Heroes of the Storm's Cho'gall is the strangest MOBA experience I've had


Sharing control of Cho'gall, the new two-headed ogre announced for Heroes of the Storm's at Blizzcon today, is an oddly intimate experience. As my ogre co-owner PC Gamer Pro editor Chris Thursten put it: it's a bit like committing to a strange sort of HotS marriage. For most players, I imagine who you get hitched to will have a major impact on how enjoyable the experience is. Playing as Abathur comes close, but I've never really encountered anything quite like Cho'gall in a MOBA before, and it's a testament to Blizzard's innovative hero design that it feels so fun. Watch the video to see Chris and I discuss our fairly blissful matrimony.

In our first match I played Cho, who's a melee warrior and the legs of the operation. I had control over where we moved, which usually also meant I took the blame when we died. Meanwhile, Chris was handling the Gall side of things—a ranged assassin with low cooldown nukes but no auto-attack. The two characters are literally inseparable, with a combined (very large) health pool and no mana costs for any abilities. We quickly learned that communication was vital to any sort of success.

That first match was chaos. We had to learn two sets of abilities instead of just one, while I also got to grips with the fact that if I died, I took Chris with me. This rapid education was complicated by Cho'gall's E ability, which is linked between the players. I would roll a bomb out in a line as Cho, but it was up to Chris to detonate it at the right time. I constantly forgot to let Chris know when or where I was going to throw the bomb, and as a result he wasn't able to react in time. This was in stark contrast to our second game when Chris took over Cho and began reliably calling out his rolls, which helped my Gall immensely.

As we levelled up, Cho and Gall's talents provided more and more opportunities for us to affect each other's abilities. A talent for Cho gives Gall an ability that makes both unstoppable for two seconds, while a talent for Gall enables him to nudge Cho a short distance in any direction. It's these effects that I enjoyed most, because I was often picking talents that didn't directly benefit me, instead relying on Chris to use them effectively. Whether or not these are the best options remains to be seen, but for now they're interesting to experiment with.

Arguably as intriguing as Cho'gall himself is the method which Blizzard is using to distribute the character. He won't be available in the shop, probably in part due to the fact that you aren't able to solo-queue with him, but both parts of the Ogre are being given free to everyone who attended BlizzCon or purchased a virtual ticket to watch online. Those players can party up with friends who don't have Cho'gall and use him together. If you win two games he's permanently unlocked for the player who didn't own him, and so the ogre good times spread. It's viral hero distribution, and weirdly brilliant.

[UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, Cho'gall will only be available like this until the end of the year, at which point he'll go on sale in the shop like normal. Thanks to Vulcan for the tip.]

I don't think Chris and I played Cho'gall particularly well, but he's not exactly the kind of hero that suits being hastily learned on a show floor. Given time and practice, I could see myself getting in sync and finding a rhythm with the person manning the other half of my ogre. If nothing else, it's a cool, risky, and downright odd experience in a genre that traditionally loves to glorify individual player skill.

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Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on Twitch.tv/pcgamer to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.