Heroes of the Storm: Traits that Dia-blow

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

Heroes of the Storm has seen a slew of new hero additions and talent changes in the past few months. I have been playing around with different heroes (old and new) in Try Mode to test out builds, and to get a sense of their kits. While several heroes have some interesting new options, there are others that still possess questionable abilities or talents. Gul’dan, the most recent hero added to the game, has only one viable ultimate because his other option lacks consistent value and rains down disappointment upon the battlefield. For today’s post, I want to discuss two heroes who possess traits that still feel out of place or oddly designed, and attempt to create solutions to the issues I perceive.

Logo - Heroes of the Storm

Tyrael, Archangel of Justice

The first hero I want to discuss is Tyrael, a character from the Diablo universe who is actually very well-rounded. His basic abilities allow him to deal some damage, generate shields for his team, and provide some additional movement utility. He has an amazing tool for initiating fights in his Judgment ultimate. He also has several talents that can supplement his survivability once he enters the fray. The only part of Tyrael’s kit that gives me pause is his trait.

HotS - Tyrael Trait

Tyrael’s trait. *sigh*

While Tyrael doesn’t have the worst trait in the game (Raynor leads that race), his trait is still pretty damn bad. For players to make use of Archangel’s Wrath, they must somehow die while playing Tyrael. The design of this trait assumes the player will die regularly over the course of a match, thus giving a little value to the trait’s functionality. However, a well played and properly talented Tyrael can avoid death in most circumstances, which will cause the player to rarely make use of this trait, if ever. Even if the player gets caught by the enemy team and dies, there is no guarantee the explosion from Archangel’s Wrath will actually hit anyone on the enemy team.

One issue Tyrael has while Archangel’s Wrath is active is his lack of mobility. Since he is technically dead, Tyrael loses access to all of his abilities. Most heroes will be able to avoid being caught in the blast radius. Though, this is made easier with Tyrael not being able to teleport or benefit from Smite’s movement speed buff. You can pick up a talent at Level 1 that grants Tyrael access to these things, but it will be a wasted talent if the player is not prone to dying.

This lack of mobility extends into the other major issue with Archangel’s Wrath, which is the lack of synergy. Tyrael’s abilities have no effect, nor are they affected by, his trait. I believe Tyrael’s trait wouldn’t seem so out of place if his abilities had some effect, even a small one, on Archangel’s Wrath. Tyrael’s talents could even apply some small bonus to his trait. Unfortunately, with the exception of the two talents at Level 1, none of Tyrael’s talents even acknowledge the existence of Archangel’s Wrath.

I have come up with an idea to make Archangel’s Wrath better, as well as make it more useful while Tyrael isn’t dead. My idea does require folding the “Even in Death” talent into the trait (except for the damage increase), but losing that talent won’t be a great loss since I doubt anyone actually picks it up.

Here is my idea:

  • Archangel’s Wrath
    Living Wrath: Enemies that attack you grant 1 Wrath. Upon reaching 30 Wrath, you will explode for 240 damage after 1.5 seconds.
    Dying Wrath: When you die, become invulnerable, and explode for 550 damage after 3.5 seconds, but lose all stacks of Wrath. Basic Abilities can be used before exploding, but they deal no damage.

This version of the trait allows Tyrael to occasionally explode while he’s alive. His explosion while living is weaker, has a shorter fuse (tee hee), and is controlled by a resource called Wrath. By default, Wrath is generated when Tyrael is attacked, which is similar in functionality to his “Angelic Absorption” talent except the shield isn’t required to be active. Tyrael’s explosion in death remains mostly the same except it strips Tyrael of his unused stacks of Wrath, and allows the use of his basic abilities. I have more ideas to modify Tyrael’s talents to incorporate a little bit of Wrath generation, but I’ll have to discuss those ideas in another post.

Diablo, Lord of Terror

Now that I’ve got Tyrael out of the way, the hero I really want to discuss also happens to be a character from the Diablo universe. Diablo is a warrior hero who has an alright kit, and a questionable trait. While he isn’t capable of providing utility like Tyrael, he makes up for it with the capacity to bully his enemies, and having a large health pool. Diablo spends much of his time in a match bolstering his health with the souls of his enemies. It’s just unfortunate this boost to his survivability is tied to such a punishing trait.

HotS - Diablo Trait

Diablo’s trait. It’s great… until you die.

At the core of Diablo’s trait is a great set of mechanics. First, players have the capacity to gain up to 20% additional health simply from killing minions and heroes. Second, players can reduce the respawn timer to 5 seconds, allowing them to get back onto the battlefield quicker. The problem with Black Soulstone as a whole is the benefits of the second mechanic require sacrificing the benefits of the first. This wouldn’t be so bad if the cost wasn’t greater than the reward.

One problem with the “cheat death” mechanic afforded to Diablo is it creates a situation where the 100 Souls can be wasted. In the early game, the respawn timer is already fairly short, and having that timer reduced by 15 seconds or less isn’t really worth the loss of 100 souls. Since players have no control over when the “cheat death” mechanic occurs, they are punished for maximizing their trait. Players have no choice but to sacrifice the souls upon death even if there is no dire need for them to make a hasty return to battle. Additionally, in those situations where Diablo is needed to defend the base after dodging 30 or more seconds of respawn time, he would be doing so as a much less effective tank.

This brings me to the next issue, which is Black Soulstone pretty much encompasses all of Diablo’s survivability. His baseline kit doesn’t include any self-healing, shields, or a reliable escape. Diablo’s one movement ability, Shadow Charge, requires an enemy target to actually work, which only makes it useful as a gap closer. This lack of active mitigation forces Diablo to rely more heavily on support heroes and universal mechanics, such as regeneration globes, to sustain his health. Knowing this just makes the cost of death that much more punishing because, in a Quick Match or Hero League setting, players can’t always rely on those things to keep them alive.

The worst part of Diablo’s plight lies in the fact there is another hero who has a superior, and less punishing “cheat death” mechanic. While less punishing than Black Soulstone, this mechanic is still forced upon the player at the moment of death. However, unlike Black Soulstone, it does not require the player to sacrifice their primary source of survivability to benefit from it. The trait I am referring to is called “Undying” and belongs to Leoric, who, coincidentally, also hails from the Diablo universe. Here is his trait.

HotS - Leoric Trait

Leoric’s trait.

Leoric’s trait is superior to Diablo’s due to all of the benefits it affords him. Upon death, Leoric can still roam the battlefield and provide vision to his team without ever being sent back to the spawn point. Leoric’s Drain Hope ability, which drains health from enemies and heals Leoric while he’s alive, becomes a tool for bringing him back from death quicker. Additionally, Leoric has several talents that can further hasten his return to life during Undying, and also act as additional forms of self-sustain (specifically personal healing) for Leoric when he walks among the living. Diablo has fewer meaningful sources of self-sustain, must return to the spawn point upon sacrificing his souls, and has no talents to make the generation of 100 souls more expedient after they have been lost.

Now, I have several ideas to make Diablo an overall better hero. However, it requires redesigning a lot of his kit. Due to the number of changes I feel are necessary to update Diablo, those ideas will have to be covered in an entirely different post. In the meantime, I will cover the ideas I have to potentially rectify the issues with the Black Soulstone trait.

Here is my first idea:

  • Black Soulstone
    Passive: Gain 1 Soul per Minion killed, and 10 Souls per Hero killed. For each Soul, gain 0.2% maximum Health. Maximum 100 Souls.
    Active: For up to 30 seconds after you die, you may consume 50 Souls to emerge from the Black Soulstone after 2.5 seconds, resurrecting at the location you died. 60 second cooldown.

This version of Black Soulstone avoids multiple issues that exist with the current version. First, the “cheat death” mechanic is no longer a passive effect that automatically strips the player of their souls upon death. Next, the number of souls required to activate the “cheat death” mechanic has been drastically reduced so the player isn’t overly punished for using it. Furthermore, Diablo will respawn where he perished after a flashy animation. The purpose of this change is to make the loss of souls an active choice, and one that is worth sacrificing the largest portion of Diablo’s survivability.

Here is my second idea:

  • Black Soulstone
    Passive: Gain 1 Soul per Minion killed, and 5 Souls per Hero killed. For each Soul, gain 0.2% damage and 0.2% maximum Health. Maximum 50 Souls.
    Active: For up to 30 seconds after you die, you may consume 50 Souls to emerge from the Black Soulstone after 2.5 seconds, resurrecting at the location you die.

This version of the trait shares many similarities to the one above, but the passive portion has some distinct differences. First, the total number of souls a player can collect is reduced by half, which should make collecting them less of a chore. Second, souls earned from heroes was reduced to match the new soul maximum, and the souls earned from minions remains the same but each minion kill is now worth more. Next, the health bonus gained per soul is unchanged even with the lower soul maximum, and the idea behind this is that Diablo’s health with maximum souls, even with the health boost only being +10%, would be the same as it is now in the live game (6938 MaxHP at Lv. 20 with maximum souls). For this to work, Diablo’s base health would have to be increased to compensate for this particular change, and doing that should make losing the souls less detrimental to Diablo’s ability to tank.

Oh! I also added a small damage bonus to Black Soulstone as something extra. It could be a little incentive to farm the souls as hastily as possible. It could just as easily be nothing more than a small boon. Either way, I think it makes sense the Black Soulstone would strengthen Diablo’s offense, even just slightly, in addition to his durability. So, this is how I thought that would work.

Final Words

While writing this post I learned traits with on-death mechanics can vary wildly in their usefulness. They can be an awkward design choice for a character with great mobility options and shields (ex. Archangel’s Wrath). They can offer a useful defensive tool until the hero dies, at which point these traits become overly punishing and a tad tedious (ex. Black Soulstone). They can even be so well thought out they outshine an older trait with similar functionality (ex. Undying). There are a couple other characters with on-death or “cheat death” mechanics that can be strong, but Diablo seems to have been given the shaft by comparison.

What do you think about the traits discussed above? Do you agree with my assessment of these traits? What traits would you change? Would Hogger or Gamon make a viable hero? Join the discussion below.


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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 August 10, 2016, in Game Design and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Oh wow, this was all really well written and put together. Fantastic article 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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