The age-old war between the Alliance and the Horde is coming to the nexus as the newest battleground, Alterac Pass, was announced today as part of the upcoming Echoes of Alterac event. Fans of the World of Warcraft franchise are all too familiar with Alterac Valley as the snow-covered, gnoll-infested and massive battlefield is soon going to be home to a new kind of fighting.
While this three-lane map appears similar to others already within the game, the Heroes development team put a special spin on Alterac Pass with a unique map objective and a never-before-seen core. Additionally, both sides of the map represent the Alliance and the Horde where building and minion designs differ artistically.
The cavalry's here!
One feature that stands out with Alterac Pass is the map objective that revolves around capturing and defending Cavalry units. Simply enough: Channel on the enemy Cage to gain control of it, then maintain control until your prisoner is freed. After a short delay, the winning team will spawn a Cavalry unit in each lane, boosting the movement speed and damage of nearby allies.
“Because this aura is such a big part of this Cavalry push, you have to make the most of them,” said Heroes’ Lead Content Designer Matthew Cooper, “They’re not super impactful on their own so you definitely want to push with each of them and figure out how you want to split up between the lanes.”
A core that fights back
Replacing the traditional cores that are immobile and do not regenerate their base health overtime are Generals that WoW fanatics may find recognizable.
Drek’Thar for the Horde and Vanndar Stormpike for the Alliance are armed with dash and spinning attacks to ward off the opposition. Both Generals are also quite mobile and start the game with armor that decreases over time as keeps are destroyed. If a team deals damage to the General but does not finish them off before retreating, the Generals can regenerate health as well.
With a General that can clear heroes and minion waves efficiently, the design team needed to be creative when deciding how a team can put pressure on their new version of a core.
“One of the design challenges we had on this battleground was: Typically when you destroy a keep, you’ll spawn a catapult minion that will out-range the core. However, with these Generals moving around and doing significant damage, they would destroy the catapults very quickly,” said Cooper. “On this battleground, when you destroy a keep, you’re going to gain a tanky, melee reaver minion. They have a lot of health and will actually lead the minion assault in combat.”
Busy without being too busy
The Heroes of the Storm development team in the past has never shied away from mixing things up when it comes to creating new map elements. Alterac Pass is no different. A new core, a new objective style and a new lane mechanic all add features that players are going to need to learn over time that are specific to this map.
Hanamura was the last map that had this feel associated with it and the community feedback was negative enough to where the battlefield was removed due to a frustrating player experience.
Will Alterac Pass be Hanamura 2.0 with too much going on at one time? The development team doesn’t think so.
“The closest comparison in terms of what the objective feels like to fight over is Battlefield of Eternity,” said Lead Hero Designer Matt Villers. “You have two spots where you know where the fight is and you are deciding, ‘Do I want to attack? Do I want to defend”’ but it’s not like, ‘Oh man, the points are moving and they’re on the opposite sides of the map. What do we do?’ It feels very intuitive playing it.”
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