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Heroes of the Storm: Eternal Conflict E3 2015 First Look & Interview

Developer: Blizzard | Publisher: Blizzard
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: MOBA

Release Date: 06/30/15

During E3 2015, I had the chance to sit down and talk to Alan Dabiri, Technical Director, and Phill Gonzales, Senior Artist, about Heroes of the Storm and the upcoming Eternal Conflict patch. We were able to talk about the patch in more detail, the upcoming Heroes, and then a variety of topics on the state of the game. 

Eternal Conflict is the first time they have taken a theme to the Nexus. This patch is a Diablo themed battleground that will be going on for the next few months. They are bringing out Battlefield of Eternity, a map currently on the PTR, Public Test Realm, right now for you to play. This is the first new map that is coming to Heroes of the Storm.

Players will also find a new quest in the new patch. If anyone on the team has a daily quest to kill a Treasure Goblin, he will appear at the beginning of the match. You can earn 100 gold for killing the Treasure Goblin. But be quick, once the 10 second timer ends, the Treasure Goblin goes into his portal.

For new characters, The Butcher will release on June 30, Leoric, the Skeleton King, will appear after that, about 4 weeks later--sometime in July.  The Monk will appear about 3-4 weeks after Leoric before The Eternal Conflict event ends.

Undying is Leoric’s Trait. When he dies, he never leaves the battlefield. When he is dead, he can slow enemies but cannot do damage. If he does healing to himself, it reduces his death timer.  There is no cooldown on his trait because it is his normal death timer.  

The Monk is a character that had a lot of feedback from the community. The community wanted a melee support to join the diablo heroes and the Monk fills that role. At level 1, you don’t have a trait. You pick your first talent based on the team composition. So if you are DPS heavy, you might want to spec into a healing talent.  Or if you are support heavy, you can go into DPS.

Once June 30 hits, Battlefield of Eternity Map will be added to the rotation of available maps, the Butcher will be released, and then the Treasure Goblin Daily Quest will be added into the live Heroes of the Storm game.

On the subject of matchmaking, since the game launched, officially a few months ago, there are a lot of new players. Because of this, you may see a team of three or four max level characters get paired up with low level characters. This should be improving over time and as the player base matures more, similar levels should be teamed up together.  Because the matchmaking is all done via the server side, Blizzard can make improvements without a patch being pushed out.

The matchmaker also does some other things to. Because there is a slight disadvantage to teams that are lacking a support, if you have a support, the other team will have one.  If you don’t have a support, the other side will not. On the subject of the Warrior Class. The overall data suggests it is 50/50, in wins, if you have a Warrior or not. So matchmaking won’t enforce a certain Team Composition. They want you to be overall free to make the team you want.  This is subject to change as more data comes in.

Moving on to the subject of server side lag. Blizzard wants to make sure that they first concentrate on making the game run well for players on a wide variety of video cards and CPU’s. Beyond that, there are a lot of bottlenecks throughout the United States that are having issues. Blizzard is actively working on making sure the correct networking teams are notified so they can fix their bottlenecks. One in particular is in the Chicago area that is randomly causing packet loss. They would like to work with different ISP’s to make the servers more peer to peer to help make the game run smoother and there are no middlemen.  Another possible fix for this is they are trying to make the game less sensitive to network interference.  These are fixes that will take place over time.

Blizzard wants to ensure they have a good environment for all players. They want players reporting others when they misbehave. That is what their customer service team does. Looks over the reports and banning/suspending players for poor behavior. The reporting feature does work. Regarding AFK, or Away From Keyboard, if you stay inactive or aren’t contributing to the team for a certain period of time, you get kicked out of the game and are marked a Leaver. You will then be temporarily banned from Ranked play and will be forced to play Quick Play matches with other leavers until you are allowed to play Ranked and with normal players again.

In the future, Blizzard wants to continue adding new Maps to the Map Pool. They also want to add to the number and type of Daily Quests you can receive. Heroes of the Storm will always be a work in progress and they will continue to make changes, add features, and improve the game. On the subject of improving the game, the question came up if Blizzard was concerned that certain Heroic and Talents aren’t being taken. They said in some cases they are, like with Sylvanas. They are working on fixing cases like these as they come up.

Going forward, with every major release, they will be testing it on the PTR, Public Test Realm. This will occur with roughly every other patch.

Moving to the subject of future Heroes. , Blizzard doesn’t have a max number in mind. They have a philosophy that they do not want to have redundant characters. They want each and every Hero to feel unique and distinct. If they get to a point where they can’t do this, that is when you will see them slow down on new Heroes being introduced into the game. However, they do not anticipate this happening for the foreseeable future. 

Blizzard has bundles in the store that put together different champions, skins, and sometimes even mounts. Sometimes a player already owns one or more items in a bundle but the price does not decrease. They are looking into this. On the subject of buying a skin for a champion you don’t own, they don’t plan on removing this because players like to sometimes buy skins for Heroes that go on rotation. I personally disagree with this philosophy.

Moving on to an undo on talents, Blizzard feels the game would be broken if you could completely respec a character in the middle of the game. I tend to agree with them. The door is open, however, to undoing a talent that you accidentally selected within a certain time frame. 

Heroes of the Storm Eternal Conflict comes out on June 30, 2015. We look forward to covering the title more in the future as Blizzard updates it.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/24/15

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