Since we started working on Heroes of the Storm years ago, hero customization has been a top priority for us. Being able to play your heroes in different ways, and react to the needs of your team as well as the threats of the enemy team is important for depth and replayability in this type of game. One of our early goals for the game was to allow for a large amount of hero customization. We tried several different approaches even before the game reached alpha. For a long time we had a shop that allowed you to buy “items” for your heroes. This was effective, but limited in what it could accomplish, since all of the items in the shop had to work for every hero in the game. We kept nerfing items so they wouldn’t break some heroes.
In the end, we decided that a “one-size-fits-all” customization system was not the right approach for our game. We could do so much more by giving players unique customization choices per hero. Imagine a hero that you can customize to get +3 attack range, or an ability on a ranged character that you can customize to do damage in an area instead of hitting a single target. For Heroes, this level of customization was much more interesting than any of the systems we tried before.
This idea was a lot harder to build. Rather than making just one generic system, we have to craft interesting choices for all of our heroes, one by one. But the effect on the game is huge. The choices you make in customizing your hero are heavily influenced by your own play style but also by the composition of your team, the enemy team, and the battleground you are playing on, as well as any heroic abilities chosen by the enemy.
With our most recent patch, we made a number of improvements to the in-game Tab Screen, which allow you to see both enemy and allied builds. Check out the new Tab Screen below:
Now that this has gone into the game, I’m sure we will start to see players using a lot of this information about their allies and enemies to determine how to more effectively build their heroes throughout a match.
Learning how to maximize the Talents takes a long time, and requires a lot of experimentation to understand which talents are best to use in different situations. The hero that I have experimented with the most is Muradin, so I will use him as my example.
Before the match starts, I take a good look at the battleground, my team, and the enemy team, and try to make some determination about what I want to be doing in this game. This is before I know anything about how good the players are on either team. As I gather that information I will be changing my plans as I customize Muradin.
At level 1:
Path of the Warrior: Your Hero gains 35 maximum Health every level.
- I choose this only if I don’t know what to choose. This is getting rare for me these days since I usually see a more specific strategy I want to pursue, but it was common for me when I was first learning the hero.
Perfect Storm: Stormbolt’s damage is permanently increased by 5 for each enemy hero hit.
- I choose this on Cursed Hollow when I know there are going to be a lot of heroes clustered together around tributes and I’ll hit a lot more easily. I also like this talent when I’m dealing with lots of ranged heroes that are going to stay at range.
Infused Hammer: Stormbolt refunds 45 mana for each enemy hit.
- I haven’t figured this one out completely. I sometimes use it when I see very dancy heroes like Valla, where I know I’ll miss a lot and need some mana back when I do connect.
Reverberation: Enemies hit by Thunderclap have their Attack Speed reduced by 33% for 2 seconds.
- I use this when I know I’m going to go face-to-face with a lot of melee heroes, especially if I see two Warriors on the enemy team.
At Level 4:
Crowd Control: Each enemy hit by Thunderclap reduces its cooldown by 0.5 seconds.
- I like this talent a lot for Haunted Mines because it helps me clear the mines faster.
Thunder Burn: Leaves a zone on the ground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 25 damage and applying a 25% slow for 2 seconds.
- I like this talent if I see two Warriors on the enemy team, or if I’m starting to see that an enemy Warrior is really good. I also like this if I don’t have a lot of healing on my team, and I know I can take Healing Static at Level 13 to give me some more sustain.
Third Wind: Increases Second Wind’s Health regeneration rates. Activates at 40% Health.
- I take this if I’m in a two-on-one scenario and getting beat up, if my healer is weak, or if I have no healer at all.
Skullcracker: Every 4th attack against the same target will stun the target for 0.25 seconds.
- This goes well with my “Stunadin” build that is all about stunning people like crazy. I like it for fighting melee DPS, or if there is someone like Tychus, who has a core ability that I can knock him out of with a stun.
At Level 7:
Block: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Basic Attacks by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
- This is a good choice if I think I’m the main tank for my team.
Battle Momentum: Basic Attacks reduce your Ability cooldowns by 0.5 seconds.
- Sometimes I get this if I’m going for a more DPS-oriented build. Battle Momentum combos well with Crowd Control. I can Thunderclap, hit a few minions, and Thunderclap again. It’s great for Haunted Mines, or if I really want to push a lane.
Piercing Bolt: Stormbolt pierces, hitting 1 additional target.
- This is a very tempting talent if I took Perfect Storm at Level 1.
Landing Momentum: Increases Muradin’s movement speed by 20% for 2 seconds upon landing.
- I like this against ranged DPS classes that are giving me trouble by kiting me around.
At Level 10:
Avatar: Gains 500 Health. Attacks stun enemies.
- This is my go-to Heroic -especially if I’m the main tank. Avatar is just a solid choice for Muradin in a lot of different situations.
Haymaker: Deals 200 damage. Knocks the target back, hitting enemies in the way for 50 damage and knocking them back slightly.
- I like this when I’m dealing with lots of enemy DPS characters that are easily killed by the damage this ability does. This is also great if I’ve been buffing Dwarf Toss. With that kind of build I can leap over an enemy and punch them back into my team for an auto-kill.
At Level 13:
Burning Rage: Deals 10 damage per second to nearby enemies.
- This is great if I’m pushing a lane, or if I think I’m going to be fighting Mercenaries. It’s also a solid choice for Haunted Mines.
Spell Shield: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Abilities by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
- My go-to “tanky” talent at this level if I’m the main Warrior on my team. Especially useful if I see someone like Nova on the enemy team where blocking enemy abilities is really important.
Dwarf Launch: Increases the range and impact radius of Dwarf Toss by 50%.
- I love this if I’m going with a Dwarf Toss build to catch ranged characters.
Healing Static: Muradin recovers 10 Health for each target hit by Thunderclap.
- Great if I my healer is weak, or I don’t have a healer. It’s also really great when combined with Thunder Burn (level 4.)
Thunderstrike: Thunderclap deals 300% damage if only one unit is hit.
- This is awesome on any battleground where I want to grab a Grave Golem (Blackheart’s Bay, Cursed Hollow) or if I am often going head-to-head with a tough enemy tank. Like Healing Static, it also combos well with Thunder Burn (level 4.)
At Level 16:
Imposing Presence: Enemies that attack you have their Attack Speed slowed by 30%.
- This is my go-to talent if I’m the main tank and I know I’m going to get focused a lot. It’s even more attractive against rapid-firing auto-attack characters like Valla or Tassadar.
Executioner: Basic Attacks deal 40% more damage against slowed, rooted, or stunned targets.
- This is a combo ability that makes me look at my team. If I’m working well with someone like Malfurion, this is an awesome choice.
Heavy Impact: Enemies hit by Dwarf Toss are stunned for 0.75 seconds.
- If I’ve been picking a lot of Dwarf Toss talents this continues that theme and makes those talents even better. Heavy Impact also works great against those ranged DPS characters that are dodging me the whole game.
Stoneform: Activate to heal for 40% of his maximum Health over 8 seconds. Second Wind is deactivated during this period.
- This is a great choice to keep me in the team fight if I’m still struggling with healing.