HoTS Character Accessibility and Matchmaking

One of the biggest issues in League of Legends happens during champ select which is the period before a game in which both teams select the characters they intend to play for the upcoming game. There are differing rules that apply depending on what queue you happen to be in, for instance in Draft Mode there is a pick order determined at random(formerly determined by MMR or Matchmaking Rating or ELO), whereas in Blind Pick Mode there is no order and each player picks their champion and role at the exact same time.

For the normal queue problems, Riot Games recently released a game mode known as Team Builder in which a player can choose the character they wish to play as well as the role and manner in which they intend to play said character before they even look to find a game. This allows players to essentially always get the character and role they wish which would hopefully lead to less trolling and more competitive games overall.  No such mode exists for the ranked queue, but to be fair if Riot would simply return the pick order in draft to being based on MMR I think it would be a lot easier for players to respect pick order in draft.

What does this have to do with HoTS? When I first played the game I immediately noticed that Team Builder had been seemingly built into the character select portion of the game and I could essentially play the same Hero or any Hero I wanted to play each and every game. I am not sure how this will work in later versions of the game, especially when it comes to ranked play but we will have to wait and see considering the game is still in the early alpha stages. Nevertheless I think this is an interesting approach to take towards the issue of character and role selection.

Moving from character select forward to the next stage of the process which is matchmaking.  Due to the way Blizzard has chosen to deal with character selection, matchmaking not only finds opponents for you as is done traditionally, but it also finds your teammates.  This serves as a source of frustration for some as the matchmaking system is still far from perfect even after the updates attempting to make it more intelligent.  Unlike Riot’s Team Builder, there is no team captain and no option to remove a player who may be playing a character that does not make sense for the composition you are looking to run.  I have had a few bad experiences where my team simply did not have the heroes necessary to fill the roles that we needed and currently there is nothing you can do about it as your team is found and selected for you. Again the game is in alpha and I expect this may change a bit if not in normal queue, at the very least it will be different in ranked mode I’m hoping.

 

Moving on to character accessibility.  This is another issue of sorts for some people who have recently gotten into the alpha.  Similar to the Hearthstone Beta, it is possible to spend real money on in-game items such as heroes and skins.  It is not required that you spend real money on a single hero in the game. There is a free hero rotation every week and each hero can be purchased via the in-game currency which is earned through completing quests which basically amounts to playing the game. Skins on the other hand are entirely cosmetic but are only available through purchase with real money.

League of Legends works pretty much in the same exact way on this issue. In League it is entirely possible to own every single champion in the game without spending a single dime of real money, you will however have to invest a rather large amount of time in the game in order to build up the amount of in-game currency you will need to buy the close to 120 characters in that game.

DOTA 2 on the other hand takes a different approach and allows players to have full access to every single hero in the game without any investment whatsoever. Valve does however offer purely cosmetic items for real money should you wish to spend it on such things. I am curious to see if Blizzard will ultimately take a similar approach but only time will tell.  Again the game is in alpha and pretty much everything is subject to change.

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