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PAX Prime 2014: Heroes of the Storm is friendly, zany fun


Heroes of the Storm's beginnings are rooted in a mod that Blizzard made in 2010 to encourage StarCraft II players to get into the modding scene. Not only was this unnecessary (the StarCraft II comunity took to modding like fish to water) but the mod gradually became so well-liked internally that proper development began in 2012 to make it a full-fledged MOBA.

At PAX Prime, I asked the team what was going to make Heroes of the Storm stand out from the rest of the MOBA pack -- or whether it was merely content to ride the Blizzard name to big sales. The response was that this game is shaping up to be one of the most friendly and welcoming MOBAs on the market. Gone are mechanics like denying and last hits and in are new concepts like shared team levels. The devs said that the root of the toxic atmosphere seen in many MOBAs is game design that focuses more in individual selfishness and potential ways to hurt your own team. There also won't be any chatting with the opposing team in HotS to cut down on potential sass-mouth.

Another standout feature of Heroes of the Storm is that Blizzard is cheekily taking characters from all of its IPs and happily mashing them together in a "world between worlds." It's a game, I was told, that nobody should take too seriously. It's hard to do that when you have a King Candy Muradin, for example. (As an aside, if he dies in a match, does that mean he gets licked?) Twenty-eight characters are in the game so far, and Blizzard plans to add more regularly.

We took a look at one of the game's five battleground maps. This particular 5v5 match featured interesting mechanics such as giant gates that would block quick progress to the enemy's side until the gates were broken down. It also had a tribute collection system. If one team managed to snag enough tributes, then it would "neuter" the enemy team for a minute or two.

I was impressed that Blizzard is continuing to embrace the same style of free-to-play that Hearthstone enjoys, down to earnable currency that can be used to buy premium skins and cosmetics. Players will be able to earn their first permanent hero within an hour of play, with other heroes being made available for temporary play on a rotation system.

Heroes of the Storm currently has a small alpha population and is one of the hottest game tickets in town. Blizzard plans to expand testing soon but "wants to get it right."

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

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