How Assault on Volskaya Foundry may shake up Heroes of the Storm

Jayden Perry Editor

By , Jayden Perry is a Roar Editor

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    Ana is entering the Nexus in Assault on Volskaya Foundry! (Image: Blizzard Entertainment)

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    Heroes of the Storm is adding more Overwatch to the nexus with the arrival of Volskaya Foundry and Ana, but how will this change up Heroes eSports?

    In Overwatch, Volskaya is the site of a Russian mech manufacturing plant, used to create the weapons used to quell the Omic uprising. This time round the foundry is home to three lanes, a giant mech to pilot and Blizzard’s all star line up.

    Volskaya Foundry is the centrepoint of Heroes of the Storm’s upcoming event. The aptly named Assault on Volskaya Foundry includes a new brawl, a whole host of skins and Pachimari Mania. While all this stuff is going to be a blast for heroes fans (D.Va the Destroyer especially!) the new map is borrowing from Overwatch, and may become a competitive favourite because of that.

    Capture points will be nothing new to players, but the tactics around it on this map certainly will. Overwatch’s overtime rules come into play on these points, with a capture unable to finalised until all enemies have been removed from the point. You’ll also keep any progress you gain from holding the point, which is sure to lead to some tense 99 per cent to 99 per cent battles that Overwatch sees on the regular.

    Each capture point is surrounded by conveyor belts that change the tactics to approach the capture points. Developing tactics around making quick escapes, speedily flanking or delivering turrets via mercenaries direct to the point should keep the new battleground fresh.

    “With all our maps we try to target a clean experience for players to have a strong idea of what the objectives are,” explained John Deshazer, lead battleground designer. “Once the message is clear, we get to have fun strategies around those objectives. I think this is one of those maps that has this at heart – it’s really about how you interact with the enemy team to capture that control.”

    The other major change here is the capture point reward – a two person mech. With differing abilities for the pilot and gunner (one focussed on movement and structures while the other takes on heroes), the reward is a balancing act of power. It has to be useful enough to warrant the commitment of two heroes over the usual one for transformations, while also ensuring it feels like a worthy prize to fight over.

    “Balancing it [the mech] was definitely tricky,” said Lead Hero Designer Kent-Erik Hagman. “We wanted to give the mech two different goals so it wouldn’t be universally amazing at doing one thing and making it hard for the enemy to react to. We gave the pilot a lot of additional damage for structures, while the gunner gets damage against heroes. To get maximum damage out of this mech you’re targeting two different things, and that requires you to make sacrifices.”

    “We also quickly learnt the mech couldn’t have twice the health of a normal vehicle,” he continued. “The longevity of the vehicle is a lot of its power”.

    Speaking of balance, Ana seems like she’ll play a big role in upcoming competition for Heroes of the Storm. Ever since she joined the Overwatch roster she’s become a staple for her great ability to output heals and simultaneously quell the enemy team’s healing. It wouldn’t surprise me if she finds a similar popularity fast in HotS, being the only character with 100% heal denial.

    The rest of her kit doesn’t differ too much, offering nano boost, a sleep dart, ticking poison shots and skillshot healing. The one divergence from her Overwatch past is the amazing sounding second heroic ability ‘Eye of Horus’, giving her eight shots of global healing or damage – provided you can land them. During the briefing lead hero designer Kent-Erik Hagman joked about times during testing where Ana’s pulled off crazy kills or managed to keep heroes alive in surprise skirmishes.

    Once people are good with her I expect to see this sort of stuff come out of that heroic ability in competitive play. With such a versatile mix of heals and damage, she should become a fascinating character to see people try to master.

    Adding more Overwatch to Heroes of the Storm creates some unique opportunities for competitive play in the game. If the developers can continue making tweaks from Blizzard’s plethora of competitive titles without causing it to lose its identity in the process, Heroes could continue to find success in the niche it has carved out. For now though, it’ll be great to see just how much one badass grandma can shake up the game’s competitive meta.