Interested in learning what's next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.

To use Heroes of the Storm’s newest characters, you’re going to need to master shifting from ranged to melee, and the art of the stutter step.

We sat down with hero designer Kent-Erik Hagman from the massive online battle arena game to chat about the best strategies to use with each. Blizzard Entertainment announced three new characters at the BlizzCon convention recently in Anaheim.

All three characters in the massive online battle arena title are based on the World of Warcraft (WoW) massively multiplayer online universe. This story covers Greymane the worgen leader, Lunara the dryad, and a little discussion about the mountain of new heroes on the list for possible release in the future.

Both Greymane and Lunara are ranged assassins with a heavy focus on basic attacks, but their styles play out very differently.


GamesBeat Summit Next 2022

Join gaming leaders live this October 25-26 in San Francisco to examine the next big opportunities within the gaming industry.

Register Here

See our separate story for tips on the third character: Cho’gall the two-headed, two-player ogre mage, who was too big and too complex to fit into this piece.

Heroes of the Storm

Above: Greymane in his human and worgen forms.

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

How to win with Greymane

“We wanted to add more basic attack heroes into the game,” Hagman said. “We had [StarCraft assassin] Raynor and [Diablo demon hunter] Valla and [Warcraft dwarf] Falstad, if he specs into it — heroes who are very focused on their right-click attack. Lunara was one step towards that. We knew she was coming in, and we knew she was going to be dealing poison abilities.

“So it was like, OK, if we’re going to do two ranged basic attackers, they need to play very differently from each other.”

It was Technical Designer John Hodgson’s idea that they should consider a character who could use ranged attacks but then go into melee form for the kill. They ended up choosing a worgen character, the werewolf-style race in WoW that can shift between wolf form and human form at will. In Warcraft, Genn Greymane is the leader of the pack in the gorgeous and sorely underutilized worgen home city of Gilneas.

“Everyone loves Greymane,” Hagman said, so he was an easy choice from the 200-character drawing board of ideas. “He has a super cool story. The artists were excited to do it. I was just hoping to get a guy with a top hat in. The artists were like, ‘we want him to be the gentleman-duelist, 10-paces-at-dawn sort of guy.'”

Combat with Greymane takes place in two phases. You start in a ranged phase, when he’s human and attacks from a distance, which takes up about 70 percent of gameplay time, Hagman said. That transitions into a melee phase, when he shifts into worgen form and does 30-40 percent additional attack damage.

Kent-Erik Hagman

Above: Heroes of the Storm game designer Kent-Erik Hagman.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

“With Greymane, it’s all about getting your opponents low enough as a human, then leaping in for the kill as a worgen,” he said. “You’re roaming around as a human most of the time, so when it’s worgen time, it’s real, and your opponents know you’re in for blood.”

The swapping mechanics make the character mobile. In both forms, the E button swaps you. As a human, it’s Dark Flight, which triggers worgen form, and in worgen form, it’s Disengage.

“Dark Flight is very much like [StarCraft melee assassin] Kerrigan‘s ravage ability,” he said. “You leap in on an enemy. You transform into a worgen. It puts you in melee range. As soon as you leap in, your button is on a six-second cool down. Disengage has worgen Greymane somersault away, and he pops up as a human, pistol blazing.

“You want to start as a human and wear down your opponents, almost like a Valla. But then, you turn into a Kerrigan or a [StarCraft assassin] Zeratul when they get low.”

The trick is knowing when to make the swap, he said.