Heroes of the Storm: New Maps For Blizzard’s hero brawler

Heroes of the Storm continues to grow as it prepares to leave alpha and enter a closed beta stage in early 2015. At BlizzCon, players were treated to some big reveals for the upcoming MOBA in the form of a batch of high-profile heroes, two new maps, and the introduction of ranked matches and draft play. With The Lost Vikings, Jaina, and Thrall entering the mix alongside what will become the backbone of competitive Heroes play, there’s a lot of content to digest.

Jaina Proudmore is an archetypal Warcraft universe ice mage with abilities that are amplified on chilled targets. With stacking nukes, snares, and a water elemental, Jaina can put out more burst damage than almost any hero in the game, but has a limited mana pool and standard glass cannon mage defenses. Jaina has to pick her moments, but can have massive game impact.

Thrall is a melee character that can summon fire wolves, blast chain lighting, and use windfury to power up his Doomhammer for potent attacks. He can also summon a huge earthquake.

The Lost Vikings play differently than any other hero in the game, and like Murky and Abathur, they break the traditional hero design mold. Players control each Viking independently; they all have separate death timers, and can be positioned all over the map. You could conceivably have one Viking taking on a mercenary camp, one sitting in a lane, and one even jumping in the Dragon Knight all at the same time. If you want to have some real fun, try the ultimate ability that puts all the Vikings into a single longboat for some devastating damage.

The new maps are Sky Temple and Tomb of the Spider Queen, which have an Egyptian feel. Sky Temple tasks players with capturing obelisks. While these obelisks are held, they lay siege to enemy defenses, but they also summon monsters to try to push players off the point.

In stark contrast to the Sky Temple, where players don’t spend a lot of time in lane, Tomb of the Spider Queen incentivizes people to stay in lane to collect souls from killing enemy minions. Collected souls can be turned in to add various monsters to join in on lane pushing, so that’s where the action focus lies on this smaller map with less travel time and constant combat.

Two modes of ranked play are coming to Heroes of the Storm. One mode lets you queue solo or with friends, and another requires you to have a pre-arranged team to participate. Draft mode is used in these competitive matches, so once one team picks a hero it will be unavailable to the other team.

Heroes of the Storm has already seen myriad changes during its extensive alpha phase, and when it moves into the beta stages next year it will be a powerful contender to watch in the congested and competitive MOBA space.

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