Heroes of the Storm will officially launch on June 2nd, Blizzard has confirmed.
The final release will follow a spell in closed beta, set to begin on May 20th. Up to now, Blizzard’s entrant to the vastly popular MOBA genre has been in closed beta, with invitations sent out in limited numbers.
Heroes of the Storm is widely seen as the developer’s answer to Valve’s DotA 2, the rights to which formed the center of a lengthy and high-profile dispute between the two companies. The original DotA, you might recall, was a player-made mod for Warcraft 3. The game joins a crowded genre, made up of heavyweights such as League of Legends and newcomers like DC Comics’ superhero-themed Infinite Crisis.
In Heroes of the Storm you’ll choose your character from a diverse cast list comprised of fan-favorites from all of Blizzard’s well known franchises: Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, and even forgotten classic The Lost Vikings. As is typical for the genre, the goal is for each team to push forward and destroy the tower in the opposing team’s base, hiring NPC minions and levelling up their character during skirmishes to gain new abilities and improved attributes. Heroes of the Storm is just one of several Blizzard games being released this year – Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void is also due out at some point, while Overwatch sees Blizzard entering into the competitive multiplayer FPS scene for the first time.
Blizzard is hoping that Heroes of the Storm provides a more accessible gateway to the MOBA genre than its competitors, with cooperative and quick match modes accompanying the usual ranked games, and a focus on easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master gameplay. Both DotA 2 and League of Legends have something of an intimidating learning curve for newcomers, so Blizzard is hoping to entice players who would otherwise be put off by the genre.
At launch you’ll be able to choose from more than 30 playable Heroes, though some will need to be unlocked via in-game currency or real money purchases. As has long been the case for Blizzard, a series of cosmetic enhancements are also available to buy with real money, though the developer says the game will never become pay-to-win by giving paying players an in-game advantage.
To coincide with the game’s launch, Blizzard will be holding a live-streamed event on June 1st in London. Details won’t be revealed until closer to the event, but it seems a safe bet that live gameplay streams will form a part of the proceedings, given the esports-focused nature of the game.
For more about Heroes of the Storm, why not check out some of Brian’s excellent character introductions, where he gives a starter’s guide to many of the characters featured in the game? From Kerrigan to Murlocs, to Diablo himself – there’s sure to be something for everyone when the game arrives this Summer.