GamesCom 2017 Heroes of the Storm Kel’Thuzad Interview

Danny: On that note of damage, we know that at level 20 he can deal about 7.7 thousand damage to a target dummy in 3 seconds. Other heroes have a cap of about 4K. So is there a reason that Kel’Thuzad has so much burst damage like that than other heroes?

Kyle: There are a lot of heroes that can do massive amounts of burst damage, especially at level 20, because at level 20 is where we start having these crazy talents come online that are game-changing.

In Kel’Thuzad’s case, a lot of his damage is built into his Ultimate Shadow Fissure, and in the Death and Decay pool that is left behind after you hit a hero.

So in order to get that level of damage, a hero basically has to remain stationary for 2 seconds. So that is pretty hard. In Heroes, most heroes are running around, moving around super fast, and so in order to get that level of damage, you actually have to be able to lock-down someone for the full 2-seconds, and it takes quite a skill to do that.

So it is not too far out of line. I wouldn’t even say it is out of line at all. It is just difficult to pull off.



Danny: Talk to me a little bit more about the Chains of Kel’Thuzad. It is very unique. We haven’t seen anything quite like that in the game. First of all, let us know how it works a little bit. I know you can do structures, as well as heroes. Explain to me the max range, how does that work in terms of heroes running away, where it is calculated based off of. What can you use as a chain, and what can’t you?

Kyle: Chain of Kel’Thuzad is a double skillshot. It is a very unique ability in our game. We don’t have anything like it just yet. So the way it works is Kel’Thuzad releases these chains that wrap up an enemy hero, or a structure.

From that point, he can relaunch those chains to a new target that he chooses. So if it is a hero, or each chain on a hero or a structure, upon hitting a secondary target, it will actually pull both targets together; or if one of the targets is a structure, it will pull the hero to the structure.

So the first cast has a limited range, and then the second cast only goes a set distance, but Kel’Thuzad can command that chain from wherever he is. So that hero can be very far away from him, and he can still cause the chain to launch off that hero.

He has some things that are interesting with this ability, like his talent Glacial Spike which allows him to create basically an ice spike that you can use chains on, and you can set up combos in areas that you wouldn’t normally be able to.

For example, you find another hero in the jungle, and you are 1v1. Normally, there wouldn’t be another hero or structure there for you to actually combo with. So having that Glacier Spike allows you to do that. That’s most of how that ability works.



Danny: Very fun. It’s pretty difficult, but it is pretty fun. What heroes is Kel’Thuzad strongest against, and what are his biggest weaknesses. Also maybe talk what classes or heroes he combos well with?

Kyle: Kel’Thuzad is super effective against heavy frontline or bruiser heavy composition: Sonya, Dehaka, heroes that can like jump back very easily. Like Muradin is a little bit worse, because Muradin can actually leap on to him and avoid a lot of this stuff, but he is effective against heroes that actually have to walk into him, because he is dropping his frost novas, he is dropping his Death and Decays, and they are going to have to walk through that to get to him.

Heroes that can dive very well like Genji, Tracer, heroes with a lot of mobility in general like Li-Ming, especially long-range heroes like Li-Ming and Chromie, they can avoid his abilities and stay out of range; and also use their mobility tools to escape his stuff.

So it is funny because some of the heroes he combos super well with… I think one of the best heroes he combos well is actually Arthas. So it is kinda funny because they are hommies, and Arthas basically is very good at peeling those dive heroes off of Kel’Thuzad, because he has the AOE slow around him. He has the root that can follow up on Kel’Thuzad’s root.

So Arthas is super good. Malfurion is another good hero to combo with. He has the follow up roots when Kel’Thuzad lands roots, he has the heal that keeps Kel’Thuzad alive, he has he innervate to give him mana.

So yea, those are definitely some of his best duos.



Danny: What about maps? In terms of maps, do you see him being stronger in some maps versus others?

Kyle: I think Kel’Thuzad is best on 2-lane maps where you have these heavy 4-lane compositions. So in Battlefield of Eternity you have a 4 lane where typically there is a solo-lane on the top lane, and then you have 4 heroes on the bottom lane. These are situations where Kel’Thuzad can farm up his Blight extremely quickly, and unlock his Master of the Cold Dark very early in the game.

Dragonshire is another good map because typically most of the heroes are on the bottom half of the map, and not the top.

Sky Temple is a good map for him just due to the fact that you win the game purely based off siege damage. So the more siege damage you can do to structures, the more value you get out of the map mechanic, and thus winning the game quicker; and so Death and Decay is very good for that.

Another good map for him is Tomb of the Spider Queen where he can build up his waveclearer a little bit more. Also Tomb has a more heavy roaming laning compositions.

He is probably worst on big open maps. You are not really fighting around structures, there are heroes spread out all over the map. So a good example is the Warhead Junction, or even Cursed Hollow, where you aren’t going to find these heavy amount of heroes in a single lane at any given time.



Danny: We know we are getting an event with Kel’Thuzad. It is called Obey the Call (I believe). Can you talk about that event a little bit, and how it is going to be released? I think it is different than the other releases like the release, for example; and how long is it going to be available for players?

Alan: The event itself is actually called Call of Kel’Thuzad. The quest that we have is called Obey the Call. So the overall event will be 4-weeks long. The quest will last for that duration, and there are multiple parts to it. You can actually complete all of the parts immediately, if you can get through them; but you will have the full duration actually to finish them.

The quest itself is comprised of– the first part of it is basically playing in a game with Kel’Thuzad on either team, which will be pretty easy when he first comes out; but then after that, it is all about getting takedowns in games that you have won, and you will be able to finish the subsequent parts of the quest in really any game mode, including Versus A.I.; and if you complete those quests, you will be able to unlock some different rewards.

We have got portraits and sprays, and then the final quest actually grants you the Naxxramas war crest banner, which is really a cool banner of the Necropolis with the plague goop dripping out of it. So it is pretty badass.



Danny: Why did you guys decide to do this event differently? Like the event was unlocking over week over week. Obviuously, we kinda saw like an influx of maybe Overwatch heroes coming, or Overwatch players coming in and games being a little bit different. Obviously, we are not going to have that problem because it is just a single game unlock; but why was this one different?

Alan: Well, that one also had kinda like a cross promotional aspect to it. I think every quest and every event we have done, we try things a little bit differently. We just keep on exploring to see what works, what people enjoy.

Some times we have it where you play with a friend, other times where it is you doing something on your own, and we are kinda just trying out different things to see kinda what works.

The nice thing about this one is also very thematic to Kel’Thuzad in general. It is your goal to blow people up, and defeat your enemies.



Danny: Before I get into some non-Kel’Thuzad questions, talk to me a little bit about the documentary. That is super cool. That trailer was awesome. Really cool to see both you guys, and then all these other Blizzard talents and people that we know from the other games in it. So talk to me a little bit about that, and how excited everybody is to be a part of that.

Alan: Like I mentioned, we always get asked what does it take to bring a hero into this game. We release heroes with such a high cadence that sometimes people don’t realize how much effort actually goes into them, and how long we work on them.

So in the case of Kel’Thuzad, I think it has taken us about 8 months now to actually create him.But so we figured out now would be a perfect time to actually record that whole process; and we had our video team kinda record people, both on the development team (Kyle is on it a ton), and around the company.

Since Kel’Thuzad has such a history at Blizzard, and he has been in so many different games, we went around and actually recorded some other people about like what Kel’Thuzad means to them, and what he has brought to their games; and so we finally kinda put that together in this multi-part documentary that we think is going to really kinda highlight what is special about Kel’Thuzad, but then also what it took to bring him into the game from the design process, to the art process, to the voice recording, the sound, everything.

So I think it’s a really cool look into the development process for Heroes of the Storm. We have done some things in the past with just on the voice side, which people have really dug. So yea, we thought that people would get a kick out of this too.



GamesCom 2017 Kel'Thuzad Interview


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