Alexstrasza rocks the dragon better than Hanzo in Heroes of the Storm


Trying out the two new characters at BlizzCon

Heroes of the Storm getting Overwatch characters is the new normal. Just a year ago the battle cry from the community was that there were “too many Warcraft assassins,” and now, folks are pushing back a bit when it comes to the injection of more Overwatch heroes. Just in the past seven months we’ve gotten Genji, D.Va, Ana, and Junkrat, and now we’re getting Hanzo — on top ofAlexstrasza from Warcraft — which might counterbalance it a bit for some.

I for one love the Overwatchpresence in Heroes, so I’m glad this dragon duo is happening.

Right as the opening ceremony closed out I knew I had to get my hands on the latest Heroes of the Stormbuild, so I rushed to get to work as soon as possible and choseAlexstrasza first (too many WoWmemories).

I was immediately drawn into her support/healing playstyle, which revolves around her Q — an ability that sacrifices 15% of her health to give 150% of that amountto an individual ally. She also sports a fireball skillshot that stacks a burning debuff, and a three-second delayed bloom area-of-effect (AOE) heal. Now that last one is important. I quickly picked up that due to the fact that you can’t Q yourself, you need to be hitting that delayed heal as often as possible to keep yourself topped up, especially if you don’t have a double support composition.

It’s tough, because you or your allies can be peeled out of the ground area, or people can just plain old walk out of it while it pops. Another thing that’s really interesting about Alex is that many of her traits are based around buffing herself at high health. Naturally that’s tough to do if you’re not hitting your bloom heals. Depending on what you need you can also take a health link heroic (after two seconds, the lowest-health hero that you tether with is brought up to the highest-health hero), or a dragon-based damage heroic, cleansing flame — where you go off-screen and rain fire down automatically where your mouse cursor is every few seconds.

Wait, dragon form? I forgot the most important part of Alex’s kit, her trait! Every 150 seconds she can morph into a dragon, gain a bit of health, swap out her line fireball for a knockback conal breath, and use her other abilities as normal. It’s pretty rad without feeling overpowered (so far, at least), and very similar to the “raid boss” mentality of Ragnaros’ trait. Her imposing presence and excellent voice acting make her that much more fun to play.

Then there’s the other dragon.

Hanzo will find his place in the meta even if he’s a lot less exciting than the dragon queen. He’s a pure skillshot-based character, with a storm bow charged shot (complete with a quest for hitting every enemy hero at least once), a scatter arrow (which the game encourages you to use to peer/shoot/scout around corners), and the sonic arrow, which is a circular reveal much like the millions of other abilities in the game like flare (this one deals out damage if you hit someone directly though). Oh, and you can’t forget his wall-jump trait (which is a lot like Genji‘s but not really, since he needs to use it to traverse terrain and not out in the open), his classic line shot dragon heroic, or his other global arrow heroic.

He’s….fun to play, though like Varian he’s not as flashy as his counterpart. His damage seems low unless the stars align and you hit with all of your abilities consistently, and he lacks a dynamic escape since he can be caught or stunned out in the open. I think due to his skill-based nature he’ll have an audience though, and won’t fall into the trap of becoming a gimmick character. After all, sonic arrow is a nice bit of utility and he can be slippery enough if he needs to be.

Based on the reactions so far that I’ve witnessed live at BlizzCon, both during and after the announcement, people are stoked on Alex and less so on Hanzo. And that’s fine, because as long as they play well and get some play (thus, adding more variety to my matches), I’m happy. Because even if I’m not particularly invested in a character, the Heroes of the Stormteam has a way of getting me to play them.