Heroes of the Storm | Brawl

Heroes has announced a new game mode - the Heroes Brawl. Learning from its other games, its a new way to play that will help alleviate the grind and challenge you to do new things.

Blizzard sharing good practice

I suspect that there was a big workshop at Blizzard a while back where all the teams got together and answered a single question - what features that work in one game can be re-used in other games? Leaving aside the fact that some of these ideas come from other games originally, we've recently seen WoW picking up Mythic + dungeons (Greater Rifts) and the transmog system from Diablo 3. A recent revamp to Heroes brought in the MVP, highlighting good play and voting from Overwatch. Now we see the Heroes Brawl.

The Brawl comes from Overwatch and Hearthstone. The idea - take the game and add a twist to it that changes each week. This mitigates grind. It also pushes players out of their comfort zones and teaches them to think differently about the way they play, which helps them to get better.

Hearthstone Brawl

Its hugely successful in Hearthstone where the incentives are clear. You can complete your dailies in their Brawl, plus you get a card pack each week for winning. Given a part of the gameplay is grind (grind gold to buy cards, which in turn you need to turn into dust to get the cards you haven't been lucky enough to get) then this counters it. The match ups are really varied - decks may be pre-built or you build them, you might play heroes or other random characters, certain card types may do special things. Can't beat one week? Go ahead and try again next week. One of my favourites is a cooperative mode that sees two players try to defeat an uber boss card.

Overwatch Brawl

The Overwatch implementation is probably not as successful (I don't know for sure) because it lacks some of the motivations. There is no grind in Overwatch other than for pure cosmetics. In Hearthstone and Heroes you need to farm a currency to open more options. In Overwatch the only grind is to level 25 to access ranked and it doesn't take long. It adds random features to the fight - you can only use tanks, or you respawn as a random character every time you die. It does, however, challenge the accepted ways of doing things and this gives you a new way to learn.

Brawl in Heroes

Brawl looks particularly good for Heroes, because it has the same incentives as Hearthstone - daily quests and a currency to buy Heroes is grind. As such they've gone all out on this feature. It will likely count toward dailies and give you something new and fresh to do if Ranked is not your cup of tea.

There are three kinds of Brawl:

  • Arenas
  • Mutators
  • Single Lanes

Arenas

They've customised three of the maps to provide mini game versions - Punisher, Sky Temple and Garden Arenas.

Rack up points by killing enemy heroes and Punishers. The first team to score 100 points wins!
— PUNISHER ARENA
Capture temples and use their energy beams to destroy the enemy core!
— SKY TEMPLE ARENA
Kill the Garden Terrors and Shamblers, then collect their seeds. The first team to collect 100 seeds wins!
— GARDEN ARENA

Mutators

Theres not a lot of detail here because they don't want to spoil it. This is somewhat understandable given part of the joy of Brawl features is never knowing what comes next. There are some clues, however, in the video. Theres a lot of water elementals in one screen cap, for example, suggesting something that involves a lot of Jainas, plus an all Illidan team. Oh and ...

Thats a Murloc army. Looking to Hearthstone and Overwatch for inspiration you could see increases to character health and damage or certain types of abilities causing unusual effects. I can imagine something around having hundreds of minions. One likely mutation might be more about defensive play - perhaps an AI spawns hundreds of minions and/or bosses and you need to defend both bases for a fixed time (which would feel very StarCraft like).

Single Lanes

Well, I suspect they are single lanes. Its not clear if they will have map objectives or just be a pure single lane to push. They will encourage lots of team fights, given theres nowhere else to go.

How you select Heroes will also change. I suspect that random allocations, random respawns and  Heroes all from one type might be used here. The images seem to suggest each player picking one of three might be a feature too. There will also be rewards in terms of both gold and unique items (portraits seem likely for this, though it may include other things later).

The Bigger Picture

Whats even more interesting than this announcement? Its timing. Its a month to BlizzCon and they've not saved this announcement. Theres even going to be another pre-BlizzCon announcement of a new Hero (drawn live by Samwise Didier on Thursday 6th October and streamed via Facebook). They try to announce something for every game at BlizzCon. The question is - what do they have planned at BlizzCon such that they felt releasing this a month before didn't have any effect on it? Its either nothing at all, or something huge.

On a final note, I really want to play D.Va in Heroes of the Storm. Nerf this!