The Nexus Challenge, and the marketing push that accompanied it, has brought a large influx of new players into the Nexus. For many of these players, their Heroes experience has been limited to Versus AI games. This is understandable since playing against bots is a common choice for new players in general, and it also the most efficient way to complete the challenge and reap the benefits. Fortunately, many of the players who were drawn into the Nexus by the lure of Overwatch rewards have discovered that they actually enjoy Heroes of the Storm. As these players continue to play the game it is natural that they will consider expanding to other modes of play.
For some, making the jump from computer opponents to real opponents can be an intimidating one. Given the dramatic difference between the style of play in AI and Quick Match games, I thought it would be helpful to highlight a few things you should know. Whether you are a newcomer to the Nexus looking for a new challenge, or veteran player who has always stuck to AI, here are a few tips to ease your transition into QM.
Objectives are Paramount
This may be the single biggest difference between Versus AI and Quick Match.
In AI games, the number one priority is usually speed. Winning is a given, the only question is how long it is going to take. Players want to finish the game as quickly as possible, which usually means that everyone groups in a single lane and storms their way to the enemy Core. Things like soaking experience, mercenary camps, and even Map Objectives themselves are ignored in the interest of speed. There is no strategy to this style of play; it is a pure zerg rush.
In QM games, the Objective is the number one priority. This doesn’t mean that you have to win every Objective, or even contest them all, but at the end of the game the winning team will usually be the one that did the best job of capitalizing on the Objectives. When playing against real people you will constantly have to make strategic decisions, and many of them will center around Objectives. As you gain more experiences you will learn when it makes situational sense to forgo an Objective, but generally speaking when the Objective is up it should take precedence over whatever else you might be doing.
Teamwork is Key
Heroes of the Storm is fundamentally a team based strategy game, but this doesn’t always come across when you are playing Versus AI. When you are playing against bots, a lack of teamwork just means it is going to take longer for you to win the game. In games versus real players, a lack of teamwork means you are going to lose, and probably badly. While being able to play your hero well is important, your success or failure is ultimately going to be determined by how well your team works together.
You can play Heroes as a single player game versus the AI and get away with it. If you want to stay in the top lane all by yourself and never leave then go right ahead. If you want to solo merc camps as a LiLi, more power to you. If you want to roam the map ganking bots then live it up. Just like ignoring Objectives, the only real downside to these actions is that it is going to take your team longer to win.
You won’t get away with plays like these in games against real players. AI players aren’t likely to punish you for your mistakes, but real players will. While you are chasing kills and patting yourself on the back over your sick Hero Damage, your team is stuck contesting every Objective shorthanded. You might be the best lane pusher NA, but if you never leave your lane to help in a team fight your results are going to suffer. What makes Heroes so challenging, and also so enjoyable, is that there are times when it is correct to operate individually and other times when you need to come together as a team. The trick is learning to tell the difference.
More Talent Options
The short duration of AI games, and the focus on rushing the Core, severely limits the number of viable Talent choice. Quest Talents are a perfect example of this. These Talents are often avoided in AI games, since more often than not the game will end before they can be completed. However, in QM these Talents can be some of the strongest options.
In AI games players often choose whichever Talent provides the biggest increase to their damage. In Quick Match your Talent choices are much more situational, and it is often correct to forgo a dps increase in favor of a Talent that improves your survivability or versatility. While it is fine to have a “standard build” you should be willing to vary your choices from game to game should the situation require it.
Beware of Bad Manners
Losing brings out the worst in people. Considering that losses Versus AI are rare, you are much less likely to see the dark side of your teammates when playing bot games. Sure, you might occasionally see some complaining when someone doesn’t abide by the rush one lane at all cost mantra, but that is about as bad as it gets. Sadly, it gets much worse once you start playing against real opponents.
If you come from Overwatch, you might be used to being able to read your opponent’s comments in chat. In Heroes, the other team can’t chat with you so you don’t have to worry about being taunted by that Zeratul who has killed you eight times. What you may have to worry about is your teammates berating you for that or any number of faults they may find with your play. Frankly I think this is why so many people avoid playing against other players. They don’t want the pressure of having to live up to the expectations of their teammates, or deal with the toxic behavior that can result if they fall short.
If you would rather not listen to some jerk yell at you for not knowing what you are doing, while you are actually trying to learn what you are doing, then you can use the Mute Allied Chat option. It will show up near the bottom of your screen at the start of the game. Players’ behaving poorly is more the exception not the rule so it isn’t something you are going to encounter often, but it will happen. There is nothing wrong with being new or making mistakes. Don’t let someone else’s bad attitude keep you from having fun.
Playing against the AI is a perfectly fine way to play the game. I know many players who enjoy the game and never venture outside the confines of Versus AI, but if you feel the urge to try a new mode of play I hope the tips have been helpful.
Good luck and by all means, have fun.