It’s all about StarCraft (and Overwatch) in Heroes of the Storm for the next month, as the game’s latest event has started: Machines of War (opens in new tab). Marking the arrival of patch 20.0, and a host of new content as well as redesigns for some existing heroes, there’s a lot to go through.
New Map: Braxis Holdout
You know how it’s always a bad idea to keep murderous aliens cooped up for scientific testing or weapons research or anything of that ilk? Well, that’s the premise behind the recently added Braxis Holdout: both teams must fight to control two points to collect Zerg. While controlling both, a team will fill holding pens with Zerg minions, then, once one pen is completely full, both team’s sets of Zerg are let loose.
A full pen is devastating, and will quite easily destroy a fort and then some if left unattended. With just two lanes, each with one of the two capture points beside it, the aim here is to be able to control both lanes at once: lane-dominant heroes as well as ones with a lot of healing capabilities are incredibly important.
New Hero: Alarak
Also hailing from the StarCraft universe is Alarak, the highlord of the Tal’darim. In Heroes of the Storm, though, he’s a melee assassin with a few unique quirks.
First of all, his passive: Sadism. Alarak’s abilities do 100% more damage to heroes, meaning he’s pretty weak at clearing waves, but fantastic at bursting down an enemy. On top of that, he’s got a two-second silence—meaning he can shut down spellcasters for a while—as well as an ability that shoves himself or enemy heroes in a target direction, fantastic for repositioning the enemy to get a kill, disengage, or to nudge himself out the way of an incoming skillshot.
His talents are even more unique, as some come with clearly defined weaknesses: gain increased effects on abilities in return for losing some of his Sadism. Take Applied Force at level 1, and that 100% bonus goes down to 90%. On top of that, he’s got something no other hero does at level 20: he can choose the other ultimate ability.
This gives him two ultimates at level 20, both doing huge damage. He’s got weaknesses, though: his ultimate abilities have clear tells, can be dodged somewhat easily, and it’s often hard for him to stick to heroes, as his only mobility comes in the form of Telekinesis, on a 12-second cooldown.
He’s a strong teamfighting assassin, as the chaos of a full five-on-five teamfight allows him to stick to enemies easily, with Telekinesis allowing for him to completely turn the tide of a battle. He lacks the sustained damage and stun of Thrall or the mobility and range of Greymane, but packs a big punch and has unparalleled ability to maneuver enemies in a teamfight.
Reworked Hero: The Butcher
After some time just cutting off the trimmings rather than butchering his foes, The Butcher’s been given some love. This primarily comes in the form of his passive: Fresh Meat. Now, he can hold up to 125 Fresh Meat, picked up from dead enemy minions or heroes, and loses 10 on death. Once he hits 125, The Butcher no longer loses Fresh Meat, and gains 100 extra attack damage on top of 25% faster attack speed.
The aim of his rework was to decrease early game strength and enhance his ability to take on anyone lategame. The way to play him is largely unchanged, the exception being that you need to focus on getting Fresh Meat early on, as hitting that cap to get its boosts is better the earlier you can reach it. To see if The Butcher has this buff, check his cleaver: it glows once he hits 125.
Reworked Hero: Valla
Diablo III’s demon hunter also received some pretty major changes, reworking her damage output and changing up her passive, Hatred.
The primary difference is that Hatred gives a far greater boost now: with every attack, Valla gets 8% more attack damage, stacking 10 times. If she doesn’t land an attack for 6 seconds, though, she loses all those those stacks of Hatred.
The changes to Valla make her a strong tool when she’s able to keep up stacks of Hatred, with some talents increasing ability damage dealt when you’ve got some Hatred flowing through you. She’s going to be effective against teams that can’t get close to her, through a lack of mobility or strong disengage from her allies. Strong positioning is the skill you’ll need to learn for Valla.
Later on in the event, there’s going to be a new hero and map added too. The hero in question is Zarya, and performs exactly as Overwatch players will expect. A ranged warrior, she can lob a grenade, shield herself, shield and ally, and put down Graviton Surge as her ultimate. One change, though, is that she has two choices for ultimate: it will either pull enemies in or push enemies away from the target location.
It’s hard to say what sort of role Zarya will fill just yet, but expect her to be a fantastic anti-burst warrior, countering the likes of Kael’thas, Jaina, and Chromie with her shields.
The next map is Warhead Junction, a three-lane map where, you guessed it, warheads are the objective. Pick one up, and drop a nuke on enemy structures or units. Being able to control the map, rather than lanes, as well as move between lanes safely and efficiently is important. Know where you could get picked off and where you could set up some ambushes around the warheads.
Event: Xel’Naga Artifact Hunt
There’s a new daily quest on top of existing ones throughout the Machines of War event. At the start of some games, Xel’Naga artifact pieces will appear, if you and your team collect enough, you’ll receive a stimpack: a 50% experience and gold boost for 1 day. That means, if you keep completing it, that’s effectively a permanent stimpack throughout the event, a great way to bring heroes up to level 5 or 9 to get the gold rewards linked to those levels!
The rest of the Machines of War update consists of a few balance changes listed in the , as well as some cosmetics for those of you who like to look good in the Nexus. The rest of the Machines of War content is expected to drop on September 26, and ends October 17. Until then, get hunting artifacts!