It’s no secret that there are a number of issues with Heroes of the Storm that people would like fixed. Some are a bit annoying while others seem a bit more serious. I’ve been playing quite a bit and while I’m not max level just yet (I’m only level 25 out of 40, but that wasn’t done in a weeknight) I feel I’ve run into these things enough to call them real problems, rather than just fleeting annoyances in one or two games.
So here we go, because I know you all love lists.
You’d think this one would be the easiest to clean up once they launch out of beta. In just about every game I’ve been in either someone gets booted from the game, locks up and immediately disconnects then reconnects, or some other type of network issues. Blizzard is no stranger to network issues, just look at Diablo 3’s launch and any WoW expansion, but in a MOBA like this they really need to get that fixed.
It does help, though, that once someone leaves or disconnects their character goes into AI mode and can even be directed to follow you. This is a neat little touch and has actually saved my team a few times before, but it doesn’t change the fact that people are getting dropped.
I’ve said before I’ve always considered WoW PvP to be fairly unbalanced, with rotating flavors of the month and whatnot, abilities being changed because of one game mode and affecting others, and if you played WoW you know what I mean. Yes, I PvP’d and yes, I enjoyed it, but it could get very frustrating.
The vast majority (I’m willing to be at least 95%) of my Heroes of the Storm games have been steamrolls one way or the other. It’s either been my team wrecking the other or the other team controlling the map and wiping their asses with us. I’m not alone in this, I’ve seen plenty of people online encountering this as well.
I get that the game is designed to allow comebacks, and conceptually it is. The problem is that if a team is absolutely wrecking the other they can easily control the map objective, and unless they decide to fall asleep through the match, they should win. Unlike in League or even DOTA2 where there are multiple objectives on the map the help you work toward the ultimate goal, each HotS map has one main objective plus the jungle camps. The camps are helpful, but if you’re behind and sacrifice a map objective only for some mercenaries from the jungle, you still came out with a net loss.
I’ll freely admit I don’t know how to solve this, since I don’t claim to be an expert on balance. But it’s sort of like that saying about “I can’t describe pornography, but I know it when I see it”. I can’t perfectly describe every piece and how to fix it, but I can tell imbalance when I see it in these matches.
It’s likely that this is different in the organized team game modes like Hero League, but in normal matches it’s rampant. Although organization and issues rampant in quick matches brings me to the final point.
Matchmaking? What Matchmaking?
Transparency and the ability to plan is one of the key factors in winning in MOBAs. It’s probably why the ranked matches in League and others are draft mode, where each team takes turns picking characters that the other team can see, so both teams can form strategies before they get into the actual game. Fortunately, the ranked Hero League in HotS has this. It’s the draft mode you’d expect from a ranked game mode, and that’s good.
Quick matches, on the other hand, are a fuckin free for all. Here’s how quick matches work: you pick the character you want to play and the game matches you up with 4 other people and puts you on a random map. It doesn’t account for what type of character you chose (warrior, support, etc.) and you don’t know who or what you’ll be teamed up with or what map you’ll all be playing on until the game is already loading in. Sure League and DOTA2 are open to this if someone is stubborn and wants to play only their favorite character or something, but many times you can at least slightly adjust your gameplan if someone refuses to play a support for instance. Not so in HotS, and you can easily end up on a team with 5 assassins or 5 supports just as easily as you can end up on a balanced team.
Outside this is the map is random, so you don’t even know what playstyle you’ll need to go for until you’re there. It’s a very strange way of doing things to be honest, especially since the random maps still happen in Hero League even though it’s draft mode for heroes. 50/50 ain’t bad I guess.
The other boot to the face is I’ve seen some seriously imbalanced teams in terms of matchmaking rating, which I know is somewhere behind the scenes. You could be playing a character for the first time and be matched up with someone who’s maxed their character’s level out and is wrecking people in the top 5% of Hero League. This could be part of the steamroll part mentioned above, but I’ve run into people using the master hero skins with all the fixings in my first game with a character I just picked up. Something seems off there.
All those said it’s not a BAD game, there are just a number of frustrating aspects to it, and with the launch date somewhere in June it seems like an awfully short timespan to get this stuff sorted out, if ever. Not to mention there are other things I didn’t list like post-death recaps to let you know what happened in a fight or post-game stats to show you how you actually did. They have a lot to work on, and the clock is ticking.
I still play it and I do enjoy it enough that I don’t write the game off entirely, more in the neighborhood of a 7/10 grade right now. But sometimes things happen in the game that just make you shake your head and think, “Man, what the hell were they thinking there?” I feel Hearthstone is fairly imbalanced or at least unfair in some aspects, but it carries on and continues to be popular, so even with the flaws I expect Heroes of the Storm to succeed even if only because of the Blizzard logo on the front.