Heroes of the Storm isn’t officially released until early next week, but with a full year of alpha and beta testing under their belts, lots of gamers have already mastered Blizzard’s MOBA. HotS doesn’t like to think of itself as a traditional MOBA, but it’s hard to describe the game without comparing it to DOTA2 or League of Legends. Any time those two games come up, many casual gamers immediately shut down and lose interest. Despite the bad reputation that MOBA communities and learning curves have, Heroes may be the perfect gateway to the genre.
Like a lot of designer board games, it’s hard to learn how to play a MOBA without an experienced player in the room looking over your shoulder and pointing out tips. Heroes of the Storm attempts to address some of those issues by providing more tutorials than its competitors, and by offering a few characters specifically designed to make the jump into the game as painless as possible. To keep things as simple as possible, gamers playing Heroes of the Storm for the first time next week will have the best luck if they start with one of these characters…
If there is one character who was specifically designed with new players in mind, it would be Raynor. The StarCraft character is a part of the Assassin class, which is our top pick for new players. Assassins usually focus on single target DPS (damage per second) and Raynor makes that task as simple as possible with a point and click attack method.
Raynor has a decent amount of health, so players won’t be punished too viciously for standing in the wrong spot (which will happen a lot as they are learning the game) and he only has three real abilities to manage. His two regular active abilities combined with his beginner ultimate will allow even the newest of players to put up a respectable about of damage for the team. As a little extra noobie treat, Raynor also comes equipped with a stimpack that will keep players alive through one fatal mistake.
When starting out in a MOBA, it’s usually a good idea to stick to DPS classes or tanks. The Warrior class definitely has an important role to play and is far from “easy mode,” but the extra life that comes along with these characters will help keep inexperienced players alive longer than the squishy high damage output characters.
Players who want to take the Warrior path should start out with Diablo, the titular villain from Blizzard’s dungeon crawler. The demon’s main strength is that he has a ridiculous amount of health. New players are able to charge into bases and button mash his abilities without being immediately burned down (most of the time). Diablo is penalized for death, but players who stick with their teammates should be able to keep him alive pretty easily throughout most of the match.
One of the demon hunters from the Diablo universe, Valla was voted as the most popular character during the Heroes of the Dorm competition and it’s not hard to tell why. The ranged-attack based Assassin is often criticized for being too boring, but that simplicity is exactly what makes her many gamer’s favorite character. Valla has a low skill cap, easy ways to escape traps, and very high AOE damage. That perfect storm makes her an ideal choice for gamers interested in staying behind the battleline and picking off enemies from a distance.
As we move into the final two characters, we want to remind new players that we highly recommend starting with an Assassin or Warrior until the game’s roles and mechanics start to click. That said, players who decide to get crazy and run with a Specialist class should invest in Zagara.
She specializes in getting her job done (lots of damage) while staying as far away from the action as possible. Her strength is launching a relentless assault from out of range and burning enemies down before they get a chance to reach her. The Broodmother isn’t pretty to look at, but she allows players to contribute significant damage without too much complexity.
Players who are bold enough to jump into the game as a Support character may be tempted by Brightwing, but we recommend starting out with Li Li. What makes the Pandarian healer so unique and perfect for new players is that almost all of her abilities feature an auto-targeting system.
The auto-target makes it easy for new players to toss out healing brews to allies and blind enemies with bursts of wind even before they have being accustomed to the game’s usual targeting system. Healing is definitely no easy task, but Li Li makes the learning curve much easier than some of the more complicated Support characters.
Which character do you plan on starting with? Do you already have a favorite? Let us know in the comments.
Heroes of the Storm will leave its current open beta and enter full release on June 2nd for both Mac and PC.