A recap of the “What’s Next’ panel from BlizzCon, where the devs discussed changes to Ranked Play, role rework, changes to Armor and XP gains coming in 2019.
Plenty of changes are coming to the game as part of the 2019 Gameplay Update and the Heroes of the Storm developer team discussed what’s coming to the game in the near future.
2018 in Review
Content is very important, because it keeps the game fresh and more appealing to new players, so they’re going to keep prioritizing it.
2018 has been great in terms of content. On the Hero front it was an awesome year for Heroes (Blaze, Maiev, Fenix, Deckard, Yrel, Whitemane, Mephisto, Mal’Ganis).
BlizzCon introduced Orphea and you can find more details about her in our Deep Dive panel recap.
Reworks are very important to the game and in the past year, they reworked Kerrigan, Diablo, and even Raynor. It helps to keep things fresh.
They introduced Alterac Pass and revisited Hanamura Temple and Garden of Terror.
Skins are no longer introduced randomly, but as part of various thematic events (Mecha, Lunar, Enforcer, Dark Nexus, Nexomania, Warcraft, War Chrome, Viper Ascendant, King’s Crest).
Comics and more lore was added this year to pave the way for Orphea.
A new comic that focuses on Orphea is coming out later this month.
Voice Chat implementation, themed events (quests), and third ban were implemented and the team continues to focus on matchmaking improvements with 2019 gameplay updates, rank point decay and changes to Team League.
Features Coming Soon to Heroes
The current roles do not fully reflect the intent behind Heroes. There’s a big difference between Sonya and Johanna. New players don’t necessarily know that, because we call them Warriors.
With the role update, they hope to give players a better understanding at what their Heroes are supposed to do in lane.
We’ll have six roles: Tank, Bruiser, Healer, Support, Melee Assassin, Ranged Assassin. Specialists are gone.
Call of the Nexus
The new feature added in the latest patch is introduced to help prevent undesirable Quick Match comps (Assassin, Assassin, Specialist, Specialist, Specialist).
Every Quick Match will have a Tank, Healer, Ranged Assasin + 2 Fills (enforced QM comps) in the next content patch and you’ll receive a 50% increased XP bonus, if you queue for any roles that are currently in short supply.
It will be enabled shortly after the patch goes live.
Boost provide 5% XP bonus per player (up to 45%) in addition to all bonuses provided by the Stimpack.
Removal of group size limitations had a great impact on Team League play across the board.
Upcoming Changes to Ranked Play
Combine Hero League & Team League together while providing an option for solo players to only be matched against other solo players if they choose. This will allow for more flexibility in the matchmaker to find each player an opponent with similar skill.
Loss Forgiveness will be introduced and you won’t lose ANY rank points if your ally is disconnected for a certain amount of time.
Leavers will face stacking penalties during a Season.
Reduce Placement Matches: The amount of placement games will be reduced to 3.
Seasonal Ranked Quest will be introduced and you’ll have to complete a fixed number of games to receive your end-of-season rewards.
Promotion/Demotion Games will be removed.
Performance-based matchmaking will be used to educate players.
Show MMR / Remove Ranked Points from calculation, so winning or losing matches will increase and/or decrease your MMR.
Brightwing recieved a rework in September, because she felt old undesirable with the introduction of new Heroes.
The goal of a rework is to make various talent builds viable. Sometimes, they even make changes to a Hero’s base kit.
Whenever they do a rework, they must examine Hero fantasy.
Next Heroes that will be reworked in December include Stitches, and Sylvanas.
Stitches Rework Goals
They love his Hook and want to keep it awesome. No changes to that particular ability are planned.
Slam will be made more interesting. You only use it on cooldown and they would like to give players more active decision making when using it.
Sylvanas Rework Goals
Make her an epic ranged assassin.
Introduce powerful new team fight talents (similar to Windrunner).
Preserve existing fantasy in some form.
Rework her Black Arrows trait to allow for more counter play.
Gameplay Update Philosophy
Last year, they mades some significant changes to core game mechanics:
Pulled back camera, Stealth revamp, Neutral Regen globes, Infinite tower ammo.
2019 Gameplay Updates
They don’t want games to snowball out of control, so they’re making huge adjustments to Experience gains to keep games more even.
Forts & Keeps are worth no XP.
Towers are worth 50% less XP.
Mercenary XP +100%
They’re also changing how catapults work.
Destroyed forts spawn 1 catapult every 3rd minion wave, allowing new strategic decisions.
Armor is receiving an update in two areas.
On the gameplay side, they received feedback from pros about Armor stacking that was dominating their decision making.
On the UI side, the game doesn’t accurately show the amount of Armor you have, so in the 2019 gameplay update, the UI is going to show all armor types separately (physical / spell armor have unique icons).
Armor stacking will be removed.
Post-game stat tracking is something they’d like to implement at some point in the future as part of the education system in Heroes of the Storm.
Talents that had the ability to stack Armor are now capped (e.g. Tyrande).
A new Hero select screen is coming later in 2019. They plan to update it with a new “feature” that has a different appearance.
2019 gameplay updates will be introduced throughout Seasons. They don’t want to drop all changes at once, but rather individually to see and determine their impact on the game.
Dark Nexus Dehaka skin? Noted.
Towers of Doom and Alterac Pass don’t have catapults in the traditional sense. On Towers, they kept the XP from towers, because the objective does not provide any XP and in Alterac Pass, they had to significantly tuned down the Reaver that spawns instead of catapults, because it was too powerful in the early game.