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Heroes of the Storm: can a MOBA noob become a winner? – part two

Monday, 28th April 2014 08:02 GMT By Dave Cook

Heroes of the Storm continues to educate MOBA noob Dave Cook. In this entry he tackles PvP against actual, living humans and well, the results aren’t all that pretty.

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”I was at gamescom in 2011 to see the first DotA 2 International tournament, and I’m not joking here; it made my head hurt, although admittedly that might have been a side-effect of the amount of German sausage I had eaten that week.”

Looking for part one of this series? Go here.

In Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Entertainment looks to give MOBA noobs like yours truly a less-punishing route into the genre, and in this series I decided to put that to the test. I hadn’t experienced the genre before this game, largely because the competition in titles like DotA 2 and League of Legends has always appeared too fierce and unforgiving. It’s as if the world has been playing it for too long already, to the point that a newcomer like me simply can’t compete.

I’m probably wrong of course, but this is how I imagine Call of Duty virgins must feel looking at videos of trash-talking prats using a DSR-50 to no-scope their way to a 30-1 victory in a Hardcore TDM match on Carrier. See, I bet at least one of you reading this has no idea what I just said there.

That’s how I feel when I observe MOBA fans talking about how much DPS their favourite character’s active skills do against a particular enemy while buffed with a specific ally’s ability. It all sounds like gibberish to me. In fact, I have an easier time deciphering Teletubbie-speak than trying to make sense of my mates discussing ideal Champion match-ups in LoL down the pub.

I was at gamescom in 2011 to see the first DotA 2 International tournament, and I’m not joking here; it made my head hurt, although admittedly that might have been a side-effect of the amount of German sausage I had eaten that week but that’s besides the point. Meat-packed colon aside, the pace of those matches intimidated me but here I am now, at least trying to understand what all the fuss is about.

While researching for my first Heroes of the Storm blog, I definitely found myself growing accustomed to Blizzard’s rules and the responsibility that comes with these games. I’m a long-time Call of Duty player and by nature, a bit of a lone wolf online. That’s just how I roll, and I quickly realised that going solo in a MOBA is just plain wrong. It’s ineffective play, and it lets down your teammates.

So imagine my trepidation as I went into PvP for the first time, an arena that demands team-work and communication to succeed. The multi-tasking involved in supporting my squad, covering lanes and participating in each map’s meta-challenges – like the skull gathering I mentioned in part one – stresses me out just thinking about it, but I love my work, and for your reading pleasure I decided to put myself through the wringer to see if I could hack it.

Here’s how it went:

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Finding Matches

Diving into PvP, I decided to give Nova a whirl as she was free as part of Blizzard’s character rotation. She’s a great character who fits into the roster’s medium difficulty tier, and is capable of dishing out great damage over long range with her sniper rifle, and cloaking to avoid detection. However, I found finding a Versus game almost impossible, and was advised in general chat that it was probably because of Nova’s popularity.

You can only have one Nova per side it seems, so I decided to go Tassadar (below), a character who is less popular due to being part of the ‘Very Hard’ bracket. Rather than endure an uneducated beating in PvP, I decided to try him out in practice mode against the AI, and I have to say, I actually enjoyed his skill-set and came away from my first match pleasantly surprised. He can’t dish out or receive too much damage, but what he lacks in brawn he makes up for in support skills.

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His Protective Shield ability casts a temporary aura around himself or allies that acts as armour. I found it was possible to stack the skill many times until my health bar was extended to an insane degree. Combined with Void Shift – which makes Tassadar invincible and invisible for two seconds at a time – he really can become a formidable opponent. After levelling up a few times in battle, I was also able to pair these moves with an impenetrable Force Wall, which let me unleash ranged beam attacks at a safe distance.

Historically, I prefer to go tank characters in RPGs, partly because cool-down timers, buffing and de-buffing gives me a multi-tasking headache. But as I enjoyed using Tassadar, it just goes to show that despite my initial fears over his character type and the MOBA genre as a whole, all it takes is a little practice and understanding.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I still haven’t even made it into a PvP match. Using the gold earned through levelling up, I bought more Heroes from the in-game store to improve my chances of finding a match. First up was my previous favourite character Demon Hunter – who was no longer free since the last progress wipe – along with StarCraft 2′s Tychus, as well as World of Warcraft’s flying cute-a-thon Brightwing and cuddly Pandaren fighter Li Li. They look like Saturday morning cartoon characters compared to the likes of Kerrigan.

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