When rumors of a game cycling between the names “Blizzard DotA” and “Blizzard All-Stars” were surfacing around 2010-2011, I was just about done with the whole MOBA genre of games. For me, personally, the days of classic DotA All-Stars were more or less over with. The new generation consisting of Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and Dota 2 was on the rise and I did not intend to spend more time on MOBAs. I just started playing a lot of competitive StarCraft II so there was virtually no time for me to simultaneously juggle school, my social life, a few games, and most importantly, sleep.
However, prior to the growing hype of a standalone Blizzard DotA-like game, I played DotA All-Stars religiously. I never really jumped into professional DotA tournaments or fixed team games since I enjoyed playing with random people every single game. (To be honest, I just liked carrying pubbies). I believed that was a very essential element in making DotA All-Stars, a WarCraft III map made by fans for fans, a fun experience.
Why did I end up stopping, though? Well, a few factors came into play. The aforementioned StarCraft II was a big one. So was finishing up my undergraduate degree and anything related to real life. Also, League of Legends was seriously growing in popularity back then and many of my DotA All-Stars compatriots (including my younger brother!) started migrating to LoL and other MOBA games. I figured it was time to retire.
But why didn’t I just pick up LoL like everyone else? I actually did pick up LoL. On top of that, I managed to do fairly well on my own since I brought all my DotA experience into the game (solo mid FTW), but there was just something missing.
Connection. I could not connect with the characters I played. In DotA All-Stars, the characters you played were either based on character models you recognized (such as Malfurion, Kel’Thuzad, Arthas, Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore, etc.), or based on characters from pop culture and other fandoms (such as Lina Inverse from the Slayers anime, the Butcher from Blizzard’s Diablo franchise, Squee from the Magic: the Gathering trading card game, etc.). I was unable to do so in LoL, despite there being skins you can buy to outfit your characters. Actually, I really like Ahri because of the whole nine-tailed fox thing, but obviously I couldn’t just play one character if I wanted to take the game seriously.
So here comes Blizzard All-Stars, now renamed Heroes of the Storm. It’s still a fledgling game so many things can change, but being able to take part in the fantasy of playing as the Lord of Terror is just way too tempting. Being able to pit Malfurion against Kerrigan just seems way too weird and way too awesome. But creating that weird, yet awesome, mind-blowing mix is exactly what needs to be done to stir things up a bit. Nintendo did it with Super Smash Bros. Square Enix did it with Dissidia Final Fantasy. Blizzard can do it with Heroes of the Storm.
The game will take the form of a MOBA while Riot’s League of Legends and Valve’s Dota 2 are still tops in the genre. To be honest, I personally wouldn’t even mind it if Blizzard’s characters are played in first person, or if the game takes the form of a side-scroller like Super Smash Bros., or if it takes the form of a generic one-on-one arena fighting game. The bottom line is that much of the game’s success will rest on its characters. Gameplay is one thing, but if players can connect with the characters, it brings the game in its entirety to another level. That’s why Super Smash Bros. and Dissidia Final Fantasy have done so well, at least in terms of reception, sales and legacy.
So what have I done so far with Heroes of the Storm? I had time to play a single game at BlizzCon 2013.
I played as Nova.
I shot Jim Raynor and Diablo.
I was hooked.
P.S. please make the female wizard from Diablo III a playable character.