The big news of the week was Blizzard announcing a launch date of June 2nd for Heroes of the Storm – much earlier than many of us anticipated considering it was almost May and we were still in closed Beta testing. So while our compatriots in Italy will be celebrating Republic Day, the rest (most?) of the world will be jumping into a ‘finished’ version of Heroes of the Storm for the first time. But how finished is it, really? We’ll only find out for sure on that eventful Tuesday itself, but here are some additions and fixes that I feel need to be made before we can crack the champagne on this baby…
The addition of clans (the MOBA equivalent of guilds for you MMO players out there) was teased at PAX East, but we haven’t seen or heard much of this feature since. In a game genre where solo queue-ing can sometimes guide players through the Scylla and Charybdis of the incompetent and the incomprehensibly cruel, the option of having a group of other people whom you trust and can draw on to group up with is an important selling point. Also, while the current Chat Channel feature does offer some of this benefit, larger clans will provide a deeper pool from which to draw, and also a banner you can wave as you head into the next match.
Yes, some improvements have been made regarding this long-time player irritant, but random disconnects from the game still occur too often and the process of re-entering a match is still too painful. When you are teased that it is only 0:05 until reconnect, and that 5 seconds repeats itself over and over, as if you are stuck in a Roddenberry-esque temporal anamoly, it is not only a cruel tease, but also quite possibly the end of your hopes for winning a close match.
A Little Love for the Other IP’s
I am more than happy to be able to play such luminaries of Azeroth as Jaina, Thrall and Sylvanas, but the latest queue of heroes into the game has been notably bereft of any figures from the Starcraft or Diablo universes, respectively. It is understandable that the vast reservoir of lore associated with World of Warcraft is a tempting lure for the developers, however, there are certainly many available options in their other flagship franchises. This is especially evident as we are still missing a warrior class from Starcraft and support class from Diablo, which gets drawn to my attention anytime you attempt to do those related daily quests. Why not a Firebat, helmed by Lieutenant Mance Pyreau? Or introduce a hero who has supported us from the very beginning of our journey through Sanctuary: Deckard Cain? We have a month and a half, it will be tight but I’d rather have these two or a variant than another elf or mage… I’m looking at you, Kael’thas.
Improved System Optimization
This is one that I am sure will be addressed by Blizzard before launch, but I’m throwing it out here to ensure that it’s not forgotten. The game has been very smooth since launch, but lag spikes and FPS issues still appear from time to time and usually right as I’m about to enter a team fight… just my luck. I am not playing the game on a top level gaming machine, but my specs are still in a very comfortable place for this game and yet I simply cannot get it to run smoothly in the 64-bit mode. Having a year-long Technical Alpha did wonders for stabilizing the servers on the back-end, but none of that means a thing if the game is running inefficiently on the user’s PC.
No, that’s not a typo, I actually want less maps to [potentially] pop up when I queue into a match. I’m not asking for any of them to be eliminated altogether, but it is time to start a monthly five- or six-map rotation, benching some of the older maps for newer ones like Sky Temple and Tomb of the Spider Queen. It feels like the community is pretty tired of Haunted Mines and I certainly could live without Blackheart’s Bay for a while. This may anger some players who feel that the preponderance of maps gives the game a unique and challenging feel, but with an influx of new players about to enter our Nexus, the barrier to entry increases exponentially with every objective they have to understand and every map strategy they need to memorize. And you should always be able to choose them in Custom Mode for tournament play, even if they’re riding the pine.
Felice festa della repubblica and see you in the Nexus on June 2nd!
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidJasonToy.