Developer Insights: Burrowing Deep with Anub'arak

It’s time for another Developer Insights in which we explore a hero’s design and mechanics. This week, we’ll be focusing on an old king from the Warcraft universe. Join us for a chat with Game Designer Kent-Erik Hagman as we discuss the King Traitor himself, Anub’arak.



Trikslyr: Anub'arak is known for his forced loyalty toward the Frozen Throne. However, dropping into the Nexus might require the Crypt Lord to forget about the Lich King. What type of playstyle can we expect to see from the iconic Warcraft character?


Kent-Erik: Anub'Arak hails originally from Warcraft III, and in designing him, we wanted to respect a lot of what he represented in that game. To that end, we felt it just wouldn't be Anub'arak without iconic abilities like Impale, Carrion Beetles, and Locust Swarm. We also liked the feel of Burrow Charge and, given his fight in World of Warcraft, it seemed like a perfect fit. Having both Burrow Charge and Impale on his basic abilities means he excels at initiating a fight. As Anub’arak, you can expect to be diving backlines and forcing engagements for your team.


Trikslyr: What talents are we featuring on Anub'arak that players should be excited about trying?


Kent-Erik: Anub'Arak has a couple interesting builds you can focus on with him. The most obvious is to improve his initiating capabilities with abilities such as:

  • Extended Spikes (Impale range increased by 25%)
  • Underking (Burrow Charge range increased, cooldown decreased),
  • Epicenter (Burrow Charge hits a larger area upon arrival and does more damage).

Anub’arak has a handful of options to increase his abilities as a damage sponge for his team, from improving his Carapace shield to allowing the beetles he passively generates to heal him when they deal damage. Alternatively, there is a bit of a siege, split-pusher build in Anub'arak based around his beetles, as sometimes the best way to deal with an enemy team is to strike where they are not!


Trikslyr: Like all of our heroes, Anub’arak has two different heroics to choose from. Web Blast is a single target lockdown that can be broken by opposing heroes, and Carrion Swarm is a heroic featuring damage and lifesteal. What types of playstyles are promoted with these heroics?


Kent-Erik: Well Locust Swarm is definitely a more-than-just-inspired ability from Warcraft III, and in bringing it over, it's a natural fit for the in-the-fray warrior who needs to stay alive and deal damage to enemies around him. This heroic is for the Anub'arak that needs to stay active in the fight for his team, being a general pest and disrupting the enemy team.

Web Blast, on the other hand, is much more about locking out a single target. It has a far lower cooldown, and can be used by Anub'arak in a variety of ways. In a teamfight, it can be used to lock out that high damage Valla or Tychus, or that pesky Malfurion healing the enemy team. Alternatively, if Anub'arak is able to catch an opponent out of position, he can lock down the target with Web Blast like a spider preparing its meal, and wait for his team to arrive!


Trikslyr: As always, thanks for stopping by! Before we let you go, what’s an interesting story you can share from testing Anub’arak in the bullpen?

Kent-Erik: Locust Swarm, like any other skill that not only harms enemies, but also heals you at the same time, is susceptible to early tuning issues. There was a few playtests where Dustin Browder would laugh after 1v3ing enemy Heroes with the heroic. Afterwards, he would say, "Guys, you know this must be overpowered if I'm able to take on three of you at once!"


A huge thank you to Kent-Erik Hagman and the design team for taking time to chat with us about Anub’arak. Check out the list below if you missed any of our previous Developer Insights blogs, and keep an eye on for more news from the Nexus.


Developer Insights: Chen and his Brew

Developer Insights: The Heart of a Queen

Developer Insights: The Bloodlust Of Rehgar

Developer Insights: Garden Of Terror

Developer Insights: Spreadin’ The Creep On Zagara

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