Beyond the Pixels: Heroes of the Storm

Have you heard of Blizzard, the video game developer and publisher?  If not, surely you’ve heard of World of Warcraft, which is one of their most well known games.  They’ve also created the extremely popular video games and universes of Diablo, Starcraft, and Overwatch in addition to the Warcraft games.  While the game I’m discussing today isn’t new – Heroes of the Storm (HotS) has been out since June 2015 – it was recently relaunched with a ton of new features and has been getting a lot of coverage.

HotS is a type of game called a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).  Two teams of five people duke it out in map balanced around defending your towers while destroying theirs, managing ‘creep’ waves (small non-player enemies) in your lane (of which there are two or three, depending on the map), and killing enemy heroes.  Each player has their own hero they control that has special abilities and a focused role on the team.  These include damage dealers, tanks who absorb damage, healers, and specialist heroes that contribute to the team in unique ways no other hero does.

The ultimate goal, destroying the opponents’ core, may be accomplished by destroying a lanes’ worth of towers and then doing enough damage to the core to destroy it or by some other means based on the map objectives.  There are multiple maps that focus on different ways to aid your side in battle or provide a different way to destroy the enemy core, and this helps keep the game fresh by changing up the path to victory from game to game.

What’s fun about this game is that it pulls heroes from all of Blizzard’s existing universes.  Heroes from their games like Starcraft, Warcraft, Diablo, and more are all playable heroes and can be used to fight against opponents.  They have abilities that make sense in their universe, such as a stimpack style healing mechanism for a well-known Starcraft hero.  If you are enamored with the universes that Blizzard has created over the almost 30 years it’s been around and enjoy MOBA-style games, then you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

Similar games to HotS exist and are extremely popular, such as League of Legends and DOTA2.  These games have eSports presences, huge tournaments, and large cash prizes.  Meanwhile, Heroes of the Storm is a fairly recent addition to the MOBA genre, but Blizzard is trying to build up its presence rapidly with the recent update to Heroes of the Storm 2.0.

HotS is free to play similar to League of Legends and DOTA2.  While DOTA2 only requires that you pay money for cosmetic items, like changing the way your hero looks, and not the heroes themselves, HotS and League of Legends require that you use either in-game currency or purchase in-game currency in order to unlock heroes as well as cosmetic items.  Gathering enough in-game currency in HotS to unlock all playable heroes without spending money is a hugely time-consuming affair, but it certainly isn’t required to have all the heroes unlocked to enjoy the game.  Of course, there’s also tons of cosmetic items that can be purchased which is becoming a common staple across many genres of video games these days.

These free-to-play games, such as HotS, can be great additions to any gaming computers you may have at the library as they can provide youth an avenue to enjoy games that they may not be able to play at home on their own computer if they have one.  The graphical requirements generally aren’t astronomical which allows for these games to be played on less powerful hardware.  Internet connection speeds do need to be decent as latency can cause significant issues where entire battles can be decided based on split-second reaction times.

Have you played HotS?  Do you have anything to add?  Have you had teens playing it in the library?  Please share in the comments below!

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