Heroes of Newerth: F2P ReReview
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
Heroes of Newerth is a multiplayer online battle arena by S2Games for Windows, Mac and Linux. It aims to provide an improved version of the Warcraft III mod Defence of the Ancients by allowing the game to run on its own engine. Since the game is not just a mod anymore the developers can tweak it to their liking and not have to worry about the restrictions placed upon the modding community.
The game does not try to innovate and change how DotA was played. In simplest terms, HoN is DotA with improved graphics and the addition of many needed features. This means that DotA players will not have a hard time getting into the game and will only need to relearn names of items and heroes. S2Games does a good job providing the HoN equivalents on their wiki page.
Although most of the game is exactly like DotA some of the features, heroes and items are unique to HoN. Since DotA was just a mod for Warcraft III, the developers were unable to add in features such as the ability to reconnect and improved graphics. HoN has solved these issues by allowing user reconnection and providing improved graphics. The graphics are not amazing compared to today’s standards but are a big improvement from DotA graphics.
It also offers a ranking and matchmaking system that players can use to join matches and compete. Your match making rating either increases or decreases depending on the result of the match. It is not affected by your individual performance and only relies on final team outcome. The rating does not change by a set amount but depends on your opponents. A rookie against a top player will receive more points than if the rookie was against another rookie.
Running away from a fed player
All your stats such as kills, deaths and assists are recorded and displayed on your player profile. This allows players to track their progress but also allows S2Games to keep track of leavers. DotA players could easily get away with leaving matches midway but in HoN users are punished for leaving. If your leave percentage gets too high you are only able to play in matches allowing leavers until you lower your percentage. I really love this system because just one disconnected player can ruin the entire game.
Free players do have some restrictions placed upon them. A free player cannot play all of the game modes unless they have tokens which may be purchased from the shop. S2Games claims that this token system was put into place to ensure teams, which include free to play players, do not provide disadvantages to the team just because they do not have the counter-pick hero available. Tokens allow the player to choose any hero even if they do not own it. A token is consumed every game unless you are playing the all pick mode. Legacy players, players which previously bought the game, have unlimited tokens.
Free to play players may become verified upon hitting level five or purchasing gold coins. The verified system lets players decide if they want to be matched up with newer players or not. It reduces the complaints from veteran players about new F2P noobs. Once you become verified you also receive three free tokens.
The concept of HoN is very simple: control your chosen hero to destroy the opposing team’s main building. Each team can be formed of up to five players and no team is allowed to select duplicate heroes. Each hero gains experience by killing creeps or heroes. The creeps of each faction, Hellbourne and Legion, continuously battle to try and take down towers and award gold to the player landing the last hit on them. You may attack your own team to deny experience and gold from the enemy or to control how the lane is pushed. Buildings may only be attacked if they are under 10% health to prevent abuse of the denying system. Some heroes can deny kills by using self damaging spells.
While it seems very simple on paper, the game can be quite overwhelming with its large variety of heroes, items and game play mechanics. The community does not help solve this problem as it can be quite hard to find nice and helpful players in the MOBA genre. You will get yelled at for your mistakes to the point where you really do not want to play. Do not give up as this genre is very rewarding once you get past the steep learning curve.
As of today there are 88 heroes split between the two factions Hellbourne and Legion. No player is allowed to select duplicate heroes but may pick from either faction in the all pick mode. There are various modes available such as random picks and draft mode which allows hero bans. Each mode has a casual mode available that makes the game easier to play by offering changes such as no loss of gold on death.
The large variety of heroes
The selection of free heroes rotates weekly and offers fifteen new choices for players. The in game shop allows players to purchase their favourite heroes with either silver or gold coins. Silver coins can be obtained simply by playing while gold coins can only be obtained with cash. The prices of heroes range between 100-400 silver coins on average and may take a while to get as you receive 4-10 coins per game which usually lasts around 40 minutes. Players that purchased HoN before it went F2P receive all current and upcoming heroes for free but must purchase early access to new heroes unless they want to wait. This early access feature is not liked by the B2P community of HoN because it may give players with money an advantage over other players.
The shop also offers other items such as alternate hero skins and announcer packs which are all purchasable with silver or gold coins. Some premium items feature ridiculous prices for silver coins and must be purchased with gold coins unless you save up coins for a long time.
The standard map is split into three lanes with three towers for each faction. Behind the third tower lies the melee and ranged barracks. Once these have been destroyed the creeps in that lane will grow stronger for the faction that killed the barracks. All of the lanes lead towards the main building which is protected by two more turrets.
In between the three lanes there is the jungle. The jungle is split into two areas for both factions which spawn either neutral creeps which are easier to kill or legendary creeps which are harder to kill but provide greater EXP and gold. The normal setup for a team is two champions for top and bottom lane and a solo champion in the middle but a tri-lane or jungling setup is very viable.
A river divides the two jungles and spawns a rune after a set time interval at either the top or bottom of the river. These runes offer heroes buffs such as double damage or invisibility. In DotA the runes spawn at the same time as the creeps but it has been changed in HoN to discourage level one rune fights.
The bottom of the river is also the location of the boss monster Kongor. Kongor provides teams with gold, experience and an item drop. The item can be looted by any hero and gives the holder the ability to instantly revive upon death. The item does disappear after some time so it is wise to put it to good use.
The secret shops have been replaced with observatories which only sell wards. All items can be bought from the main shop from your base. The shop was not very user friendly for new players but the HoN 2.0 patch has fixed this issue. Now the shop is organized into nice categories and even features built in guides. The guides are submitted by the community and provide newer players with suggestions for items, skill builds and tips for their selected hero.
HoN has done a good job offering DotA with new features, engine and graphics. Due to the addition of unique heroes the metagame is different from DotA and can provide more viable play styles for players.
Although the game can be very overwhelming for newer players, I advise you to continue learning about the game because once you get past the steep learning the game can be a lot of fun.