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By OxygenOctober 23, in News.

Oxygen goes over some of Heroes of the Storm's features that most need improvement. BlizzCon will be Heroes of the Storm's 4th showing at our favourite yearly event. Since Blizzard has certainly delivered on the esports side of the game with HGCI thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the game's systems.

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Here it is, then: Six aspects of Heroes of the Storm that need improvement. I The Class System. This point is extremely complex to discuss because it directly criticizes one of the core aspects of the game, and cannot be separated from resulting issues.

The premise of this discussion point is a firm belief in the following statement: Heroes of the Storm was deed to be played with team compositions that include at least one tank, and at least one healer. In World of Warcraft, dungeons are specifically deed with parties composed of 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 damage dealers in mind. Because these dungeons are deed, and tested that way.

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The damage taken output is normalized for a single healer to handle; the kill timers are made for 3 competent damage dealers to handle; no tank-switching mechanics are present, and so on. I understand that the normalized team composition statement is very bold for Heroes of the Storm because we have all experienced those matches where the above rules were all but respected.

But, you may have observed that matches involving irregular team compositions were either extremely long or extremely short, or that they featured absurdly high or absurdly low kill counts. Why do such extremes occur? Not my most memorable performance. Or match. The sheer resilience of tanks — which is generally about 3 to 4 times that of your typical assassin or support hero — and general access to long-range mobility allows them to scout with relative safety to contribute to the own safety of teammates. Their access to reliable crowd control allows them to protect teammates as well.

On the flip side, this crowd control also punishes poor positioning dearly… which is where healers intervene.

Have you ever tried sieging a guarded core without a healer? Unless your team has a 3-man advantage or the help of a map objective, and assuming relatively competent players, this is generally unreasonable to pull off. Structures hit hard in this game, and minions die very quickly. Actually, everything hits hard; most assassins can kill each other in less than 5 seconds; heroic ability combos are devastating and almost always lead to kills. But tanks and healers help reduce these outcomes drastically; they create breathing room, partly due to their defensive nature and utility, and partly due to the fact that they generally have limited or otherwise very situational sustained damage outputs.

Lacking either role closes off several strategic options for your team; the game loses strategic depth, and often breaks down to which team fields the greatest abilities to quickly wrench kills away — usually through raw combat mobility or long range poke which makes retaliation difficult. This is not a problem beyond de intent when the playing field is even, of course; when both teams do feature irregular compositions, but the playing field is seldom even in this respect.

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Two reasons, both related to drafting. The first reason deals with player preferences and proficiencies.

The tank and healer roles are essential, but by de, less represented in any given team composition. Due to their importance, the skill disparity between two opposing tanks or healers may be felt more strongly than for assassins; in other words I feel it is much less punishing to have to handle a poor assassin player, as team compositions generally feature at least one or two more.

This is especially true when considering that tanks and healers tend to require more knowledge and practice to play well. In a random drafting environment, you may find yourself in a situation where forever you nor any of your teammates are proficient at either role versus players that do display proficiency in these roles. Of course, it makes sense to reward players that master multiple roles, but the set drafting order, inability to trade hero picks, and questionable ability to blanket-block all forms of communication with teammates hots coordinating a messy business.

This contributes to making the drafting process random at best, and toxic at worst. Nobody likes being forced into playing a role they do not wish to play, especially if they take they might perform poorly. But, nobody likes having a reconnecting team composition either, nor tilting teammates before a given match has even begun.

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Would you rather risk something unconventional, or stick to one of your weaker or less interesting roles? In both cases, you are setting yourself up for a potentially frustrating match. The second reason has to deal with drafting and in of itself; what if, for whatever reason, your team did not manage to secure either role? Most players are used to having a certain stability, and while I do not doubt that many would not mind experimenting, not everyone is capable of nor open to doing so. As I see it, the role system exists to guide players very strongly towards what the developers had in mind.

We simply need to remember the Varian debacle to see what happens when the intended system fails to function properly. Reconnecting left Quick Match players in a situation where they were consistently matched against a tank without one of their own. Blizzard addressed the situation by making him a tank for Quick Match-making purposes. It makes little sense to me to, on one hand, have a well-defined class system around which the game is deed, to then have a game mode that essentially throws the concept of team composition right out the window.

As it turns out, tanks and healers are less popular than assassins, which often forces the matchmaking system to deal with an unevenly distributed population of players. It then has to make a forever between creating irregular team compositions, or to keep players waiting for an indefinite amount of time. When you de a game around team play, you need to groom your players into becoming team players from the get-go.

If Blizzard is bent on keeping its current role system, Quick Match mode simply cannot continue to exist in its current form. This would have the positive side effect of pushing players towards experimenting with new, different roles, potentially increasing hero takes, and giving players a better understanding of the game as a whole. The same system should certainly be introduced to non-Team-League-Draft modes as well. For the record, changes to the class system were announced recently.

The importance of such roles puts a huge amount of pressure on players playing these roles, making them less popular and generally more punishing to experiment with. Quick Match ill-prepares its players for mid- and high-level drafting hots. II Lack of Transparency.

Heroes of the Storm features several systems that could benefit from improved transparency. One of the most broadly discussed subjects in this regards has been the nonexistence of an API for the game. This might include information such as experience level and win rates. While alternative ways of obtaining this information do exist as of today, they must rely on clunky user-submitted replay scraping to gather said information, meaning that their success depends directly upon the goodwill of players to feed the system.

This presents several problems. First, it is difficult for newer websites to compete fairly with older monopolies, as good data depends on quantity. Second, statistics at different skill levels may be misleading due to low and otherwise uneven player contributions. Furthermore, some of the more well-known Heroes statistics websites have been notoriously poorly managed and come under fire like clockwork. Whether ill-intentioned or not, this poor management ends up hurting the integrity of the game.

Could we live without having data about, say, individual hero win rates or talent pick rates? Of course; and we did for a long time. Regardless of the state of Heroes of the Storm, I feel that having an API or an equally transparent system is extremely important to make your typical MOBA contender feel like a complete game.

The first reason is about being able to find concrete information about the metagame. MOBAs are — at their core — complex strategy games; thousands upon thousands of strategic choices and permutations are open to players. Even though outstanding websites do exist to help players out, the complexity and highly competitive nature of MOBAs makes them particularly cutthroat for beginners.

Having access to detailed and accurate statistics allows content creators to provide new players with the information they need to get off on the right foot. Veterans, too, can make use of such data to analyze, adapt to, and potentially exploit metagaming trends to their own benefit. Ultimately, information is power for all players, and power is player retention. Information also empowers players in another markedly different way that I might call watchdogging.

Blizzard developers are known to use individual hero and talent win rates to dictate at least some of their balance changes, as they so often comment. We cry out when things feel poorly tuned or unappealing because we love Heroes of the Storm. Having access to exact player statistics also allows players to track and compare their progress, instills players with a sense of competition, and allows for watchdogging of the matchmaking system.

I feel I must insist on how difficult proper de- and system-related criticism is to produce without data at our disposal. Transparency might mean exposing yourself to scrutiny, Blizzard, but it also means ificantly improving your image, and providing yourself with an effective way of self-regulating.

By contrast, Warcraft III forever lets you browse its ladder. The creation of an API is reconnecting the only way Blizzard can improve its transparency, however. In fact, an API might not even be necessary if all desirable information was simply given to us somewhere or in some form. Some of it is available, such as individual player statistics, but Hots hidden behind a clunky, hermetic system that requires you to work through the chat or friends list system to use.

In other words, if you want to look a specific player up, they need to be in a chat room with you general channel, in-game, and so on or on your friends list. No ladder exists outside of the Grandmaster ladder and unofficial ladders spawned by data websites.

The match history log makes no listing of who played with you. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to assess the quality of the matchmaking system and of balance and de changes. The reliance upon third-party websites for such basic data creates a of ethical issues.

If I take asked to point out the most frustrating element in Heroes of the Storm, this might just be it. You might also earn yourself a leaver status, on top of potential player reports.