The biggest change in Heroes of the Storm's short, turbulent history is coming this week. Heroes 2.0 is a complete overhaul of the progression and microtransaction systems in Blizzard's MOBA, as well as a big ol' balance patch for afters. Taking note of Overwatch's success, big blue are adding loot boxes to their other skin-supported game, along with hundreds of new cosmetic items.
Here's what you want to do with your Heroes of the Storm loot chests, gold and rerolls.
There's a lot to unpack here, so let's dive in. We've separated the below by heading, and then given details in each area. We've also included relevant quotes from senior producer Tony Hsu, who spoke to us about the progression system at length. They're the bits in italics.
Heroes 2.0 release date
Tuesday, April 25 is go-date for the update, including everything you see below as well as Genji and Hanamura heading to live Heroes of the Storm. This means you'll want to brush up on how the HOTS loot chests work and how best to spend your gold.
In terms of what the update is changing balance-wise, here's Blizzard's beta patch notes. There's a rework for Uther and many smaller changes for a big batch of the cast.
Heroes 2.0 livestream
Blizzard will be running a livestream event to talk about 2.0, Hanamura, Genji, a new cinematic and much more at 7pm BST / 8pm CEST / 2pm ET / 11am PT on Tuesday. The livestream is embedded below.
Heroes 2.0 levelling
The core of Heroes 2.0 is changes to levelling.
- Hero and account levelling is now uncapped.
- Account level is now equal to the sum of all hero levels.
- Levelling is much faster than previously. It also ramps up to a consistent XP requirement after a short time.
Tony Hsu: "Once you reach [hero] level 12, that's kind've where the XP increment plateau happens. So from level 12 and beyond the XP you're going to need to reach the next level is consistent.
"In the current system moving from something like level 18 to 19 for an average player was something like 12-15 hours. To be honest, it was a bit of a grind. With the new system we've smoothed out that XP curve - on average it should only take a few hours to [level up], then there's always the opportunity to play with your friends and get the XP bonus."
- Everything will be transferred from the old system to the new one, including converting your hero levels to the new system and setting your account level to their sum. This Reddit thread explains exactly how that transfer works.
- Every time you level up you get a loot box.
That last is where things get interesting, but on the levelling front it's all pitched towards “frequent, meaningful and rewarding” progression as Hsu puts it. Blizzard want you to level up each play session, and feel you got something out of the experience besides some alterations to your win / loss columns.
Heroes 2.0 loot boxes
Certainly the biggest change in Heroes 2.0 is the addition of loot boxes. If you've played Overwatch, they'll seem very familiar, though with a few key differences.
- Each box contains four items, going through standard Blizzard rarities of common, rare, epic and legendary.
- These items are anything currently in the game - heroes, mounts, skins - as well as various new cosmetics. More on that below.
- There is no guaranteed minimum quality in normal loot boxes, so they can contain four commons. However...
- Levelling milestones provide special loot boxes.
- Every five player levels, a loot box with at least one rare (or better) item.
- Every 25 player levels, a loot box with at least one epic (or better) item.
- Every 10 hero levels, a loot box with at least one item from that hero.
- What's unknown is how these stack - if your epic loot box is also your hero loot box, for example. We'll find out when it goes live, no doubt.
- Loot boxes can be rerolled using gold.
- This keeps any special properties the loot chest has - if it's a Lucio loot chest, rerolling it still guarantees one Lucio item, for example.
- However, you lose all the original items. It is an actual reroll, not a second loot chest.
- It's 250g to reroll a normal chest, 500g to reroll an epic chest.
Tony Hsu: "Along with that there is a giant pop-up saying 'By the way, this stuff is going away forever and you [won't have access to it] - are you sure you want to do this?' The cool thing is, once again, we've added that system to help you get the items that you're looking for more. You can spend your gold to reroll a limited amount of times and each time you do the amount of gold increments a little bit - but the nice thing is it doesn't persist from chest to chest. You can reroll a chest three times in increments, but when you move to the next one it's back to the base level again."
- There is anti-RNG built into the chests, to avoid extremely bad runs of chests.
- Overwatch and Hearthstone have similar systems that the community (and PCGN) have tried to devine. They're usually called 'pity timers' and mean the chance of opening higher rarities goes up with each box opened.
- Blizzard avoids explaining the specifics of this system - though possibly not for much longer - but you can assume a similar implementation, with milestone boxes bumping up your number of rarer items.
- We've done our own maths and it seems like it's around 20 boxes maximum for a legendary.
Tony Hsu: "[Pity timers] are one of the things we have chatted with the other teams about because one of the great things about Blizzard is that we have so many teams working on different games that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. I know we took data points from Hearthstone and Overwatch, we chatted with them. I think ultimately we ended up making our own system for that. It's about what makes sense for our loot chest system and what makes sense for how we're offering it to players. We wanted to make sure there was definitely that feel-good experience to it."
- Old accounts will receive a number of loot boxes based on their level.
- This is not equal to their new account level - which could be in the thousands, and easily the hundreds, for veteran players.
- Here is Blizzard's guide to how many boxes old accounts will be receiving.
Tony Hsu: "One of the discussions we had in regards to loot chests [was] how we want to make sure we're rewarding our existing players. So what we've landed on is a tier system [so to speak]. For certain levels that players have reached we'll give you a certain amount of loot chests.
"One of the reasons that we've done that is we want to make sure that the loot chest system is still a meaningful experience to players. We've found over time that players actually enjoy collecting, they enjoy getting something on their own and earning it. So we didn't want to come to a new system and say 'Here's Heroes 2.0 - congratulations you've already earned everything.' That took away from the sense of accomplishment for players.
"So we wanted to make sure we were giving a meaningful number that felt really good, that gave you a headstart on getting a lot of cool customisation items but in turn also allowed you, with the lower experience curve, to still [experience the system.]"
This is the second version of the system, as laid out in Blizzard's post. The original promised only 70 boxes for old players, at maximum, and was not well received. This is more rewarding to the intensely hardcore, as well as more granular, and seems to have made everyone a lot happier.
Heroes 2.0 announcers, sprays, banners and more
In part to help fill out the loot boxes, and to give every character in the game some more bits to collect, the number of cosmetics in the game has been massively increased. Like heroes, skins and mounts, they're available in loot boxes, or through Shards, the new currency acquired from duplicates. First, the new stuff.
- These replace in-game VO about anything except map objectives.
- So far they're all heroes, and it looks like Blizzard want there to be one for each, eventually.
- Examples in the preview video include:
- Anub'arak, Arthas, Brightwing, ETC, Falstad, Gazlowe, Illidan, Lili, Abathur, Sgt. Hammer, Tassadar, Tychus, Zeratul, Butcher, Diablo, Nazeebo, Sonya, Valla.
- These are placed on any captured objectives on a map after you complete them.
- Currently they're logos from various franchises, but expect that to expand.
- They place on destroyed towers, captured camps and any other objectives.
- Voice lines
- Multiple voice lines for every hero in the game that can be played at any time in-game using a wheel interface. Essentially identical to the Overwatch system.
- Similarly Overwatch inspired, these place an image on the ground that fades after a few moments.
- Again, plenty for each hero, as well as non-specific ones.
- Emoji packs
- Similar to Dota 2, these are emojis based on every single hero in the game, with a full pack of them for each hero.
- These are usable in any chat channels in-game.
- All of these come in various rarities.
Tony Hsu: "Any loot chest has the ability to have any rarity in there, all the way from common, rare, epic and legendary. That's kind of a system that you're familiar with from other Blizzard games. One of the lenses we've looked at is, 'Would you be happy getting this at this tier?'. As you move into some of the higher tiers like legendaries, we wanted to reserve that for the really epic skins, for giving you new heroes, things like that which feel meaningful.
"On the other tiers, it's not specifically saying all commons are emoji packs, or all announcers are rare per se. We wanted to offer a variety of content all the way along. It's kinda just using some common sense in saying, 'Does this feel good, does this feel rewarding, is this appropriate?'"
- Heroes, skins and mounts
- All available in loot boxes, as mentioned.
- Skin and mount tints are now individual drops, no longer tied to hero progression. However, if you already own a skin you'll receive all tints when the new system rolls in.
- Based on videos, they're spread across rare, epic or legendary, depending on a variety of factors.
- Heroes are still available for gold - more on this below.
- The upshot of all this is that free-to-play players now have access to all of the content in the game.
It's a far cry from making Heroes free but it does make acquiring all of them a tad easier. Tony Hsu confirmed that you can open skins for heroes you don't own, and there's no mention of a disenchanting system other than the Overwatch-style duplicates turning into shards, so you're stuck with them. Hopefully it's not too common.
- New collection manager
- Holding all of this together is a brand new collection manager.
- It allows you to save loadouts for heroes, picking their skin and other cosmetics and letting you quickly choose between them.
- Blizzard's example is an Azmodunk loadout with all his basketball-related cosmetics, and a more traditional Diablo-based one.
- This is also where you unlock new cosmetics using shards.
Finally there's Mastery Taunts. These aren't unlocked via boxes, and come as part of levelling up heroes. They're the replacement for mastery skins, as laid out in Blizzard's post here.
Heroes 2.0 gems, shards and gold
Just to ward off any confusion, here's the state of Heroes' now three in-game currencies once Heroes 2.0 goes live.
- This is essentially identical to before, earned in the same ways and at the same intervals, in the same amounts.
- However, they won't be adding cosmetics to buy with gold in the future. It will only be used for heroes and rerolling boxes.
Tony Hsu: "We kinda want to reduce some of that confusion for players in knowing, 'Do I want to buy power and gameplay by unlocking heroes? Or do I want to save it for the occasional mount or skin that may come up or not, that may be one that I want or not?'
"Looking at statistics, the vast majority of players were using gold on heroes so that was easier just to streamline and say 'this is what you want to use to unlock heroes, then we have the crafting system with shards to unlock cosmetics.'"
- These are acquired from duplicate items or will simply be available in boxes. They can be spent on new cosmetic items.
- This is seemingly identical to Overwatch, including needing four duplicates to create an item of the same rarity.
- This is the replacement for real-world currency.
- It will be given out at milestones in-game, including 1,000 at level five and brief glimpses of smaller amounts at large intervals in the videos released.
- It's also bought in bundles, meaning more currency for less that wasn't possible with straight dollars and pounds before.
Tony Hsu: "One of the great things about Heroes 2.0 is we've heard a lot of feedback from our players and, depending on what the items are and also depending on the regions, we've tried to find an opportunity to lower cost. Once again it may vary per region, but you'll find that a lot of items are priced competitively."
While confusing, the new currency systems seem good. Overall, the game seems much more free now, as well as more enjoyable to play between using the new cosmetics and regularly opening loot boxes. The upcoming mega-bundle promotion - prime for repeating whenever there's a major content drop for the game - will help make things cheaper too, making roughly one third of the game's cast available to all.
What it likely won't do is bring a massive number of new people to the game. Whether that's Blizzard's goal or not is up for debate, though it's still one of their smaller titles. It's likely to bring old players back to see what's in their loot boxes, and will keep those already attached playing, but it is more of the same. Incredibly flashy, well produced and guaranteed to tickle the endorphins, but not likely to drag people from their previously-made MOBA homes.