Heroes of the Storm outshines the likes of Dota 2 and League of Legends because it respects the value of your time. Blizzard’s 5v5 team brawler takes a familiar framework, where heroes battle back and forth alongside waves of AI-controlled minions, and shaves off all the bits you never knew were so unnecessary until they’re gone. Its brilliantly streamlined design makes for a faster, leaner experience that maximizes your fun-per-minute ratio, making its predecessors feel stagnant by comparison.
This battle royale can’t be canon: iconic heroes and villains from across Blizzard franchises (Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, and even The Lost Vikings for good measure) have all been warped into the Nexus to fight for… the heck of it. With lore swept aside (“You really shouldn’t think so hard about these things” says your paladin tour guide, Uther), all that’s left to do is select a hero, then team up with four allies to destroy the enemy’s main structure before they can level yours. At a glance, the colorful, cartoonish aesthetic and suite of five abilities per hero seem to be mimicking LoL, not building on it.
But all it takes is one match to realize how drastically HotS changes its forebears’ formula, always for the better. There’s no last-hitting (the game-prolonging practice of only attacking when you’ll secure a minion kill) or denying (depriving your enemies by killing your own forces), so you won’t get screamed at for proactively pushing the lanes that lead from your base into hostile territory. Items are nowhere to be found, eliminating the need to mindlessly farm gold for something that makes or breaks your effectiveness. There are no kills or assists, only shared Takedowns that count for all participants in a fight, meaning you’re never angry at a teammate for stealing your glory. And your entire team shares a unified experience bar, so you won’t have any one player lagging behind or carrying their inconsequential teammates on their back. If you’re out of combat, you can mount up to gallop towards wherever you’re needed most, getting you back into the action ASAP.
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