Heroes of the Storm’s (opens in new tab) newest battleground, The Battlefield of Eternity, is the first in the game to be based on an existing Blizzard (opens in new tab) universe; Diablo (opens in new tab). Until now, all of the maps have been part of the Nexus—a new world first introduced with Heroes of the Storm—and are very much in line with the game’s brightly colored, slightly cartoony aesthetic. One has an Egyptian setting, another has a pirate theme, but they all share a core style despite their thematic differences. All, that is, until The Battlefield of Eternity.
When I first heard Blizzard would be making a Diablo-themed map, I assumed it would share the familiar style of Heroes of the Storm’s other maps only with a Diablo flavor. But The Battlefield of Eternity goes far beyond flavor, almost entirely abandoning the look of the Nexus maps in favor of being a true Diablo battleground.
The map is a large battlefield (as the name would imply) split down the center with one team fighting for the armies of Heaven and the other for Hell. Minions and mercenaries aren’t just reskinned to be angels and demons, they are completely new models that look like they’ve been taken straight out of Diablo 3. Your core isn’t the usual statue, but a giant angelic/demonic warrior who explodes into piles of gold and loot when destroyed. And the centerpiece of the map is a battle between an Angel and a Demon, called Immortals.
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The Immortals start in the circles on their respective sides. When one reaches 50% health, they move to the two circles in the middle.
In terms of gameplay, The Battlefield of Eternity has only two true lanes; one at the top and one at the bottom. The center is a large area with various obstacles and winding paths that plays host to the Immortal's confrontation. Your team has to kill your opponent’s Immortal before they can kill yours, but the two aren’t right next to each other, meaning you’ll need to split your focus between attacking and defending. Once one Immortal has reached half health, the two clash in a series of scripted animations before reappearing in slightly different spots. When one has been defeated, the surviving Immortal will head to a lane and push down enemy structures.
The entire map seems to be about splitting your team's resources. In The Haunted Mines, the only other two lane map, the lanes are close enough that you can go between them quickly if anything goes wrong—but getting from one side of The Battlefield of Eternity to the other will take significantly longer. When the Immortals are fighting, your whole team can’t be together without being absent from another important part of the map. Heroes with teleports and jumps such as Brightwing and Falstad are going to be very helpful during the laning periods of a match.
The clashing animations for the Immortals are some of the most cinematic and beautiful things added to Heroes of the Storm so far, incomparable to any other animation in the game, but I’m not sure how I feel about the stark graphical difference otherwise. I’ve become so accustomed to how minions and mercenaries look, that seeing entirely new ones is a little jarring. I imagine I would have been happy with a Diablo themed set of merc camps, similar to previous maps, but maybe that formula would begin to feel tedious a few battlegrounds down the line. The unique looking minions may be Blizzard’s attempt at being proactive about this problem, and might mean it aims to vary the map objectives more consistently down the line.
One thing’s for sure: The Battlefield of Eternity battleground is undeniably Diablo—a faction of Blizzard’s roster that has so far been disappointingly under-represented. I haven’t played on the map enough to really see how the gameplay stacks up against the others, but you’ll see that it instantly distinguishes itself graphically. The changes may seem stark now, but they show that Blizzard isn’t afraid to bring its other worlds into Heroes of the Storm for more than just characters, and make me interested in what other new maps we might see in the future.