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Heroes of the Storm

Villers on Yrel: “Originally, the Argent Defender was a full 100% heal and it was nuts.”



Today it was announced that Yrel, the World of Warcraft Paladin, would be the 80th hero added into the Heroes of the Storm game as part of the upcoming Echoes of Alterac event.


“Our players have been asking for Warcraft for a long time now and we’re really thrilled to bring them a Warcraft battleground, but another thing they’ve brought to our attention is with all the Warcraft races we have, that are represented in Heroes of the Storm, we don’t actually have a draenei yet,” said Lead Hero Designer Matt Villers. “We’re actually going to go ahead and use this opportunity to change that.”


While the “warrior” tag can mislead players into thinking a hero can act as the solo tank when they are intended to be bruisers or solo-laners, the design team speculates that she’ll be able to handle both, as her kit allows flexibility.


For an overview of her full abilities and talents, click here


Giving her a Paladin feel


For those with a World of Warcraft background, the design team wanted to make sure that fans of that franchise would feel represented within Heroes of the Storm.


“We didn’t have any draenei in the game and we also didn’t have any of that Retribution Paladin-fantasy,” said Villers. “You have Uther and he kind of brings the healers and a little bit of the Protection-Paladin but having that big two-handed hammer swinging around is something we really wanted to capture.”


What a player notices right away about Yrel’s kit is that her abilities function vastly different than any other hero in the existing game.


“With a normal ability, you would just press it and then fire it at the target location. For all of Yrel’s basic abilities, you press it first and that starts the ability charging and you can move around when it happens and then you can press it again later to fire it,” said Villers.

The charging mechanic is not isolated to a heroic ability as a one-off feature but all three of her basic abilities. From being able to deal damage to her opponents and heal herself with her (Q) to jumping up in the air and slowing opponents upon her landing (E), Yrel is quite unique.


After charging abilities to their maximum level (1.5 seconds), each ability becomes stronger or adds new functions, depending on how you want to play her. Avenging Wrath (E) is no exception as allowing her ability to charge fully can permit the warrior to save teammates from distress.


“The damage and the slow are actually the same no matter how long you charge but the range increases significantly,” said Villers. “You can use a quick jump to provide a slow or you can use it to jump to a different part of a fight or get out of a bad situation.”


▲ One of Yrel's forms in the World of Warcraft game


When you see Avenging Wrath’s animation is intended to hit players of the WoW franchise with a wave of nostalgia as the design team wanted to create an ability that mirrored that of the MMORPG’s version from a thematic standpoint.

Early Iterations


Before settling on her final design, the team experimented with how to create a Paladin that didn’t feel too much like any other hero in the game previously.


“The biggest change we made was that her stun was originally on Avenging Wrath, and Righteous Hammer was just a knockback and a slow,” said Villers. “We ended up flipping that because the jump on Avenging Wrath allowed her to jump out of nowhere and stun you and it almost felt like Sonya’s heroic.”


In addition to tweaking her (E) ability, making sure her trait provided a fulfilling experience was important as earlier versions missed the mark.


“Originally her trait worked in such a way that if she got stunned out of a channel, that was what would make her next ability instant but it felt like you didn’t really have any control over that,” said Villers.


The final wacky and overpowered element of her rough design permitted her first heroic ability, Argent Defender to essentially represent a full heal on herself if the player was cognitive of their surroundings.


“Originally, the Argent Defender was a full 100% heal and it was nuts,” said Villers. “She would get hit with a Shadow Fissure and then *zoom*, back up to full health, so we had to take that down.”

▲Just like that, back to full health for Yrel

While the design team has settled on how the draenei paladin is going to play in the nexus, perhaps the most important element of her design is how it makes players feel.


“She feels really good to play as and really fair to play against,” said Villers. “Something that, in general, our players have been telling us is, ‘Hey, when a hero feels frustrating playing against, I don’t enjoy it.’ so we took that into account when balancing Yrel.”


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