Friday, June 19, 2015

Rican's Free 2 Play Friday: Hero of the Storm - Kael'thas Sunstrider

Welcome to Rican's Free 2 Play Friday, a weekly look into free-to-play gaming such as MOBAs, MMOs, Team Shooters, and more! This week we look at one of the playable heroes from Blizzard Entertainment's Heroes of the Storm. 

  I've touched briefly on how certain characters can be self-sufficient and engage enemy players by themselves without really relying on teammates. Assassin types in Heroes of the Storm are exactly that type of character. While some can be more self-sufficient than others, especially those with stealth mechanics, one need to look no further than ranged caster types. Able to stand behind enemy lines and nuke the opposition, ranged assassins have a special role in Heroes of the Storm as damage dealing "carries." One of said carries is Kael'thas Sunstrider. And right up until the launch of Heroes of the Storm launch on June 2, 2015 - he was (and still is!) one the scariest casters in the game. 

"Bal'a dash, malanore!"

  Before the launch of HotS and Johanna's arrival in the Nexus, this was one of my most played heroes in the Beta along with (melee warrior) Chen Stormstout. And I had an absolute blast (ha!) with him. As I'm not a "guide" for how to play Heroes (and there's plenty of those online from better produced streams and players), I'd rather examine heroes in HotS and answer a simple question: are they fun?

  Kael'Thas is an interesting character in that he relies on his (active D hotkey) passive Verdant Spheres to empower the next ability cast,with the sole exception of his Ultimates. His Q is a ranged 360° AoE nuke that, when empowered with Verdant Spheres, grows substantially in size perfect for team fights or large choke points. His W, and bread and butter spell, is Living Bomb, a DoT (damage over time) spell that not only does a fair amount of damage, but as soon as the DoT ends explodes and damages any enemy around the "Living Bomb." Verdant Spheres empowers this ability by removing the cost and cooldown, effectively enabling a player to cast two consecutive Living Bombs in quick succession. It should also be noted that casting a new Living Bomb into a "Living Bomb" victim accelerates the DoT (making the damage instant) and procs the explosion at the end of the first DoT; all while actually doing damage over time with the new cast and new explosion at the end. His E is an aimed line spell that stuns the first enemy hit for 1.5 seconds. When empowered this spell CC's the first three enemies (including minions or mercenaries) it hits in a straight line.

"Shorel'aran, bitch."

  Kael'Thas' options for his Ultimate are just as hard hitting as his abilities, but both mimic his "DoT/Nuke" mechanics. Phoenix is an instant spell that can be placed in an area where a Phoenix bird will deal fire damage in 360° range for 3 seconds. His second Ulti, and the object of many a players' profanity-driven tirades upon death, is Pyroblast. A 2 second cast mega-nuke that trails and hones in behind the targeted enemy doing insane amounts of damage upon contact. The long cast time is indeed the only thing that keeps this ability still in the game, as it's fairly easy to stun or interrupt. Another key point about Kael'Thas that allows him to do massive amounts of damage, without much outcry from the community, is that he's extremely squishy. The average tanky type can take him out fairly easily in a 1v1 fight (provided Kael'Thas doesn't absolutely crush said tank before the tank actually gets in melee range!), and another assassin type (especially stealth types like Nova and Zeratuul) can usually kill him before he knows what truck just hit him.

  So, all in all, is Kael'Thas Sunstrider a fun hero to take into the Nexus? Absolutely, especially if you're the type of player that doesn't want to rely on other teammates for most of your fights. He's self-sufficient, with some caveats, and is extremely satisfying when played properly and used to decimate the opposition. Even more satisfying when you have a particularly nasty stealthy type trapped in your CC and you unleash your entire arsenal on their defenseless self. Shorel'aran, and see you next week, when I delve into Marvel Heroes 2015's two year anniversary and release of the one and only: Doctor Doom!

SHR Fun Rating:

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Look into Free 2 Play Columns: League of LegendsMarvel Heroes 2015Heroes of the Storm
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