Heroes of Newerth: review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out now
  • Publisher: S2 Games
  • Developer: S2 Games
  • Players: 2 – 10
  • Site: www.heroesofnewerth.com
  • Imagine what would happen if Warcraft 3 and a tower defence game had a child together. It comes into the world fresh as anything and full of life, before getting abused all through its childhood, being locked in a cage and constantly prodded. Now the child has finally grown up and been released as Heroes of Newerth, but it is an angry, bitter game that will chew your fingers off if you try to play with it.

    Saying that Heroes of Newerth has been built for a hardcore audience is a bit of an understatement. The game itself was in open beta for quite some time and it has built on the roots of a Warcraft 3 scenario called Defence of the Ancients. It means that a lot of the players know the ins, outs, ups and downs on everything there is to do with the game. It also means that they know that they are better than Joe Newbie and won’t hesitate to call you out on it. They won’t hesitate a lot.

    The worst thing about Heroes of Newerth is the ridiculously volatile player base. There is so much noob hating it is unreal. If you thought Modern Warfare was bad on the new guy, you’ve seen nothing yet. It makes all of the ‘n00b tube’ haters in the world seem like a basket of kittens and bakery fresh muffins. You will get told you are playing the game wrong, and if you are not thick skinned, you will end up crying yourself to sleep before complying with the nasty men on the server and uninstall the game.

    Magical orgies are a common occurence and often lead to medical complications

    It isn’t helped that there is no singleplayer element and the tutorial only informs you of the basic mechanics, rather than the essential strategies to winning. It means that when you think you have learned the game and jump into matchmaking, you are in for a very rude awakening. You need to accept that your first 20 or so matches are going to be utter disasters that will bring you more hate and abuse than someone who inadvertently introduced flesh eating bacteria to your town’s water supply.

    The game itself sees two teams of up to five players picking a hero from the mammoth range of 65, before jumping into a game and trying to destroy the opposing team’s base. Both sides are assisted by NPC ‘creeps’ that run down preset lanes before meeting in the middle and beating the arms off of each other. It is the player’s responsibility to initially provide support and harass the enemy heroes, before eventually overpowering the other team’s defences and destroying their base. It sounds deceptively simple.

    Complexities start to arise when you realise you actually need to stay out of combat. Despite what the tutorial tells you, engaging anything in fisty, or even magical-cuffs will probably result in your head getting smashed into your shoulders and everyone on your team yelling at you. You need to hang back, just in sight of the battle to gain experience, but never drawing the aggro or feeding the other team free kills.

    If you give the other team a bloodlust, expect yelling

    Being in a game and not attacking enemies, especially when your chosen hero has a default desire to auto attack everything just seems frustrating. It’s like you are the captain of a football team, but placed in the role of a cheerleader, providing emotional support for the anonymous NPCs getting killed ten metres in front of you. The encouraged participation in battle is to master the art of ‘last hitting’, basically kill stealing from the NPCs to net you more gold and experience points.

    Of course later in each match you’ll be levelled up, with each hero having four powerful magic abilities that can increase in power, as well as stat boosts and a huge array of items to give you an edge, meaning that the creeps are no longer a hassle, and that taking down other Heroes becomes sport. It’s just that getting there can be challenging, especially for the new guy.

    Knowing your hero is half the battle in Heroes of Newerth. A match can be won or lost at the hero selection screen as team synergy is very important. Some special abilities stun enemies very briefly, meaning they can’t run from your bigger, axe wielding friends, and some lower certain resistances, making targeted enemies weaker against some of your team mates. Working together is the way to victory.

    Don't run! The Kraken just wants to be your friend

    Learning the intricacies of each character, whether it is how to play as them or what sort of things they can do to you are very important but a huge feat of devotion to undertake. As previously mentioned there are 65 in total, each one quite drastically unique; and whilst there are not necessarily any bad choices, some are harder to master than others. Of course there is no way of knowing this unless you try it for yourself, or find one of the thirteen helpful players out there.

    There are some very nice out of game features that Heroes of Newerth has to its credit, such as tracking those who have a reputation for rage quitting games, making some servers inaccessible to them. Random disconnections are no longer a huge headache either, as the player has a window of time in which they can rejoin, which is really handy should you blue screen or if your router has a brain fart.

    Heroes of Newerth is a game for those who are good at micromanagement. You need to keep an eye on where you are and what you are doing at all times. It is a huge shame that the community is so hostile to newcomers as it makes the game about as accessible as a wheelchair ramp made out of bees. If you can persevere through the taunting and constant defeat, there is an interesting RTS under it all. Otherwise it might be best to leave the pr0s to themselves and find something else.


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    Written by Anthony H

    Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.