In my last post I made mention of characters and their roles within the game. I would like to speak a little more to that subject. Again I will reference League of Legends as my point of comparison here. In League, there eventually developed something referred to as a “Meta Game” which is essentially the globally accepted way to play the game in the most optimal fashion. This meta often has minor changes when updates are made to the game, modifying characters and the items they use, making some characters better while others become weaker but overall the basic rules of the game remain. This Meta Game dictates how most characters are to be played.
In “Heroes” no such meta seems to exist as of yet for any of the 4 battlegrounds currently in the game. Each battleground does have clear objectives for each team to control but the current player community has yet to figure out the best way to set up for each map as far as their heroes are concerned. I will however note that I have yet to play the game with a full party of 5 so I am not entirely sure if pre-made teams approach the game differently. I would assume that they would but in my experience with other games, the meta tends to trickle down from the people playing the game at the highest level and with this game still being in Alpha testing, it does not seem likely that there are many high level players or teams to teach the rest of the community the best way to play the game.
Putting the lack of a meta aside, Blizzard actually gives you some idea of how each character should be played by assigning them a role classification. Currently there are 4 role classifications, Warrior, Assassin, Support, and Specialist. Warriors appear to be your front-line heroes, typically very tanky initiators but could also dish out a bit of damage bruiser style in the case of Arthas. Assassins are your main damage dealers. They tend to exchange the ability to dish out large amounts of damage, whether it be burst or sustained, for a lack of durability. This requires them to be protected and to properly position themselves in order to safely dish out their damage. Supports are pretty self-explanatory. Their role is to assist their teammates through healing, shielding and other buffs or debuffs to your enemies in the case of Brightwing’s Polymorph or Malfurion’s Entangling Roots. Due to their sustain abilities, supports can actually be pretty difficult to kill making them the perfect heroes to protect your damage dealers. Specialists are interesting as they tend to have tricky mechanics which makes their role very difficult to define. Some of them are strong at team-fighting while others are strong at sieging or pushing lanes. Murky for instance is a specialist who is able to place an egg anywhere on the map that he is able to respawn from 5 seconds after he dies making him impossible to kill unless you’re actually able to find and destroy his egg. He then annoyingly throws exploding fish at your structures doing ridiculous amounts of damage allowing him to single-handedly destroy an enemy base.
As you can see there are both ranged and melee variations on some of the specs and that does modify the play style a little but not too drastically. There is not currently a Ranged Warrior spec in the game but that could change should the Crusader from Diablo 3 be added, it should be interesting to see how they choose to implement that one either way. Despite having these assigned role specs, with the way the talent system works, it is possible to play each hero in a very flexible manner. Tyrael for instance is assigned the role of Melee Warrior but the fact that he can shield and increase the movespeed of his teammates as well as make his entire team immune to damage for 3 seconds(OP btw) suggests to me that he’d be one of the most powerful support heroes in the game if played as such.
Again the game is currently only in the alpha stages of testing and much of this is subject to change, I am however interested to see how the meta develops for each battleground and what this will mean for the heroes and their respective roles.