You should play Heroes of the Storm

If you haven’t actually played the game because you hate it already, I have a whole half a page at the bottom reserved especially for you.

For those of you who have already played Heroes of the Storm (henceforth referred to as HOTS), you’ll be pleased to know that this entire article is about HOTS, without actually being about HOTS. You see, this article is actually about Doom.[1] This is the story of what would have happened if everyone played nothing but Doom for years on end.[2]

 

Scene: Everyone is playing Doom.

Quake gets released. Everyone touts it as a skill-less game, ditching the tried and tested “keyboard only” interface. Doom fans ridicule Quake players as “noobs who need to use a mouse to aim”.[3]

Team Fortress is released. Doom fans wonder why anyone would play a game that is so limiting and without depth. They moan the loss of being able to pick up any weapon. Of being stuck with only the weapons you spawn with. For letting players spawn with all the weapons and full armor. Where’s the skill in gathering power-ups and weapons if you start out with everything?[4]

Halo is released. Doom fans bemoan the loss of a persistent health-bar. “Noobs need to be punished for taking damage” they say, “instead of just regenerating all their shields.”

Unreal Tournament is released. Doom fans refuse to see the point of modes like “Assault” or “Domination”. They know what the first person shooter is about – the deathmatch!

 

I lied at the start. Now I’m going to talk about HOTS.

The point is this. HOTS takes a lot of things that were completely unnecessary in the genre, things that made playing a game less fun, and removed it. And perhaps if less people played DotA, and less people made the argument “this thing must be fun because it’s currently implemented”, it wouldn’t have taken 10 years for someone to come up with a game in the genre that was actually well designed. People just seem to be unable to separate “what makes a game good” and “what just happens to be in a good game”.[5]

And with peer reinforcement, stagnation occurs! Hoorah! Thank goodness for Blizzard. They don’t do anything ground-breaking, but in a genre that has been actually making worse games every year, their presence is welcome.

So here are some things that HOTS decided to remove. Thank goodness.

– Last hitting. Do you really want to spend 80% of your game trying to time your right-click so as to get minuscule rewards, then do the same thing OVER AND OVER AGAIN?

– Shopping. Because amassing gold isn’t bad enough, you need to spend time travelling across the map in order to waste your time spending your gold on something.

– Ridiculous scaling (and items). So why would you have heroes that are “weak early game” and “scale up”, and vice versa? So that players only can have fun for… half the game?

– Individual rewards. Because it’s really no fun to spend half the game zoning someone out (and staying at lvl 1) while your friend spends half the game farming (wooh! Now, HE’S having fun). Yet he gets all the rewards.

– A single point of healing. Because wasting 2 minutes to walk back and heal MAKES THE GAME SO MUCH MORE FUN.

 

So what do you spend the game doing?

Fighting.

And, ummm… that’s pretty much it. You spend the entire game fighting each other.

You can argue art. You can argue noob-friendliness. But as far as pace goes, this is a game that forces player-to-player interaction and confrontation.

Other advantages include:

– Less thrash talk. Because you’re almost always busy, you don’t have time to curse your teammates. Moreover, the game usually ends before any arguing can be done.

– Easy to learn. But without sacrificing depth. It’s easy to learn because it’s consistent and not needlessly complicated. You don’t need to do weird armor calculations. There are very few weird specific interactions (and those are bugs to be phased out) to memorize. You don’t have to wonder about which of the 100 items are actually viable to buy.

– Fast. But it doesn’t feel so. Because you spend 20 minutes in combat, the game feels extremely engaging. A much better usage of time.

 

That section for people who hate the game without trying it

Hmm.

I’m tempted to say a lot of mean things here. Including things like “people like you are why Hitler got away with the holocaust”. But without generic character blasting, let me address a few specific concerns.

1. It’s too much of a skill-less game.

There are a few people who can make this statement. You most likely aren’t one of them. Einstein can go “I did physics instead of chemistry because chemistry was too easy”.[6] But the 12 year-old kid studying algebra doesn’t go “I did math instead of computer science because computer science was too easy”,[7] because HE’S PROBABLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT EITHER FIELD.[8] If some 12 year-old kid comes up to me and says “why are you so dumb, studying computer science, instead of being like me? I’m so smart, that’s why I study maths!”, it’s not like I’d go “why, yes! Blimey, you’re too skillful for me to compare to!” [9]

2. It doesn’t have last-hitting/denying/items/farming. It’s stupid.

But wait, WHICH OF THE ABOVE ACTUALLY MAKES THE GAME BETTER? See entire passage about Doom.

3. I can’t carry by myself.

This is actually valid. You can’t Rambo around.

 

Footnotes

[1] – If you don’t know what Doom is, google it. It’s the first result. It’s also a commonly used word, and yet the entire first page of google is dedicated to a 12 year old game.

[2] – Most of what is said here is also said in this article. But that’s long as hell, and makes a lot of horrible points that dilute the greatness.

[3] – Another point to note is that about 1 in 1000 people can come close to being “good” at Quake. This has non-obvious parallels to the analogy being made.

[4] – In case you haven’t realized, the point is so as not to waste time gathering power-ups, and spend time on the fun part, ACTUALLY KILLING PEOPLE.

[5] – Not suggesting that DotA is or is not a good game (it isn’t).

[6] – Though they are different yet intertwined disciplines, but you get the analogy, I hope.

[7] – Math is really, really, really, hard. And if you don’t think so, you probably don’t know enough math.

[8] – Unless he’s Korean. They somehow produce teenagers that can be good at everything.

[9] – Though, true story: I studied computer science because math was too hard.

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One Comment

  1. I’m actually going to try HOTS for real after reading this. You made a few convincing points about those last hits and points of healing etc, having fun half the game. Thanks

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