BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript

Heroes: Talent Updates

Alex: So Ragnaros and Varian are awesome if you haven’t seen it yet already, and it really just shows how much as a design team that we have grown since Heroes of the Storm was first created.



Ragnaros basically has this ability to become this giant monstrosity. It can almost kill a whole team on his own, whereas Varian is essentially six heroes in one.

My name is Alex, and I am on the live balance team. I just want to say that we don’t just look at these new heroes, but we are constantly remembering all of our older heroes too; make sure they feel just as awesome as the Firelord, or the King of the Alliance.

A common question we get when do these sort of talent updates or kit revamps is, why are we doing what we’re doing? What is our thought process, what are we doing and what are the talent philosophies? I’m going to share just a couple of those with you right now.

One of the first things we’re doing when we’re making our talent trees is we we are starting to shy away from having too many synergies within the kit, or within the talent trees themselves. If you took a ton of multishot talents on Valla say all of a sudden multishot was really OP with all of them or really underpowered without all of them in order to be balanced.

So we started to kind of shy away from having too many synergies, but what we actually found was that players really enjoy kind of finding these sorts of builds that you can make.



For example, Nazeebo — with his rework we have a Spider Build, we have a Toad Build, we have a Wall of Zombie sort of utility build, and what’s cool about these is, as long as we don’t make too many of these things, and synergize with each other. it’s really cool.



It’s a different style of play. You say “oh, I’m a spider in Nazeebo main, that’s what I like to do, that’s my jam;” or maybe you want to really do a Toad Build because there’s a bunch of melee guys diving you, and you shotgun them down. We are starting to pursue this more and more, and I think Varian is a good example of sort of this idea that we’re looking at.



The other thing that we are starting to do more of is realizing that some characters just need certain things, like Illidan for instance. When you guys used to play old Illidan with his old talents, you would have a couple sort of ability talents sprinkled throughout the tree.



In fact, you probably can’t remember what any of his other talents are because that’s all you picked. You picked first-aid, stoneskin, and whatever you could to live; because that’s what Illidan needs. That’s a mandatory necessity for him to be effective. He is this kind of swarming mad that wears you out, and as long as he’s alive he’s doing his job.

Instead, what we are starting to do with characters like this where they just really need these essential things is starting to pair them together. So Illidan for instance on level 13 has a defensive option, and these are all defensive options.

So instead of just choosing do I want to live, you’re choosing okay how do I want to live? Are there a bunch of mages on the team, is this better for my gameplay style, does this work better with my team? Similar choices for damage because this freezes up the option now of maybe there were a bunch of really cool damage options you wanted to pick on Illidan before, but you couldn’t because you had to live, and that was all that mattered to you.

So we are starting to do more and more of this as we go. One of the cool things about having these sorts of guidelines is that we know that we can break them, and that’s actually a really important thing in design in general is you create rules so that you know exactly when you are going outside the boundaries.




So for a character like Kharazim for instance (where he has three very diverging playstyles), that does not mesh with the mandatory choices idea, but that’s okay for this sort of character. We’re going into it right from the get-go with this in mind so you could have a transcendence Kharazim where you are attacking, and getting lots of mana, and casting lots of abilities; or an insight Kharazim where you are punching to heal your allies; or an Iron Fists Kharazim where you are more of a bruiser-style, and you’re doing lots of damage and kind of a hybrid on your team.

I just want to say I’m sure you guys have heard a little bit about talents, but what you really care about is like: “Hey, what’s coming next?” Right?

So the first thing that I will say is Kharazim is getting a talent update. As you can imagine we are doing Varian, and he’s like this multiclass hero, so we knew we could do better with Kharazim too. So there are a few things that we are doing. The first is at level 4 he’s going to pick between three different mystic allies (pictured here), so he just kind of function similar to a healing well, or a scouting drone where you place them of the battlefield, and they last for a limited period of time.



You will be able to choose the spirit ally here on the left which it heals your nearby teammates, an earth ally that will block basic attacks staying within the area, or an air ally that provides you vision; and you’ll be able to place lots of them too.

One of the core sort of design philosophies of Kharazim is that he is very mobile, so we thought it would be really, really important and introduces lots of really cool playmaking to also allow Kharazim to Radiant Dash to jump around to all these allies too. So he will do sorts of really fancy things on the battlefield like in this video here.

Kharazim is seen enthralled taking a mercenary camp and he’s pretty low health, so he jumps over, takes the camp and then jumps back to his air ally before Valla can punish him for it.


The other thing we are doing with Kharazim’s update is we are sort of embracing this idea of Bruiser Kharazim, and it just didn’t really work right now honestly as most of you probably know. It’s fun. It is a ton of fun, but just your team when you really wanted to win you kind of needed one of the other two. So we wanted to embrace Iron Fists, and make it really infective so that it can actually fill that sort of melee assassin role.



What we thought is, he really needs that uptime. So now every third punch in addition to doing extra damage will also give him some extra movement speeds, so we really can stick to opponents.

Something else we are doing with Kharazim, and this is just kind of a fun thing is that Way of Hundred Fists is a talent that you can take, and when you Radiant Dash to enemies you also unleash a volley of blows. We are also going to make that work with his trait. So it is really this cool kind of defining trait build idea of a talent that lets you do lots of cool things like you see in this video of a Kharazim that dashes to a Valla launches her with a series of punches over and over again and she just can’t quite escape. If you guys haven’t had a chance to play with Way of Hundred Fists on live yet, do it, it’s so awesome. Those punching noises are like the best thing ever.




Something else that we are doing is we are going to update Dehaka. The majority of his changes, there are a few base kit things that are really small and a lot of shifting of talents around that kind of just make more sense to kind of fit… we think better with who the character is.



We are pretty happy overall with who Dehaka, or how Dehaka plays, but we think our biggest objective with his update is to allow him to be picked in more situations, particularly as a solo warrior. Right now, he’s played a lot and it’s kind of that duo guy on big maps; but we really want him to be able to be that frontline presence for his team.

What we are going to do here is there are a few small things, but one of the cooler ones is we are going to allow you to cancel Burrow early. I know a lot of you guys wanted that for a long time. This one is for you Reddit.

So what we think it’s going to allow you to do is use this defensive option, his primary defensive tool, and sort of just burrow under the ground but also going to pop right back up and still be that frontline presence that his team needs him to be as a solo warrior.

He will be doing lots of really cool playmaking like dodge a Pyroblast, or Lunar Flare as you can see in this screenshot here.



There are a few other minor things coming, in particular we are going to just buff adaptation to now heal you for all damage you take and not just 60% of the damage you take in the duration. So it is full healing for him. Don’t hit Dehaka.

Now if you guys have any questions for us we are going to field them pretty soon. There should be two microphones in the aisles if you want to come up to it, but before we get there, do you guys want to hear about one more thing?



Are there any Artanis fans out there? This one is for you Tricksler. So with Artanis, we have a talent update and also a few base kit changes coming to him. Our primary goal is to make him just a better bruiser, a better sort of fulfill the roles we think he needs on the team. If you guys saw on the PTR a little while ago, completely on purpose we release show the ability for Blade Dash to you.

You will be able to cast Phase Prism, his ability to swap with opponents during a Blade Dash so that’s going to go live. I thought it would be really cool to show you some of the cool things you are going to be able to do with these cool functionality, or using these two together.

For instance, you can Blade Dash from really far away and swap an Azmodan and drag him halfway across the screen. You can dash around people to make sure you get the backline targets that you want to swap. You will be able to dash back into your team, or talent to throw people back towards them; and my personal favorite the ability to swap completely over on pathable terrain and swap a guy completely out of the fight.


Awesome, so we are looking forward to seeing Artanis, Varian, and Ragnaros, and all of you guys in the Nexus soon. Thank you, everyone. If you have any questions, now is the time.

Ed: There are a lot of questions.

Kent-Erik: There are a lot of questions.



Next: Panel Q&A

BlizzCon 2016 Heroes of the Storm Deep Dive Panel Transcript
Varian: Concept DesignVarian: Game DesignRagnaros: Concept DesignRagnaros Abilities
Heroes: Talent UpdatesPanel Q&A

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