Heroes of the Storm

Interview with Matthew Cooper, the content designer for Heroes, on Orphea and future plans for Heroes

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Orphea, the newest hero in Heroes of the Storm, was revealed at the BlizzCon 2018.  She is the daughter of the Raven Lord and is an Assassin hero with powerful skills that enhance her basic attack and stun the enemies within an AoE.


Orphea is the very first hero born from the Nexus; all other heroes before Orphea originated from other Blizzard games. With the addition of Orphea, Heroes of the Storm now has its own original storyline and universe.


Below is an interview with Matthew Cooper, the content designer for map balance and new characters, regarding the new hero Orphea and the future plans for Heroes of the Storm.

 

 

Q. What is the story behind the addition of Orphea, and what is her lore?

The basic concept of Heroes of the Storm was the battle among the heroes in the Blizzard universe, but there is also content that is original to Heroes like the Blackheart’s Bay and the Raven Lord. We have recently finished adding the Warcraft universe by adding Alterac, and now we want to create something that is original to Heroes of the Storm.

Orphea is the daughter of the Raven Lord, who is an original character in Heroes of the Storm. Orphea is a ranged assassin who uses the power of her ancestor through the relic crate on her back. She may look like a little girl, but she has a dark side to her. Sometimes she acts mischievous but a lot of the time she is really serious. We wanted to show her different sides.


Q. How can we play Orphea well?

Although Orphea is a ranged assassin, she can also be a good close-ranged dps with her Abilities. Her D ability, Overflowing Chaos, grants 1 Chaos per basic attack, and the stacked Chaos will enhance basic attacks and heal Orphea.

Her Q ability, Shadow Waltz, is a skill that can deal damage while being a mobility skill. The cooldown will be reduced a great amount when she hits an enemy with the skill. In the trailer, you can see Orphea attacking Valla with Shadow Waltz while dodging Valla’s attacks.

Her W ability Chomp is a short-ranged skill. If you use it with the Q skill she can be a deadly short-ranged mage. Lastly, her E ability is a typical mage-like skill.



Q. Will there be more HotS-original characters after Orphea?

We haven’t discussed any details yet, but Heroes of the Storm can give you anything. We hope that Orphea will be the character that proves the potential of the Heroes of the Storm universe. The Janitor Leoric skin is a skin that you would never expect to see in Diablo; the skin was made for the community. Other new heroes will be characters like Mephisto or Mal’Ganis, the ones you would expect to see in the nexus.


Q. There are heroes like D.Va and Stitches who are not usually seen in the meta. Do you have any plans for reworks for them?

It takes a lot of effort time to create a new hero and the same goes for rebuilding an existing hero. We will continue to work on hero balance like we did for Kerrigan, Brightwing, Azmodan, and Raynor, so all heroes can be seen more.

The meta becomes very different in quick play and pro matches after major reworks. For example, Zul’jin and the Butcher are not seen a lot in pro matches but they have high win rates in quick play and hero league. That’s why we had to nerf them. We are trying to balance the pro matches, hero league, and quick play.

One thing I can tell you is that the next major reworks will be for Stitches and Sylvanas. I can’t tell you anything more than that right now but details will be revealed in this coming December.


Q. There are some who believe that there should be a “map ban” system like the “hero ban” system.

We have discussed it but we don’t have any plans for it yet. It’s not easy for 10 players to ban 10 maps, so we need to think about how to make a map ban and hero ban work smoothly together.

We are trying to make it so that all maps can be fun, and so you would not have to ban any map. Garden of Terror and Hanamura are good examples.


Q. Alan Dabiri has transitioned off and Kaeo Milker now leads the team. Did the team mood change as well? 

In truth, Alan Dabiri has not been the director for a while. Kaeo Milker has been working in the production area for 5 years so he knows everything. The team mood did not change at all.


Q. The time it took to add new heroes was longer this year.

When we added new heroes/maps and released major reworks one after the other, it seemed like the meta changed too quickly. We adjusted the time between new content so there’s enough time for each content. We will release a few new heroes in a row and then release major reworks.

 


Q. Planned future updates include defense reworks and minion exp buff. Are these updates aimied towards reducing total game duration?

They’re not aimed towards reducing the total duration of the game. The defense mechanism reworks started from a pro player’s feedback. There have been complaints that physical defense and magical defense are hard to distinguish due to the interface. Also, we are trying to start a new meta with the reworked defense mechanism.

The exp buff is to make the game more intense. It’s really hard to make a comeback if the difference between the two heroes’ levels is big. The game is more fun when it’s a close match, so we will make leveling up easier.


Q. Heroes of the Storm was developed based on the StarCraft 2 engine. Is there any plan to upgrade the engine?

We used the StarCraft 2 engine at first but switched to another engine later. We are planning to upgrade the hardware as well as improve the matchmaking system. I’m not in charge of the hardware so I can’t give you a detailed answer, but the three things mentioned above are currently in the pipeline. Improvements for the matchmaking system and reconnection will be updated first.


Q. What are some good team compositions for the new character Orphea?

Orphea is a ranged assassin, so the team comps that work for Jaina, Li Ming, and Kael’thas will work for Orphea as well. But if you want to play Orphea more like a short-ranged DPS, Muradin, Diablo, and Elite Tauren Chieftain are good heroes for her.

Eternal Feast is a powerful skill against enemies that are grouped together, so you can try using the skill with Zarya’s Graviton Surge or Zagara’s Devouring Maw.

The characters that can dodge enemy skills well are powerful against Orphea. Also, heroes that can cause Blind are powerful against Orphea as well. Orphea’s skill enhances her basic attack, so Blind can be devastating to her.

 

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