Heroes of Newerth is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed by S2 Games and released in 2010. As many of the games belonging to this genre, it is inspired by the Defense of the Ancients game mod. The franchise set an important milestone in 2015 when it was acquired by the Frostburn Studios. This prompted the addition of more heroes and the following patches made the game more competitive, therefore suitable for eSports. Heroes of Newerth uses micro-transactions but is free to play.
Gameplay of Heroes of Newerth
This multiplayer online battle arena game can accommodate a total of 10 players divided into two identical teams of five players. The arbitrary division between the Hellbourne and the Legion doesn’t affect the Heroes of Newerth gameplay. Players start from their own bases, which is also the point of origin for waves of creeps that advance towards the enemy fortifications. Along the way they encounter defensive towers which can be destroyed by AI controlled opponents as well as players.
The goal of Heroes of Newerth is to destroy the enemy base and this objective is secured by leveling up the characters controlled. In this game, the nexus is called the World Tree or Sacrificial Shrine, depending on the faction assigned. Players begin by choosing one of the more than 100 heroes before the game starts, trying to achieve the perfect team set up. Synergy between players is essential to defeat opponents, but the right line of gives players a better chance to prevail.
The gameplay of Heroes of Newerth has changed very little since its inception, but was further enhanced by the arrival of new heroes. Characters have different skills and special abilities, but they can essentially be divided into three main categories. Tanks, damage dealers and support heroes are needed in each team to inflict maximum damage and ensure sustainability. Taking down enemy fortifications, killing heroes and AI controlled creeps generates a flow of experience points and gold.
Heroes of Newerth has a level cap and once players reach 25, they can no longer unlock new skills or improve existing abilities. However, they keep collecting gold which can be spent on increasingly powerful items. There is an inventory limit, so after players fill up all the slots available they can no longer purchase artifacts. What usually happens is that the game ends much sooner, with the average length of a match being 30 minutes.
Heroes of Newerth Heroes and Abilities
Heroes of Newerth heroes heavily resemble the ones in other popular multiplayer online battle arena games, such as League of Legends and Dota 2. In terms of visuals and abilities, they are similar to the one fighting on the battlefield of the video game developed by Valve. What makes this game stand out from the crowd is that players can choose between one of the four game modes. Co-op, Player Hosted, Normal and Casual are the options and in each game players are tasked with completing different objectives.
In all these game modes, players need to achieve a balanced setup that include support heroes, damage dealers and tanks. The latter can sustain a lot of damage and can push through enemy fortifications, with enough assistance from support characters. Damage dealers are the most numerous in Heroes of Newerth and also the most popular among players because they can carry the entire team. Heroes level up in the same fashion when playing any of the game mode, but they accumulate XP faster on casual.
Heroes of Newerth Multiplayer and eSports Potential
The Match Making Rating ensures the fact that players compete against opponents of their skill level. This represents the springboard to professional gaming and Heroes of Newerth has a couple of dedicated competitions. Compared to leading MOBAs, these tournaments are less numerous and the payout structure is far from impressive. Since 2010 when the game was released internationally, the number of new events grew steadily but at a snail’s pace.
Heroes of Newerth lacks a single player campaign and multiplayer provides the means for players to test their skills against each other. Some of the most popular and well paid online tournaments are hosted in Asia, where the game has the most players. Except for the smaller guaranteed prize pools and the fact that there are fewer professional players, HoN is a competitive multiplayer online battle arena game.
Popular and Critical Reception
Heroes of Newerth was well received by players and critics alike, despite being very similar to Dota. At the time of its release, the Warcraft 3 mod already had plenty of fans, but players were hoping for something new. The influx of new heroes following the game’s acquisition by Frostburn Studios created a spike in the number of new players. Criticism was in regard to the way large-scale battles look and how they made it difficult for players to see what was happening.
The arrival of Dota 2 represented a heavy blow for Heroes of Newerth, as many players migrated to the new release. HoN was hurt by its obvious similarities to Valve’s flagship multiplayer online battle arena game. Nearly a decade after its release, the game is still celebrated for its difficulty curve and the way it motivates players to persevere. In professional matches, it requires quick reflexes, composure and a level of skill second to none in the MOBA industry.
Key Features of Heroes of Newerth
- Heroes of Newerth has more than 100 unique heroes with unique skills and abilities.
- The game is heavily inspired by DotA and it is visually similar to the Warcraft mod.
- Heroes of Newerth rewards individual skill more than most of its MOBA counterparts.
- The video game is competitive at professional level, but it failed to reach its full eSports potential.
The Bottom Line
Heroes of Newerth isn’t a breath of fresh air in the multiplayer online battle arena industry, but a successful adaptation of the original Dota. Its early popularity was the result of players seeking something slightly different, without wanting to stray too far from the original concepts. The game still has plenty to offer to those who want a competitive MOBA, but the arrival of Dota 2 took it out of the spotlight. Its steep learning curve makes it one difficult game in this niche and this can be a problem for amateurs.
The graphics evoke pleasant memories from the time when Dota was the only option for MOBA fans. However, eight years after its release it feels a bit dated and the game struggles to keep up with the newest releases. In a nutshell, Heroes of Newerth is a welcomed diversion for players who want to try something different, but it trails behind the leaders. It never fulfilled its eSports potential, mostly because of crushing competition, but also the emphasis on personal achievements rather than team play.