Why Heroes of the Storm is the best MOBA?
MOBAs are those weird games that everybody tried at some point in their life's, yet only a few sticked with it. It's a complicated genre, where skills and strategy meets almost more than in any other genre (except maybe real-time strategy). Young people rule with their reflexes and quick decision makings.
Heroes of Storm is Blizzard's hero brawler, a game unlike any other in this game type. They basically throw out a lot of things, and make it their own.
Most MOBA is two, 5 member teams on a totally symetrical map. The objective is to destroy the enemy's base building. You get gold by last hitting lane creeps, killing enemy champions or killing camps in the jungle area. In the game individuality rules, since everybody levels up separately from each other, and with the gold earned they can buy different items that can help them beat the enemy. Because of that structure the games are long, since you need farm gold to get items, to kill enemies, etc. Games can be 40 minutes to an hour long battle.
Why Heroes of the Storm is different?
Blizzard realized early in development that they probably can't compete with Dota 2 or League of Legends, and they started to create their own ruleset. They changed three important things:
Instead of individual levels, there will be only team levels. Every hero in the team is equal level. You can gain experience by killing minions (creeps), killing enemy heroes or buildings. At certain levels you get to choose between 3-5 talents that will modify your character's ability (these levels are 1, 4, 7, 10 - this is where most characters get their heroic ability, the strongest one, 13, 16, 20).
One map doesn't rule them all! In HotS there were always a lot of maps to play on, and now there is more than 12. Each map has different objectives that can help achieve the ultimate goal, to destroy enemy's core. On some map the teams need to hold to separate points to chanel a strong magical knight. Other map you need to get certain number of tributes to unleash a curse on the enemy team to destroy their defence. But there is now a map where you can't damage the core directly, but with other means. They are all distinct and requires different strategies. In fact in pro play they still make different strategies.
The map camps will push specific lanes, including hard to take down bosses, that can't be really ignored in the long run. This can also create different strategies: do you push some lanes ignoring the objective or try to beat the other team at the objective.
Heroes of the Storm requires strategic sense as well as teamwork. There is no I in the team, because everybody is equally strong in the team, according to there role. There are still tanks, offlaners, melee and ranged dps and supports.
One of the important thing: the game is never over for either team, unless the enemy's core is destroyed. There is a built-in comeback mechanics in the game, through xp. And it's so simple, that even IGN lied about in their review! (they said: there is no comeback mechanics)
Basically when your team is behind in experience, let's say level 6 vs level 8. If you kill somebody on the other team you will earn more xp than usual. In this way, if you caught somebody or somebodies, you can turn the game around.
However killing enemies is not everything. At the beginning of the game, soaking xp is more valuable for the team. It requires that somebody always be in a lane from the teams.
One of the benefits of that system overall is that the games are fast. Average gametime is 20 minutes, even after 3 years from release. The game is fast paced, the teams are pulled in to objectives after the first 2 minutes and basically the brawling never stops, while you can't ignore lanes, since you need to get xp and push the lanes.
This all make it the best MOBA
It's different! You realize you are part of the team and not just somebody who can think they can carry the others by themself. That modification is why I fall in love with this game, despite my rocky relationship with the genre. I so wanted to play and love a MOBA and I was lucky to found it.
This post was inspired by yesterday's crucible game. Two pro teams played, one who wanted to stay in the pro league, the other one is to get into the pro league. They battled for hours, they died many times, going through motions, and we just watched that experience vs a young team fought to stay in. One of the young ones is just 15 years old, yet he led his team with confidence. This one was my most memorable night that include a video game. That series showed us what Heroes of the Storm is and can be.