Many changes that are coming to Heroes of the Storm were announced at the BlizzCon 2017 and the trailer for Hanzo and Alexstrasza, the next hereos that will be joining the Nexus, was released at the opening ceremony. Along with the new heroes, changes in stealth mode and Fort ammo are also coming for more exciting gameplay. Below is an interview with Alan Dabiri, the Game Director for Heroes of the Storm, on the upcoming changes for Heroes of the Storm.
Q. Why did you decide to add Hanzo and Alextrasza as new heroes?
Choosing new heroes is a complicated process. We have to think about what role the new heroes are going to play, and which universe they are from. Also, we need to listen to the community as well. Hanzo and Alextrasza meet these conditions, and they are loved by the community. They have a lot of features that do not exist in HotS at the moment, so we decided to add them to the Nexus. You can call them the “Double Dragon.”
Q. New systems like the clan system, hero switch system, and the stat overview system which were announced last year are not available in the game yet. When will these changes come to HotS?
The Hero switch system is available in the eSports scene right now. It is still an experimental feature, and we will decide whether the system is necessary for the general playerbase. We are considering the possibility, but are still testing the system. Like the ban system, which was not available at first but was implemented later, we would like to take some time before the hero switch system goes live for the general playerbase.
We do have a tool that shows player stats. The information of hero details and hero abilities on the official website was developed using that tool. The tool is based on the API that was developed within the company. The tool still has to be developed and has some issues that have to be fixed, so it will take some time before we can make the tool available for the general playerbase.
It takes a while for the information revealed at BlizzCon to be available on the live server, and you might feel like you’ve been waiting for the update for too long. But we can assure the players that the announced systems are in the pipeline and will go live as soon as they are ready. I hope you are looking forward to the changes.
Also, I think that the clan system is very interesting. But I want a clan system that is unique to HotS. I want the clan system to be something special, something that our players can truly enjoy.
Q. Team composition is extremely important in HotS, and sometimes we can’t win in Quick Play because team composition doesn’t work. Are you aware of this issue, or will there be any changes regarding this issue?
The purpose of Quick Play is to pick the hero you want to play and play a fast-paced match. If you want to play a game in a well organized team, you can play Unranked Draft. However, I do think that Quick Play needs more balanced team comps. There were many changes related to team balance made to Quick Play since the launch of HotS, but it is still hard to have a perfect team comp.
Q. Players like to play Quick Play because they can’t play Ranked games casually. They might feel that Ranked games are too hard because of the picks and bans. Is there any plan to add the blind pick system to Ranked games?
Even if you play a blind pick game, there is still a chance that you can’t pick the hero you want to play due to the team composition or because your teammates don’t like your pick. But blind pick is not completely off the table. Quick Play is meant for you to play whatever hero you want to play. There will be more changes to Quick Play, and I hope you are looking forward to them.
Q. What do you think of a system where you can choose a 2nd or 3rd hero, to make matchmaking more flexible?
That could be a possibility, but I think the random pick is kind of similar to that. It is easier to make an organized team with a random pick, so the random pick system can help you with that.
Another pick system that we are thinking about right now is a system where you pick a role, not a hero, first and then pick a hero within that role after joining a party. This is not confirmed, but we are considering different options including this one.
Q. Some people whisper to other people after blocking whispers so they don’t see any replies. Can you make a system where people who block whispers cannot whisper to others?
That is an interesting idea, but I think it might be a bug. If you check “do not receive whispers” and then whisper to someone, you can still receive messages from that person. I’ll check if there is a bug after this interview.
Q. Alexstrasza is a support hero, and the community has been asking for a support hero. What kind of feedback and suggestions did you receive from the community?
We wanted Alextrasza to be a support hero because I know people want a new support hero, but that is not the only reason why she is a support hero. Last year, we got feedback that the support heroes are not fun to play and there are limits on what heroes can be played. We wanted to introduce a support hero that is unique and fun to play this year.
Simply healing allies is not fun at all. Alexstrasza will heal allies in a different way. For example, Stukov heals allies in a very uncommon way. Alexstrasza will heal allies by sacrificing her own HP, so you always have to watch your HP when playing her.
Q. Hanzo, a character from the Overwatch universe, is coming to HotS and there are a lot of HotS features in Overwatch’s new map, Blizzard World. Do the devs for the two games work together?
We don’t particularly cooperate, but there are many cases in Blizzard where the devs from different games work together and Blizzard World is one of those. The devs in the Overwatch team asked for feedback from other teams. It not exactly a colaboration, but we gave feedback and shared some parts of the progress.
Q. Fort ammo became infinite. Will the game be longer?
We are satisfied with the current game duration, and don’t want to make it any longer. We want to keep it at 20 minutes give or take. If the infinite ammo makes the game longer, we will make it shorter again by adjusting object damage and minion damage. We tested the infinite ammo, and it did not make the game last longer.
Q. You said that stealthed heroes will be more visible. Will there be a buff for stealth heroes for those who like to play stealth heroes?
We made the changes in stealth heroes because we wanted more strategic gameplay for stealth heroes, rather than just a simple eyesight test. There will be some big changes for stealth heroes. For example, Nova will have an ability to enter stealth mode while using another skill, and her movement speed will increase when she is stealthed. Also, she will have Snipe Master as a base ability. There are more changes that I can’t talk about right now. I can share more details in the panel that will be held this afternoon.
Q. Heroes like Medivh will not receive any buffs from these changes in stealth. Will there be any additional changes for them?
The Talents that have stealth will be affected by the changes. Hammer and Greymane will be affected by the changes as well. Medivh’s Talents might be reworked later.
Q. Will graphic cards affect the new stealth mode?
We cannot say that hardware doesn’t matter. In low graphical settings, the new stealth graphics might look like the old stealth graphics. But the new stealth graphics will be intact in Standard graphical settings or above. Also, the gap between low and high graphical settings will be reduced with these changes.
Q. Will you tell me the reason for the changed rules for the HGC 2018?
It is hard for me to share any details regarding the eSports scene for HotS. I think our eSports personnel should give you the details. The information I can share with you is that all broadcast will support 1080p. Also, starting from the HGC 2018, all teams must have an owner, so that the owner can take care of administrative issues and the players can focus on matches.
There are also changes with the Open Division, and I think the person who’s in charge of eSports should give you the details. I’m just giving you a general rule here, as specific rules might be different according to tournaments and/or regions.
Q. Any last words for the fans?
Thank you for loving HotS. I believe that Alextrasza and Hanzo will be fun to play, and you will love them. The HotS 2.0 patch focused on the structure of the game, and the updates in 2018 will focus more on the gameplay. The new changes will go live as the new season starts. Please look forward to that, and thank you.