It’s an exciting time to be both a regular or occasional player of Blizzard’s franchise-crossing Heroes of the Storm. The game’s development team just wrapped up their Starcraft-themed Machines of War event, made a string of great additions of the MOBA’s roster of playable heroes and unveiled a new Brawl mode.
We caught up with Blizzard’s Lead Battleground Designer John DeShazer to chat about about the new mode. We wanted to know if this Brawl mode something that’s been on the cards for quite some time or something that became developed alongside the popularity of similar modes in Hearthstone and Overwatch.
Originally starting life as something very different to “what players know as a ‘Brawl’ mode,” the feature “was in development for over a year and [as an] an idea even longer”.
“There is a lot of appeal for players and developers alike to create wacky fun game modes,” he said.
According to DeShazer , the new mode began with “a very constrained set of design rules and goals.” Over time, the scope of these goals changed – and so did the shape of Brawl mode.
“We adjusted during its development to encompass lots of different designs ideas, so it’s much closer to the Brawl modes of Hearthstone and Overwatch” DeShazer said.
The final results of this process will see the rules of engagement radicalized every week – switching between standard battlegrounds with unique gameplay “mutators”, single-lane battlegrounds and brand new arena levels designed specifically for Brawl play.
Like the Brawl mode in Overwatch, Brawls in Heroes of the Storm will only be available for a week before changing. However, unlike Overwatch, players will be able to enjoy Brawl rulesets among friends in custom matches through the duration of their availability.
“We find value in keeping them feeling special and won’t be keeping the entire catalog in custom games,” DeShazer said.
“We might break this rule at larger events to allow for some wacky tournaments, so just wait and see!“ he added.
When we asked about the process that went into pitching and developing new Brawls, X described it as “relatively organic.” DeShazer says they collect ideas from within Blizzard, on the Heroes’ forums and even from the places like Reddit.
“It’s really just [a] production question now when ideas will find themselves into the game – as we want to make as many Brawls as possible. As everything we do we will be testing, iterating on, and sometimes even cutting ideas during our vetting process.“
“Also to be clear, we don’t have any current plans for another queue mode outside of Brawl. So most unique game types will most likely find themselves as a Brawl at some point.”
DeShazer confirmed that Brawl-exclusive maps are something that’s on the cards, though he notes that “they will be a rarer addition to the mode then versions with fun rule twists.”
Participation in three Brawls each week will net players a bonus 1000 in-game gold, with further (and potentially unique) rewards also looking likely.
He believes this gold bonus will draw both regular and retired players to engage with the game mode on a weekly basis.
In addition, he/she says “It’s a great chance for the casual player to gain a ton of value out of a short window of time to increase their hero catalog.“
The final component of the Brawl mode comes in the form of in-game hero selection. In traditional game-modes, players select their character before entering a match. However, with Brawl, they’ll be able to customize a set of three preset Heroes and pick once they’ve loaded into the game.
DeShazer says “over the past year, we’ve pushed this system to its limits. We now have a ton of ways to customize what heroes are available to choose from. We even have the ability to set players to specific heroes/mounts/skins if we want to.”
While it’s unlikely that this hero selection mode will make it into normal Heroes matches, he’s quick to add “never say never.”