Starting The Game: The Over-the-Shoulder Guide to Heroes of the Storm, Part 2

This is the second posting of what I’ve written so far for the book, tentatively titled The Over-the-Shoulder Guide to Heroes of the Storm, that I’m endeavouring to write and publish by October, 18th, 2015.

NOTE: This is barely-edited first draft text which includes [FILLER TEXT] for things I couldn’t look up while writing or as-yet unwritten sections of the book.

When your player logs in, the first thing she’ll see is a big splash screen showing a Hero. This is the most recent Hero that Blizzard has introduced for the game. (Note: If you keep clicking on the Hero, it’ll say funny stuff! This is a tradition in all Blizzard’s games.)

There’ll also be information on Daily Quests. Don’t worry about this right now; I’ll explain what those mean to your player later.

The next thing your player will likely do is choose a game type from the list at the top of the screen: training, versus AI, quick match, ranked match and custom game. Your player will probably pick a Quick Match or Ranked Match.

Let’s say she chooses a Quick Match.

The next thing you’ll see is a screen with a Hero standing at the middle. Form this screen, your player can change heroes, invite people on her Friends list to play with her and start looking for a game.

If your player clicks on the Hero, she’ll get the option to replace that Hero with another.

Have a look at that screen. On either side of the Hero is a bunch of circles, each with a portrait in. These are all the Heroes that Blizzard has released to the public for the game. You may notice that some of these Heroes are a dark purple colour. This means that your player can’t choose them to play with at the moment.

You may also notice that some others are full colour, but hae a little blue and white icon at the top left. This shows the Heroes that are in the current week’s Free Rotation.

When you start playing Heroes of the Storm, you don’t own any Heroes. In order to keep things interesting, every week Blizzard unlocks seven Heroes for everyone to play and locks the rest. This encourages players to keep trying new characters.

Then there are those portraits that are colour and don’t have that blue and white logo. Your player has unlocked these Heroes so that they’re avialable to her whenever she wants to play with any of them. She has purchased these characters with gold, the in-game currency that she earns through playing games, increasing her player level and completing quests, or by spending actual money on them. (On that subject, I want to spend a bit of time later on).
Your player can start looking for an available game by clicking on “[NAME]” at the bottom of the screen. When she does this, her Hero says something clever and strikes a battle pose.

Then she waits.
What’s happening now is that the game is trying to find some fellow players (nine, if she’s not got any friends in with her already) in the general vicinity (this includes neighbouring countries) and put them into two teams of five. This can take a while; the game needs to make sure that:

  • the computers of all ten players can communicate quickly enough across the Internet without disruption,
  • all ten players are a similar level of skill, and
  • there’s no more than one of any given Hero on each side.

Fiding ten people who fit these criteria can take a while, and there’s not much your player can do in the meantime. The game will give an estimate of how long it ought to take to find a game, but I’ve waited over three times that estimate and still not been placed. Your player can cancel the search at any time before she’s matched up, but will have to start the search again if she wants to keep trying to get a match in.

With any luck, though, your player will get a match soon; any empty team spaces around her Hero will fill with other players’ Heroes and a timer will count down from four to zero. But, funnily enough, the game still won’t start yet.

The next thing that appears is a Loading screen. This tells your player which battlefield she’s about to play on and its particular Objective. I’ll explain more about objectives later, but for now, remember to listen out for the game telling your player that she and her teammates will have the opportunity to do something in a handful of seconds.