Heroes of the Storm comes full circle as a mod of the game of the mod

I’ve never really got on with mobas, the exception to the rule being Blizzard’s excellent Heroes of the Storm. Inspired by Defense of the Ancients, the Warcraft 3 mod that birthed the entire genre, HotS was released in 2015 to a largely positive reception from critics and players. But despite the game’s quality, and years of support from Blizzard, it never managed to reach that critical mass of players.

Support had been winding down for years before, in mid-2022, Blizzard put the final bullet in HotS and announced the end of active development. The game continues to have hero rotations and the odd minor balance patch, but the news was nevertheless greeted with dismay by its hardcore fans. And some weren’t content to leave it there.

In something of a full circle moment, a mod team has now announced that the mod-that-became-a-game is now the subject of a new and impressively full-featured mod project. Resurgence of the Storm is a recreation of Heroes of the Storm within the Starcraft 2 engine, and can be found in that game’s Arcade section. It’s been in development for over four years and features 15 heroes, nearly all of which have balance changes or new talents compared to their HotS counterparts.

“Like many, we miss Heroes of the Storm,” says the mod team. “We miss reading patch notes, getting excited for new Heroes, reworks, balance changes, so we took it into our own hands.” The likes of Arthas receive a full rework, while the mod even has room for two new heroes: Selendis (who was once planned as an official addition to HotS) and Talandar. More new heroes are planned down the line.

The nature of the project means it won’t be quite as convenient or accessible as HotS. There’s no matchmaking system, so players have to use the game’s Discord to matchmake, and those behind RotS emphasise this is not “a full replacement” for HotS. “As a StarCraft 2 mod, some things are not possible; some models and abilities cannot be replicated or ported over. Most importantly, there are no Quick Cast settings, everyone plays with On Release.”

Interestingly enough the emergence of RotS saw Blizzard’s David Warner, who worked on HotS for some time and clearly still keeps an eye on the community, to share one of the plans Blizzard didn’t get around to with the game. The mod fully reworks Arthas, one of the game’s earliest and crustiest designs, and Blizzard itself was planning this before it ended support.

“Seeing that neat Resurgence of the Storm project reminded me that I promised to share the in-progress Arthas rework we were working on prior to the slowdown,” writes Warner. “Well, I dug deep and found some stuff, hopefully someone finds this interesting!

“Stupid disclaimer stuff: This is NOT a preview of something coming or hints of a grand revival, no matter what NotBelial tells you. I am sharing this for fun and nostalgia, NOT as any form of official announcement from Blizzard.”

Warner goes on to post the detailed breakdown of what Blizzard planned to do with the character. You can read the full thing here but in the interests of brevity, the idea was to basically make Arthas a lot tankier and have his abilities focused on building to unstoppable heights depending on the levelling path players chose, with Frostmourne’s health-leeching abilities given appropriate prominence. There’s also a very funny sounding heroic ability at the end of the levelling path that would see you insta-mount with a speed buff, after which damage wouldn’t dismount you, but you could ride into enemies and jump off to stun them in AoE fashion.

To be clear, if you want to try out Heroes of the Storm it is still a going concern, and RotS feels very much like something for the already initiated. But there’s something undeniably satisfying about the mod-game-mod loop, and if nothing else this is a testament to the tools and flexibility Blizzard baked-in to Starcraft 2’s fantastic Arcade feature. Here are instructions for how to download the mod, and you can follow development or find games on the RotS Discord.

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