MOBA games (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are based on DOTA (Defence of the Ancients), which was created by fans of Blizzard's WarCraft III. It is interesting to see Blizzard add their creativity to a gaming genre that they inadvertently inspired with their own generosity.
WarCraft III included a map editor that allowed gamers to create their own maps. The editor was powerful enough to encourage users to be creative. One of the more popular maps was DOTA, which has since evolved into game genre.
MOBA style games consist of a battlefield with two opposing bases. Two teams, consisting of five members each, fight with individual champions, along three lanes between the bases. Each champion has unique powers and styles. There are champions that are designed for damage output. Some are defenders, able to draw fire and take sustained damage. Support champions help keep others alive, while ability power champions are casters with powerful spells.
With Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard brings a lot to the virtual gaming table. First, their champions are collected from their various gaming franchises. This causes instant familiarity and support from current fans. Second, Blizzard has wisely chosen to break from the DOTA/MOBA mold with their design choices. This streamlines gameplay and it focuses on what players actually enjoy, which is battle.
A normal DOTA/MOBA game takes anywhere from a half hour (a very short game) to an hour. Average games clock in at forty-five minutes. Heroes of the Storm takes between fifteen and twenty minutes. This will allow players to get in two games in the same time that it would take them to get one LoL or DOTA game played.
An important part of DOTA/MOBA games consists of attacking minions and other players for gold, which is spent at a store. This purchases items that improves the attack and defense capabilities of the champion. Heroes of the Storm eliminates this entirely. Instead, the players focus on map objectives and battles with their opponents. In my opinion, this is a purer way to game, and it keeps the game focused on action, rather than building up your inventory.
Another differentiator in Heroes of the Storm is that maps have unique objectives. Blizzard has created events that can be triggered, which will provide a team with a temporary, but powerful advantage. For example, on Blackheart's Bay, collecting gold coins can allow your team to bribe the pirate Blackheart to fire the cannons on his ghost pirate ship at the enemy's base. This attack does significant damage to your opponent's base.
Going after these unique objectives does divert some of your team's attention from your primary objective of advancing your lanes towards your opponent's base. This provides an interesting strategic challenge: do you keep steady pressure going at each lane, or do you risk getting help from the events built into the map?
If the above has you excited, there is also some news that may surprise you. Heroes of the Storm will be free to play. They will sell champion skins and other items to improve the cosmetic look of the game, but you can play without any tactical disadvantage for free. I think that this is a tremendous gift to the gaming community.
I also hope that they release a map editor with Heroes of the Storm. After all, a gaming genre was created with their previous map editor. Two brand new gaming companies exist because of this. Who knows where a new map editor, one with Blizzard's cutting edge capabilities can take us? I am excited by the potential that this could bring to our community.
Heroes of the Storm doesn't have a release date yet. Rest assured that I will let you know as soon as they release details.