Blizzard's upcoming, free-to-play, brawler Heroes of the Storm has now entered closed BETA as of January 13th, at 7pm GMT. This is more than a mere title change though. Blizzard are adding some substantial content to the game's key areas.
The biggest change has to be the addition of Ranked Play (finally). There are two playlists to come (YAY!) but only one is currently available in the closed BETA (BOO!).
Hero League, now available, is focussed more on the solo player of HotS (Blizzard's favourite initialism). Whereas Team League, coming at some point in the future, is more geared towards larger party play.
There is a certain barrier to entry for Hero League though: You must be at least Level 30, and have 10 Heroes unlocked (this will make sense soon).
This new Ranked playlist brings with it the Draft Mode. This is where players of each team have alternating selection of Heroes until everybody has picked (hence the 10 character requirement – told you it would make sense), meaning there will not be any duplicates on the same team. It also means each team has the opportunity to choose their Heroes based on their opponents choices.
Blizzard have also added the Sky Temple map, after first debuting it at Blizzcon last year, and an entirely new Hero: Thrall. He's a melee assassin, capable of giving ability damage at range, and his trait triggers a self-heal after using five abilities (as well as being the War Chief of the Horde).
New, debatably more interesting, skins are coming for existing Heroes; including, but not limited to, Li Li, Falstad, and Abathur. If you don't believe that pyjama-clad Abathur is a positive thing, then there may be no hope for your cuteness gland:
Finally, the Shop is getting updated and patched! Blizzard claim they will be running “regular” sales within the shop for all items, and plan to release a wider variety of skins for all playable Heroes.
There is also a new booster known as Stimpacks (shout out to my fellow StarCrafters). These shall come in two flavours: 7 Days, and 30 Days, and will boost your XP per match by an additional 100%, and your Gold earnings by 150%!
Of course, Heroes of the Storm remains a closed BETA – meaning you still need to sign up to be eligible if you wish to partake. You can do so by clicking this link to Blizzard's official Heroes of the Storm sign up page.