Full disclosure: I am not a MOBA guy and have not played a whole lot of Heroes of the Storm, so I was feeling a bit out of my depth heading for the HotS booth at PAX East this year. That said, after having a couple of matches with the newest Support character Deckard Cain, I finally felt like, at long last, this was an addition to the roster meant for the newly arrived.
I kind of already fancied myself as a Support player in Heroes of the Storm anyway; when 2.0 launched, I opted for the Support Hero bundle unlock but never really dug into the game enough to know if my instincts were correct. Sure enough, a character who played like Deckard Cain spoke precisely to the way I approach MOBAs. A character who operates best when he’s hiding behind others and is helping them stay alive.
Deckard’s kit is primarily about tossing Potions to the team to heal them up while offering a few area denial tricks or traps that help set people up to lay down real hurting. Cain’s Horadric Cube slowing down foes enough for his Scroll of Sealing to lock targets down was a combination that just clicked, and his potion-tossing heals and his passive granting him boons for staying close to teammates all spoke to me in a way no hero in the Nexus had previously.
According to the developers I spoke with, the noob-friendliness of Deckard certainly is a bit by design. While they do their best to make every hero as approachable as possible while being deep enough to learn more about, Deckard’s kit working for the less aggressive player has always been an intrinsic part of his design. Even aspects of play that perhaps seem odd or less valuable to new arrivals, such as Deckard’s area denial abilities, are meant to feel powerful first. Even if the term “area denial” doesn’t ring a bell to someone fresh to MOBAs.
From that point on, my questions veered towards the experience of someone like me: someone who is still fresh to HotS and wanted to pick the brains of the devs about how they want to entice new players. One of the first questions was regarding the almost breakneck pace Heroes seem to arrive to the game and whether that might overwhelm newbies. The devs are conscious of this and are doing more to break up content releases and to also make sure existing heroes are improved. The devs also brought up the fact that HotS has a vibrant Versus AI community.
I also brought up the 2.0 bundle and whether the devs have considered having more bundles like that on offer or customizing the game to ask questions of a new arrival and tailor their experience to their answers. While bundles like those offered in 2.0 aren’t something that’s coming anytime soon, the lessons learned from offering that do seem to be taken to heart. And while the current tutorial does adjust a bit based on whether a player admits to their level of skill, the starting experience is still something the team is looking to iterate on. After all, the tutorial is one of the most important parts of the game, overlooked as it can often be.
Ultimately, the team does want to offer as many heroes who cater to as many playstyles as possible and nodded to their ranged DPS characters as being a good entry point for those who want to be aggressive without considering the best way to engage enemies at close range. If you’re a greenhorn to Heroes of the Storm, you’re invited to play around in Try Mode and check out the 70+ roster additions to see who clicks.
In my personal experience, Deckard absolutely is that clicking character for me, so I have to believe that there are at least one or two characters in that absolutely sprawling hero roster to speak to the newly initiated. While I’m not entirely sure that I’ll be playing HotS very often, I have got to admit that Deckard, and my time with the devs, has changed my mind a fair bit about how approachable Heroes of the Storm can be. Perhaps it’s time to dive back in.
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