Today I wanted to spend a bit of time talking on the topic of the “New Player Experience” in Heroes of the Storm. This subject came up as a discussion topic in one of our latest Lords of the Storm episodes, and I wanted to categorize and expand upon that conversation here. As a reference point I played through all of the current Heroes tutorials to get a handle on what was actually being taught (except for the intro Raynor/Uther one which I didn’t seem to be able to go back and play again).
To start fixing the new player experience, I think we need to tackle the problem from several angles. First, I would love to see some sort of new player bundle in the same vein as the Mega Bundles that came out with the Heroes 2.0 launch. This would be a bundle with 10-20 of the relatively easy to learn, easy to play heroes at a greatly discounted gem price that only people under a certain player level could purchase. The bundle would also contain heroes from every role, to allow for the new player to experience the different playstyles, and hopefully provide them with a starting option(s) that will be fun for them.
Second, we need a complete reworking of the introductory tutorial experience. This small Uther/Raynor tutorial worked great when the game came out...over three years ago. Heroes has evolved and progressed so much since this time, that a new starting experience that is relevant to current players should be implemented. Though we do have a few secondary tutorials as well, there is still a lot of room for improvement. The new tutorial could include intro to movement, using abilities, selecting talents, building interactions, what objectives are, what mercenary camps are, general game terms, etc. This could also be tied to the recent lore push, where the tutorial could give a current intro to the Nexus, perhaps led or narrated by Deckard Cain. This all in one could then walk new players through an entire game, pointing out all the relevant tasks along the way, integrating the game pausing and explanation at key moments that the current tutorials do.
Third, we need advanced tutorials beyond your initial intro to the game. As the game has evolved so has the player base, and the need to know more advanced concepts has increased with it. There is currently one “veteran” tutorial that while neat in the way it uses Uther as a guide, is incredibly brief. My proposal would be that a series of 5-10 optional tutorials be created that could supplement what you learned in the initial/veteran tutorial. These could include stutter stepping, map/lane rotations, the importance of xp soaking, advanced objectives, and an intro to each role type, with situations to help new players learn how to succeed with that role. For example, I might take the tutorial on Warriors (or Tanks, or whatever the new Role System ends up being) where it teaches me how to peel for my team, how to body block, how to engage, etc.
Finally, we need a system of continual learning within the game client. The recently implemented secondary navigation bar in the client could help, adding some sort of learning tab that could link to these advanced tutorials directly, or potentially highlight and link to community learning content. I’ve mentioned this before, but to bring it even a step further, I would love to see an actual community tab in game that was much more detailed than a simple single screen. This tab could section content up into learning, streamers, guides, etc that could be community driven, but Blizzard curated.
To close things out, I wanted to talk a bit about the feasibility of this proposal. As the Heroes team has stated multiple times, they have a lot on their plate, and it’s all about prioritization. With free to play games there’s constant pressure to continue to pump out new content to keep your current players coming back. Unfortunately this can, in the case of many free to play games, eventually begin to hurt the new player experience creating a higher and higher barrier of entry that can eventually erode your player base. I believe in the near future that the Heroes team will need to start balancing this new player experience with their new content drops. This is foreseeably something that you could roll out over a six month timeframe (potentially when the new role system comes out), starting with the revamped tutorial and new player bundle. Then, over the next several months you slowly roll out the advanced tutorials, culminating in the release of the community tab in the game client.
I hope you enjoyed the article and if you have any ideas or suggestions for improving the new player experience please feel free to comment below. If you want to check out more of my content you can find my HGC articles and Map Concepts here on HeroesHearth or on twitter.