Thursday, 20 November 2014

HotS: Locked Talents and Heroic Abilities

Last time I talked about my first impressions of Heroes of the Storm. Now we get to the interesting stuff. Critique. The only way to get rid of bad stuff is to criticise, and first on the list is gating of talents and heroic abilities for every her behind higher levels. In simple terms: Putting talents and heroic abilities behind a wall, and gating it by the experience earned is a stupid idea, and only good thing about it would be the day when Blizzard decides to change it. Heroes of the Storm is not World of Warcraft, and it is rather insulting of Blizzard to think that the players cannot comprehend four different abilities and decide for themselves which of the talents they want to pick during the game.

I understand that many people might be new to the game, and do not really know how everything works. It has to be said that some core things are very different from the rest of the games in the genre. But it is still a stupid design choice, I honestly hope they revert back as soon as possible. For all of you who ever played any other MOBA out there imagine if you started a game with a hero or champion you never played before. And because you are new to that champion you are limited only to the predetermined items the game decided you would need. It is such level of stupidity.

Anyone who ever played a game in this genre knows that adaptability is key. And while talent, and heroic ability choices are rather monotonous, as you will choose the same set of talents and abilities in 95% of the game, you still need to have those options open. It must be said that you will most often choose the same set of talents and abilities because they are objectively better than the rest of the lot. For example, you will never choose Sanctification as Tyrael, because in comparison with Judgement the former is worse. It is rather different, and requires of you totally different play style, that you are not really capable of. If you play the whole game as very mobile initiator and finisher who can harass the enemy, then it is really weird all of a sudden to take the heroic ability that immobilises you in exchange for giving protection to your allies.

There are even worse examples. With certain heroes, you first need to level them up to level 4, in order to see how they really play. Malfurion, and ETC are great examples. Such heroes are until you reach level 4 out of the game at real disadvantage in comparison to the rest.

I understand gating all the different mount and skin colourations behind the higher levels. Those are just cosmetics, and thus have no effect on the game. Abilities and talents though, those do have a real impact on the game you play. Thus they need to be available to everyone from the very start. No matter if he is level 9 with a hero, or level 1. Playing field should be the same for everyone. Gated talents and heroic abilities only put new players at a disadvantage. While at the same time they ensure the veteran players have no real incentive to go and play some new hero.

The only incentive is 500 gold you get for accumulating the experience to reach level 5 with a hero. 500 gold might seem much, but when you take in consideration that you will probably have to lose first couple of games because you do not have all the abilities and talents at your disposal because you are new to that hero, those 500 pieces of gold are no longer as lucrative as they might have been at some point. I mean, there are rare few who willingly deal with the frustration of marching into embrace of certain defeat just because after awhile things will get better. We play to win, not to win eventually.

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