Before you read this, check out Part 1.
MOBAs can be confusing if you’ve never played one. The typical multiplayer online battle arena is full of characters and abilities and unique jargon and it can take a while to grow accustomed to any of it. Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA for just about anyone, though; if the genre has overwhelmed you in the past, you can pick this game up, play a few matches, and have a good idea of what you’re supposed to do. If you’ve poured thousands (and I do mean thousands) of hours into any of its major competitors, be it Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite or anything else, you can use it as a reprieve from caring about your win-to-loss ratio, matchmaking rank, or skill trees. You can play a round and not worry about having wasted an entire hour playing with people who have not found the right outlet for their anger management issues.
Heroes of the Storm may not have the legacy of Dota 2, the massive staying power and presence of League of Legends, or a roster of characters big enough to compete with either. But what it lacks in scale it makes up for in execution. Heroes of the Storm has kept an immaculate schedule of great updates since its launch back in May of last year, rounding out an already impressive and diverse roster with some interesting new heroes, each coercing players to rethink particular roles and expanding their knowledge of the game. Every hero has their place in the game, but some are better than others. With that in mind, we now rank them all for your reading pleasure.
Suriel Vazquez is a freelance writer who knows he can handle loving two MOBAs at once. He has a lot of love to give. He’s written for Paste, Kill Screen, ZAM, GamesBeat, and many others. You can follow him on Twitter.
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23. Raynor: Raynor is the Old Reliable. Like Valla, he's a great character with which anyone can learn Heroes, because he scales well as you learn the ins and outs of the game. All of his skills are useful and help newcomers learn the game: he sees and hits farther than the rest of the cast, heals himself automatically when he gets low on health, and can inspire his entire team to move and attack more quickly, which immediately signals a "stick with your team" mentality. He is, for most players, the easiest character to learn the game with. And having players learn the game with the most famous character in StarCraft while making him a lot of fun to play is no easy feat.
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22. Chen: In a few ways, Chen goes against Heroes' tendency to take intricate concepts and distill them into more approachable structures. His ultimate has him transform into three spirits, giving you a completely different set of abilities and skills to work with after making the temporary transformation. But the game handles this more elegantly than I could have hoped for: you continuously command the trio of spirits as a single unit, but also command them to spread out and attack different targets. He's still a difficult hero to learn, but he also demonstrates how much variety Blizzard has packed into a less intricate framework.
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21. Muradin: Muradin embodies the "dive in and stir shit up" mentality most Warrior-class heroes should have. He has plenty of very obvious, important tools to help him stay in fights when the enemy would rather target someone with less health. He's able to survive the initial counterattack and turn longer engagements around. Starting a fight so your team has the advantage is a tricky business, but Muradin is both one of the most bombastic and effective heroes to play when you just want the enemy team to get mad at you, all while helping your own.
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20. Nazeebo: For the longest time, I didn't get why Nazeebo was so popular, or why he was so good. He was consistently one of the most popular picks in competitive play, even after a few changes to his toolkit. Only recently has he gotten to a state most would consider "fair." But he's one of the most powerful heroes in the game, thanks in no small part to his Zombie Wall, which is actually more of a Zombie Ring. He can also summon tons of frogs and spiders to help decimate structures throughout the game, and this mix of fighting and solo prowess means you don't need to "fit" him on your team. He can just be on it no matter what.
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19. Jaina: I'm not a big fan of spells revolving around dealing damage without much flash, but Jaina does it so well I can't knock her for it. To be fair, she does more than deal damage; any spell she casts slows opponents down. But the way her spell combos can deal out massive amounts of damage in a large area in a short amount of time gives her a rush most other heroes can't emulate. Sure, the effects don't look too great, but seeing health bars deplete that quickly is its own kind of flash.
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18. Sylvanas: Sylvanas's arrows stun anything that isn't an enemy hero in place for one second, meaning they can't move or attack. This makes her a prime candidate for pushing down lanes and structures. Also, the damage of her Shadow Dagger spreads from one enemy to the next, so it's easy for her to push a lane quickly then evacuate. And because her Haunting Wave lets her teleport out of danger after a delay, she can even attack structures while an enemy waits in hiding to kill her, since she can get out safely. This makes her incredibly annoying if your team won't listen to your calls and pings about how she's destroying your towers, since it's hard for any one hero to really stop her.
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17. Kael' Thas: It feels cool to land Kael'Thas's spell combos; throw out the Gravity Lapse tornado, place the flamestrike at their feet, and hit them with a Living Bomb on the way down for good measure. Managing your Verdant Spheres takes some good timing as well, since the spell you cast first is the one that gets the damage boost. Between Gravity Lapse and Phoenix (one of his Heroic abilities), Kael' Thas has a lot to do in any given team fight, and busy fingers make for fun matches if you know what you're doing.
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16. Azmodan: In a game chock-full of skillshots (abilities you aim instead of directly target an enemy with), Azmodan's Globe of Annihilation is my favorite one to land. It has an enormous range and deals more damage the farther it travels (depending on which talent you pick), which means you're rewarded for moving a couple steps back and then throwing down your orb, like moving into the three-point line in a basketball game. Summoning minions every few seconds from every direction (including from the sky) also means you're always busy doing something as Azmodan, even if you're usually not around team fights.
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15. Abathur: Abathur, like Zagara, doesn't do a lot of fighting himself. But unlike Zagara, Abathur doesn't even need to be around fights, or anywhere near the enemy, to be effective. Instead, he sits in his team's base and attaches a symbiotic being to an ally, which then lets him protect and deal damage through them. He's one of the game's most interesting characters simply because you have to completely rethink your gameplan when you pick him or see him on your team. You need a good team for Abathur to truly shine, but your team will usually be down one person during fights. This also means that Abathur has more of a reason to keep an eye on the map, making him a good fit for people who love to micromanage others.
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14. Artanis: I'm still not sure how good Artanis is, just because his skillset seems so strange to me. He has a back-and-forth-dash that you can't stop mid-animation, which makes me feel vulnerable while using it. He can swap places with an enemy, which has its obvious uses but also leaves you feeling vulnerable. He fires a giant tracking laser, but it moves slowly and he doesn't have the kind of toolkit to set anything up with it. He's a kind of a weird collection of abilities, but for whatever reason, I tend to have a lot of fun with him, and part of me has to think it has to do with how cool he looks.