Welcome to the Nexus… the tear in reality that houses all of the action in Heroes of the Storm (HotS), Blizzard’s foray into the MOBA genre! Perhaps you’ve just received your Beta Key and are dipping your toes into this type of game for the first time. Maybe you are a player who had received an earlier invitation dating back as far as Alpha, but were either confused by the style or dissuaded by the not-so constructive criticism of team members and want to hit the reset button with the game building in popularity. Either way, as someone who has had the chance to play the game since the very earliest days of the Technical Alpha, I’d be happy to pass on these Do’s and Don’ts for new players.
Please note that these tips are for players brand new to MOBA’s and some of them may be disregarded if you have a great deal of experience in games such as DOTA 2 or League of Legends. Also, I am certainly not claiming that I followed all of these my first time around… a lot of these lessons were learned the hard way.
DO complete the tutorial
The tutorial that HotS has established is one of the best I’ve seen in any MOBA. It guides you through the mechanics of the game including movement, combat and basic victory conditions. It leads you in a natural progression by pitting you as Jim Raynor, one of the Heroes you can purchase through earned in-game gold or real money purchase, against a series of foes increasing in both numbers and strength. The in-game banter between representatives of the 3 established Blizzard IP’s, the aforementioned Raynor representing Starcraft, Uther representing Warcraft and Diablo representing… well Diablo, is worth the 40ish minute investment alone.
DON’T get frustrated at the change in game style
Personally, I mainly use my keyboard to raid in World of Warcraft. It’s not ideal, but it’s the gaming style with which I feel most comfortable. My first half hour in HotS made me realize that my mouse was going to be a much more important part of my life moving forward. While feeling wonky at first, I did eventually see the advantage of using the mouse to move my Hero and embraced it, key-binding my all-important A,Q,W,E and R commands to a Logitech MMO Mouse, leaving my left hand free for talented abilities that are gained mid-match such as Blood for Blood. And for fist pumps after successful ganks.
DO play Raynor first
After the tutorial, it’s best to play a few games in Practice mode and the Hero I recommend is the one you’ve spent some time with already, Jimmy Raynor. His skill set is simple, and he also provides the great ranged attack distance of any Hero in the game. The farther away you are from Diablo’s suplex, Uther’s stuns and Nazeebo’s encirclement of zombies, the more likely you are to get away. As a new player, your first challenge to overcome will be positioning and avoiding deaths… Raynor’s trait which increases his ability to stay in the rear with the gear, matched up with his passive ability to heal once he reaches a low health threshold gives you the wherewithal to avoid damage but also get away with mistakes. It also helps that his Heroic Abilities, Hyperion and Raynor’s Raiders are both simple in concept and execution. As you move from Practice Mode to Co-op and eventually to Quick Match, you should start him in your first few games at each succeeding game mode.
DON’T buy any Heroes on a whim
If you aren’t averse to spending a limited amount of money, but don’t want to shell out more than the cost of a Steam game, I strongly suggest the Starter Bundle. It’s only $4.99 USD and you receive Raynor (once you are through the Tutorial he needs to be purchased like any other Hero) a damage-dealer, Malfurion, who is a solid support, and Muradin, a tanky warrior. You also receive one of the premium mounts Blizzard offers, an armored war-steed. If you entered the Beta through the Founder’s Pack bundle, you will not need to immediately purchase any Heroes or if you want to be a little more liberal with your spending, the Nexus Bundle offers a good variety of Heroes and Mounts. You also earn gold quite quickly at the beginning, so some of the more economical Heroes are available quite quickly for those adhering to a purely Free-to-Play model.
In-game gold earning does slow down, however, so it’s very important to make wise decisions when using either currency on the first Heroes you will own. Extensively play the Hero in the free ‘Try’ mode that HotS offers in the in-game purchase screen and play all the way to Level 20 in the simulation. It will give you a feel for the Hero and you can decide if it fits your play-style. Also if you are unsure whether or not you want to add a Hero to your stable of options, wait for them to be available as part of the game’s free weekly rotation. Lastly, if you are going to be using real-money purchases, review the bundle options before using any in-game gold on Heroes. If you’ve already purchased a Hero that comes with the bundle, you don’t receive any type of discount for the in-game gold or cash that you’ve spent.
DO consider trying these Heroes first
Raynor: For all the reasons listed above
LiLi: This young pandaren is a support Hero who is designed for someone new to this role in a MOBA. She has a smart heal, meaning that by pressing the button to heal your teammates the game makes the decision to assign it to whoever has the lowest health. Her most popular Heroic ability is simple to use and her trait allows you some escapability, giving you a movement speed bonus when you are damaged
Muradin: A dwarven warrior, he gives you a passive heal over time, as well as a Heroic ability that is an incredible boost to your tankiness. He has a built-in escape, and also lets you learn how to stun your opponents – a critical skill for any warrior who initiates team fights. All 3 of the Heroes I’ve mentioned here are at the lowest price level, as well, so they can be picked up on the cheap.
DON’T think that you can just jump in and learn the game with these Heroes
Abathur: The evolution master of the Zerg has a very unusual play-style where you sit back and manage the game from well behind the lines, employing shields and damage buffs to various heroes while pushing lanes with your other abilities. Not only is this markedly different from other Heroes you will play, it is also hard to gauge how well you are playing him. The fact that one of his Heroic abilities is to clone one of your teammates, requiring you to understand that Hero’s abilities as well, makes him a rough choice for the brand new player.
The Lost Vikings: You’re just learning how to use one Hero in the game and you want to play three at once? Don’t be rash and pick up these pricy Norsemen unless you are very good at Starcraft or other RTS games. Even the most experienced players shy away from these guys, so give them a pass for now, though play them as much as you’d like in Try Mode so you can hear their catchy Viking Longboat song.
Illidan: You are not prepared. Okay, you saw that coming, but in all seriousness there’s nothing worse than a bad Illidan. He is one of the most powerful heroes in the game right now, but he requires precise positioning and is extremely squishy at the beginning of the game. His reputation may feel like an artificial onus on you to put up huge damage numbers, which really isn’t his role. He’s there to pick his spots and dive headlong into battle at just the right time. No need to put that kind of pressure on yourself just yet.
Newer players have to deal with Talent Gating of each Hero. What this means is that you don’t have the full range of talents available for a Hero until you have leveled them to 4; please note that this level progression is separate from your overall player level and is separately tracked for every Hero in the game. Because your Hero will not be able to function at full effectiveness, it’s a courtesy to other members of your team to stay in the much easier Co-op mode during this period where you and 4 other players compete against AI opponents.
DON’T stay in the nest for too long
Co-op is a great way to learn a Hero and to unlock their full talents, but the AI of your opponents, as great a job as Blizzard has done, still falls far short of even the average HotS player. The Heroes play very conservatively in strategy, but are reckless in tactics allowing you to get some easy kills while not having to think too much outside the box. While this is a great comfort zone for new players, it does breed bad habits. That dive you made as Illidan into a group of 2 AI opponents for easy kills becomes a quick death against live players when they have their 3 other friends hiding in nearby bushes. When you are comfortable with the basic game mechanics and how your Hero works move into Quick Match, a jump in game-play competition which requires it’s own set of Do’s and Don’ts.. which we will cover next week.
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidJasonToy.