BlizzCon 2017: Hands on with Alexstrasza and Hanzo in Heroes of the Storm
I had a chance to sit down at the demo stations here at BlizzCon to get my hands on the newly announced champions for Heroes of the Storm, Alexstrasza a ranged support and Hanzo a ranged assassin. After a hype-inducing cinematic introduction at the Opening Ceremony, I was ready to give both these newcomers a spin and I was not disappointed, though one was definitely not for me.
Alexstrasza, The Life-Binder
Make no mistake, the Dragon Queen is a healer. Almost all her abilities are about keeping herself and her teammates alive. She does little damage and has limited crowd control or escape options. Her main heal drains her own life, but her heals are stronger when her health is high, so there is some health management you have to do with her. Well, you say, I’ll just cast heal on myself every chance I get. Surprise, her single target heal can’t be targeted on herself and her area of effect heal takes 3 seconds to fire off. So there’s a bit of strategy involved in keeping her at maximum performance.
That being said, she is quite fun and engaging to play. Her talents help you manage her health and healing better. And, of course, there’s that whole turning into a dragon thing. It’s not even her Heroic. It’s her trait! That’s right, you can dragon out every 90 (or 100, I forget which) seconds from level 1. When you do, it empowers your other abilities. Your Q single target heal doesn’t cost health. Your W AOE heal is more powerful. Your E fireball knocks back enemies in an arc. On top of all that, your basic attack becomes a cone fire breath attack that also heals allies.
Let’s get to her ultimates. You’d think being a support means everyone is going to go with Life-Binder which links her to another player and heals the one with lower health percentage to match the life of the higher health one. But I predict most players will go with the flashier Cleansing Flame which transforms her into a dragon and launches her across the map to drop fireballs where you place your cursor that either damage opponents or heal allies, landing her nearby after the last fireball falls.
This ultimate has so many uses. She could run down a low health enemy. Heal a faraway ally who got caught out. Use it as an escape. Or even a way to get across the map quickly to arrive at an objective before her opponents. Blizzard is going to have to nerf this if they want to see her other ultimate get some play.
Hanzo, Master Assassin
Hanzo is a high skill cap ranged assassin. I say high skill cap because he is all about skill shots while on the move and that’s just not my thing, so I found him very frustrating to play. I think many players will find him delightful and a great fit with their playstyle, but I am not one of them.
His Q is a charged shot. The longer you hold down the mouse, the longer the range. So you click it when you see the shot, but then you have to wait for it to charge for range and often the window for the shot is gone. Which means you constantly just have to keep it fully charged for max range which locks out the use of other abilities or resign yourself to using it at minimum range. Either way requires two clicks instead of one (one to activate, one to fire) which leads to even more missed opportunities.
His W is a scatter shot which starts as a single shot, but if you bounce it off terrain it becomes four shots. The game provides helpful indicators showing the direction of the four shots when you aim the scatter shot at a wall, but again you spend so much time lining up the shot, that whatever opportunity you saw has gone by when you finally have it set up. And the slightest movement of your mouse sends the angle of the shot wildly in another direction. Plus you’re often moving as are your targets. It’s like skill shot squared. No thanks.
His E is a sonic arrow that reveals stealthed heroes in an area and does some damage if it hits one. Good for zoning a stealthed hero I guess.
His ultimates are the showy Dragonstrike which does surprisingly little damage and Dragon’s Arrow which I didn’t get a chance to try, but can fire across the map, doing more damage the farther it goes before hitting a hero. His trait allows him to jump over unpassable terrain. This is good for fast getaways because he is very squishy and has no escape abilities.
Again, I’m sure this kit will appeal to other players, but overall I found him very frustrating to play. Your mileage may vary.
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