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Heroes of the StormNov 17, 2023 2:00 pm CT

A new Heroes of the Storm patch makes us wonder about the game’s future

A large patch has just gone live for Heroes of the Storm! We’ve gotten some patches since the day that Blizzard announced that Heroes would be entering maintenance mode but none that have been this big. Not only is the patch itself big. there are a few interesting changes in it that made me sit up a little straighter in my chair and really think about what they could mean in the greater scheme of things.

In the year and a half since the maintenance mode announcement, we’ve only gotten a few patches, but two of them have been in the last two months. So while the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard has only just gone through officially, perhaps there could’ve been some behind-the-scenes talks getting things ready for when the ink dried on the contract. Does this mean we could see more Heroes of the Storm in the future?

The new patch has a big experience change to the ARAM game mode: you no longer get experience from killing minions, but have an increased amount of experience from collecting health orbs, which should see a bigger prioritization on aggressive playstyles instead of teams just wanting to hang back. There are also a number of hero balance changes that tweak damage and survivability to try and reign in overperformers.

Two giant neon signs are flashing in this patch that says to me that it’s not an average patch for a game that’s supposedly only having the lights kept on. One, some of the ability icons got updates which means that someone is working on art assets for the game. The other, bigger thing is how many characters had their difficulty classification changed. Deathwing used to be considered a Medium-difficulty hero, but now Heroes has categorized him as Hard difficulty.

That’s the kind of little update that doesn’t look like much at first glance, but something about it lodged in my brain. Why would they need to rework how heroes are classified at this point? Elite Tauren Chieftain has been sitting as an Easy hero for so long, so why is it important that he’s labeled as Hard — unless you’re preparing for a new generation of players who are unfamiliar with the game to get ready to jump into the action?

Sure, some of that comes off a bit like grasping at straws or trying to connect the dots with balls of red yarn — but I can’t quit hoping that we’ll see a Heroes resurgence. In my trip to BlizzCon 2023 the game that I heard the most of in snippets of other people’s conversations in lines and around the convention was Heroes. The community for this game is out there, and I’m sure many of them would love to walk through the doors of the Nexus again knowing that Lilith and Fyrakk were in the game. Who knows, Microsoft could also be finally trying to get Spartan-117 into another game after many many years of Master Chief being snubbed from joining Super Smash Brothers.

All of this could mean nothing. This could just be the culmination of a dedicated balance engineer’s very busy year — or it could be the first step on the road to the Heroes of the Storm resurgence!

I know which one I hope it is — I’ll see you in the Nexus!

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