The developers from S2 Games dropped by the PC Gamer offices last week to show off the massive changes coming to Heroes of Newerth in the next few weeks. Dubbed HoN 2.0, the new update adds a brand new gameplay mode, a new map, an in-game store, and a streamlined interface. Read on for full details on and an exclusive video detailing the new "casual" gameplay mode.
Update: Winners have been selected and emailed the codes! Thanks for playing everyone.
Here are the winners:
Contest : We have ten Heroes of Newerth keys to give away. Details on how you can win are located at the end of the article.
The biggest change is the new gameplay mode "casual" (which is replacing the current Easy Mode). The developers describe Easy Mode as a "bastardization of the core gameplay" that was so different that it didn't prepare players for Normal Mode. They told us that they felt that Easy Mode made heroes progress too fast, gave too much gold income per tick, and made towers insignificant. Players who focused on Easy Mode found that their skills did not translate well into the differently-paced, more competitive world of Normal Mode.
With Casual Mode, S2 Games hope to make HoN more accessible, faster to play, and less punishing, while still cultivating skills in players skills that are easily transfered over to Normal Mode. To accomplish this, Casual Mode will have the following features:
- Last hit kill denials do not deny experience points.
- More gold is rewarded for actions like last hit, hero kills, assists, and taking down towers (but gold ticks remain identical to Normal Mode).
- No gold is lost on death. Players can try riskier tactics such as running past towers to get a last hit on a Hero and not have the reward be canceled out by dying.
- Less random damage/reward ranges to make the game less reliant on luck, and more reliant on skill, to deal max damage.
- Players will need less experience points to level up compared to Normal Mode, until the player reaches mid-level. Once players hit mid-level for their heroes, the experience points required to increase their level will be similar to Normal Mode.
The goal of the revamped matchmaking system in Hon 2.0 is to make sure that not only are teams balanced against each other based on their average skills, but who is put into a team is balanced properly on an individual level as well. In the old matchmaking system, a team of three newbies and two very experienced players would be considered equal to a team of five average players. Although, the teams matched up equally in terms of average skill, the three newbies on the first team would quickly feed the other team and create an imbalanced game environment that's not fun for the veterans or the new players.
Playing through the matchmaking system is the only place that players will be able to earn gold (in-game currency) and rise through the ladder. Custom games won't grant currency, in order to prevent players from hosting a “Newbie Only” game where the host plans to dominate the newbie team, or otherwise fixing games.
Why do you need in-game currency like gold? HoN 2.0 is introducing a brand new in-game store. In the store players will be able to:
- Get alternate avatars. The new avatars have new textures, new models, new animations, new voices, and some even change the sex of the character!
- Adjust account cosmetics such as icons to show off your personality or a colored name to show up higher in the lobby list.
- Announcer packs to change the voice when you achieve something in game. For example, the Flamboyant pack changes the first kill announcement from “Blood lust” to “Cheery popper!” and is transmitted to all players in the game, when you get the first kill (whether they've purchased the pack or not).
These shop tricks can be purchased with currency that's earned through ladder play (the developers mentioned that no cool item should cost more than 100 games' worth of currency) or with real-world cash.
One of S2's goals with HoN 2.0 is to make the interface more streamlined, allowing players to get the information they want faster instead of having to dig down through layers of menus. Information like a character's inventory and mana now appear as a hover box above the character's head when you mouse over them, and the mini map is now more interactive, allowing players to get information on the map itself instead of having to scroll their screen to the target's location.
Grims Crossing is a new 3v3 map--a dramatic change for Hon from its usual 5v5 map. Grims Crossing is smaller, made up of two lanes, and focuses the action towards the center of the map. Entrances to the bases are not elevated, allowing players an easier time to enter, but the big change are the two statues in the middle of the map that allow players to teleport between the two statues' locations. All in all, with the smaller team sizes and map, the goal is to create a faster, more concentrated game.
Players will also be able to create their own maps with the new map editor being released with HoN 2.0. The map editor being released to players is the exact same tool that the developers use. We're very excited to see what the rabid playerbase whips up in terms of new gameplay modes.
You won't be able to create a game and instantly host a custom game with it though. Players will only be able to play their maps by themselves in skirmish, or share it with other players, who can play it solo as well. S2 will have a submission process, where players can submit maps to them and, if accepted, will be refined by the S2 games team and released as official Custom Maps (very similar to how Blizzard handles SC2's Custom Maps). The community will also be able to vote on which map should become official, through an official custom map site hosted by S2.
Contest details: Don't have HoN yet but want to check out the new changes? We're giving away 10 full copies of the game! You read above how the Flamboyant announcer says "Cherry popper" when you get the first kill instead of "Bloodlust". In order to be entered into the contest, create a concept for another announcer voice pack, and tell us in the comments below what your announcer would say when you get the first kill. The top 10 most interesting/awesome/hilarious/dread-inspiring ones will earn a game code from us via email. This contest ends Wednesday, December 8th, at 12pm PST.