Blizzard has announced some big changes coming to Heroes of the Storm in the next patch. Draft lobbies are being given an “epic visual overhaul” in the next patch, including new background art, animated hero models and portraits, and updated selection animations, and hero bans in ranked play and custom games are finally on the way.
The draft lobby redesign is meant to more clearly indicate which battleground is being played on by displaying full-screen battleground art as soon as you enter, along with a welcome message and an “audible callout” of the battleground name before drafting begins. The process of selecting heroes has also been streamlined through the addition of a “favorites” row along the bottom of the screen. Favorites can be selected via the Hero Collection Tab in your profile, and any slots left open will be automatically filled with your highest-level heroes.
But the biggest change will come in the form of hero bans, which lets players exclude certain heroes from matches. Ranked play games will use the “Mid Ban” method, which will function much like bans in official Heroes of the Storm tournaments, with each team having one ban before picks begin, and another after three draft rounds have concluded. Custom games will have selectable ban methods: one or two rounds, mid ban—the same as ranked play—or no bans at all.
The implementation of bans will bring a few other changes to ranked play. The minimum requirement will be increased from ten to 14 heroes, and any heroes you’ve taken to level five or higher will count toward the minimum hero requirement. Player level requirements have been removed, so you won’t have to reach level 30 before you can take part in Hero or Team League matches, and players who have been penalized for leaving games won’t be prevented from taking part in Team League matches, since everyone will have full control over who they ally with.
“We’ve been doing this ban system in our esports for the last many months, going all the way back into last year, so you can watch our esports now and you can see how these bans affect your strategy in the game,” Dustin Browser says in the new Developer Update video. “So absolutely go check out our esports and see how the pros have been playtesting and using this ban system to create some really interesting strategies in our game.”
Sounds like solid advice. Details about the coming Heroes of the Storm changes are on Battle.net; there’s no word on when the patch will go live, but if Blizzard is talking about it, I’d expect to see something soon.