Although I have, in the past, clocked up around 15 hours of DOTA 2 on Steam, most of that was spent cluelessly flapping about like a massive noob. I never really made the jump from dabbling to making a concerted effort to playing the game, or wider genre, properly.
Past experience notwithstanding, I’ve opted to switch to Blizzard’s Heroes of The Storm. Why? Well, I’ll happily admit that a lot of the initial appeal was down to the huge affection I still have for Blizzard’s properties, even if the quality of their creative output isn’t what it once was.
More importantly, though, Heroes of The Storm is easier to play than most of its contemporaries. Because teams gain XP and level up together and there’s no items or inventory to worry about, new players don’t get left behind as they do in other MOBAs, nor is there a ton of research on viable builds to swat up on before jumping in. The genre’s notoriously childish playerbase does rear its ugly head from time to time, but I just block them, complete the game and move on. I have a rule: never argue with internet knobheads.
Unsurprisingly, Heroes of The Storm is free to play, funded by microtransactions. Heroes, skins and mounts are all up for sale, with a weekly rotation of free Heroes to whet your appetite and loosen your purse strings. As with Hearthstone, completing daily activities earns you gold, in-game currency with which you can eventually buy most things. But Heroes of The Storm isn’t as generous as its card-based stablemate in this regard, meaning that dropping down a cold hard cash is going to be necessary sooner rather than later if you have any intention of playing seriously.
Nothing on the game’s storefront seems absurdly overpriced, but I remain very reluctant to partake in microtransactions. I suppose I just like the finality of buying something whole, as opposed to a license to access a small slice of a service that could shut down at any time and leave me with nothing. Microtransactions almost feel like gambling to me, in a weird way. There’s no chance involved in buying any Heroes of The Storm content, of course, but they activate my brain’s ‘you’re wasting your money on nothing’ gag reflex in a similar fashion, however I try to rationalise or justify them.
There’s no escaping it. If my time spent with the game is to remain enjoyable, I’ll have to spend something eventually. It stands to reason that when I’ve played enough to choose some favourite Heroes, I’ll want to have permanent access to them so I can practice effectively. I guess that’s how they reel you in.
Nothing’s decided yet. As much as I’m enjoying Heroes of The Storm now, and have every intention of playing regularly for the foreseeable future, It’s possible I’ll lose interest long before paying anything out. After all, MOBAs are in vogue at the moment, with tons of PC iterations already available and a number of MOBA-style games coming to console this year, such as Paragon, Smite and Battleborn. Hereoes of The Storm is far from my only option.
But if you do turn out to be my first, Blizzard, I could do far worse. After all, we’ve grown very close over the years. I’ll always be glad it was you.