No one can deny the awesomeness of the Brightwing announcer within the Heroes of the Storm game. Unfortunately, for quite a while, her bark has overshadowed her bite. The development team hopes that is no longer the case as she is the newest hero to receive a rework to her kit.
InvenGlobal got the ability to sit down and speak with Lead Live Designer, Brett Crawford and Senior Live Game Designer, Alex Neyman recently about her new kit, what lead to this decision and what players can look forward to experiencing when they get their hands on her.
Looking at Brightwing's new kit she seems to be now an aggressive healer, as in, this healer gets more healing as she plays more offensively and deals more damage. She is similar to Tyrande, Whitemane and Malfurion with Moonfire, so can you talk a little bit about that decision to that change and design decision?
- (New Arcane Flare (Q): Outer damage from 87 to 75, Inner damage from 260 to 180, Missile speed increased ~30%, Added functionality: If an enemy Hero is hit by the center of Arcane Flare, instantly pulse a free Soothing Mist)
- (New Phase Shift (Z): Cooldown from 55 to 60 seconds, Add functionality: Heals the target for 20% of their maximum health)
Crawford: I think it originated from a lot of feedback we are receiving that Supports kind of felt like "heal bots" and that they would sit in the back line, didn't really have a lot of engagement with the enemies, and kind of watched health bars move up and down. We've taken that feedback and applied that in a lot of different places that you mentioned but with Brightwing specifically I didn't really want her to be a frontline hero as I think her positioning is very important with Soothing Mist.
I want to reward players who are accurate with her skill shot and we had a perfect setup with the bullseye ring that Arcane flare has. Having that mini-game she could play in-lane so that enemies could care about her but aren't frustrated by her was the original focus of the rework. We wanted to give her something really fun to do in-lane and play around with their positioning.
There are so many exciting things in her kit now, I don't know where to begin. Her Trait now has a baseline Cleanse associated with it, there's a reset on her Polymorph and there is a Silence at level 16 -- talk to me about what you are most excited about when it comes to Brightwing.
- (New trait: Heal from 115 to 105, Added active functionality, Activate to instantly pulse a calming wave, clearing all Stun, Root, Slow, and Silence effects from nearby allies, 120 second cooldown)
- (Level 1 talent: Greater Polymorph: Increase the cast range of Polymorph by 30%. Anytime a nearby enemy Hero is killed, reset the cooldown of Polymorph)
- (Hush: Enemy Heroes hit with the center of Arcane Flare are silenced for 1 second and deal 25% less damage for 3 seconds)
Crawford: We pushed the boundaries in a lot of places with Brightwing. I would not be surprised if she comes out swinging pretty hard here. I personally have gotten the most feedback and I'm excited about the AOE Cleanse. I think that there has been some huge moments on our internal playtest of people pulling off Deckard Sleeps for a whole team and it just looks pretty, fits her kit, and gives her a chance to save her team every two minutes. It has a really long cooldown but it could make some massive plays happen. I think that enabling Supports to make those kinds of plays more frequently is something that we are looking forward to doing going forward.
Where do you think her niche will be when it comes into play wwithinthe meta? If you want heavy-intensive healing you pick Morales and if you want Stuns and a front-line presence you pick Uther so where do you see Brightwing fitting in?
Crawford: I have been having success with her in just about every map but she is still, much like live, she's a global hero. So she thrives on big maps on because she could sit in lane and soak a little bit longer before coming into a team fight. She is also really good in the four-man lane if you need a multi-healer that you're not worried about your mana as much such as on Braxis or two-lane maps, I think she does really well there. She struggles a little bit with burst healing but we have given her a couple of tools to mitigate that. It is something that we have changed as we have gone forward with Supports is that we kind of niche-d them for a little while like these are really good burst healers and these are really good AOE healers.
We have tried to make them very different going forward as we have realized that players would mitigate the weaknesses of one healer by bringing a second one so that's when we got in the double-Support meta. With our reworks, we tried to push back by giving her some burst healing on her Z. She wants to Phase Shift in her ally anyways so she can come into a fight and start with a pretty big chunky heal on that target and with adding Soothing Mist to her Q you are going to be pretty much doubling your healing output. I think she could a lot more in this rework than she can currently live and she will be a lot more active while doing it.
Something I want to bring attention to is the removal of Ice Block from Supports as this generally causes a lot of panic, especially from a lot of professional players because they love Ice Block. At level 16 she gets this talent called Phase Out which is very lore-friendly. Do you think this is the ideal situation for an Ice Block as talents like this could still be very powerful?
- (New talent: Activate to phase out and become invulnerable for .5 seconds, 20 second cooldown)
Crawford: We didn't really want the pull Ice Block off of her. We think that her positioning and the way that she plays it is kind of important keep a little invulnerability on her for a moment to save herself and with Phase Out it pretty much bills itself. It will be amazing in pro play as it gives her a chance to dodge very high damage abilities such as Pyroblast or any other ability to mitigate a massive amount of damage in a very high skill cap moment. It looks really cool as the artist really nailed the visuals as it looks like she is popping out. It might be a little too short of a cooldown but we have tuning knobs there and it is something we wanted to keep on her kit.
When it comes to heroes with global abilities such as Falstad, Dehaka and Abathur who have seen quite a bit about of competitive play, how do you go about trying to balance a rework on a hero who has the potential to be everywhere on the map? Do you approach that a little bit differently?
Crawford: I don't think that it makes reworking them difficult. It is something that we always have to be careful of. Global-natured heroes are going to be strong on just about any map, it is just a matter of balancing their kit. So, we know that they are global, how much of their strength is in that actual ability to get around the map quickly? We then just read-adjust from there.
We have cooldowns on abilities that we have been increasing over the game's lifespan and we probably will see increases in them again as we move forward. It is just a matter of -- if a hero can get from the top lane of any map to the bottom lane of any map in a matter of seconds then we need to make sure that is not happening at a very frequent pace. With the rework, we did not try and pull punches or cut back on how many cool things we could give her just because she is a global. We feel like we could fix the global nature of things as we move forward and still allow a lot of the new toys we made.
I'm curious if any of the ideas or abilities on Brightwing that you really wanted to put in but just didn't make the cut. Do you have any stories you could share?
Crawford: I think a lot of the design ideas for Brightwing just went in and we did it. There is a lot of experimental stuff. She could have permanent invisibility on every hero at level 20. We tried to push the buttons a bit on her level 20 talents. The Emerald Wind change originally didn't have a cooldown associated with it, so it just changed the ability and you could cast it for 200 mana, period. It would just hit three times in a row, nuke an entire enemy team and also push them away. We had to add an internal cooldown there just so things didn't get too ridiculous.
For her specifically, I think that we had so much time on her as, we've been working on her for almost a year now, that we were really able to get exactly what we wanted to get done on her.
- (New talent: Invisible Friends: Blink Heal grants you and the target stealth. They are unrevealable for .5 seconds. While Stealthed this way, they regenerate 20 Health Per Second
- (New talent: Intensive Winds: Lower the cooldown of Emerald Wind to 3 seconds but it now costs 200 Mana)
This final question is going be an opportunity for you directly to speak to a hardcore Brightwing player. If you were to give one message regarding the reworks for each hero what would that be?
Crawford: We really wanted to increase her skill cap. Instead of just worrying about her positioning, we wanted players to worry about hitting her skill shots. She should feel almost identical to playing on live except she is going to bring a lot more utility. She has a whole bunch of new toys and tools that Brightwing mains can jump on and latch-on to. She might be currently a little too strong. I still probably need to do a little tuning before she gets released but we'll see. She should still be everyone's favorite little murder-bot.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.