer Kendric did, so I recommend you check that out.

 

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I hope they do something about these most of them are true

I play on EU and QM and ranked queues take about a day :D but AI co-op starts in a sec and brawls also.. they should remove at least co-op and just let players do AI with AI teammates for learning their heroes to stop these people who just want to farm Xp or complete events in short time from coop... this coop just looks like a bug in game which makes pvp queues longer and a system for farming Xp

only thing I disagree is about what some people say..it is that having heroes on all regions... then we should have our skins and also profile levels too so maybe u mean they should remove regions haha 

And the main reason is it means many people will change their regions whenever they want and what's next? Many Chinese people on EU and US so we'll have crap QMs with people who don't understand us lol.. I'm already having problems with Russians since most of them don't understand english and then Chinese people?no thx :)

hots is hots EU US Asia are using same heroes and game so play in your region and have fun n don't ask blizzard for something crap because blizzard put them to put u guys who understand each other better in same place so they could remove regions and let people split everywhere and destroy matches and finally the game..

Edited by MZLICH

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24 minutes ago, MZLICH said:

Many Chinese people on EU and US so we'll have crap QMs with people who don't understand us lol.. I'm already having problems with Russians since most of them don't understand english and then Chinese people?no thx :)

 

I play with game chat turned off so i dont have to hear ^(*^*( from people. I wish i could turn draft chat off too. I dont need to hear your garbage suggestions. 

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Matchmaking (including MMR transparency) and reconnect system have been huge issues for 3 years now.

If they wanted or could fix those, they'd do that already.

So don't get your hopes high, most likely you'll only get another Overwatch hero nobody asked for and more random loot.

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2 hours ago, Oxygen said:

I must admit that I'm not too sure how this is a problem; if a player's MMR is going up, it must mean that they're winning... and if they're winning, their MMR needs to go up to account for this. If having one's MMR displayed incentivizes players to play better, I'm all for it.

He was talking about something everyone could have seen if they played World of Tanks. Community made metric  (game itself didn't have perfomance based MM, don't know about now) was obviously open to everyone to see and what could everyone see is that damage dealt was the biggest component by far. 
So while system itself was fairly correct, system was open to cheesing, don't know other word to express it. Basically, some players would go out of their way to win and stayed as far as they can and farmed free damage that was meaningless in the end (came too late, they didn't share their HP, etc), by the system they were great, while in the reality they were not. 

They just want to prevent people from fooling the system by not letting them know what even precisely makes the system. Is it right move, I don't know.

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I think the bigger problem with transparency is that people would too heavily rely on it to justify their stats or actions. If other people would see that I'm (for example) a gold 1 with a win rate of 1:11 (purely in theory, people), they would justifiably be furious that someone that bad could get to the same rank as them. These are problems that a 10 placement match and a performance based system would entail. If you give people the option to see who is statically the best, there is bound to be some dick measuring.

Edited by Fliits
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Almost 3 years and people still dont understand the main issue are people who deliberatly join games and go afk or rush in to die 1vs5 so that the match gets over sooner.And right after that is the reconnect bug ( stuck in reconecting and needing to close client and wait for aaaaaall the catch up since then). 

Nah who cares about that stuff,the important thing is to split warrior and support classes to sub classes,thats way higher prio.

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46 minutes ago, Kurosu said:

Almost 3 years and people still dont understand the main issue are people who deliberatly join games and go afk or rush in to die 1vs5 so that the match gets over sooner.And right after that is the reconnect bug ( stuck in reconecting and needing to close client and wait for aaaaaall the catch up since then). 

Nah who cares about that stuff,the important thing is to split warrior and support classes to sub classes,thats way higher prio.

I don't actually see that happen very often.

Transparency is good as Oxygen says though because who cares if some try to cheese and pad stats, it only works if you WIN. An extra kill at the end isn't a big deal and probably wouldn't be too huge of a problem.

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I personally don't care that much about the disconnect system.  Yes, it is painful, but I have only been disconnected a few times in the couple years I have played.

My main things I am desiring right now are:

Trolls in ranked. 

They need to get rid of them.  It is hard to define "troll", which is why they probably do nothing about it.  But when I see a teammate that just puts down a hero, everyone else says "is there something else you can play, we need 'X' for our team" or someone puts nothing down and just picks something in 2 seconds that we certainly don't need...that is trolling.  I have had triple spec teams in HL because people refuse to team draft.  As you said, QM does not prepare you for this, so everyone in HL suffers.

Additionally, I think at a bare minimum they need to UP the ranked requirements.  People should not be allowed to play level 6 heroes in ranked.  There needs to be a higher baseline on experience with a hero to use it.  If they want to play it in Unranked, sure.

I am sick of trolls in general.  People that pick solo tank and then solo lane the entire game without helping on objectives.  I don't know how to fix this, but it is very toxic and new people won't invest money in a game that fosters toxic behavior.  If someone is just not as good as me (still talking about ranked), then I can live with that.  I can't live with people who troll games on a ladder system.

 

Global skill usage

I wish they would allow you to target the players Icon on the top bar.  So if I am brightwing, I want to be able to Z to the person without trying to get them on mini map (which sometimes works and sometimes not), and also I really don't like scrolling the map there and not seeing what is around ME for a few seconds.  Same goes for Illidan hunt, ETC stage dive, and probably some others.  I would also like to be able to cast Azmodon trait without scrolling to the lane. I don't care about the precise unit I cast it on, I'd like to be able to cast it on the mini map and it just pick the closest unit to my pick coordinates.

 

Team compositions

I agree %100, the labels don't really translate into drafting system.  They need to show the role as an icon next to your team, so you can see what roles you have and don't have and what the other team has.  I would also love to see some sort of team stats shown, based on the heroes selected.  I don't know how that would work, but like an aggregation of DPS, health, attack dps, spell dps (of course at level 1 with no talents selected).  That way you can sort of see a team's dps vs soaking potential so far, spell vs auto attack dps, etc.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, ArtVandelay said:

I am sick of trolls in general.  People that pick solo tank and then solo lane the entire game without helping on objectives.

I wouldn't really say that is trolling. I have been "forced" to solo lane as a Main Tank many times because the rest of the team simply gives no fucks to waveclear. When the Tank is forced to waveclear because the Specialists are not paying attention, we have a serious problem.

I also have a few suggestions of what I wanna see:

Mouse-over glow in low resolution settings: that green/red highlight is something I've always found very handy, as it makes targetting a lot easier. The problem is, it is disabled if you run on low settings, which is my case (I play on a shitty 7 year old Macbook).

Show health percentage on the character's healthbar: another thing that would be very handy.

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I wish they'd add some kind of signal option for quickplay so it'd stop giving you teams without tanks and healers when you are facing such because the varians never go tank and the kharazims never go healer

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12 hours ago, Banard said:

I play with game chat turned off so i dont have to hear ^(*^*( from people. I wish i could turn draft chat off too. I dont need to hear your garbage suggestions. 

go play other mobas then.. hots is just about teamwork and teammates should be in harmony and hear each other ... if it wasn't necessary blizzard wouldn't add chatbox to game... but these days people even use voice chat on a just simple QM... your text just looks like a joke mate:)

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2 hours ago, Kurosu said:

Almost 3 years and people still dont understand the main issue are people who deliberatly join games and go afk or rush in to die 1vs5 so that the match gets over sooner.And right after that is the reconnect bug ( stuck in reconecting and needing to close client and wait for aaaaaall the catch up since then). 

Nah who cares about that stuff,the important thing is to split warrior and support classes to sub classes,thats way higher prio.

One of the reasons newer (and less knowledgeable) players continue to make mistakes when trying to fight in a team environment is not knowing the role of characters they're not familiar with. 

"AFK Abathur reported."   "D.Va why you not tanking?"  "Brightwing, mount and get to us!"

 

One of the things the labels help to do is let others know what a character is capable of doing and what they're not. A warrior isn't necessarily a tank. Assassins don't all have burst damage. Supports don't mainly heal. Specialists likely don't do what they think they do.  New and less knowledgeable players think that because they get outplayed that a character has better damage. Or that all characters should or DO have equal damage/surviability/lanin/seige potential.

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1 hour ago, Tarvesh said:

One of the reasons newer (and less knowledgeable) players continue to make mistakes when trying to fight in a team environment is not knowing the role of characters they're not familiar with. 

"AFK Abathur reported."   "D.Va why you not tanking?"  "Brightwing, mount and get to us!"

 

 

That is not what i descibed.What I did mean are the kind of people that literally run and engage to die.Oh and I forgot to mention the people that join to play pve and never engage in any pvp situations ( no i do not mean exp soaking )

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The reconnection and replay issues and system are still by far the most hindering things this game experiences, especially when Blizzard wants to be taken seriously on the esport circuit. You can't have outdated engines or playing on newest patches with known issues (?????) and then expect sponsors and professional teams to devote time and money to your game when there isn't even an outline or a timeframe to at least make attempts at improving the infrastructure. 

On top of the other little things, most recently I would like to see 'bundle only' things either a) offer far more for your money or b) be scrapped and let us choose which skins we want to buy that are gem only rather than have to buy a bundle to gain one specific variant. 

More loudout slots as well might be nice. 

Edit: More options to find groups. I'd love to be able to log on and not rely on broadcast to 40+ people, 10 of which are on HotS, that I am a tank/support up for QM stacks or TL and what bracket of general skill level rather than what it is currently where it's literally just quite random... it might even help QM games be better overall and rounded experiences as well. 

Edited by Plergoth

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I agree with every thing from the list and bonus list except for getting rid of the mvp screen. They should give like 10 or 20 gold for every vote you give. Also ranked bots need to be better.

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6 hours ago, ArtVandelay said:

Additionally, I think at a bare minimum they need to UP the ranked requirements.  People should not be allowed to play level 6 heroes in ranked.  There needs to be a higher baseline on experience with a hero to use it.  If they want to play it in Unranked, sure.

Man, most of what you said I wouldn't care too much, but this I wholeheartedly disagree! Like, it takes already WAY too long to be able to play Ranked, especially since QM as almost nothing to do with ranked. I play some really mean Johanna, Li Li, Alex, Abathur and Leoric in Ranked, none of those I'm even close to being as good with in QM because of all the random elements like Team comp being usually garbage for the map, the map being the worst map for the character or just not having anything that synergizes well enough with the character you picked... I played Alex and Hanzo right out the door(as soon as I could) and found great success(I still do but need to be more careful since they've been figured out by fairly everyone now, see all the Hanzo bans).

I just think that if you suck, you should be filtered with others that suck, then again I wonder how that doesn't just doom the person to forever be someone that sucks because they get used to poor tactics, little to no coordination and just overall terrible teammates...

The only thing I think we can agree is that the system needs A LOT of improvement.

Edited by EDL666
Just cleaning the post.

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The biggest cancer right now is the performance-based matchmaking in QM. I have no idea if its turned off right now as in HL/TL but before this i never got people who just completly dont have a clue on whats going on. QM is unplayable right now because, these noobs never lane/soak. They never take camps. On top of that they just go teamfight someone and suicide. Im not the best player in the world but i know when im supposed to be laning,when is a good time to take mercenarries and when is a good time to initiate a teamfight. Right now it probably put me in complete bottom with people that have no map awareness what so ever. Im thinking im gonna play HL/TL because of this.

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That Imperius pic lol.

Sums it up my feelings perfectly. This game needs more Imperiusness in it. Brazenly!

"SILENCE!!!!"

 

On topic though, I believe Quick Match mode should not be put so much attention upon. It's like both the player community AND the developers are using it as a source of statistics for hero balance/tuning purposes. Frankly, they should remove it from the game; it makes other modes, namely Unranked Mode completely unused, almost redundant. (I don't wanna say "fully redundant" because they're completely different since one of them has a drafting phase and the other doesn't, but it's a fact that QM displaces Unranked as the most played mode other than the Leagues). QM fails to teach players basic aspects of the game such as the importance of ALL roles (there are other roles besides assassin & warrior) and how to draft.

Edited by Leadblast

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3 hours ago, Leadblast said:

That Imperius pic lol.

Sums it up my feelings perfectly. This game needs more Imperiusness in it. Brazenly!

"SILENCE!!!!"

That's exactly why I picked it. You'll notice that my article about performance-based matchmaking uses Tyrael, who represents justice...

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18 hours ago, MZLICH said:

go play other mobas then.. hots is just about teamwork and teammates should be in harmony and hear each other ... if it wasn't necessary blizzard wouldn't add chatbox to game... but these days people even use voice chat on a just simple QM... your text just looks like a joke mate:)

There is no communication in chat. There is attempted communication. All you need in this game is pings. Simple as that. Anything else is some moron thinking he knows better then the rest of the team. 

And did I say anything about not using voice chat? 

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7 hours ago, Oxygen said:

That's exactly why I picked it. You'll notice that my article about performance-based matchmaking uses Tyrael, who represents justice...

lmao, I didn't get it at first... Tyrael embodies justice, which you may see fitting in that article as in "the matchmaking system needs to have justice in it" but Imperius embodies valor? Maybe "the valor to go ahead and make changes to this game you are afraid of, in order to improve it"? rofl

 

Oh, and thinking further about the hero classes (or roles, whatever). There are a lot of assassins that feel like specialists in one way or another (Ragnaros, Junkrat, etc). There are specialists that feel like supports (Abathur, Medivh) and one that feels like an assassin (Sylvanas). I think just "expanding the classes and make existing heroes with a dubious classification fit better into it" is not gonna do in the long run.

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8 hours ago, Oxygen said:

That's exactly why I picked it. You'll notice that my article about performance-based matchmaking uses Tyrael, who represents justice...

So if things work out you'll put a picture of Auriel? Because "There is always hope"?

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4 hours ago, Valhalen said:

So if things work out you'll put a picture of Auriel? Because "There is always hope"?

Or if things turn out bad and this game dies... there will be a Malthael picture lol. "In the end, only death remains".

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16 hours ago, Leadblast said:

That Imperius pic lol.

Sums it up my feelings perfectly. This game needs more Imperiusness in it. Brazenly!

"SILENCE!!!!"

 

On topic though, I believe Quick Match mode should not be put so much attention upon. It's like both the player community AND the developers are using it as a source of statistics for hero balance/tuning purposes. Frankly, they should remove it from the game; it makes other modes, namely Unranked Mode completely unused, almost redundant. (I don't wanna say "fully redundant" because they're completely different since one of them has a drafting phase and the other doesn't, but it's a fact that QM displaces Unranked as the most played mode other than the Leagues). QM fails to teach players basic aspects of the game such as the importance of ALL roles (there are other roles besides assassin & warrior) and how to draft.

I disagree with how you feel about QM. As someone who plays almost exclusively QM (and maybe half a dozen unranked and 0 ranked despite playing for over a year) I think it is absolutely a mode worth keeping and should at least partially be factored into balance changes. 

The types of quests the game gives is a major reason for keeping QM around. If I have quests to play let's say 3 games as a support and 2 games as a starcraft hero I would be best served playing as either Stukov, Morales, or Tassadar but then if one of them gets banned, another picked by someone else that could leave me either playing a character I am not good with or a character that does nothing to help me progress my quests but does help the team comp so I have to try my luck in another game to see if I can get a character that helps me complete my quests efficiently. Quick Match lets a player hop into a match with whatever hero they want and get the quests done quickly. There is matches against the AI but that does even less to prepare for the modes with drafts. The quests would need to be more play X games or win Y games and less forcing specific franchises or roles and/or the AI matches would need to give the same experience as playing with humans for this game to work without quick match 

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      Rules:
      Choose from one of three randomly selected Heroes before entering the Docks. Be quick about it though, you only have 30 seconds to choose! Everyone will begin the round at level 10 and will be asked to choose a Heroic Ability. No other talents will be available. You will either be placed on the Attacking or Defending team and will be responsible for aiding Blackheart in his quest for revenge, or preventing the destruction of the Docks Attackers will be responsible for preventing Defenders from firing Cannons at Blackheart’s ship Defenders will gather Cannonballs and fire them at Blackheart’s ship via Cannons placed around the Battleground After the first round, teams will switch sides and the displayed health on Blackheart’s Ship will be adjusted to show the amount of Cannonballs the defending team must fire to beat their opponent’s score and win the round. The team to fire the most shots at the enemy ship will be victorious, unless both teams fire zero or the maximum of 5 Cannonballs, which will result in ties. Rewards:
      Complete two matches of the Blackheart's Revenge to earn a Loot Chest! Find out more about the new Heroes Brawl game mode on our Heroes Brawl site; and as always, you can find more information on this week’s Brawl by clicking the Brawl Info button at the bottom of the play screen when preparing to queue for the Brawl game mode.
    • By Stan
      The latest Heroes of the Storm content patch is now live with Mal'Ganis, disabled Haunted Mines, and changes to certain Support abilities to only work on Heroes.
      Patch Highlights
      Mal'Ganis is now live and you can check out our build guide here. The Hero is also available in the talent calculator. The game no longer supports DirectX9 and the 32-bit version of the client. Haunted Mines have been removed from all gameplay modes. Ana's Healing Dart now pierces targets at full Health. Multiple Support abilities have been reworked to only work on Heroes. Blizzard (Source)
      General
      Heroes of the Storm no longer supports DirectX 9 and the 32-bit version of the client. Battlegrounds
      Unranked Battleground Rotation:
      The Battleground Rotation for all Unranked modes has been adjusted to the following: Alterac Pass Battlefield of Eternity Blackheart's Bay Braxis Holdout Cursed Hollow Dragon Shire Garden of Terror Hanamura Temple Infernal Shrines Sky Temple Tomb of the Spider Queen Towers of Doom Volskaya Foundry Warhead Junction Haunted Mines: Haunted Mines has been removed from all gameplay modes. It will still be available to be played in Custom Games. Mercenaries: Sappers can no longer have their charge attack interrupted by a Silence effect. Silencing Sappers will still prevent them from starting to channel this ability New Hero: Mal'Ganis (Warrior)
      Cunning and intelligent, Mal'Ganis was chosen to bring Arthas Menthil into the Lich King's service. After manipulating the prince into purging Stratholme of life, he finally fell to Frostmourne as Arthas's first act as the Lich King's champion... yet a demon does not die so easily.
      Trait
      Vampiric Touch Mal'Ganis heals for 45% of damage dealt to enemy Heroes and 15% of damage dealt to non-Heroes. Basic Abilities
      Fel Claws (Q) Violently slash in the chosen direction, dealing 78 damage to enemies. Reactivate to slash up to 2 more times. The third slash Stuns enemies for 0.75 seconds. Necrotic Embrace (W) Desecrate the air, dealing 119 damage to nearby enemies and gaining 25 Armor for 3 seconds. Night Rush (E) After 0.75 seconds, gain 50% Movement Speed for 2 seconds. While active, Mal'Ganis can move through enemy Heroes and put them to Sleep for 2.5 seconds. Heroic Abilities
      Carrion Swarm (R) After 1 second, disperse into an Invulnerable swarm of bats for 3 seconds, dealing 74 damage per second to enemies. Vampiric Touch heals for 100% of Carrion Swarm's damage to Heroes. Dark Conversion (R) Channel on an enemy Hero for 0.75 seconds, then swap Health percentages with the target over 3 seconds. Design
      Support Heroes
      We've unified certain Support abilities to only work on Heroes (not minions or Mercenaries): Alexstrasza
      Gift of Life (Q) Breath of Life (Q-Dragon Form) Brightwing
      Pixie Dust (E) Li Li Healing Brew (Q) Rehgar
      Healing Totem (Active - Level 4) Earth Shield (W - Level 13) Tyrande
      Light of Elune (Q) Uther
      Holy Light (Q) Heroes
      Support

      Ana
      Abilities
      Healing Dart (Q) Healing Dart will now pierce targets at full Health. Collection
      New Bundles
      The following new bundles are available for a limited time! Mal'Ganis Heroic Bundle Death & Undeath Bundle Meat Wagon Bundle New Announcer
      Mal'Ganis New Mount
      Meat Wagon Northrend Meat Wagon Blackrock Meat Wagon Deathguard Meat Wagon New Skins
      Mal'Ganis Dreadmachine Mal'Ganis Neocarbon Dreadmachine Mal'Ganis Master Deadmachine Mal'Ganis Infernal Mal'Ganis Northrend Mal'Ganis New Portraits, Sprays, and Emojis
      Several new emoji packs and portraits have also been added to the game.  Bug Fixes
      General
      AI Heroes: Fixed multiple cases of AI-controlled Heroes incorrectly using their abilities. Spell Power: Fixed an issue where Spell Power would no longer affect a Hero’s abilities after they died. (For example: Jaina’s Blizzard will now continue to deal bonus damage if she received increased Spell Power but died before the second and third waves.) Statis/Time Stop: Fixed an issue where player created terrain could move Heroes affected by Stasis or Time Stop. Battlegrounds
      Garden of Terror: Fixed an issue where all three Garden Terrors could spawn in a single lane. Minions/Mercenaries: Fixed an issue where Heroes could block the movement of Catapults, preventing them from passing through intact gates. User Interface
      Fixed an issue where a space would appear before the player’s name in a Whisper. Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Ana: Fixed an issue where Ana’s Shrike healing was not accurately reflecting her damage done (via Spell Power or her target’s Armor). Chromie: Fixed an issue where Temporal Loop’s return location would appear incorrect if a movement ability was used by the target. Diablo: Fixed an issue where Diablo would not be displaced by knockback and similar effects while casting Overpower. Gall: Fixed an issue where not all cases of Damage Reduction would work on Gall. Gul’dan: Fixed an issue where Darkness Within’s bonus Spell Power would not increase the healing of Drain Life. Kharazim: Can now Radiant Dash to all allied units, including Mercenaries, Creep Tumors, and Toxic Nests. Li-Ming: Fixed an issue where Tal Rasha's Elements would grant bonus damage to Calamity after being twice in a row. Murky: Egg Hunt’s Slime no longer benefits from Slime talents. Sylvanas: Targets of Mind Control will now clear their move orders when affected by the ability. Uther: Fixed an issue where Holy Fire’s damage was affected by Spell Power. Mal'Ganis is now live and it's time to check out our build guide and the official patch notes.
    • By Stan
      Alan Dabiri announced that he's leaving his current position as Game Director for Heroes of the Storm and he's moving on to another project at Blizzard.
      Alan Dabiri has been Game Director ever since Dustin Browder stepped down in December 2016. He thinks the game is in the right hands right now, as developers continue to deliver interesting new Heroes and events. He's transitioning to a new team within the company. We wish him success in all his future endeavors.
      Here's the message he left on the official forums:
      Blizzard (Source)
      In my 20-plus years at Blizzard, I’ve had the privilege of working on many awesome Blizzard games in roles ranging from software engineer to technical director to game director. Across my many roles and games, my experience working on Heroes of the Storm ranks among the best of my development career. I’ve witnessed Heroes’ evolution from a StarCraft II mod to the amazing game you see today. Heroes’ development has been fueled by the shared excitement of our team and all of you in the community, and the game we’ve built together is the game I play almost every night.
      One of the best things about developing Heroes is the fact that this team is not afraid to try new things while always striving to learn and grow. It’s been part of our DNA from the very beginning, and it’s through years of experimentation that we’ve hit our stride both as a development team, and as a game. This is possible because Heroes has an exceptional development team of both Blizzard veterans and fresh faces who are all highly engaged with the game we’re making, and the players we’re making it for.
      It’s in this spirit of trying new things that I want to let everyone know that a few months ago, I accepted an opportunity to transition off my role as Heroes’ game director to heed Blizzard’s call and begin a new adventure elsewhere within the company. The game director has always been one part of the overall leadership team that drives Heroes forward and it’s been a privilege to work among some of the best game developers at every level on the team all the way up to our production director, Kaéo Milker. Leaving a team and game that I love is incredibly difficult, but seeing the steady strength, creativity, and commitment that Kaéo and the design, engineering, and art leadership teams consistently bring to Heroes has given me more than enough confidence to make this decision. I trust that the game is in the very best hands and their work these past few months has only reinforced my belief.
      They’ve released awesome new heroes like Yrel, Whitemane, Mephisto, and now Mal’Ganis, while building on the themed content drops that let the team do fun things that only Heroes can do. They brought the smackdown (plus my favorite mount, the Luchihuahua!) with Nexomania, finally brought an epic slice of Azeroth into the Nexus with the Alterac Pass Battleground, and joined the Raven Lord’s forces with the Fall of King’s Crest. On top of that, the team has also released awesome reworks like Raynor and Brightwing while adding exciting updates like third ban and Team League improvements. With so many awesome content and feature updates, you can see why I believe that the team has brought us the best year of Heroes of the Storm so far.
      And they’re not done yet. Heroes has one of the most passionate and dedicated development teams I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and they have a ton of exciting new content in development. I can’t wait for you all to see what they have in store for the rest of this year and beyond. You can bet that I’ll be right there enjoying it with you as it’s released, too. I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that Heroes is in a great place and I promise that it’s in the hands of the best possible people to continue driving it forward. Kaéo and the Heroes team are people who play almost every night who also happen to get to work on making the game what it is today. With our continued input and support, they’ll keep doing what they do best by making Heroes of the Storm the most awesome game it can possibly be.
      I just want to sign off by saying thank you to all of you. I’ve had an incredible time working on this game and seeing you bring the battlegrounds to life every day. I’m so grateful for the enthusiasm you’ve brought to Heroes and all the changes you’ve encouraged us to make. I know the team deeply appreciates the feedback you share, so please keep it coming—and as always, I’ll see you in the Nexus!
    • By Stan
      Free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of October 16 and features Yrel, Chromie, Chen, and more.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: October 16, 2018
      Malfurion Valla Gazlowe Johanna Thrall Dehaka Lúcio Falstad Li-Ming Alarak Yrel (Slot unlocked at Player Level 5) Tassadar (Slot unlocked at Player Level 10) Chen (Slot unlocked at Player Level 15) Chromie (Slot unlocked at Player Level 20) (Source)