Is Heroes of the Storm (HoTS) Worth Playing in 2021?

Since December 13, 2018, when Blizzard announced it would no longer be supporting HGC and put HoTS on maintenance mode, Heroes of the Storm has fallen by the wayside. In 2020, only two heroes were released: Hogger and Mei. The prior year, only three new heroes were released: Deathwing, Qhira, Anduin, and Imperius.

Similarly, patches have been fairly sporadic and have often led to some heroes clearly being overtuned while others toil. As of late in 2021, Zagara and Valla have been two of the more OP heroes with winrates as high as 56% according to hotslogs.com.

This begs the question, is Heroes of the Storm still worth playing?

Our opinion is Heroes of the Storm is worth playing only if you have friends to team up with. The solo experience in HoTS was always woefully bad, but due to the game’s lower player pool it’s probably the worst it’s ever been. Unless you absolutely love the game or are able to grind to the highest levels of solo play (Grandmaster storm league), you’ll probably find the experience too frustrating to get enjoyment out of.

The crux of the issue is that HoTS was never meant to be played as a solo experience to begin with. The game’s mechanics fundamentally reward the better coordinated team. Unlike in League of Legends or DoTA, single players are limited in how much they can carry. You can certainly add a lot of value to your team by yourself, but if even just one other player on your team feeds too much or drafts poorly, that can swing the balance of the match out of your favor.

There are often times in HoTS where the optimal play is to have one person double soak lanes while the rest of the team contests the objective, or at least stalls as long as possible. Doing so gets your team an early level lead that can allow you to easily win future objectives and snowball. Sure, you might give up the first objective, but sometimes those have no real value anyway like on Garden of Terror or Cursed Hollow.

Unfortunately, these types of plays are lost on most players in the solo experience. You can’t trust your team not to hard contest the objective so you have to go with them. If you do try to stay behind and double soak, what usually ends up happening is your team gets wiped, you lose the first objective, and the team is angry you weren’t there to help – three Ls and no Ws.

This is just one example of how you have to adjust your play to fit the solo experience. There are countless other examples, that combined, warp how the game should be played to something that basically resembles a 20-minute brawl.

HoTS tried to alleviate this issue by eventually implementing voice chat, but they did so far too late in the game’s life and habits are hard to break. Even from the start, you’d have been hard pressed to find more than 1 player willing to participate in voice chat usually. Contrast this to a game like Valorant, where being on voice comms is the norm.

Players who don’t have a mic or refuse to join voice are shunned. But most players also want to participate in voice, for their own benefit. They know that having more information as well as giving their team more information is a critical aspect to winning. Not doing so merely hinders their own progress. This is something that HoTS players never grew accustomed to and the result is a wholly uncoordinated game.

The Quick Match mode is an entirely different beast that is also largely to blame for the game’s fate. Drafts are one of the most important factors in deciding the victor of a match – some drafts on certain maps are basically an auto loss. Playing QM introduces a level of randomness that basically turns the game into a dice roll. Our belief is QM was a contributing factor in destroying the game, but that’s a topic for another time.

Now, when you have people you can team up with, all of a sudden these issues can get resolved. Playing HoTS as a coordinated 5-man stack with voice comms is an entirely different experience than playing it solo. Hence our recommendation: If you want to play HoTS in 2021, find people to play with. The more the better.  

If you want to take Heroes of the Storm seriously with a coordinated team, the good thing is you can still do so. There are amateur leagues like Nexus Gaming Series (NGS), Heroes Lounge, and CCS that do a great job organizing tournaments for players, across all skill levels. If you don’t have a team, you can match up with other players in their Discord servers. Good luck!

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