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  • Birthday:October 23,1987
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    When you speak of MOBAs, you instantly think of DOTA2, League of Legends and the more recent Heroes of the Storm. There are probably others, but those are the ones who pretty much dominate the current scene.

    But before any of those (except LoL which came a little earlier) there was another game, one that was considered at the time as the “improved” version of the original DotA – Heroes of Newerth. These days you could say that is more like an underground game, with very little participation in the overall changes of the industry. Anyone who plays it knows that this shouldn’t be happening, as the product is a fine example of how a MOBA should be.

    Nevertheless, HoN chills in the back, mostly visited by a loyal community and with not many new arrivals. The question is… how did this happened?

    Now, most of this article is based on my personal experience, so feel free to add your own in the comments. For the record, I played DotA for many years until I swapped for HoN, and in the present I tried both DOTA2 and HotS, mostly to share a few matches with old friends. I tried LoL but I didn’t liked it at all, so I won’t comment about it as I lack the proper knowledge of the game.



Typical image macro found in forums when DOTA2 came out.

I wonder who's laughing now... (surely not the guy in the last panel)




    Back then the game was P2P, and during its beta phase it was considered more like an elite, closed group of people. Even when it had a lot of interesting things to check, it was DotA on steroids and you weren’t going to find anything new on it, so most people didn’t tried it and just stayed in the known stuff. Also, by the time HoN launched, LoL was already F2P, so those interested in trying something different simply migrated there.

    I assume that S2 understood that the model was hurting the playerbase, so they went semi F2P with a pool of 15 heroes to play for free. Almost half of the heroes were nearly exact copies of those in DotA, but the rest were completely original, with fun and hard to master mechanics like Monkey King. Eventually they went full F2P, yet the community kept shrinking. By 2012 the playerbase was stuck at 150.000, which isn’t a bad number at all, but if you compare it to other titles it SHOULD be bigger.

    As an active HoN player, I can’t express enough how awful I consider both DOTA2 and HotS. I mean, they’re not bad games – I just can’t enjoy them at all.

    I can’t stand the graphics in DOTA2, I swear I can’t tell one hero from another, and the controls feel clunky and extremely slow. The feeling is almost the same I had when I played LotRO after many years of WoW – as if I were in the same game but underwater. The improvements over the original DotA are the same HoN had for many years, so there aren’t many differences except the heroes and some items.

    And HotS… oh boy. There is no lasthit, no items, not many different builds, the heroes are stuck in their roles, and you pretty much gather as five and permagank / do stuff from the map until someone loses. It’s ok, I’m ready for the incoming bashes about this opinion, but that’s the way I feel when playing it. I do love the art behind it, as in any other Blizzard game. Both the music and the voices are awesome, and the heroes are lovable as always.

    Every time I play a match in any of those other games, I fail to understand how is HoN still striving to achieve a stable community. And then I realize… it’s all about the company behind it.


My feelings about HotS.


    This concludes the introduction for those who doesn’t know much about HoN or MOBAs in general. Now let’s fully get into the sad part: S2, the Gorilla of Doom. The company that made HoN and eventually left it.


    Back when HoN became my game of preference, I tried a lot to convince my friends to leave DotA and join me. Many did, but after a few games of having to choose between 15 heroes they gave up and left. The tutorial in the game was excruciatingly bad, and someone who never played a MOBA before would’ve been even more confused after completing it. And if you count the toxic, competitive community these games usually have, you have a recipe for loneliness – new players were drawn away constantly, seeking products with an easier learning curve like LoL.

    S2 never really tried to solve this issue, and even now the new staff rarely try anything to bring more people to the game. That is probably the worst decision they have ever made, but it wasn’t the only one.




     In 2012, the company decided to kick out the latin playerbase and send them to another server, hosted by Axeso5. The forums went in Third Reich mode and freely insulted every person that tried to argue with this, with barely any control from the moderators. Before the migration the games started to become more and more trolled, receiving an instakick if the rest of the players discovered that you were latin. And because the exodus was mandatory, we had no choice.

    There are no words to describe how AWFUL Axeso5 was. The ping was hideous (a latin server hosted in Miami), there were barely any bans for griefers which meant you could encounter the same troll every day, and the official patches came with months of delay. The forums were hosted by minions who loved to delete anything they didn’t liked, which pretty much was even the smallest complain about the management of the server. Even the word “proxy” meant your account banned – and you probably know why.

    After a couple of months most of the players escaped that hellish place and went with new accounts to the official servers, using proxies to fool the IP ban. It worked like a charm, and the “new” latin servers started to become like the Wild West of HoN, a place with no rules – you could enter with your old account, feed as much as you liked, and never get banned. It was the troll paradise.

    In 2014, S2 merged the clients and we were all together once again. Well, sort of, because the population decayed to less than 100k, and who could blame them? How would you feel if they dragged you like a bag of potatoes, and dare to announce it like if it were a good thing? The ones who stayed did it because the change of going to another MOBA was way too annoying, and it was discussed a lot in the official forums. Still, some wounds never heal, and to this day it still bleeds.

If you had the latin client, this was the logo that showed up in the loading screen.

 

    Stay tuned for the second part of this article, in which I address the new developer of the game, the FrostBurn Studios of Garena.

Spoiler: their first decision was to completely obliterate the balance in the game. Good work fellas!

Tags:
Heroes of Newerth   MOBA  

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