Blizzard All-stars: everything we know

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Blizzard All-stars is the developer’s own attempt to usurp Dota 2 and League of Legends; games built upon the success of the original Warcraft 3 Dota mod. Originally named Blizzard DOTA, its name was changed after a legal dispute with Valve over the Dota trademark.

While Valve may now hold the Dota trademark, Blizzard can still lay claim to being the inspiration for the Dota legacy, which stretches back through Warcraft 3 to the original StarCraft and a custom map known as Aeon of Strife. Here’s what we know about their game so far.

It’s a MOBA-style game

Blizzard
are staying true to the Dota theme, with two teams of players each
controlling a hero each and working together to advance on the
opposition’s base down predetermined lanes. Along the way, they’ll be
taking down the towers that defend the lanes and, finally, the base, as
well as fighting back constantly-spawning groups of “creeps”, which are
AI controlled minions which the bases are sending toward each other. As
each hero dispatches other heroes, creeps and towers, they gain
experience and unlock new and ever more powerful abilities, each of
which is unique to that hero.

StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo heroes will be featured

Hence
the name, of course. Depending on what team you end up on, your hero
will dress as a good or evil character, representing their allegiance to
light or darkness. The hero roster is made up of famous Blizzard
characters and so far it includes (deep breath):

From the Diablo universe:

  • The Witch Doctor

From the StarCraft universe:

  • Horace Warfield
  • An evil version of Kerrigan
  • L80ETC
  • Leon
  • Nova Terra
  • Tassadar
  • Raynor
  • Ultimaton
  • Vaevictis
  • Za’gara
  • Zeratul

From the Warcraft Universe:

  • Arthas
  • The Goblin Tinker
  • Grunty
  • Muradin
  • Illidan
  • Stitches
  • Sylvanas
  • Thrall
  • Uther
  • Za’Muro (Based on W3’s blademaster)

While
Diablo 3 is seriously under-represented, this list isn’t final and
Blizzard say that many more characters are still being considered,
including the the Butcher and the Skeleton King. The StarCraft Wiki has a
full list of all the proposed heroes right here.

Towers will not be so tough

Towers
will use up ammunition faster than they regenerate it and won’t have as
many hit points as in Dota or LoL, making it much easier for heroes to
take on towers and making it much more difficult for players to hide
behind them and rely on them for cover. This will also make games
shorter and more intense, which is Blizzard’s goal.

You’ll be able to recruit mercenary creeps

Fighting
the monsters that hang out in the jungle won’t just reward you with
experience, it could even grant you their services. Defeated eetis and
ogres can be pressed into service and will act as particularly powerful
creeps. Combined with those weaker towers, the chance of hiring
mercenaries could well encourage more players to enter the jungle.

Rewards are shared, not stolen

It
doesn’t matter who strikes the final blow against a tower, a creep or a
hero, because All-Stars will reward everyone nearby for being part of
the fight, whether they landed one hit or ten, ran interference or
simply buffed their allies. Blizzard’s philosophy is that this is a team
game, after all, and everyone’s contribution should be recognised.

There are no recipes, but there are mounts

Rather
than mixing and matching your equipment to create ever more powerful
artifacts, All-Stars presents you with a single shopping list that has
everything available. That said, once bought, items can be upgraded.

Instead
of boots, expect to get yourself a mount, with each hero having their
own individual steed, just for them. However, these guys won’t stick
around in a fight. You can summon them for travel, but expect them to
disappear as soon as you take any damage.

There’ll be several different maps

Sure,
if you want your usual three-lane ruckus, you can plump for that, but
Blizzard are also promising alternatives. After all, there’s no need to
be stuck in the past, right?

The game has been completely re-worked since entering testing

Speaking at BlizzCon in 2011, senior game designer Jonny Ebbert told Eurogamer
that playtesting had forced the development team to reconsider how
accessible All-Stars was. Blizzard were unhappy with both the
resemblance to Warcraft III and the difficulty it presented to new
players. That directly opposed their aim to make a MOBA game that could
have general appeal.

Like its rivals, it’s free-to-play

Blizzard
announced the trial version of Diablo 3, an introduction to
the game that is free to download and play to the end of the first act,
and they plan to do a similar thing with StarCraft 2. This trial version
will give players a window into the main game, but also allow them to
play Blizzard All-stars and make use of all of Battle.net’s matchmaking
services. Like League of Legends, All-stars will be matching players
based on their ability and experience.

Speaking at the start of 2013, StarCraft 2’s production director confirmed this. Chris Sigaty said that one of the things holding the game up was the work involved in trying to “pull off a game with a different business model.”

…and you won’t need to buy a copy of StarCraft 2

“I suspect you will not have to have StarCraft 2 to play,” Sigaty also said. Hooray!

It’ll be done when it’s done

Nobody
know for sure when we’ll be able to play All-stars. It’s quite possible
it’ll see release with or just after the StarCraft expansion Heart of
the Swarm, but Blizzard haven’t announced any dates yet.

What
we do know is that Heart of the Swarm has been in development since at
least last year, while the closed beta has been underway since September
4th. This suggests we’ll see release some time before Christmas but, as
is always the case with Blizzard, they’ll announce when they’re ready
and they certainly won’t mind holding back either HotS or All-stars if
they feel they need more tweaking.