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Heroes of the StormSep 14, 2018 2:00 pm CT

Garden of Terror rework completely abandons original objective

Heroes of the Storm surprised us yesterday with a preview of a reworked Garden of Terror. The new version of Garden of Terror isn’t yet playable, but the preview below makes the changes quite clear. This isn’t a minor alteration to one of the game’s original maps; it’s a sweeping rework that abandons the majority of the map’s unique qualities — but is that a good thing?

Before we dive into that question, let’s recap the changes. The map no longer has a day/night cycle accompanying its objective, players no longer control the Garden Terror themselves, and the method gaining the Garden Terror has changed completely. Overall, the changes have turned the map into a hybrid between Cursed Hollow and Tomb of the Spider Queen. Given Cursed Hollow and Tomb of the Spider Queen are often considered two of the game’s most successful maps, it isn’t necessarily a surprise — though it is, perhaps, an uninspired change.

Based on the discussion surrounding this rework, the playerbase’s opinion is split down the middle about whether the changes are positive or negative. Personally, I feel much the same. Garden of Terror no doubt had a number of issues. The old (current) objective came up too often, limiting the opportunities for playing the lanes or generating organic team fights. The objective spread across two locations at the same time often discouraged scraps between teams rather than forcing them; if one team went top lane and one team went bottom lane, there were no skirmishes at all, counter to what objectives in Heroes of the Storm usually try to do. Even the day/night cycle caused issues that weren’t necessarily intended: Some characters, spells, and effects were more difficult to see during the night phase, and that introduced a challenge based on whether or not the prescription on your glasses was strong enough.

With those issues in mind, it’s understandable that the Heroes developers would want to move away from Garden of Terror’s current objective entirely; perhaps it was too flawed to fix it without a dramatic departure from its current gameplay. Regardless, it’s still quite sad to see the new direction hewing so close to other, existing maps. Not only does it cop Tomb of the Spider Queen’s reward of big monsters marching down every lane, but the more recent addition of Alterac Pass does the same thing, too. Players have already begun to joke that when Blackheart’s Bay is finally reworked, attaining the objective will send oversized pirates marching down each lane.

Given the map isn’t yet playable, it’s too early to speak to the new objective’s balance, but it has the potential to be oppressive. Garden of Terror is one of the larger maps in the game and the distance between each lane is relatively enormous. With the Garden Terrors maintaining their ability to shut down structures — and gaining an AOE stomp to clear out minions — the team who lost the objective will be forced to actively defend all three lanes lest they get bowled over. With the defenders forced to split up, the team with the Terror can put together a more concerted push down one lane, if they so choose. And due to the size of the map, defenders trying to rotate between lanes will be doing so quite slowly. The first objective has the potential to snowball out of control, putting one team on the backfoot for the rest of the game.

The potential is there, but we won’t really know until the map hits the PTR.

On one hand, it’s heartening to see one of the game’s must intrusive, oppressive objectives removed from the game, replaced with a mechanic that has proven itself to be interesting and engaging. On the other hand, it’s bittersweet; if nothing else, the Garden of Terror objective was a different experience, and it’s been replaced with something multiple other maps already provide. You could look at it another way, however: Garden of Terror is Cursed Hollow meets Tomb of the Spider Queen now. Before, it was just Haunted Mines meets Dragon Shire, really.

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