Heroes of the Storm and the Deathly Release Date

SILLY.SNAPE-PREPAREDBlizzard announced the Heroes of the Storm release date today. June 2. Huh. Well, I’ve been playing HotS up to my eyeballs–enough to keep me from posting on this blog–and have a pretty high MMR, so I’m confident enough to speak on the game’s current status, particularly as to whether or not the game is actually ready for this sort of transition. Snape, loving curmudgeon that he is, has already given away my opinion.

As an aside, yes, I am alive. I do plan to post more, but there’s not too much to talk about as far as anime or whatever goes this season. I will do another Code Geass post soon, as that was a shitton of fun to write and read. Lelouch Lamperouge must be taken to task for all his “grand” schemes that make no bleeping sense whatsoever. I will need many bullets.

Get it? “Bullets”? They’re…eh. Philistines.

Oh, I was talking about Heroes of the Storm. Yeah, Blizzard, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. The game isn’t ready. It just isn’t. I play at high Diamond level and am pretty close to Master. From my perspective, the game has a lot of grime that needs to be rubbed off before you toss it out for public consumption. Most notably, we need more Heroes. Lots more Heroes. I was talking to a friend about it just now and we both agree the Hero pool isn’t sufficiently deep enough to create a healthy meta that supports flexible team composition selection. Sylvanas was a good step in the right direction, but since you’ve so thoughtfully set us down a collision course with destiny, we need about six-to-seven more Sylvanases to be in a decent state come June. Given that you’ve been releasing champions around every six weeks, that’s not enough time for more than two champions…unless you’ve got some surprise package of Heroes in the pipeline just waiting to go. To be honest, I was hoping today’s announcement was going to be a Diablo trio of Heroes or something thereof. Talk about disappointment in that category, but it just brings us back to the relative dearth of meta-viable Heroes to take into the Nexus. In an interview a few months ago, Blizzard stated clearly there were six Heroes in development at that time. Since then, both Lost Vikings and Sylvanas have been released. So that leaves us four. I’m going to assume that since then at least one other Hero has moved into the acute development stage or whatever you want to call it, so say five. Five isn’t enough, especially when there’s no guarantee all of them will have the same release-date quality as Sylvanas.

But that’s not all, Blizzard. There are other problems afoot at Hogwarts, since this school is run by morons who think putting soul-sucking, life-scarring Dementors a hundred yards away from school children is a perfectly sane idea.

Talents. Talents, talents, talents. Talents are a relatively new development in HotS, and it shows. Jaina and Sylvanas both demonstrate that Blizzard is finally getting the hang of what talents ought to look like, but so many other Heroes need an update in that department. There are only a few meta-viable talent builds for every Hero; many of those are sub-optimal. Some Heroes are stuck in the short end of the pool as far as that goes. Tassadar, Tyrael, Uther, etc., all have talents that suck really bad and no one will ever pick in any universe, prime or alternate. Furthermore, that’s not the kind of change you can realistically push out in the space of seven-ish weeks. Sure, surprise me by all means, but I remain skeptical, as I ought to.

Then there’s matchmaking, the canker afflicting HotS. People are not really matched well based on their actual MMR or some other solid performance indicator, but speed and general accuracy. This is less of an issue at the lower ends of the game where no one knows fuck-all and runs around thinking Anub’arak is OP or something, but it quickly becomes a serious issue the higher your skill level goes. At the very top end, it’s pretty annoying at best to be matched regularly with people at half your projected MMR, not that the other team doesn’t suffer from this just as much. It still takes the wind out of the sails of high-end competition. Few things in HotS are more enjoyable than a high-level match between equally skilled teams, win or lose. Trust me, I’ve done it. The problem is that it’s so rare that you have to slug through ten matches of Gazlowe-obsessed weirdos before you can face gather a proper team comp.

Suffice it to say, I’m not sure if Blizzard has listened to Illidan on this matter. We’re not ready for public release. The game systems need to be refined more, the talents need serious attention, we need more Heroes to shake things up and provide more viable picks and counterpicks, along with a simple team/guild/clan system and other similar features. HotS has the potential to be a great MOBA, but that only comes with time and patience. Am I wrong to suspect this release date is more internally dictated rather than developer-oriented? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet one of my horcruxes on it.

I have no horcruxes, by the way. That was a joke.

An Update

SpSILLY.AHH-YEAHoilers ahead, ye denizens of the Internet.

Dragon Age: Inquisition has been beaten. It took me about 100 hours to complete the game, which is amazing for an RPG. I think both Origins and DA2 came in at about 50 hours each. Loved the game. The story was mediocre, but the lore and surrounding characterization more than made up for it. The combat system, though better than Origins’, was not as good as DA2’s for me. The PC interface took a long time to get used to and was the most significant minus and source of frustration for me. Overall I rate the game about 8.5/10, if that scale makes sense. I’ll write up a lore post going over my thoughts on the deeper lore elements revealed in DA:I soon.

On the anime front, I’m caught up on Sword Art Online II and Unlimited Blade Works. Combined blog posts incoming sooner rather than later, hopefully. The latter anime was more decent than I expected, so that’s a plus. UBW continues to be beautiful and elicit the question what the everliving fuck is the budget for this thing? The pain of Zankyou no Terror is properly fading, thank God.

Now I have to balance my time between writing, Super Smash Bros, other playthroughs of DA:I, WoW PVP, and League of Legends as the new season comes on the horizon (LOL LUCIAN NERFS APPEARED ON THE PTR TODAY. SO HAPPY…even though they might have gone too far.). One thing’s for sure: we’re not in a drought anymore in video game land.

Wish I could say the same for California, though. :/

Warlords of Draenor – the DK Report

While I count down the last few agonizing hours that stand between me and Dragon Age: Inquisition, I’ve taken up the new World of Warcraft expansion. I had a great time at Blizzcon, and it really made me want to hang out with my guildmates more often. My schedule precludes me from raiding, probably forever, but I can at least be in the game and do stuff with them. So I dragged my good ol’ Death Knight out, dusted him off, and charged through Draenor to see what all the hullabaloo about PVP and Ashran was. My general impression so far:

SILLY.MCKAYLA

Times a billion.

Disclaimer: I know the expansion has been out for less than a week; I know the metagame has yet to stabilize; I know a lot of people are busy getting gear for PVE and such; I know most people haven’t gotten their PVP gear yet; I know 25% resilience is still in the game; I know damage will start outscaling healing as the seasons progress. All that being said, PVP in WoW is only slightly improved from when I left it two years ago and is still as infuriating as ever, especially as a Death Knight.

Let’s start off with the much-hyped Ashran. This zone is a fucking disappointment if there ever was one. I would likely be much angrier had I gone in with any expectations for it. Going in blind probably prevented me from frothing at the mouth with how angry I’d be at Blizzard right now for fucking PVP over yet again at the basic level. Ashran is a concept–in theory–for bringing back the feel of the old Alterac Valley. If Ashran is working as intended, then let me just say this right now: fuck the old Alterac Valley. Fuck all you silver-haired PVP veterans who have kept lusting after your retarded nostalgia fantasies for the past seven years without remembering all the crippling flaws they came with. I never experienced the old Alterac Valley, and now I’m glad I didn’t. It sounds like a chore. Surprise: Ashran is a chore. It presumes a large, balanced server population that’s interested in PVP. I can only imagine how small a minority of servers in WoW fit that description. Well, good job: you have a never-ending, pointless seesaw battle that gets you tiny amounts of honor and no artifacts because you have to take them off of other players’ bodies. For some reason, Holinka thought it would be a good idea to have you lose Artifacts if you die or release your spirit, which will happen very often in a mass PVP situation. Moreover, the only significant reward for your time in Ashran is earned by killing the enemy boss in the opposing faction’s base, which is nearly impossible, as all the NPCs can one- or two-shot you and the giant NPC you can summon to help you has the worst AI this side of the Twisting Nether. If Ashran is going to work, it needs some massive tweaking and rebalancing, starting with non-tagged looting for artifacts, significantly increased honor rewards so you get something out of it more reliably, and mechanics to compensate for faction imbalance. Otherwise, I’m only going to Ashran for dailies, idle time in between battleground queues, or to buy some gear. The zone needs serious attention to be anything but another repeat of Tol Barad.

Now, onto the PVP meta itself. The following picture describes how it feels to be a Death Knight in WoD:

SILLY.MOLASSES

Now with teleports added for everyone except you.

Holy-fuck-my-stars-God, Holinka. You fucked up so bad. Every other fucking class in the game has insane mobility except DKs. Trying to stay on your target or keep up with anyone is a never-ending nightmare. Druids have blink, Mages have blink, Monks have blink, Hunters have disengage and constant mobility, Warlocks have their portal, recall, and a fucking knockback, Shaman have Ghost Wolf and etc, Warriors still have a billion stuns and charges, on and on and on and on it goes. What do DKs have? Chains of Ice and the Death and Decay Glyph. Aaaand Death Grip on a 20 second CD. Oh, that’s totally enough, right? At one point, long long ago, I thought Desecration needed to be removed. Now I don’t. I never thought I’d see the day when I thought Descration needed to be returned, but explain why all nine other classes are bouncing around every BG I find while I’m spending half my resources just to keep them snared so I might be able to hit them with my sword once in a while. Meanwhile, my damage still sucks, and our Level 100 talents are horrible. They’re massive CC breakers that don’t do anything. Necrotic Plague is worthless in PVP; Breath of Sindragosa takes too much RP and too much setup; Defile is the least bad choice among them. Given the fact that DK DPS has gotten almost no significant changes in two expansions, I’m confident in saying the designers have given up on the class in PVP. The amount of effort spent on DK ability design is pitiful, and it shows. They don’t give a shit.

Neither do they care about DPS in general, apparently. I don’t know what the design goals for PVP in WoD were besides cutting CC down to size a bit, but it seems like they put all their effort budget into that one idea. Healing is out of control. Healers alone can still put people back to full in an instant with instant casts, but now Ret Paladins and other hybrid healers can do that too. Killing people is absurdly difficult; one healer can negate half a battleground’s worth of DPS, if that. I’m honestly thinking of just finishing gearing my DK up for PVP in blues and leveling my Priest so I can feel like I have more of an impact, though I’ll probably run into just as many annoyances and nightmares as I’ve found with my DK. Sigh.

If my guild weren’t filled with such wonderful people, I’d shelve this game forever and go back to LoL. No matter how frustrated I get in LoL, it’s nothing compared to the sheer rage WoW PVP inflicts upon the soul.

I leave you with Snape, smoldering.

SILLY.SNAPE

Classy smoldering.