A New Look for Stealth in Heroes of the Storm

As part of our 2018 Gameplay Updates, we’re making significant changes to how Stealth works in Heroes of the Storm. We’ve outlined those changes below, along with some reasoning and explanations behind the changes from the Live Design team.


What’s Changing and Why:

Making the decision to change the way stealth works in Heroes of the Storm wasn’t an easy decision. While we recognized that stealth Heroes in their previous incarnation did a great job of fitting the fantasy of their characters, we also identified that the stealth shimmer visual gameplay was extremely hard for a significant number of players to see, and was ultimately just an eye test for the opposing team. Previously, if the opposing team could quickly spot the enemy stealthed Hero, they gained a significant advantage while the stealthed Hero was left with very few options for counterplay. On the flip side, against a team that consistently failed to spot the shimmer, stealth Heroes could dominate the match and force players into a very passive and not-entirely-fun playstyle. Due to this, there was also a large disparity in the power level of stealth Heroes at different ranks of play. In uncoordinated Quick Match games, stealth was king. However, in high-level ranked play and esports, stealth Heroes were much weaker and hardly ever seen.

With our upcoming changes to stealth, we want to remove the “eye test” mechanic and give both stealth Heroes, and the opposing teams, a better experience in matches. Here’s how:

  • New Visuals:
    • The stealth shimmer visual effect is now much easier to spot when you’re facing off against stealthed Heroes. With this change, we want to shift this power away from that ‘eye test’ and encourage more strategic use of stealth. Some important things to note are that stealthed Heroes will still be hidden on the minimap, and they still cannot be directly targeted by abilities. You must still hit them with an aimed attack if you want to break their stealth.

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  • New “Invisible” state:
    • If a stealthed Hero remains immobile for a short amount of time (currently 1.5 seconds) they will become “Invisible” and will not display any outline or visual effect until they move again or are revealed by dealing or taking damage. Our goal with this addition is to bring back some of the uncertainty when playing vs. stealth Heroes that we’ve lost with the more obvious stealth visual effects. If a stealth Hero maneuvers carefully and plans ahead, they could be hiding anywhere… even right next to you!
    • To avoid some bad gameplay situations, we’ve also implemented a couple of exceptions to this new mechanic:
      • Stealthed Heroes cannot become Invisible on active battleground locations (such as an active Volskaya Foundry capture point) and are removed from invisible if the point becomes active with them present
      • Stealthed Heroes cannot become Invisible on Mercenary capture points once the camp has been defeated.
  • Changes to “Unrevealable”:
    • Before, “Unrevealable” is a state that exists where you cannot be broken out of stealth. While in this state, we hide your stealth shimmer much like the new “Invisible” state. This mechanic exists on several Heroes, namely Valeera and Samuro, when they first enter their stealth states. Now, “Unrevealable” remains unchanged in that the Hero cannot be removed from stealth during the duration, but we do not hide the stealth visual effect. The only way to hide completely during stealth is through the new “Invisible” state. Unrevealable was implemented as a way to give a character like Valeera a chance to use her openers in combat – without it, she could be immediately broken from her stealth and lose her second set of abilities. We wanted to keep that while allowing the opposing team to keep track of her movement.

Updating Stealth Heroes:

With the easier to spot stealth visual, we’re not only hoping to alleviate the oppressive nature of stealth Heroes in Quick Match, but we’re also opening up the ability to enhance these Heroes kits and roles since a significant portion of their power no longer relies on them going unnoticed in combat. With these updates, we didn’t want to just do straight number buffs, but rather wanted to see if we could give these characters some new tools and tricks to play with. You can check out the highlights below or read the full patch notes from the PTR here.

  • Nova:
    • Nova now starts with a new active (called Ghost Protocol) that she can use to immediately enter Stealth (Default Hotkey: 1) that also spawns a Holo Decoy at her location. Additionally, Nova now gains a significant movement speed boost when stealthed (currently 15%). These changes should allow Nova to position a little more aggressively and have some opportunities for escape if she is caught.
    • The Snipe Master talent is now baseline to reward careful positioning and aim without having to sacrifice a talent tier.
    • Holo Decoys now do a small amount of Nova’s damage baseline, and use a smarter AI system. Since Nova’s position will be much more apparent in the new system, we know that Holo Decoys would be much less effective as a confusion tool. With the new smarter clones and added damage, they might fake people out a bit more, add a bit of confusion, and can also be used to dismount enemy Heroes, prevent objective captures, etc.
  • Samuro:
    • With Samuro’s update, we wanted to play up the “3-card monte” gameplay that we originally intended for this Hero. Samuro should keep his opponents guessing as to which of his images is real, then “reset” using his new Trait once he’s been discovered. To that end:
      • Samuro can now control his positioning when making new Mirror Images with the real Samuro always spawning towards your current mouse location. This allows more aggressive and calculated plays since you have much more direct control over your positioning.
      • Samuro can now swap positions with one of his Mirror Images using his new Trait, Image Transmission. Choosing the Illusion Master talent will now greatly reduce the cooldown of Image Transmission.
      • We’ve shifted a significant portion of the damage dealt by Mirror Images into Samuro himself, since we want to reward players who can successfully utilize his new trait to reposition and confuse the enemy.
  • Zeratul:
    • Before these changes, Zeratul was the most competitive Stealth hero in high-level play, and didn’t require as much tuning to normalize across all levels of play. However, we saw an opportunity to make some tweaks and add a couple of fun new elements to his kit:
      • Zeratul now has the Vorpal Blade talent as a baseline ability, granting some extra mobility and letting player pull off some extra-flashy maneuvers.
      • We’ve added a new Heroic Ability in place of Shadow Assault, Might of the Nerazim, that was designed with the goal of competing with Void Prison and playing into the technical playstyle that makes high-level Zeratul players shine:
        • Might of the Nerazim Passive: Each time you use an ability, your next basic attack deals bonus damage. With this passive effect, Zeratul  players will want to weave basic attacks in between abilities for maximum effectiveness.
        • Might of the Nerazim Active: Your Heroic Ability button (Default: R) becomes the last active Basic Ability you used. If you Blink in, your R is now Blink. You’ll want to pay extra attention to the order in which your abilities are cast. Another Cleave is a great source of extra damage, but what if you had a second Blink to escape the fight with your life?
        • Might of the Nerazim Storm Talent Upgrade:  Might of the Nerazim resets the cooldown on ALL basic abilities when used. After choosing this, Zeratul players can weave in basic attacks between all of their abilities, press R, and do it again!
  • Valeera:
    • When considering Valeera, we decided that having two sets of abilities, a number of utility openers, as well as an on-command stealth meant that she already had a lot of really cool things going on and didn’t require as much work as some of our other Heroes. However, we did feel that Valeera was likely to be the most impacted by the stealth visual change since she has melee openers and no gap-closing abilities. In order to address this, we implemented the following changes:
      • After remaining in stealth for 3 seconds, Valeera’s openers teleport her to the enemy.
        • With this new gap closer, opposing players are still able to see Valeera coming and react, while Valeera players can use quick maneuvers and careful positioning to still get the jump on enemies.
      • We’ve reworked her openers from stealth to be less about stun-locking an opponent and burning them down, and more about having options to shut down enemy damage dealers.
        • Cheap Shot: We’ve significantly reduced the stun duration, but added a blind to counter Heroes that rely heavily on Basic Attacks.
        • Garrote: To help in shutting down Supports and Assassins that focus on casting spells, we’ve buffed the duration of Garrote’s silence effect.
        • Assassinate: We’ve cut out some of the damage of this ability, but added an armor reducing effect. This should help Valeera take down more durable targets with the help of her team.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed look at the Stealth changes we are making in Heroes of the Storm. As always, please let us know what you think in the comments below and we’ll see you in the Nexus!

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