Heroes of the Storm: Raynor… Is An Assassin?

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

Last week, I wrote an editorial for MMOs.com about Heroes of the Storm and the things it gets right. In that same week, I logged into HotS and acquired some new daily quests. One of which was to play a few games as a StarCraft character. According to my profile, I had not played any character from the StarCraft universe until that point. The character I decided to play to complete this quest was Raynor, the Renegade Commander. He’s a fun character to play, but for being classified an “Assassin” he is constructed rather oddly. For today’s post, I will intermingle my experience playing the character with the aspects of his design I think works, the aspects of his design that seem awkward, and I’ll make some suggestions on how he could be changed.

Logo - Heroes of the Storm

In general, Raynor is a fun character to play because of his simplicity. He comes from a sci-fi game series, which allows him to have a very different theme and feel compared to the abundant fantasy characters available in HotS’ roster. He wields a big gun that can pack a serious punch. Through his Inspire ability, he can increase the attack speed of himself and nearby allies. The ultimate ability I was able to use, Hyperion, is intimidating and good for forcing enemies away. Raynor is a good choice for new players, because his kit is simple to understand and easy to learn. However, his kit also feels limited in some ways, and seems designed to discourage players from investing talents into his one damaging ability.

Advanced Octopus Optics

Advanced Optics is likely the single worst trait given to any character in Heroes of the Storm. It’s absolutely worthless. It serves no purpose except to inform the player that Raynor’s attack range is further than most other ranged heroes, and that he can see an insignificant amount further than other heroes. I’ve looked through the entire roster, and there is no other character in the game with a trait that does absolutely nothing. Even if the trait only procs on death, which some traits do, it is still providing some sort of additional benefit regardless of the lack of immediate access, lack of immediate benefit, or lack of control on the player’s end. Advanced Optics is unnecessary, and needs something useful put in that slot.

Adrenaline Rush

If Adrenaline Rush were a person in a movie theater with assigned seating, it would be sitting in the wrong seat. By this I mean, Adrenaline Rush is taking up a slot that could easily have a more proactive ability. I’m not saying this ability is bad, but why would I, or any other player, want one less tool at my disposal than every other assassin in the game? This ability would most likely be better served as Raynor’s trait so he could acquire another ability. However, another significant oddity would have to be rectified first.

Penetration Penetrating Round

At the core of Raynor’s odd design is his most important offensive and defensive ability, Penetration Penetrating Round. The crux of this ability is that it deals a high amount of damage and knocks back any enemies it hits. The problem players face with this ability is when to use it. It can be used to deal a high amount of damage, or to push foes away to aid in a retreat. However, if players use it for offense, and then need to make a hasty retreat, they don’t have that defensive option until the ability comes off cooldown. This is bad. Very, very, bad.

When I played Raynor, I had zero experience playing him (outside the tutorial), but I knew what to expect from his gameplay because of a YouTuber named MFPallytime (short for Sir-Lord Mother Fucking Pallytime, lawls). So, I went for a “right-click and win” build, because I didn’t want to be reliant on Penetrating Round for damage when it’s Raynor’s main defensive ability. At least, it is for me. Adrenaline Rush might be decent for surviving damage, but it’s awful for stopping, delaying, or escaping it. Raynor is the only assassin with a defensive option that sacrifices a good portion of his damage.

Suggested Changes

I have come up with a couple ideas that could be used to update, upgrade, or simply modify Raynor and the way he plays. I don’t want to alter his gameplay style too much. I just believe he should have options similar to what’s available to the other assassins, or, at the very least, more options than what he currently possesses. I likely won’t include Inspire in the following suggestions, because there is nothing wrong with it’s design and it serves its purpose. It’s just an AoE attack speed buff. There isn’t much to screw up there. However, it is Blizzard. So, they’d be the ones to find a way to do it wrong.

Advanced Optics

Option 1: Remove it from the game.

As I stated before, Advanced Optics serves no purpose except to inform the player of Raynor’s increased attack range and vision. This isn’t necessary information to play the character. Those bonuses can remain on the character without wasting an ability slot on it. Just get rid of it.

Option 2: Make it an active ability.

If Advanced Optics must stay, it should be turned into an active ability similar to Tassadar’s Oracle trait. The increased attack range and vision, that the original version pointlessly informed players about, will remain intact. However, it will no longer be wasting an ability slot.

The new Advanced Optics will significantly increase Raynor’s vision, and allow him to see Heroes that are otherwise impossible to see. It will last for 5 seconds, and possess a 40 second cooldown.

Penetrating Round

The only change that needs to be done to this ability is the removal of the knockback effect attached to it. This will make Penetrating Round an offensive ability by default, and eliminate the annoyances that are currently plaguing the ability (it’s no longer in the same league as Haymaker). The Hamstring Shot and Bullseye talents may need to be replaced with talents that affect the new ability taking the open slot left by Adrenaline Rush (explained ahead).

Adrenaline Rush

Option 1: Adrenaline Rush becomes Raynor’s trait.

The idea here is, with Advanced Optics removed from the trait slot, and Adrenaline Rush being a passive, it makes sense that Adrenaline Rush become the new trait. This will allow the talents that are tied to Adrenaline Rush to remain intact.

Option 2: Adrenaline Rush becomes a talent.

I think the better option, if Advanced Optics takes advantage of the second change detailed earlier, would be to make Adrenaline Rush a talent. The talents that currently exist could be folded into the new version of the ability, and Adrenaline Rush could become an additional survival option for Raynor players to talent into.

Rene-Grenade or Raynor Grenade? (New Ability)

As for an additional ability, I originally imagined Raynor getting some sort of grenade ability that deals a bit of damage and has a relatively strong knockback effect. The purpose of the ability would, primarily, be for the use as an escape. Though, with the knockback component likely being stronger than the one tied to Penetrating Round, it might be used as a way of keeping an enemy in the fight, if used properly. The talents that once gave Penetrating Round some strong crowd control components would be modified to proc off the Rene-Grenade. I think an option to boost the grenade’s damage while sacrificing some of its defensive potential, or simply boosting its damage in place of picking the stun talent, could be an interesting option for those who are better at kiting and like trolling their opponents.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if a grenade is such a good idea since Tychus has one, and the upcoming character release, Lt. Morales, has a grenade of sorts. I do believe that Raynor should retain access to the knockback currently tied to Penetrating Round, but in some new form. The Rene-Grenade mentioned above would likely be a skill shot like Penetrating Round is, but I imagine there would be the option to talent for three grenades, thrown in a cone. Of course, there are plenty of ways one could take this ability and have it be unique to Raynor. An ice Rene-Grenade, perhaps?

I don’t think Raynor is an awful character by any means. I just think he is an awkwardly built assassin. While every other assassin has options for both offense and defense without having to sacrifice either, Raynor has one real option for both that ends up sacrificing one or the other depending on the situation. This character just doesn’t seem to follow the same design rules as every other assassin, and that doesn’t make sense. The design of Penetrating Round doesn’t make investing talents into it very enticing because of the potential damage lost by the team (think Haymaker). Presently, it’s just better served as a possible defense option with Inspire as Raynor’s primary offensive option. “Right-click and win” builds, for the… win!

What do you think of my suggested changes? Do you believe Raynor needs a rework? Are you fine with how he is? Isn’t Rene-Grenade fun to say? Did anyone else notice there isn’t a Warrior representing the StarCraft universe? Join the discussion below.


If you haven’t visited my Twitch channel yet, I stream a lot of Heroes of the Storm, and I am planning to stream WildStar since the Free-to-Play update has gone live. I don’t have a set schedule currently, but I try to stream Wednesdays and Fridays each week.

I created a Facebook page, be sure to click the like button in the sidebar, or you can head straight to the page.

If you have any questions for me, or have some ideas for topics you’d like me to cover, you can leave a comment below or head over to my shiny semi-new-ish Contact page.


Thanks for reading to the end. I hope you’ll be back for the next one.

War Fist out.

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About The War Fist

I am an aspiring writer and gamer designer who enjoys the act of creating something from nothing. Typically, my creations are stories, characters, and concepts for game mechanics and/or features. I've been developing my own philosophies of storytelling, game design, and , to an extent, filmmaking, and would eventually like the opportunity to put them into practice.

Posted on October 2, 2015, in Game Design and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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