Heroes of the Storm new character and Storm League are discussed by the game’s developers proving the game still has life left in it.
Blizzard Entertainment’s MOBA Heroes of the Storm has been around since 2015. It’s a four-year-old game that has seen some very high highs, and recently, some very low lows. The latest PTR update is the biggest update the game has received since the company announced they would be moving developers from the Heroes of the Storm team to other projects and canceling its esports league, the Heroes Global Championship (HGC). Not only does the new update add a brand new original hero, but it also makes significant changes to HotS’s ranked play.
Qhira is the new Nexus-born hero making her way onto the battlefield to join some of Blizzard’s most popular heroes and villains. Hailing from Iresia, the most technologically advanced universe in the Nexus, the newest hero is a melee assassin who wields a chain sword (similar to Ivy from the SoulCalibur series) that is exceptional at initiation and finishing opponents.
When speaking to a few of the developers behind Heroes of the Storm, Hero Designer Kyle Dates discussed how they came up with the idea for Qhira. “Initially, we had this idea of a hero who had this chain blade and kind of moved around the battlefield and used it in interesting ways; the kit came together as a result of that idea,” says Dates. “Oscar Vega, who’s one of our concept artists, created a very cool concept piece that we all really liked and we kind of just got behind it and ran with it. She was kind of invented just in-house.”
Going off of that remark, Live Designer Alex Neyman talks about the thrill of making original characters, allowing them to stretch their creative muscles. “I think one of the cool things that excites us about making a Nexus hero is that for the first time, we have the complete freedom to do whatever we want. I think what fascinates us or excites us the most about this is we have so many ideas,” says Neyman. “It’s like, ‘Oh, man. We haven’t been able to use this on any character because nothing in the Blizzard universe exists like this already.’ I think Qhira is a really good example of a character like that.”
Ranked play is integral to Heroes of the Storm. Even if its esports league is gone, there is still a player base that wants that serious competitive environment. With that said, the Heroes of the Storm team did realize there were issues with its current Ranked system. Thus, the Storm League was born. The Storm League is the new and improved ranked mode in HotS. Bringing a number of changes, including how MMR affect Ranked Points, the number of required placement matches, and a Ranked Seasonal Questline. The Lead Live Designer Brett Crawford told us what the goal is for the first season of this revamped ranked mode.
“For Storm League, for the first season here and even for the pre-season, we really wanted to bring your guys’ feedback to Ranked play. We’ve been listening to the forums, we’ve been listening to the players that are playing, we’re playing ourselves,” says Crawford. “And we got the opportunity to actually take a lot of the feedback and critical feedback you guys have given us over the last few years and bring a lot of those changes to Storm League. It has given us a really good target for where it’s headed and we’re super excited for the changed that are coming”
With these new implementations, it begs the question: Did the unfortunate events that happened at the end of 2018 affect the content the Heroes of the Storm team is creating? In short, no. They are still creating new content, and it seems like they plan to keep doing that for the foreseeable future.
“To be honest, the things that happened last year didn’t affect many of the decisions that we were making at all. We wanted to bring Storm League to you guys a long time ago,” Crawford begins to explain. “We were actually able to hit it at this point in time. It just happened to be a coincidence that it happened with those things. But we have a lot of freedom to continue listening to you guys and move forward with any of the changes we want to make.”