The team has a lot in store for the future of Heroes of the Storm. At the What’s Next panel, they talked about their vision for the game going forward, as well as what fans can expect in the coming year.
- Themed Events
- Role Update
- Quick Match Changes
- Ranked Update
- Future Content
- Gameplay Update
Joe comes to the stage to talk about features that are coming to the Nexus. Starting with Nexomania, they brought themed events centered around cosmetics. They wanted to talk be able to tell any story they wanted with these events. Actually brings up data to the table talking about how Lunara got 53% of the quest picks from Nexomania. Next up for Alliance and Horde with the Horde winning with 58% rather fascinating teams. After with the tombstone event it seems that that the defiled mount won with 64%. They express a lot of excitement with these events, they’re going to keep doing these events.
Now with new features starting with a role update. Makes the valid point that despite both being warriors Johanna and Sonya function differently. He talks about educating the players who are starting who might not understand the interplay between roles. Starts with Tanks people like Anub’arak, Muradin, Stitches and the traditional frontliners. Now we also have brusiers, people lke D’va, Yrel, Leoric, Chen gets a mention, those with health but can also deal out decent damage. Next up are healers, such as Uther, Lili, Morales, and others. Supports come in as a new role that’s reserved for Abathur, The Lost Vikings, Meidvh, Tassadar and Zarya, that’s the full list there. Not traditional healers or other roles, but still provide viable support to a team. After that is melee assassins, heroes like Zeratul, Butcher…Gazlow and Murky. After that is ranged assassins, which interestingly heroes like Azmodan and Nazeebo have been reclassified into.
Next up are quick match changes. Talking about just wanting to jump into the game, the team loves quick match but also acknowledges that sometimes you get stuck with terrible comps. Gives the example of 2 assassins and 3 specialists and how that simply isn’t a winning comp. He talks about how nobody wants that and coming soon there will be an enforced Quick Match comp that will consist of a Tank, Healer, Ranged Assassin and 2 flex spots for each team. If you queue for the named roles you’ll get a 50% XP bonus when they’re required. Announces it will be coming soon after Orphea’s launch. Stimpacks are gone, say hello to boosts. In any game where a boost is active you’ll get an addition 5% XP bonus so if all players have a boost active that’ll be a 45% boost.
Joe now brings up the ranked update. Comments that the game is a team based game. Several pieces of feed back were offered first, team league queues were too long, second, add duo queue back to hero league, third, never add duo queue back to hero league. Talks about team league and how the solo queue for team league came in and actually reduced the queue time. He notes that after the change to team league the player base for team league exploded in population without dropping the player base of hero league. He starts to talk about up the upcoming changes to ranked play starting with combining Hero League and Team League, while providing and option to have solo players only be matched against solo players if they choose. Next up, disconnect loss forgiveness. In any ranked game, and extended disconnect won’t result in a loss of MMR or ranked points. Mentions that leavers get will get penalized with stacking penalties if they continue to leave games. Next up, they’re reducing the placement games required down from 10 to 3, but also adding a seasonal ranked quest being assigned a number of games to complete in order to get their end of season rewards and mentions there will be a few extra goodies. Next up, no more promotion and demotion games, notes that there’s a ton of anxiety around those types of games and a lot of players simply stop playing after being placed in one of those games. They will also be using performance based match making to educate players. They were trying to use it to ascertain where players actually belonged, and that it’s still been running in the background after being removed and the team has been using that data. They want players to be able to go back and learn from their games. Finally they will show MMR and remove ranked points from ranked play. This last change is a massive shift away from how blizzard approached competitive play.
Now Matt comes to the stage to talk about content. He starts off talking about reworks and their decision making in how they decide things. They do hundreds of internal testing of a hero to decide on how the character works and what talents are viable. Brings up Brightwing and how many new characters have come along since Brightwing and how she might have played outdated since then. Brings up when looking at heroes they’re going to rework they talk about what talents aren’t getting picked and if they should either rework the talent or make a new talent for that hero or even adjust core mechanics, again in Brightwing’s case they gave her an active cleanse on her trait.
He says they’re going to show off the next reworks that will be coming in December starting with Stitches. When they decide on doing a rework they examine the hero fantasy, why are you wanting to play this system. Next they had to decide what his role will be in the upcoming system, which will be a tank. They love his hook mechanic. They definitely want to keep hook awesome and make slam more awesome. Not sure I follow that, slam build is the priority build for Stitches these days. They definitely want to give players a bit more decision making with slam and want to make him feel more unique. The next hero that will be getting a rework in December is Sylvanas. Again the same approach as Stitches in deciding how to do a rework with more emphasis on her horde background. They like the black arrows mechanic but want to make it more interesting. They really enjoy her black arrows trait but they feel like they can potentially make Sylvanas even more interesting. Their goals for her is now a ranged assassin rather than the specialist that she was previously. Example they list is her windrunner talent that lets her be much more aggressive with her haunting wave. They are looking to add more talents to her kit that encourage play like that. Next up for Sylvanas is preserving her existing fantasy in some form. They note that her play style can potentially allow her to push all the way up to a core if she’s left unchecked and the team is looking to preserve that in her kit. They also want to “level up” this trait and give players even more options.
Now we move onto the gameplay update feature. The questions they ask themselves as they look at improving the game questions like “How do we make changes to this game and make it better?” Noting that they pay attention to HGC and especially the Blizzcon finals where they get a lot of data on seeing strategies they haven’t anticipated in the past. He moves onto last year and talks about the gameplay update that made changes to the camera, the stealth revamp, regen globs and how tower ammo works noting how the game has improved over the course of time. Their focus for this year on gameplay changes is how can Blizzard make games more close and competitive. The team feels that the best games are when teams feel evenly matched and the game goes very back and forth with minor decisions impacting big games. Shows an example and notes the team levels. Right now they’re looking at how to keep XP changes so games avoid the snowball effect that many games suffer from starting with towers and keeps.
Going into specifics they’ll be changing forts and keeps are no longer worth XP and they’ve reduced the amount of XP that towers give by 50%. On top of this the passive XP gain has been increased by 15% and mercenary xp has been increased by 100%. (author’s note: Wouldn’t this make snatching a camp away from the enemy team, not capping the point and then killing the mercs in lane be beneficial?) Overall, he says teams are leveling at about the same rate noting that internal games feel a lot more epic. Noting that internal feed back mentioned that pushing a lane no longer felt beneficial in the early game but still felt good about taking a keep so the team decided that after taking a fort that lane will spawn a catapult every third minion wave.
He moves onto the armor update, noting feed back that armor stacking was dominating pro player decision making and note that’s not how they wanted to play the game. On the UI side they note their ability to show armor is pretty poor and was something they definitely wanted to update. So now with the UI update the health bar will show what kind of armor a character is benefiting from along with a timer beside the armor icon. On the gameplay side they’re entirely removing armor stacking noting that you want to stagger armor buffs rather than stacking armor.