Find out more about how the recently-announced 2019 gameplay changes will affect Heroes of the Storm in the long run.
Just over a year ago, in preparation for BlizzCon 2017, I produced a lengthy article outlining some of Heroes of the Storm’s most important issues. Notable among these was that of Quick Match team compositions. To me, Heroes of the Storm had always been clearly designed and balanced with tanks and healers in mind. As such, failing to enforce team compositions that included these classes caused a number of important problems across the game.
Following disappointing BlizzCon 2017 announcements on the matter (class changes were discussed briefly, but composition changes were not), a reddit post and a blog post published six months later would confirm that changes to Quick match team compositions were indeed in the works, though no ETA was given. BlizzCon 2018 was a pretty safe bet that would turn out to be accurate.
So, what’s the big deal?
As Heroes of the Storm’s introductory – and most popular – game mode, Quick Match must absolutely accomplish two things: Groom its player base for improvement and present Heroes of the Storm in the best light possible.
Year after year, however, the Quick Match system has continued to fail on both counts completely, discouraging new players and veterans alike with frustrating matches that taught bad habits and ultimately hindered the growth of the player base’s skill level. How can players learn to follow up without a tank to initiate? How can they possibly internalize what their reasonable survivability is like five other assassins? The answer is simple: They can’t, because these situations are nonsensical and for the most part subpar in any remotely competent environment. Fortunately, this will soon be a thing of the past.
Placing players in a tank-healer environment – around which the game was designed – leads me to believe that player base’s skill level to improve across all game modes. Drafting skill is likely to improve as well, leading to fewer draft infighting situations. Further, it will reduce the frustration caused by unreasonable team compositions to ultimately better retain new players, whom will get to experience the game as it was meant to be played as opposed to this rather ridiculous game mode.
Needless to say, I think this is one of the best BlizzCon announcements to date, though I must still question what took so long. The most educated guess I can produce has to do with fearing longer queue times, but here’s to hoping the “Call of the Nexus” incentive will be enough to entice players into checking out classes they haven’t tried out just yet. A strong enough incentive could have the positive side effect of allowing players to develop a better global understanding of the game through approaching roles they’re less used to.
Classy new classes
The new class system builds on the old system simply by further specializing the existing classes and removing specialists. Reworking the class system was necessary to allow team compositions to be reworked themselves.
Heroes in the old warrior class were divided into the tank and bruiser classes, with tanks now being mandatory for Quick Match team compositions. This makes sense, as many bruisers were typically unable to fulfill the role of true tanks completely, which is to reliably initiate and peel. Allowing the warrior class to continue existing in its current state would have created the kind of lopsided team composition problems we experienced back when Varian was treated as a damage dealer.
Heroes in the support class were divided into pure healers and support heroes, which is just a way of identifying heroes who do not use healing as their primary means of assisting teammates. Given that healers must now be included in team compositions to the same extent as tanks, this change also makes sense.
The specialist class was merged with the assassin class because it hadn’t made sense in a long time to treat them any differently; most of them were simply fancy damage dealers. The assassin class itself was split up into melee and ranged assassins.
If you’ve been keeping up with some of the more recent versions of my tier lists – I don’t blame you if you haven’t – you’ll note that I had already opted to further divide the classes, with a focus on play style rather than role a few months ago. Specifically, melee assassins are divided into fighters and stalkers, and ranged assassins into marksman and casters. My system has the advantage of being a bit more flexible for edge cases such as Genji and Tracer, who play more like melee assassins yet were labeled as ranged by Blizzard. Still, this distinction is of little relevance to most players.
Short conclusions mean I am happy with things.
Oxygen discusses why the announced changes might just be the best thing to happen to HotS.