Heroes of Newerth review
Duplicating the gameplay of the popular Warcraft 3 mod, Defence of the Ancients, Heroes of Newerth takes a fantastic formula and furthers it. Developed by the creators of Savage, S2 Games have included all the bells and whistles of a full retail release to make this budget-priced online-only game stand out against what’s currently on the market. Designed for the competitive gaming scene, Heroes of Newerth caters to the hardcore PC gamers with classic gameplay modeled exactly around DotA featuring many new heroes with a few new tricks up its sleeves.
Similar to DotA, players control a single hero unit as each team pushes towards the enemy base across a symmetrical map separated by three lanes. Games are typically 5v5 player affairs where heroes group up and pick out a lane to push through heading towards the enemy. Each enemy base has one main structure at its core, which is the main goal for the enemy to destroy and achieve victory, but that is obviously no easy task. Each base is heavily defended by progressively tougher defence towers as well as continual waves of weak NPC's known as 'Creeps' that will blindly attack towards the enemy base until stopped.
It's up to player heroes to hit the lanes, wipe out the creeps and slowly work towards the enemy base. The only problem is the enemy heroes will be pushing in the same direction and this is where our conflict of the main game begins. Every hero in Heroes of Newerth has four separate spells and unique abilities. These abilities can range from stunning damage spells to general de-buffs, massive damage spells or damage over time abilities. The range and use of these spells in team fights creates incredibly diverse battles where the scales can be instantly swapped amidst all the chaos.
Since there are over 70 heroes available each with four unique abilities, there's quite a lot that can happen in the one game and unfortunately this can be a real deterrent for new players. For a player to be truly effective and play well, they must have a solid knowledge of nearly every hero and what they can do, and this takes serious time and dedication. If that isn't daunting enough, the hundreds of unique items and recipes are another huge learning barrier between newcomers and fanatics. To make things worse the online community of Heroes of Newerth is certainly not very forgiving of new players; often, if you make a mistake, your teammates will make sure to let you know in a roundabout way that isn’t so kind. You'll need a strong jaw to stick with the community here unless you've experienced DotA over the years and know a little about the premise.
It's not all that scary though, fortunately S2 Games have realized there's a solid difficulty curve here and have made improvisations over DotA to compensate. Items and recipes are much easier to build with a simple button click to navigate stores, and the engine has a lot of features such as a reconnect ability allowing dropped players to instantly get back in the game, something sorely missed from the days of DotA. There's also an offline training mode and tutorial tips, even an in-game “Recommended” store tab suggesting items to buy for your particular hero.
The nature of spells and hero abilities in Heroes of Newerth creates a team-focused game where players must work together and co-ordinate their movements properly. A game takes about 40 minutes on average where players start every game with a new hero at level 1 slowly earning experience and gold by being effective in battle. Spend less time in battle, you'll level slower and feel the effects later on towards the end-game.
Each game of Heroes of Newerth is an intense and varied ride. Even though there's only one map that's played over and over again (more are included but rarely seen played) it's an incredibly addictive online game that needs to be played to be believed. The mix of heroes and abilities means that every game and team has a different play style and the open nature of the map creates a game where you must constantly be aware of your surroundings and enemy positions.
S2 have kept most of the gameplay seen in DotA intact. They've added new features such as reconnections and voice-chat as well as a diverse competitive league with online statistics tracking. This isn't all though as the engine itself is a massive improvement over anything DotA could hope to achieve on the incredibly restrictive Warcraft 3 engine. HoN looks great with a lot of nice particle effects on spells and nice detail in character models even when zoomed out. The audio package is alluring too with unique voice clips for each hero showing some character.
If you're looking for something competitive to sink some serious time into then Heroes of Newerth is one of the best options out there. It offers refreshing gameplay with a hero roster that is still expanding with new additions today. To top all that, it's only $30 US for a quick online download. If only it wasn't for the severe learning curve holding new players back this would break out of the niche competitive market it's in. If you're willing to go through the good 10-20 hours it takes just to learn the basics, and if you're able to take the abuse and condemnation of your team mates, then I highly recommend purchasing Heroes of Newerth.