BlizzCon 2017 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript

Live Heroes Revamp

Alex: So in Heroes of the Storm not only do we work really hard to make sure that all our new heroes like Hanzo and Alexstrasza both feel and play awesome, but we’re also actively working on all of our existing heroes to make sure they’re just as fun and dynamic to play as well.


So my name’s Alex Neyman. I’m with the live design team. If you watched yesterday’s What’s Next panel (read transcript), we talked about how we are going to be making some changes to the stealth character’s look on our game. Going to that briefly again, I will explain why we’re doing what we’re doing, as well as some of the hero specific adjustments we’re going to be making alongside them.

So for a long time stealth has presented an interesting challenge for us as a design team. I bet a lot of you probably don’t see the three stealth characters running around in that screen right now, and that would put you kind of with the majority of our playerbase. It’s pretty hard to actually see that shimmer that they show when they have not been revealed.


But as you get to the higher levels of organized play, players get really, really good at spotting the shimmer. In fact, these characters aren’t really invisible at all anymore once you get there. So this presents an interesting challenge for us to balance in both scenarios.

Basically, this eye test that we’ve created creates a large gap in the effectiveness of these heroes, and we really have a hard time balancing them for both scenarios. So what we decided to do is actually make stealth characters easier to see.


We’re going to be shifting a lot of the power out of this eye test, and instead putting it into other aspects of stealth that we think are really fun, and interactive, and cool. Things like the fact that they’re invisible on the mini map. The strategic advantage of being untargetable by abilities until you have been revealed.

We also want to use this as a time to reinforce hero specific mechanics that are tied to each of these styles as well. So we are going to go into more details on what those are. After I show you the new stealth… so here on the right you can actually see what the new stealth shader looks like. It’s much easier to see, right?


Ok so let’s talk about our new changes that we have coming. So first up is Nova. Now for Nova, we want to be sure that whatever change we make, we really reinforce the fantasy that we think Nova is. She’s a precision sniper that uses hit and run tactics and deception to keep herself alive, and make sure that she can target the people that she really needs to on the battlefield.


So to really play off that accuracy side of things, we’re taking a modified version of the Snipe Master Talent, and applying it to our baseline. So this means that whenever Nova successfully lands a snipe on an enemy hero, her next snipe will do more damage, and it will continue to stack until she misses.


We’re also increasing her movement speed whenever she is stealth, and this allows her to get to where she needs to on the battlefield; but to make sure that she can also get some benefits out of this movement speed even after team fight has started, and she’s revealed herself, She is going to get a new active ability that in addition to a regular stealthing she can press her 1 key to jump back into her cloak. Similar to how the Ghost Protocol talent works on Live.


So that’s Nova. The next character that we are going to talk about is Valeera. So for Valeera… we see her as our preeminent disabling character. She should be really good at picking one enemy hero on the opposing team and drastically reducing the effectiveness of that hero.


We also know that Valeera really relies on stealth more than most other characters in the game, because she gets a brand new set of abilities whenever she vanishes. So I want to be sure that Valeera players still have some fun tools to use when she’s stealth even if opponents can see her.

So what we are doing to Valeera, to enhance her disabling aspect, we’re going to be increasing the duration of her rogue silence, and while we are reducing the stun duration of Cheap Shot (one of her other damage abilities), we’re going to add a powerful blind to it as well.

So this way, Valeera players are making this choice of “Do I really want to shut down someone’s ability to basic attack for a while or am I looking to maybe stop someone from casting all the abilities?

Now to give you an additional kind of fun tools to play with, what we are going to be doing is Valeera remains vanished for at least 3 seconds. The next ambush or the next vanish ability that she uses will have greatly increased range and teleport her behind her target.


So this is really fun to play with Valeera. You are really thinking about: “Ooh, I’m working to get that perfect spot.” But not only is it fun for Valeera, as we continued to playtest it, we actually found it was really enjoyable for opponents as well; and hear me up — the reason is it felt really rewarding as an opponent to knock Valeera out of the Stealth that she would lose this powerful part of her toolkit that she really was relying on. So it’s sort of a win, win for us.

Now while Valeera relies on stealth probably the most of all our characters, we actually don’t think it’s too core to who Samuro is, while he does have stealth. But we did want to use this as an opportunity to make some changes to Samuro, and really reinforce what we think is important and cool and special about him. This game of three card monte he plays with his illusions.


So if you’re not familiar with Samuro, you can activate his Mirror Image ability to create two illusions of himself. And what Samuro is trying to do is keep opponents guessing, so they are not sure which one is the Real Player and which ones are just copies.


So we want to really put a lot more control and power into Samuro players so they can play this game much more often and much more frequently; and have a lot more control over what they’re doing. So to add to that control we’re taking the ability that is usually reserved for the Illusion Master talent, and heroic ability at level 10, and putting it on his trait. So now Samuro will be able press his D button, and target any of his Illusions to swap places with them — starting at level one. Also gives some of the players more control over their illusions whenever he activates mirror image it creates 2 illusions of himself.

The real blade master will always be closest to wherever your mouse cursor is. So again a lot of control and a lot of cool things that Samuro players can do. It is really important because it’s a lot about mastery. We want to encourage Samuro players that have a lot of mastery; and not to have opponents just sort of guess to figure things out, or maybe just counter pick him instead.

Now because we’re giving Samuro so much more control over his illusions, we wanted to be sure that the focus of him is still on keeping Samuro alive, and not just a bunch of pets that are maybe sicking after you all the time. So we’re actually going to keep Samuro’s over all damage about the same, but take a lot of that power instead and pull it from his illusions and put it into the blademaster’s.

So Samuro a little harder, but illusions will hit much less. It’s also an added benefit of his opponent once you realize where an allusion is you can realize it’s not really as much a threat.

Alright, now the last character I want to talk about today is Zeratul. So Zeratul… we are actually pretty happy with the way he plays overall. We don’t think we need to make a lot of wholesale changes. He is really technically demanding. He has really neat and flashy cool plays. There’s a lot of mastery to controlling him. He is really cool. He has a good niche in the battlefield. His high mobility threat to the backline in a lot of ways.


So all I want to do is really reinforce that, but also maybe a couple new tricks as we go. So what we are going to do is take the Vorpal Blade talent that was previously available on level 1, and give it to all Zeratul players. So what this means is that whenever Zeratul basic attacks an enemy hero, he can it reactivate it with his 1 key to teleport back to that guy.

That’s really cool too because the more ways we give Zeratul a way to teleport to his enemies he actually can use his blink in a lot of multiple ways too. So he doesn’t just uses Blink or whatever talent he has to close the gap; but again more options means more fun that Zeratul players have.

Now for a long time Zeratul has had 2 heroic abilities, but we were not really too happy with where the Shadow Assault really played out. Before I said that we view a lot of what Zeratul is: is strategic options and many choices and really cool ways.

Shadow Assault sort of limits your choices. So you pick it and you really just focused on one guy and you’re not really thinking too much about the rest of what you are doing. So we thought this would be a great time to replace Shadow Assault with a brand new heroic ability. We are calling it the “Might of the Nerazim.”

So the way that Might of the Nerazim works is it has a pretty short cooldown. Right now down to 15 seconds.


And whenever you activate it, it will replicate whatever the last basic ability you cast was. So if you had just used a cleave, you can hit your “R” and do a second cleave; or if you have just used a blink, you can use “R” to Blink again. So there is a lot of really cool decisions making, and versatility you can get out of Zeratul — let me show you a little video of sort of what he’s going to be capable of with this new heroic ability.

Hopefully it plays, well it’s really cool you probably can’t even see it because he is stealth you can’t see what’s going on. Anyways there is lots of really cool fun things that you can do with it. (Note: The video didn’t play onscreen due to technical issues)

So Hanzo, Alexstrasza and our stealth characters with all their new tricks are playable right now on the showfloor. We are really excited to hear all of your feedback on them and if you have any chance of playing it, go for it. They will be available in the live game in the coming months. I’m really excited to see how they work in the Nexus.


So we are going to move on to the Q&A session. If you have any questions, you guys can go ahead and line up. But before we do that, I want to reiterate how thankful I am to have all of you out here with us today at BlizzCon.

It is a really reinvigorating experience for all of us designers up here. Because in a lot of ways we don’t view this as just our game, but it’s all of our game, and it’s really awesome to have you here with us today. So thank you for coming here to the Deep Dive Panel. See you in the Nexus everyone.

NEXT: Community Q&A

1. Modeling: Alexstrasza2. Design: Alexstrasza3. Modeling: Hanzo4. Design: Hanzo
5. Live Heroes Revamp6. Community Q&A

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

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