And It's Not League of Legends: Heroes of the Storm

So I've been playing Heroes of the Storm lately. For one reason and one reason only.

Officer Dva. In a new promotion Blizzard is rewarding people who play HotS with friends. My friends, motivated by the promise of a cute Dva skin, actually agreed to play a MOBA with me after years of moratorium upon the genre  And I have actually been having a great time plus I've gotten to play something that isn't an FPS with my friends.

What do I like?

What is going for Heroes of The Storm is its very fast gameplay. Most games finish by around the 20-minute mark and leveling is quick. There is very little sitting around farming and waiting. Many of the characters have the ability to run around the map and gank thanks to mounts being included in the game. Talents allow you to react to certain matchups and team compositions and characters are rarely constrained to a set build path and you get to choose the ultimate ability that you want to use! Aside from not being League of Legends - and thus a game that my friends are willing to play - Heroes of the Storm has a lot more going for it than I had initially thought. Each game is very different from the next with each map having varying objectives that shape how the game is played. This leads to a larger feeling of variety than if the maps were all the same.

Image result for hots hero select screen

The cast for HotS is massive as you would expect from a MOBA. Divided by both what Blizzard series they are from and their character type designations (Assassin, Warrior, Support, and Specialist) there are a lot of character opportunities. I’ve been spending most of my time playing Specialists and Supports, either pushing or keeping my friends alive. Some of my favorites are Zagara, who spreads creep and summons countless zerg minions; Probius, who builds turrets and nukes enemies with unstable rifts; and Karazim, a monk who deals damage and heals allies in equal measure. Kharazim even is able to make an ally resurrect upon death.

I really appreciate is that the characters are very flexible in their build paths since you get to choose between two ultimates and a variety of talents at critical levels. Probius can set itself up to either do massive area damage with its Warp Rift and Null Gate or hold positions against large pushes with it Photon Cannons and Pylon Overcharge abilities. And each character is like this with a lot of fiddly options to choose from. With the right array of talents, Karazim can become an unstoppable punch master.

What is bad about HotS?

There are a couple things that are wrong with this game. The objective focused gameplay leads to some characters being amazing on some maps and terrible on others. Characters being able to get around easily does lead to you getting jumped on a lot and pretty much all characters in this game are pretty squishy when ganged up on. The squishiness of characters means crowd control spells can seal your fate very quickly on characters without reliable escape methods. So the game requires constant engagement after the early game. There are few if any low periods outside of death on most maps as one mistake can get you bopped out of existence. Which could be fun for some but it's very tiring for players like me. That and Cursed Hollow is a frustrating map to play on three times in a row. Some of the maps can feel very gimmicky especially to those of us who just want to push towers like any MOBA player. Some maps just don’t want to let you do that. Hanamura, the newest map is all about pushing payloads to certain points. Which is great at first and then not so much the second time or the third time and so on. The gimmick begins to drag on some maps more than others.

With the launch of HotS 2.0 players can receive enough gems for a Mega Bundle (I got the support bundle) which has 20 heroes starting you off with a fairly large roster. So try out the game soon if you’re considering getting into it again or for the first time following its new update. Now is a great time to get into the game. It's a great game if you like the positioning and objective control aspects of mobs but not the farming and itemization parts. Games are short and you can usually get through two or three over the course of an hour. Plus you can net both a Genji and Dva skin if you also own Overwatch. Get with your friends and try the game over the course of the next few weeks after all its free and you can get ten loot boxes out of the deal. And It’s Not League of Legends.