Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Video Games are HUGE. We've seen this developing for years, with conventions at the likes of E3 and Gamescom featuring mountains of people cheering at enormous screens. To myself, and many other game journalists, the notion of a MOBA is confusing. I understand the massive appeal for these titles, but can't exactly connect with what makes them so popular. And popular they are.
We've seen people at Kotaku, claim that they felt utterly lost at conventions as hordes of players cheered and screamed in astonishment at screens that didn't make a whole lot of sense to them. It's a buzzing industry and a lot of developers are looking to capitalise on its widespread appeal. Blizzard will be the latest big developer entering this uncharted territory with their own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. With no official 2015 release date yet, we have a lot of speculating to do about this title's success with fans of the genre.
Heroes of the Storm & Valve's DOTA 2
Heroes of the Storm, has already had an interesting and contentious development period. It clashed with Valve's DOTA 2 very early on, as Blizzard had released a kind of MOBA themselves to demonstrate the modding abilities of their glorious Starcraft II. "Blizzard DOTA" was eventually changed after dealings with Valve, into "Blizzard All-Stars", which, as we now know, has been transmuted to Heroes of the Storm. This took many years, and it seems that 2015 will finally witness its release date through the management of the Battle.net system.
Heroes of the Storm has already clashed with DOTA 2, and we're wondering whether it will again in the future. Could it conceivably outperform one of the most popular MOBAs in the industry, or better yet, could it win over the monumental League of Legends?
Heroes of the Storm & League of Legends
I have to say, I'm pretty open when it comes to video games. I'll play anything I can get my hands on, invest hours upon hours on titles that may not even interest me. But when it comes to MOBAs, all I can say is that...I envy you. Perhaps it's a matter of sitting down and investing time into one, and those of you out there that adore them, I'd love to hear your input on their accessibility!
But when you look at an image below and realise that you can't understand the appeal, you can't help but be left in awe. The numbers of supporters behind League of Legends is awesome, in the true sense of the word. It's a massive section of gaming, one that feels so enormous it's impossible to start joining now. Am I wrong in saying that? Well, if the industry was so insurmountable and inaccessible I guess Blizzard wouldn't be bothered making their own MOBA.
In any case, Heroes of the Storm is similar to their wondrous Hearthstone, in that they're drawing from the wonderful character-base they've established over the years. Similar to League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm features 5v5 player matches operated through Blizzard's online gaming service Battle.net. With several different game modes, and a fair few maps that have been announced, Heroes of the Storm seems kinda similar to what's come before it.
However, Blizzard does not call the game a "multiplayer online battle arena" or an "action real-time strategy" because they feel its something different with a broader playstyle; they refer to it as a "Hero Brawler". Perhaps this is an attempt to draw in additional fans to the MOBA world. Perhaps this will be a good entry point for myself as an avid fan of Blizzard's work?
Heroes of the Storm Beta
Heroes of the Storm had an enormous beta running, which allowed players to purchase Beta keys for guaranteed access to the test. It came in so many different bundles, one amazing one saw Diablo 3 and year of World of Warcraft along with it. So far the reception from MOBA fans has been mixed to positive. Of course a beta phase will have its issues, but if it's anything like what Hearthstone did for card games, Heroes of the Storm will blow this communities minds.
But does it have the potential to dominate the E-Sports section of this genre? Could we see it annihilate League of Legends? Have you played the game and liked what you've seen? Be sure to let us know if you grabbed a copy of one of Heroes of the Storm's beta keys in the comments below!