Developer Insights: Patch Preview 6/23/2015

With this episode of Developer Insights, game designer Matthew Cooper is here to chat about a few of the changes you’ll be seeing to balance and hero functionality in the near-future. Let’s dive right in and see what’s coming to the Nexus.

Hero and Talent Reworks

We have a number of Talent reworks coming to Heroes of the Storm with our next patch. Malfurion, Brightwing, Rehgar, and the Lost Vikings will be receiving significant changes. These changes coincide with our trend of diversifying our characters and offering new talent builds. Do note that the Lost Vikings have a high win rate, so their incoming changes are intended to result in a lower win rate, alongside the goal of greater talent diversity.

Promote

We’ve heard a strong amount of feedback, specifically from the competitive scene, about the Promote talent. We like that Promote offers an early game lane advantage, but it can be a problem as players start spending an exceedingly long time killing a Promoted enemy Minion. We’re changing Promote to affect PvE only, meaning a promoted Minion will do increased damage to enemy Minions and structures, and take reduced damage from these same sources. However, their new combat abilities will have no impact on other Heroes, allowing for players to quickly clean up a Promoted Minion wave.

Daze Tech

We are changing the way many of the knockbacks in Heroes of the Storm currently work. Previously, the majority of abilities that moved an enemy character also applied a stun during the movement. This means abilities like Tychus’ grenade or Raynor’s Penetrating Round would double as a Stun for channeled abilities. With this new tech, many of these knockback abilities will no longer stun mobile channeling abilities including Tychus’ Overkill, Li Li’s Jug of 1000 cups, Sonya’s Whirlwind, and Valla’s Strafe. Knockback effects that we’d like to apply a stun, Muradin’s Haymaker for example, will keep the stun, but it will be explicitly part of the ability and called out in the tooltip. As an added note, stationary channels such as Mosh Pit and Ravenous Spirit will still be interrupted by a knockback effect.

Simply put, Possession is the least-picked Heroic ability in the game right now, and we’re excited to try out some changes to make the Heroic an enticing choice. There have been a number of great suggestions from the community on how to give this ability a makeover, and we’ve elected to run with a player-suggested alteration. Possession will now be a charge-based Heroic ability. Players will have 7 charges of Possession, allowing them to take control of an entire enemy Minion wave.

At level 20, you’ll have the option to receive charges more frequently, have a higher maximum charge count, and also be able to spend several charges on an enemy Mercenary. We’re excited to see what you guys think of these changes, and hope to see continued feedback after you’ve had a chance to try it out. We expect that Wailing Arrow will still be the primary Heroic as it is highly impactful in team fights, but anticipate that some split push builds will be able to utilize Possession effectively.  

Balance Changes

Before our latest patch, Anub’arak wasn’t seeing a lot of play and there were complaints surrounding his Beetle AI logic. While improving the Beetle AI, we also removed some small pre-cast delays making Anub’arak more responsive and fun to play. We expected the alterations to increase Anub’arak’s win rate but we were not expecting him to shoot to the top of our win charts. To bring Anub’arak’s balance back in line, we are tweaking his Beetles and reducing damage from Locust Swarm. The beetles will keep the improved AI functionality, but they will have reduced damage and move slower. We like how Anub’arak is playing now, so we are taking a conservative approach to these changes. We will continue to make further changes if more tuning is needed.

Illidan has been a popular balance topic for a while, but we’ve held off on making changes as Illidan’s win rate isn’t exceedingly high. Across all matches, Illidan is near the middle of the pack but starts to rise as we look at higher-skilled matches. In these particular matches we commonly see Illidan paired with a Rehgar or Abathur, helping to unlock his maximum potential. At these higher-skilled matches we also see a significant increase in Metamorphosis play.

To address these balance issues while also increasing Heroic Ability diversity, we’re looking to make some changes to Metamorphosis. Right now, it’s simply doing too many things too well. Metamorphosis damage is similar to The Hunt at level 20 and is often hitting multiple targets, so we’re reducing its damage significantly. Metamorphosis will keep a trivial amount of damage so it’ll continue to reveal cloaked heroes, dismount characters, etc. Along with the reduced damage, we’re also decreasing the impact area size, making it more difficult to hit an entire enemy team. With these changes, The Hunt becomes the better Heroic for isolating a single enemy hero, and Metamorphosis becomes primarily about repositioning and survival.

With the new Daze Tech described above, Li Li’s Jug of 1000 Cups will become more powerful as fewer abilities will be able interrupt the Heroic. We are also changing the way blinds, or blinding attacks, work. Currently, being blinded prevents your next X attacks, and a secondary Y duration before falling off is enforced in case you don’t auto-attack for a long period of time. With this patch, we are removing the X hits and going purely with the Y duration, although these blind abilities will be tuned to have much shorter durations than the current iteration. Overall, the changes will be a solid buff to blind abilities against rapid auto-attackers like Illidan or Valla, but a nerf against enemies with slower attacks. For this reason, characters with blinds should become a more significant auto-attack counter.

Latest Hero: Kael’thas

Balance wise, Kael’thas has a win rate near the middle of our Assassins and has an appropriate impact on the game. In the future we’d like to provide Kael’thas players with more diverse talent options instead of the single build most players are selecting now. There will be no Kael’thas changes in this patch, but adjustments to address talent diversity will probably hit in the near future.

And that about does it for this Patch Preview. Thanks to Matt Cooper and the design team for chatting with us about the content coming in the next update. Let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below, and we’ll see you in the Nexus!

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