Heroes of the Storm’s Latest Patch Shows Blizzard Is Ready to Compete

Yesterday a huge patch hit the Closed Beta version of Heroes of the Storm. As someone who plays the game every day and is hoping for a smooth launch, it was exactly what I was hoping for.

I've come to the conclusion that Heroes of the Storm is ready for prime time. Blizzard has proven that it can support its game in such a way that it can compete with the big boys including League of Legends and Dota 2. Below we'll talk about why the latest patch instilled confidence.

 


Expanding the hero list

Kael'thas Sunstrider is a new hero that was added in the patch. You may be familiar with him from the Warcraft universe where he's the Prince of Quel'Thalas, and more specifically a fire mage capable of destroying raids. In the case of Heroes of the Storm, he's a blast to play. I would go as far as to say he's one of my three favorite heroes in the game, and that's saying a lot.

This is significant because an action RTS lives or dies by its cast of playable characters. In its current state, Heroes of the Storm quantity of heroes is merely adequate. But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for with quality. Its heroes are iconic, and few are anything less than exciting to play. Blizzard's successful addition of Sylvanas last month and now Kael'thas is a strong record. Blizzard is quickly realizing my hero wish list.

Tackling performance issues

Performance issues are a recurring theme when it comes to Heroes of the Storm Closed Beta feedback. For as great as the game looks, there's no reason it should play as choppy as it does on some systems.

Yesterday's patch improved performance in a noticeable way, and that's a huge deal for the quality of the game experience. There's even an updated performance notification that provides metrics that help players optimize their game settings and locate where performance issues stem from. It's a relatively big problem that Blizzard isn't ignoring.

Balance: the key to competitive popularity

Heroes of the Storm stands no chance at being popular among the competitive crowd unless it can achieve balance. Although the state of the game isn't perfect—and is unlikely to ever be—, Blizzard went to great lengths in the latest patch to balance win rates and ensure that no hero is left behind.

It isn't just about making minor number changes to abilities, either. Blizzard completely restructured Diablo, a hero considered a top tier Warrior. As of yesterday his talents are radically different, changing his style of play, and bringing him more in-line with other heroes in the game. Blizzard even gave him a new mounting style that fans of the character are enjoying.

On the other side of things, Gazlowe, a hero that has one of the lowest win rates in the game, was improved in numerous ways. If one of my games last night was any indication, he's now far more competitive. The same can be said of Anub'arak and other heroes that haven't had high representation lately.

Improving an already stellar presentation

Heroes of the Storm is a great-looking game, and yesterday it only got better.

Some assets were given special treatment improving the visual experience, from map elements to the heroes themselves. The UI was given new features, in addition to the Shop menu being revamped. But what I like most is the addition of the name plate status effect display. It has made it easier for players to identify what's going on in the battle field, especially during team fights. All these changes culminate in what is undoubtedly one of the greatest action RTS presentations on the market.

Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most

There are a lot of subtle changes and additions that have helped polish the game experience. For example, there are new name plates that allow you to show off what rank you are in Hero League. Once you achieve level 25 you can now use all talents with any hero you own without having to reach level 4 for a particular hero. Also, the Shop now tells you what exactly a skin will change from the default, whether it be new voice overs, or themed abilities.

Some of these "little things" are a direct result of player feedback. Take for example the new setting that allows you to click through the mini-map, or having the game modes shown in a proper order on the main menu. They aren't big things, but together they help make Heroes of the Storm a polished game.