Rewind the clock a year or so, and you’ll find a much younger, handsomer me playing Heroes of the Storm during its technical alpha. Back then, I saw it as nothing more than a cute, casual MOBA for beginners, but today, I will not shy away from admitting that Blizzard’s take on the genre is now my title of choice, over and above (believe it or not) that other one that rhymes with “shmota do”.
I don’t know what it is about it that swayed me over to be honest. Is it because I can square off my favourite characters from the various Blizzard franchises against others? Maybe. Is it because the game is actually a lot deeper and complex than I gave it credit? Perhaps. Maybe I’ve fallen in love with Heroes of the Storm simply because Blizzard have not shied away from shaking up the traditional MOBA formula.
This has never been more apparent than it has now with all the announcements that came out of BlizzCon this past weekend. There are four new heroes coming to the Nexus (one being Overwatch’s Tracer, who was only teased), along with a brand new battleground. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s an Arena on its way too.
With regards to breaking the usual MOBA mould, I’d like to draw attention to the new hero Cho’gall in particular. Blizzard blew fans away when they announced that the dual-headed warrior would actually need two people to control him.
When I first heard this news, I cheered along with the crowd, because what the hell, it really is unique idea for a hero. When I sat back and let the announcement sink in however, it seemed absurd. How could two people playing the same character, especially in a MOBA, ever pay off, or ever hope to be fun? I just couldn’t see it being any good. The very next day, I found a free PC in the press room, and sat down to find some answers.
Thing is, I needed a partner to play Cho’gall with, and there was nobody else around at that particular moment. While I waited for somebody to show up, I set about messing around with the other two new heroes coming to the Nexus soon, Greymane and Lunara. I played them both on the new battleground, Towers of Doom, which as a matter of fact, further showcased Blizzard’s ability to mix the MOBA formula up.
In Tower of Doom, players cannot reach their enemies core. Instead, they need to worry about capturing outposts, and periodically, alters. If an altar is activated, a number of shots equal to the number of outposts under a teams control is fired off at the enemies main base. A team wins, obviously, when the enemy core runs out of health.
The fact that a core cannot be assaulted changes the focus of the game somewhat. There are still lanes and such, and mercs to capture which can help gain momentum on specific parts of the map, but the real focus is to capture outposts, and maintain control of them.
Does a team band together, and grab objective after objective? Or do they split up, with smaller of chance of success, but greater potential for controlling more outposts? It’s an interesting dynamic, and one I can’t wait to experience more of when Tower of Doom is patched into the main client.
In running around this new Battleground, I got to play both Greymane and Lunara for a fair amount of time. While not as unique as Cho’gall, both proved to be fun, and will be enjoyed by many when they arrive in the Nexus.
Greymane is definitely the more difficult of the two. Figuring out his two forms and their respective abilities when in each took some getting used to, but once figured out, I got a feeling of how he should be played. He excels at getting into the thick of battle, but at the same time, has the ability to roll away for a quick getaway. I foresee many hero assassinations taking place in his future.
Lunara on the other hand, while still somewhat complicated, is a lot easier in comparison. She’s all about poison damage and slowing the enemy down. When used in conjunction with a team of disablers, she will be able to deal some truly insane damage.
At this point, a BlizzCon representative lead a Korean journalist over to the PC next to mine. Finally, I had a friend to try out Cho’gall with! Problem was, my new buddy didn’t seem to speak much English. Communication was a definite issue. This however, proved to be the perfect way to test the dual-headed hero out.
Besides being two heroes rolled into one in essence, Cho’gall is actually the perfect way to introduce a newcomer to the world of MOBAs. One person has control of both movement and spells, while the other has their own unique set of abilities at their disposal. Imagine wanting to show a newbie friend how a MOBA works, and all they have to do is cast spells (and not stress about dying and feeding), while you control everything else for them?
In no way was my journalist friend a beginner, not by any means, but suddenly I realised what potential Cho’gall had in the overall Heroes of the Storm scheme. Adding him to the character pool really is a smart move on Blizzard’s part – it should help usher in a bunch of new players, helping them understand how the game works before they’re brave enough to take control of their own character.
Anyways, back to the point – how does Cho’gall play? Being a two-for-one package, having him on a team means that the match becomes a 4 vs 5 affair. It sounds like a disadvantage on paper, but I assure you, it really isn’t. Cho’gall has essentially double the health pool and stats of any other hero. He is a mean tank, and incredibly difficult to take down. Doing so though is a big deal, because destroying him essentially counts as a double kill.
In the one match I played, I was in control of the two-headed warrior. I felt very self-conscious at first, like I had to go out of my way to keep things interesting so as to keep my Korean pal entertained. I mean, he didn’t have the option of moving around afterall, and was stuck with going wherever I wanted to. It didn’t seem to matter, because when we got some kills, we cheered and laughed. On the flipside, when I moved out of position, and as a result, died, I expected shunning of maximum proportions from my partner. It never happened though – he just giggled and smiled instead.
Granted, this all happened in a closed environment where I was sitting next to my ally. The same may not happen at all online. The point I’m trying to get at however is that even though we barely understood each other, we had an absolute blast regardless. Communication was not required at all to play Cho’gall, and have fun doing so.
Blizzard continue to wow me with their out of the box thinking. I cannot wait for all this new content to arrive!
Last Updated: November 11, 2015