The new patch includes several massive hero overhauls, Melee Assassin Thrall, and Sky Temple: a new battle ground.
The closed Beta has officially started! If you haven't made your interest of testing the Beta known to Blizzard yet, log into your battle.net and go to this page. Don't read any farther until you have done this yet.
All signed up? Good, let's get to the fun part!
If you want to look at the complete patch notes, do so here. There are many art and animation improvements that won't be covered here, but are still worth noticing (Ranyor is finally a real marine!) We are here to discuss the changes that will most effect competitive Heroes of the Storm, and there are a lot of them.
To get the obvious out of the way, big daddy Thrall has finally entered the nexus, and he appears to be very powerful. He is definintely the Shaman people expected (where as Rehgar is the Restoration Shaman we deserve) from the most famous Shaman in Warcraft History
Even bigger than Thrall, is the removal of the universal talent Resurgence of the Storm. Blizzard Dev's first attempted to balance the talent last patch by increasing it's cool down, but the strategy of stacking multiple Heroes with the Resurgence talent was still dominant in nearly all levels of play.
This talent was so good, it dwarfed almost every other level 20 talent choice and made the heroes gifted with such a talent the most powerful in the game.It's hard to say what the meta will look like with it's removal, but the frustrating late game it created is finally gone.
There are a lot of other universal changes as well. Grave Golems on the Haunted Mines will no longer one-shot players with their AOE stun, Mercenary lord has been buffed to increase the damage of Bruiser Camps and triggers when the hero possessing the talent is near the captured camp (even if they aren't the one that directly captures it), and M.U.L.E has had
it's AI improved to save cores and other crucial structures first! Stealthed heroes now take 3 seconds to fully re-cloack up from only 2 seconds, so heres to the wave of new players having an easier time against the Zeratul and Nova they will inevitably dread!
Moving on to the individual heroes, here is an outline of what is the most important:
The combined changes to Abathur, Falstad and Li Li were too large to fit here so, again, read the full patch notes here if you want to see everything. Abathur has a new Heroic ability "Evolve Monstrosity" that allows more powerful split pushes, and the ability to directly control the monstrosity with symbiote. Abathurs new talents seem very strong, especially at level 20.
"Hivemind" allows symbiote to effect 2 allies at once, and "Evolutionary Link" gives whatever allied hero Abathur clones with Ultimate Evolution a 20 percent shield = to it's max health that refreshes every 5 seconds!
However, all of the good news comes with some nerfs to make sure the realm of OP Abathur stays in the past. Abathur will no longer retain the Heroic ability of allied heroes he clones, and upon death offers a small bit of EXP to the enemy team!
This coupled with the powerful level 20 talents should make Abathur builds more reactive, and less rigid, though only time will tell if Ultimate Evolution will be worth it in it's current state.
Falstad has had his Thunderstorm and Aerial Blitzkrieg talents removed entirely, which in probably a large buff.
Aerial Blitzkrieg was almost never selected as an heroic ability, and in its place "Mighty Gust" seems much more useful. Falstad's changes make him more fragile to burst with the removal of Stoneskin, but adds a level of utility and sustained damage with Lighting Rod.
At level 20, Falstad has access to the talent "Epic Mount" that reduces the cooldown of flight by 20 seconds and increases the flight speed by 50 percent. I can imagine this talent being very powerful when taking objectives on certain battlegrounds.
Word for word, Li Li has gotten the most changes out of any other hero. After reading them all, it seems like a solid buff with the only downsides being a decrease of her innate movement speed when Fast Feet is active. The Good Stuff now offers a stacking Healing over Time component, and the overall late-game healing done by Jug of 1,000 cups has been increased.
Surprisingly, the damage oriented build that foregoes healing improvements for increased Blinding Wind and Water Dragon damage has been buffed drastically! Blinding Wind's damage can be increased from 50% percent up from 25%, and a new talent called Surging Winds offers Li Li the opportunity to gain stacking 4% Ability Power bonus every time a target is hit by Blinding Wind.
I don't know how powerful Li Li actually is so far, but she is shaping up to be one of the more versatile support classes that bring more than just raw healing to the battle.
The Gazlowe change isn't long, but in my opinion, very significant. Robo-Goblin reduces the duration of stuns and snares by 50%, and now this bonus will be applied to Gazlowe permanently. Being able to mount while taking this Heroic is a big upside, and the added mobility may be enough to warrant the huge damage nerf from 250% to 150%.
A lot of players feel that Jaina is too weak of a hero, so it is a bit surprising to see her most used ability take a damage nerf. Water Elemental continues to be the Heroic of choice for most Jaina compositions, and the buff to the AOE explosion damage combined with the Cone of Cold buff seems to point towards Jaina developing into an AOE damage dealer above a single target assassin.
Nova's burst damage has been nerf again! 250% may be the magic number that still retains the burst style of player brought on by Anti-Armor Shells while still allowing for other possible builds. The universal cloak nerf will hit Nova the hardest, as she is now more vulnerable when breaking stealth, and her reward for doing so is now 50% less impactful. Holo-Decoys no longer have collision size, which should allow spotting the "real" Nova to be easier to spot.
What do you think of the changes? Do you think the Resurgence nerf is the best thing to happen to the game? What about Diablo? Is Thrall the new OP Hotness? Let us know in the comments section!