I have a confession: I pretend like I’m a classy Overwatch lore nerd, thumbing through my copy of the Overwatch anthology and speculating about whether McCree’s Blackwatch cohorts in Talon, or whether Hammond will ever descend from the moon to become a hero. Secretly, I log into Heroes of the Storm and get wildly excited every time a new Overwatch hero graces the nexus. Whether it’s being able to ninja hop and dash around as Genji without having to brave the disorientation of first person mode or getting to cross-map snipe as Ana, I love Overwatch. I love Overwatch so much that I love it even when it’s in another game, like Heroes of the Storm.
Here’s why I’m even more excited: There’s more story content coming to Heroes of the Storm, and some of that is Overwatch based, and absolutely all of it is wild. It’s torn from the notebook pages of a very Blizzard-obsessed thirteen year old girl who really likes the idea of beautiful people having non-specific relationships with high stakes drama entwined around their awkward innuendo. Then, you take the already visually distinct worlds of Overwatch or Starcraft, and you amp that up by ten thousand. Did you think Hanamura in Overwatch was mildly unrealistic, if full of character? In Heroes of the Storm, they just went ahead and threw in twice as many payloads guarded by thirty foot tall mecha samurai.
“But Cass!” you say, completely unconvinced by these arguments so far. “Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA! That’s a niche in my life filled by League of Legends, or even Dota 2.” The first trick is to start thinking of Heroes as less of a MOBA and more like... a theme park! It’s colorful, you wander around and explore a delightful environment with a few friends, a pirate sometimes yells at you to get doubloons, and there are bright colors and timed festivities. The fact that you occasionally get to pop off and get a sweet triple kill is just the icing on the cake.
The game is fun, by the way. I’ve played a few thousand games of League of Legends, I’ve dabbled in Dota, and I love a good challenge. Heroes is as challenging as you want it to be. If you want to just see a new side of some old favorites from Overwatch, you can do that in bot games and have fun tinkering around. If you want to climb the ladder, there’s a whole system for that with people who take it very, very seriously.
But let’s be honest: part of the reason we love Overwatch is because of the characters. Half of us are playing the game so that we can come up with theories as to what the characters do in their off time. What if I told you that Hanzo had an alternate dimension adventure where he was hanging out, and most probably romancing, an extremely wide hipped dragon queen? What if the two of them might be teaming up to solve a mystery of worlds clashing?
Listen, I admire the spirit of Heroes trying to get players to play the game by giving them free Overwatch skins, but there’s something brilliant about just embracing the absurdity of the situation. In a field where every game seems to be jostling to say something profound and become The Citizen Kane of Gaming, the idea of a Heroes of the Storm story campaign, as goofy and outlandish as that is, is endearing. Heroes of the Storm is the kid who was mocked in high school for being too earnest, too loud, standing out too boldly among the cool kids.
So if you feel like the luster of Overwatch the game has worn off, but you still love the characters, why not give Heroes a spin? Sure, it’s fun to get to see what D.Va would look like as a dragon-mecha hatching a goth girl... but the real charm is in the game’s heart. In 2018 and onwards, I want to embrace the absurd. Heroes is a fantastic place to start.