- New maximum graphic settings for 32-bit operating systems You’ll be surprised at how bad a lot of people are at using computers. With the trend going towards convenience and usability, fewer people need to actually know how computers work nowadays because they’re so easy to use. Something goes wrong? A few decades ago, you needed to retrace your steps on your own and find out where the problem happened. Today? Just run the troubleshooter, and it will automatically solve it for you. With a remarkable number of people not knowing how processors, graphics cards, and screen resolution can affect frames per second, frame skip, and other in-game performance issues, it’s clear that the easy way out is to just do it for them, rather than trying to leave settings in their hands. I can visualize a young teenage boy, loading up Heroes of the Storm for the first time on his eight-year-old laptop, and projecting his (soon-to-be) masculinity into his game settings by selecting Extreme for every option. He then proceeds to queue into a game and play at 3 frames per second, mentioning every several seconds how much this game sucks, not realizing that it’s actually because his laptop probably can’t handle anything above Low. I like that it seems like Blizzard is taking a step towards expanding their playerbase and trying to improve retention rates. Hopefully, not even giving the option for people to screw over their own gaming experience will make Heroes of the Storm more user-friendly.
- Lt. Morales Although Lt. Morales’ traits and specific damage numbers have not yet been published, it’s clear that she does very little damage. According to information released so far, her only sources of damage output are through basic attacks and her Displacement Grenade, with everything else being a heal, buff to an ally, or utility spell. This new hero sort of reminds me of the zDPS Witch Doctor from a while back in Diablo III (zDPS stands for zero damage per second, the build was named as such because it has very little damage output compared to other conventional builds). The zDPS Witch Doctor would use Haunt, paired with the legendary affix on Tiklandian Visage, to permanently crowd control enemies. It’s interesting to see that, in a similar manner, a hero with almost no damage output can be included in a team composition simply because she provides such good utility. The way Lt. Morales is designed also continues Blizzard’s trend towards giving each hero a unique identity. A problem that a lot of League of Legends players face is feeling restricted to a small set of champions that are in-meta. These champions are considered the most powerful because they do what other champions do, but better. For example, for a period of time, Hecarim was the best top laner because he could basically do what all other top laners could do, but better, and all-in-one (tankiness, mobility, dueling, assassination potential, sustained damage output, etc.). League of Legends addressed this problem by releasing the juggernaut patch, where a bunch of champions were reworked and given “gimmicks” to make them unique from one another. Even then, there are still situations where you see a champion and think, “why play this champion when you can play this other champion instead, fill the same role, and do it better?” For Blizzard, although this is likely attributed to the fact that there aren’t many heroes yet, each new hero already has a unique set that will allow them to fill a role no other hero can fill. For Lt. Morales, that role is a support/utility-only role, which will likely work well with teams that have a lot of high-risk high-reward hypercarry heroes (heroes deal a lot of damage and pose a huge threat to the enemies, but die easily without help from allies).
- Clarity changes to buffs, debuffs, and visual effects There are a handful of changes to improve clarity in-game, some of them including a structure targeting indicator, an egg overlay for Murky, art for Lamb to the Slaughter victims, and stack indicators for some talents. This is a step in the right direction, but something that really needs to be added back into the game at a high priority are all buff and debuff indicators, not just the few from this patch. A handful of patches ago, these indicators were removed from the game for reworking. With this change, we lost a lot of information about our heroes’ statuses. The number one thing that sets apart a better player from a worse player is how many things they can keep track of at the same time. A very new player might only have the capacity to focus on the one-on-one in lane, while a professional player will be keeping track of every single one of his/her opponents. However, to expect someone to memorize the duration of all enemy crowd control and count the number of seconds for the Block trait to max out is a little unrealistic. There needs to be a good middle-ground for information being provided so the player can work with what (s)he has. It’s fine if buffs and debuffs get cluttered. They’re off in the corner, and their icons are small enough that they are not going to cover up important areas of gameplay, even when a hero might be under the effects of 15 things at once. New players probably won’t even notice them anyway because they’re tunnel visioning on the fight. Seasoned players will appreciate the fact that they can now see their hero’s power swings (when am I crowd controlled vs. when am I ready to fight with max stacks of a passive). Professional players will use this to distinguish themselves between regional champions and world champions.
- Other changes I really like the implementation of end-of-game surveys. I obviously have no clue what kinds of questions they’ll be asking, but research is always one of the keys to improvement, and polling players is a good way to gather information. I also like how the question will be asked right after a game – this will help gauge end-of-game emotions (because players will not have had a chance to “cool down”), and avoid skewed answers from poor memory. The loading screen will now contain more information about the upcoming game. For more serious players who are playing as a group, this is a good opportunity to strategize before the game. Always remember that the game starts at hero select, not when minions spawn, and continues until one core explodes. Branching off the last point, group replay viewing is another way for serious players to come together and analyze play. This will probably be an extraordinarily effective tool for professional teams that haven’t transitioned into a gaming house yet, and can’t just huddle around one computer to watch replays. And finally, Garden of Terror is about to become a lot more annoying, as if the Terror wasn’t irritating enough. Overgrowth can now disable the Core, and has scaling health based on game time. One thing I really liked about Heroes of the Storm is how the Core can defend itself (unlike how the Nexus in League of Legends is just an inactive structure when its double turrets are down). I sure hope that this Overgrowth change brings some unexpectedly good results, because as of right now, I’m not too excited for it.
There was a problem with today’s PTR launch and the patch is being delayed until the beginning of next week. But, luckily, that doesn’t delay this article – here are my thoughts on the changes being trailed on the public test realm. Source: Heroes of the Storm PTR Patch Notes – September 24, 2015 (via Battle.net)