Raynor might finally be interesting, and all it cost was Azmodan’s laning potential
For years now, Heroes of the Storm players have been crying out for a Raynor rework. The character was added early in the game’s development, and at the time, was considered something of a tutorial character. His abilities were all straightforward, easy to manage, and even had fewer buttons to press compared to other characters, with some of his abilities triggering automatically.
But he hasn’t aged very well, and one of his unique qualities became… not-so-unique. Raynor was originally the character in the game with the longest attack range, allowing newer players to play safe with him, but additions like Chromie and Hanzo have that range, too — without sacrificing their Trait for it, like Raynor did.
The running gag became Raynor wasn’t a hero so much as he was an oversized lane minion, marching down a lane and autoattacking until his inevitable demise and respawn.
Players’ prayers have been answered, however, and his rework has just been announced. Raynor’s Adrenaline Rush is no longer a passive that triggers automatically, but an active heal you can use whenever you want. The base cooldown is longer now, but can be reduced by attacking enemies, encouraging Raynor to weigh risk and reward to stay in a fight. Raynor also has a real Trait now. He keeps his original extra range, but in addition, every fourth attack deals splash damage in an area around his target. Many of his new talents are built with his trait in mind: it can be augmented to deal extra damage, apply a slow effect, or, at level 20, strip away your primary target’s armor.
Raynor will still be an autoattacking hero first and foremost, but at least he’ll have more active gameplay that leaves some room for mastery.
Azmodan is another character players have wanted reworked, because his previous playstyle tended to pigeonhole him into just one of his abilities. If you chose a talent build that buffed his globe, his laser was so ineffective it wasn’t worth wasting the mana on it. On the flipside, if you went a laser build, you never wanted to use his globe. This is an issue Azmodan players have wanted Blizzard to address… but now that the details of his rework are available, players are skeptical of Blizzard’s direction.
While both Azmodan’s globe and his laser are buttons you’ll want to push now, rather than one or the other, some of Azmodan’s strengths have been lost in the process. Azmodan’s globe has a baseline damage increased, but it’s easier to dodge than it used to be, and it doesn’t appear you can talent into increasing its travel speed anymore. Azmodan’s laser has a finite casting time rather than being metered by his mana. That could be good dependent on the damage numbers, but Azmodan can no longer continuously melt structures to the ground that way. His Black Pool ultimate was long-aggrieved as one of the reasons Azmodan was an all-or-nothing character, but it’s been replaced with an ultimate that merely buffs his next Globe, which isn’t very exciting on paper. More, and not mentioned in the rework reveal video, Azmodan’s Trait, General of Hell, has received an arguable nerf.
Azmodan’s Trait enabled him to be a powerful split-pusher; he could summon a Lieutenant in any lane on the map to push with his minions. The Lieutenant had a 30 second duration on a 30 second cooldown, so if the enemy team didn’t clean up Azmodan’s mess, it would be a slow but inevitable disaster for them. Now, it appears General of Hell will have a 20 second duration — on a 60 second cooldown. It might be more powerful during that 20 seconds, but Azmodan can no longer continuously apply map pressure.
While Raynor’s rework keeps the core of Raynor’s character, Azmodan’s might prove differently: Azmodan might gain more teamfighting ability, but lose his reputation as a siege nightmare burning down every fortification in his path. Much of this will come down to damage numbers, however, and that will need to be experienced hands-on when these reworks hit the PTR.
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