Blizzard Entertainment revealed today that players can unlock the Heroes of the Storm character “Valla the demon hunter” as a bonus character by pre-ordering the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion.
Speculation-mode on: Could this exclusive offer herald the launch of Heroes of the Storm beta in the next couple of months? The time range can’t be predictable, but Dustin Browder did manage to throw a few hints that beta could be here very soon — during the live Q&A part 2. Read the full transcript and/or watch the video. Here are at least three quotes from Dustin:
Dustin: “No, but we are taking a little break from battlegrounds right now. We have gotten enough battlegrounds — if we are going to beta with these, and see how these goes.”
Dustin: “And we need to focus more on heroes. We need to focus on this new user experience — and then in a couple of weeks to a month, I think when we are done with that new user experience, I think we will start experimenting with more maps.
Even if I don’t know if we are going to add, we might just have one map for swapping out if we go out with a beta — and the alpha, and the community goes: “Huh? Your fixes on Dragon Shire was garbage. This is still terrible.””
Dustin: “The other thing I will say too is: We probably are going to come out when we go out for a beta — whenever that is — with a limited set of talents, so that we can really focus and test these; but the system is designed to add. The system is designed to grow.”
The Q&A Part 2 where Dustin said these things took place on January 22, 2014. He said the “User Experience” would be finished within two weeks to a month. Today is February 25th, which means by now they should be experimenting with new maps. Dragon Shire was sent to get some fixes, and it’s been a month already.
If we analyze the wording “we might have one map for swapping out Dragon Shire if we go out with a beta” — we are getting a strong indication that beta might be starting really really soon … on queue with today’s Valla announcement.
In case you haven’t yet figured out where I am going at with these quotes, allow me–
1. It doesn’t take months for the team to implement fixes to the Dragon Shire map (based on Alpha testers’ feedback).
2. User Experience UI development was supposed to last 2-4 weeks (which is now over: January 22-February 22).
3. While the Dragon Shire fixes are implemented, new maps were going to be created after the User Experience was finished.
4. If by the time beta starts, the Dragon Shire’s fixes make that map still suck, they might have a new map to swap out Dragon Shire with to start beta.
Put together those equations, and you get as result that beta should have started within now and a short time-frame. Of course, this is just speculation based on what Dustin might be implying.
Update 2:23pm — looks like the speculation is taking a more factual form. The official Heroes of the Storm facebook posted the following:
Heroes of the Storm is a raucous online team brawler starring your favorite Blizzard characters. To learn much more, visit http://HeroesOfTheStorm.com, where in the weeks to come, you’ll find tons of videos, hero profiles, game features, information on how to join the public beta test, and more.
Who is Valla?
Valla the demon hunter debuted in the Diablo III short stories published online at the Diablo III website. Her story is aptly titled: Hatred and Discipline (written by Micky Neilson). The short stories were also published as an ebook under the title: “Diablo III: Heroes Rise, Darkness Falls“.
In addition, Valla is among the heroes Tyrael recruited to assault the High Heavens to steal away the Black Soulstone to prevent further corruption of that realm. This story takes place in Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon. In this novel, Tyrael recruited Valla (Diablo III: Heroes Rise, Darkness Falls), Mikulov the monk (Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon), Shanar the wizard and Jacob of Staalbreak (Diablo: Sword of Justice), and Zayl the necromancer (first seen in Diablo: The Kingdom of Shadow by Richard A. Knaak).