Last Updated on May 16, 2023
Last year, Activision-Blizzard announced it was curbing support for Heroes of the Storm.
They cut both of the e-sports leagues and moved developers to other projects. I was incredibly disappointed because HotS has a lot to offer over other MOBAs, and I’ve been a fan for years. I’ll probably continue to support the game until it eventually shuts down.
So what gives Heroes of the Storm the edge over the long-standing League of Legends?
1. No Gold or Items
Gold is just another resource to manage and items tend to obfuscate builds.
It’s also often difficult to realize why someone else is getting more gold than you in League. There are advanced techniques for managing minion waves, and alongside jungling, there are factors to consider just with individual characters’ abilities to wave-clear. Someone could have a lot more gold than you and there might a dozen different reasons why, and you won’t be able to tell at a glance.
XP in HotS is much easier to keep track of since it’s shared amongst the whole team. If you’re down on XP and not sure why, just take a look at the scoreboard or map. Is the enemy team up on eliminations? Have they taken more of your forts? Do they have more lane presence?
You don’t have to worry about whether you staggered your wave correctly or if your opponent has been jungling on the side.
2. There’s no last-hit System
The last-hit system in League makes you compete with your team, minions, and structures for your kills. There’s no “kill-stealing” in Heroes, because all you get for getting in the last hit is a bigger number in your match statistics. Kills benefit the entire team instead of giving more rewards to one person because they managed to time their attack better.
You can also have multiple people in a lane without worrying about players vying for minions. League has rigid lane roles that you can’t deviate from until the late game.
Laning in HotS is flexible, so you can always help out if you notice someone isn’t doing well in their lane.
Talents are a game-changer as they can alter the way your skills synergize together, or they can make up for holes in your defenses. Sometimes, they completely change how a skill works. In the case of certain characters, like Varian, they alter the role a character plays.
Talents are unique to each hero. You won‘t have a generic ADC build. Each character has two or three unique, viable builds that you can customize to your playstyle or to suit your specific needs at the time.
As a bonus, you also don’t get option paralysis looking at the shop screen full of dozens of items. Each time you have to pick a talent, you get around three options, and if you know what you want to build for, the choice will be obvious.
4. Smaller Roster
As of the time of writing, there are 143 characters in League of Legends. That’s a lot to keep track of, especially when you have to remember which of the 5 different “man with sword” characters do what. Sometimes I still have to remind myself that Darius isn’t Garen, even though he just looks like someone took Garen and made him edgier.
The 85 characters in Heroes of the Storm seems much more manageable by comparison, and each one feels like they’re there for a reason. Each one offers to fill a niche that others don’t, or they have a unique play style that makes them stand out.
Need soft CC and ranged damage? Take Jaina. How about hard CC and ranged damage? Kel’Thuzad. Wanna play an RTS in the middle of your MOBA? Try Abathur. Wanna play three heroes at once to have near-constant lane presence? Choose The Lost Vikings. Want to die a lot without getting yelled at by your team? That’s pretty much Murky’s job.
The game manages to have a hero for every play style while never doubling up too much on each role, keeping every hero unique.
5. Map Variety
Do League fans ever get tired of hearing “WELCOME TO SUMMONER’S RIFT!” all the time? I certainly do. There are a bunch of different maps in Heroes, all of them having unique camp locations, camp numbers, and map objective. The number of lanes also vary. This means that some heroes will have map advantages.
For instance, a character like Dehaka who has more maneuvariblity will be great for a bigger map with spread out objectives. And characters who can lock down certain areas, like D.Va, would be better on maps where the objective is to control one point.
Having more maps also adds more potential skill play. Knowing your way around each map and strategizing during your draft about who could be good on any given map can give an extra performance boost to your team. It adds another element you have to watch out for, without a steep learning curve.
6. Objective Based Gameplay
Speaking of maps, objectives are great. They vary the gameplay and encourage both early and late game team fights. They also act as catch-up mechanics. If you’re losing, you might just be able to get ahead if you win an objective. If you’re winning, you have to stay on your toes or else the enemy might take an objective right out from under you.
The objectives usually take the form of huge advantages for pushing lanes, or in the case of Towers of Doom, become the only way you can damage the enemy core.
This actually speeds up the match quite a bit. Gone are the days of matches taking 45 minutes to an hour to complete. A HotS match takes around 20 minutes on average, making the game feel faster-paced and snappier, and more heavily punishing death.
7. The Movement Speed is Better
While we’re on the topic of speed, let me just say that the base movement speed in LoL feels agonizingly slow to me. Maybe it’s just my ADHD, but even with fully upgraded boots, it feels like it takes forever to get anywhere.
Not so in HotS. All the maps are smaller and mounts make moving from lane to lane or from the spawn base into a fight much more convenient, so it feels like you’re doing less waiting around.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, better move speed means skill shots are easier to dodge, making counter-play more skillful. In League, it feels like you just have to aim your skill shot in the general direction of an enemy and it’ll hit. But in Heroes, you actually have to “aim” – you should try it some time.
8. Better Code
League of Legends is going to be 10 years old this October, and it definitely shows. “Spaghetti Code” is a popular meme in the LoL community for a reason; The engine is completely broken and practically held together with thumbtacks and glue.
Take Mordekaiser, for example. A champion with so many bugs that Riot has refused to keep trying to fix them and decided to just completely rework him at a later date.
Oh, and by the way, Mordekaiser has been “next on the rework list” for at least four months as of this writing. Heroes of the Storm, on the other hand, regularly fixes these kinds of bugs within weeks or even days of their appearance, and the client itself is way more stable, too.
The worst bug you’ll usually get is not being able to hit the ready button before a match and having to restart the client.
9. Healing Fountains
It may seem minor, but healing fountains make a noticeable difference during the course of a match. They take the stress off healers, and you don’t have to rely on recalling to the spawn base for healing before an objective or team fight.
The fact that they can also be destroyed gives you more incentive to push a lane, and on the flip side, gives you more of a punishment for losing structures.
10. More Cosmetics
Personally, I like that there are more than just skins in HotS. You can customize your mounts, there are sprays, emojis, and voice lines, and you can even pick a different announcer if you want.
There’s more freedom of expression here. And yes, there are still mastery taunts for you to show off how much time you’ve sunk into one character.
Loot boxes aren’t the best thing in video games, but making it so you get at least one every time you level up a character makes it feel more rewarding to put time into playing them. There’s more of an immediate payoff, even if those loot boxes are just a bunch of character portraits you’ll never use.
With these elements, Heroes of the Storm is generally a more unique and varied game. It’s vastly different from other MOBAs, and shines as a result.
Which is why it breaks my heart that it never caught on the way it should have.
Alyssa Katze is a fiction author and journalist, born and raised in Seattle, WA. Their hobbies include eating, sleeping, and getting tilted at MOBAs.