When Blizzard reactivates the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha, it will reopen with a handful of much-needed new features – the bare bones necessities of the RTS engine it was birthed from – including the ability for players to set up custom games, sit in on games as observers (for shoutcasting, etc.), and review/share replays of completed games.
Custom games will see the beginning of whatever competitive scene is to emerge in Heroes prior to its official launch, and given that a handful of semi-professional teams have already formed, there is sure to be swift uptake on the usage of this feature. Players can select their map of choice, and custom games have room for up to two observer clients in addition to the up to 10 player slots.
The observer interface is fairly basic at this point, but if the history of observing in StarCraft is anything to go on, the Heroes client will also have the ability for the obs UI to be modified somewhat. Replay functionality will be more or less identical to the StarCraft 2 client.
Read on for Blizzard’s full announcement:
The Calm Before the Storm has nearly passed, and the return of the Technical Alpha will offer a very early look at a few features for Heroes of the Storm that we’re sure some of you will be excited to try out. Today, we’d like to introduce you to our initial implementation for Custom Games, Observer mode, and Replays.
While you read through today’s information, kindly keep in mind that these features are not yet final. Development work is still ongoing, and we’ll roll out additional polish and improvements with future game updates. Now, let’s get started!
Let’s say that you and your Heroes friends have developed a healthy rivalry against another team through Versus matchmaking, and now you’re looking to settle the score against your nemeses once and for all. Well, you’re in luck, because our next patch will bring an early version of Custom Games to the Technical Alpha, which you can use to set up pre-arranged matches with and against other players of your choosing.
Opening a Custom Game lobby is quick and easy. Here are a few steps you can use to get started:
- Click the Play button on the menu navigation bar at the bottom of the Home screen.
- Click “Change Mode” on the Play screen.
- Next, select Custom Games on the right side of the list of game modes presented to you.
- Finally, choose a Battleground and hit the Confirm button.
- Once the lobby is open, up to 10 player slots and two observer slots can be filled by human players
While on the lobby screen, you’ll see your teammates and their selected heroes displayed front and center — much like you would when queuing for a matchmaking game. You’ll also see the enemy team, their selected heroes, and any observers, displayed vertically along the far right side of the screen. Empty slots will display a purple “Invite” button, which can be clicked to invite additional players and observers to join the game lobby. If you prefer, A.I. players can be added to fill empty player slots by pressing the “Fill A.I.” button on the right side of the screen.
We know that wrangling all of your friends for an organized match can sometimes be a little hectic, so we’ve provided a variety of tools that the lobby host can use to efficiently set up a lobby. As the host, you can click the wrench icon underneath your teammates, or right-click an enemy player’s portrait, to access a number of options for that player, including: Swap Team, Make Observer, Make Host, and Kick. Finally, if any A.I. players are present in the lobby, the host can change each A.I. player’s difficulty setting to the desired level.
Now that you’ve learned how to set up Custom Game lobbies and organize Heroes matches against your rivals, you’ll need witnesses to your certain and countless victories. As mentioned above, you can invite other players into a lobby as observers so that they can passively spectate your team’s dominance, or utter annihilation, on the field of battle. Click the image below to get a sneak peek at our initial implementation for Observer mode U.I., coming with the next Tech Alpha patch.
As an observer, you will still see much of the same information that’s displayed to players during a match, including the in-game timer, team levels, the minimap, and Battleground objective counters. However, you’ll also share vision with every single player on the Battleground so that you don’t miss any of the action as the match plays out. What’s more, each team’s selected Heroes, remaining Forts, and Takedown total will be displayed in the upper-right and left corners of the screen so that you can easily keep track of the game at a glance.
Perhaps you’d like to relive a few clutch plays made while vanquishing your foes in furious Custom Games combat, or maybe you’re hoping to step up your game by reviewing a few of your latest Versus games. Well, our next Heroes of the Storm patch will allow you to do exactly that.
Once the Tech Alpha is back online, the Watch button will be enabled on the menu navigation bar at the bottom of the Home screen. Press Watch to bring up a list of Replays from your recent matches in all game modes. Clicking any Replay in the list will display information for that game’s duration and Battleground, as well as each player’s name and hero, on the right-hand side of the screen. Once the desired game has been selected, click the Watch Solo button in the lower left to launch the Replay.
You’ll notice that there are a lot of similarities between watching a Replay and observing a Custom Game, with one major difference: While watching a Replay, you’ll find controls in the lower left corner of the screen that you can use to Pause or Resume (P), as well as Speed Up (=) or Slow Down (-) playback. Additionally, you can click anywhere on the Replay Timeline (T) to navigate to that point in the Replay.
HEROES COMMUNITY TOURNAMENTS
With the arrival of Custom Games, Observer mode, and Replays, we’re pleased to let you know that you should feel free to begin organizing community-run Heroes of the Storm tournaments. If you do choose to run a tournament, kindly ensure your event complies with the guidelines listed in our Community Tournament policy, which will soon be updated to include Heroes of the Storm.
It is important to keep in mind that Heroes is still in the Technical Alpha testing stage, and future updates will likely bring changes to features, including those you’ll use frequently while running a tournament. Additionally, we cannot guarantee that maintenance downtime, game updates, bugs, or other service interruptions will not conflict with the timing of your event.
Finally, we know that not everyone who wishes to participate in Heroes tournaments has access to the game at this time, but we’re still inviting new players into the Technical Alpha on a regular basis. So, if you don’t have access just yet, make sure you’ve opted-in to testing on your Battle.net Account Management page to give yourself the best shot at receiving an invitation.
We hope you’ll enjoy using Custom Games, Observer mode, and Replays once the Nexus comes back online. Once again, we’d like to remind you that these features are not finished and future game updates will bring further improvements, iteration, and polish to them over the weeks and months to come. In the meantime, please continue to share your constructive thoughts with us in the Heroes forums. We love hearing from all of our Technical Alpha players, and your feedback goes a long way toward helping us make Heroes the most fun game it can be.
See you in the Nexus!
Which new feature are you most excited for? Will you be setting up a Heroes community tournament with the arrival of Custom Game functionality? Want to see the BlizzPro staff take on all comers?! Let us know in the comments.