For those who have spent the past decade playing World of Warcraft, the game’s central idea comes down to a player picking a side. Are they Alliance? Or are they Horde? That question was put aside for Heroes of the Storm, as Warcraft characters banded together with characters from other Blizzard properties to do battle in the Nexus. But with the MOBA’s next update, it’ll be time to ask, once again: Alliance or Horde?
New Battleground: Alterac Pass
Heroes of the Storm’s upcoming Echoes of Alterac update will return to World of Warcraft, with the headlining feature being a new battleground called Alterac Pass. Long-time World of Warcraft players will recognize the similarities to a classic WoW battleground called Alterac Valley, but Blizzard is designing Alterac Pass with a distinctly more unique MOBA flavor. This is a three-lane battleground with Warcraft-inspired minions, keeps, bosses, and end goals. It’s also one of the more unique Heroes of the Storm stages to date.
For one thing, the idea is not to destroy a core. In keeping with the spirit of the original WoW battleground, the “cores” are represented by Alterac Valley Generals. The Horde will be represented by Drek’Thar, mentor to Thrall and elder shaman of the Frostwolves. The Alliance is represented by Vanndar Stormpike, fierce dwarf warrior and leader of the Alterac Valley Stormpike Expedition. These characters have powerful attacks, with area-of-effect whirlwinds that can clear out entire waves of minions. They can regenerate health whenever they aren’t under fire. The idea is to take out the opposing General. When the enemy General falls, the game is over.
Because taking out the generals is a tall task, teams will need the assistance of their Cavalry. The first goal in Alterac Pass is to break the friendly Cavalry out of their cage, while also working to prevent to opposing team from liberating theirs. The team that can hold their objective will free their Cavalry and get one Cavalry unit for each lane. On their own, the Cavalry aren’t very effective, but these units do provide an aura that boosts movement and damage for nearby allies.
Teams still looking for an edge can destroy any of the battleground keeps. Instead of the traditional catapult unit, teams will earn the aid of a tanky melee Reaver minion. Reavers can lead the minion assault down any of the lanes, but they’ll also come in handy against the Generals. Remember that detail earlier about how Generals can clear out entire minion waves? The Reavers will prioritize taking damage from the Generals, which will open the door for the minions to deal damage. There’s also a bonus incentive to take out the keeps, as each of them grand the Generals 20 Armor. That means there’s a reason to prioritize multiple lanes, instead of simply focusing on a single path.
Pushing lanes should also be easier with the help of a boss. There are two bosses, one for the top and one for the bottom lane. World of Warcraft and Hearthstone players will recognize the Mountain Giant, who will be standing in for the Nexus Grave Golem boss from Alterac Valley. The Mountain Giant is a powerful creature himself, able to cause heavy damage with an area-of-effect stomp.
New Hero: Yrel
In keeping with the tribute to World of Warcraft, the next Heroes of the Storm character is Yrel, the draenei paladin first introduced in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. She’ll act a melee warrior with certain heavyweight abilities, allowing her to act as a tank and help out with crowd control. She’ll also have the ability to charge any of her Basic Abilities to increase their power. A helpful charge circle will appear on the ground, visible only to Yrel players, to give an idea of how much charge they’re holding. Charges can be held indefinitely, but Yrel’s speed will be affected if she’s in the middle of charging any ability.
As for those Basic Abilities, here’s what Yrel brings to the table:
- (Q) Vindication: Unleash holy energy that heals Yrel and damages nearby enemies. Charging increases healing and damage.
- (W) Righteous Hammer: Deal damage to enemies in front of Yrel and knock them away. Charge it to increase damage and knockback. At max charge, inflicts Stun on enemies for short time.
- (E) Avenging Wrath: Leap to target location and damage and Slow nearby enemies. Charge to increase range.
- (R1) Ardent Defender: Prevent all incoming damage for short time. Heals for portion of damage prevented. Works like Protected, but the heal is so potent that a new “Absorbing” indicator will be displayed when this Ultimate is actively taking damage.
- (R2) Sacred Ground: Sanctifies ground around Yrel, greatly increasing Armor until she leaves the area. Sacred Ground has no time limit and only ends when Yrel leaves or is forced out.
Yrel can only charge one ability at a time. However, her Divine Purpose trait is an active ability that allows for the next Basic Ability to be cast immediately as maximum charge. Players can use this for either quick reactions or for powerful combos.
Echoes of Alterac Quests
As was the case with the recent Nexomania event, Heroes of the Storm players will get to pick a quest for distinctly different rewards. For Echoes of Alterac, they’ll have to pledge their allegiance to the Alliance or the Horde. The rewards for completing Echoes of Alterac quests include:
- A Loot Chest with one guaranteed Warcraft Hero for playing four games.
- A Ram/Wolf portrait for achieving 50 Takedowns.
- A special banner for playing six games with friends.
- A Ram/Wolf mount for winning eight games as a Warcraft Hero.
New skins will also be introduced with Echoes of Alterac. This includes new Alliance skins for Auriel, Muradin, Varian, and Valeera. There will also be new Horde skins for Junkrat, Rehgar, Garrosh, and Johanna.
The Echoes of Alterac event, Alterac Pass battleground, and Yrel are all coming soon.