The Probius patch that hit Heroes of the Storm on Tuesday, which also included several major balance changes, has once again turned the metagame topsy-turvy as players struggle to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of their favorite heroes. I sat down with Benjamin “BadBenny” Eekenulv from Team expert to discuss a few of the changes and get his thoughts on the direction of the game.
Naturally, the first topic of the conversation was the newest hero, Probius. While many have criticized the probe’s design and complained about its power level, Benny was quick to hint that it might have something to do with skill. “[It’s] OP when adrd plays it, bad if someone plays it,” he casually remarked about his teammate.
Maybe that’s more a testament to Adrian "adrd" Wojcik’s uncanny ability to make the most of unconventional heroes, though. After all, Medivh sat at a dismal 35% win rate the week of his release, but adrd managed to make him look OP in professional play.
In addition to the new hero, the patch brought in several big changes for warriors to complement the recent armor rework. While several heroes received some tweaks, including Tyrael, Anub’arak, Cho’Gall, Varian, and Johanna, it was Arthas who came out far and away on top—I had to ask about the elephant in the room.
His response was mixed. “Easier than before,” he began, “overrated, but at the same time broken.” Confused by this mystic response, I began to ponder what it meant. Luckily, he quickly clarified: “i.e., [he] can be countered and then still has problems, but now way less situational and good in most cases.”
“I dislike, for example, the Tyrael removal of Hardened Shield for the crappy spell shield thing. His 20’s really need an update. In general, I do not really get the Tyrael into anti-mage with spell armor pursuit, but we’ll see how things turn out, I guess.”
On the subject of other warriors, the Swede was rather cursory. He mentioned that Varian and Johanna were fine and that Anub’arak received a slight nerf. He’s apparently a fan of the new Cho’Gall, though—maybe we’ll see it from Team expert in the coming weeks of HGC.
He was a bit more outspoken about Tyrael though. He disliked the removal of Hardened Shield for “the crappy spell shield thing” and doesn’t understand why Blizzard is trying to push Tyrael into an anti-mage role. He also mentioned that Tyrael needs some updates on his level 20 Storm talents. Overall, I got the feeling that he didn’t approve of Tyrael’s new role, but he left things on an optimistic note: “we’ll see how things turn out, I guess.”
I also asked about Gazlowe, a continually underperforming hero who received a minor rework in this patch. Will he finally be meta? Benny doesn’t think so. “He is very hard to play well. He didn’t really get buffed much either; his turret build got worse, which means you have to play better now instead of just placing turrets.”
“In general, [the metagame] is very flexible right now. There are some stronger picks, but you can pick most things right now and make it work. I cannot really say if the meta will reach a certain point where every pick is the same soon, but it probably won’t for [Team expert], at least.”
Even though Gazlowe probably won’t be in the the metagame, Benny assured me that it’s still quite flexible. “There are some stronger picks, but you can pick most things right now and make it work,” he explained. With a smile, he elaborated. “I cannot say if the meta will reach a certain point where every pick is the same soon”—meaning that drafts will settle down into a handful of must-pick heroes—”but it probably won’t for [Team expert], at least.”
From there, we wrapped up with the sweeping changes to the in-game user interface, which he was quick to praise. “They’re great!” he exclaimed. “From a design perspective, it does not affect me that much, but having the option to see Heroic cooldowns without pressing tab, as well as seeing when some is dangerously low, is a great addition!”
All in all, it looks like this patch was a step in the right direction. With the advent of the armor system, a lot of the burden is going to be lifted from the shoulders of healers who previously had to heal a mountain of HP. In turn, multiple promising design opportunities will emerge for the developers. In addition, the new UI is a huge improvement which promises to keep players aware and engaged during the game.