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Heroes of Newerth


Heroes of Newerth

Genre: MMO RTS (Real Time Strategy)

Developer:  S2 Games

Type: Free to play


MMO Review

by M. Growcott

Play Heroes of Newerth



See our new Video Review of Heroes of Newerth here->


Up for a challenge?

Heroes of Newerth is a difficult game to get used to if you’re new to the Defence of the Ancients “genre.” A spin-off from the tower defence craze, Heroes of Newerth represents a lot of what is important to the PC crowd: strategy, quick-thinking, teamwork, a wide variety of choices and a lot to sink your teeth into. After taking a bit of flak for being very similar to DotA and now free to play, it’s a game that is a great introduction to the genre or an interesting expansion if you’re used to other games.

It takes some getting used to – those first couple of games will be pretty stressful – but as you find a hero that suits you, you’ll soon start not being entirely thrashed (winning might take a while though…).
The game instantly suggests you get into a tutorial and I suggest you do as well. It’s a fairly narrow genre – you’re unlikely to have played anything much like it if you’re not a DotA fan – and there are a lot of rules you won’t know, even if you’re aware of what the general rules are.

The game has a detailed tutorial

Learn the rules first

It starts at the very basic level, how to move your hero and where you ought to be moving him or her, and then sends you on your merry way, destroying towers and barracks. I’m not a huge fan of tutorials on the whole, they tend to either move way too quickly or not fast enough, and this is one of those unique situations where both are true.

You can skip through the bits where you learn how to right-click to move (and the benefits that can come from movement) and then suddenly come across a new rule involving something you’ve never heard of before and all of a sudden you’re completely lost. You’re left trying to decide whether it’s something so important that you should begin the tutorial again, movement lessons and all, or if you can get away with learning it actually in game. This change of pace can be a little bit annoying if you’re new to the game, but for the life of me I can’t think of a way of delivering all that information as quickly without confusing the player.

Detailed Tutorial

There’s one main tutorial, split into different segments and detailing everything from levelling up to casting deadly spells, getting gold and stealing it from your enemies. In a short 15-20 minute tutorial, you learn everything you need to know to get onto the bottom rung of Heroes of Newerth, and the bottom rung it certainly is. This is the sort of game in which you need to be humiliated for a little bit before you can become an expert and just knowing how to move your character or where you should aim your spells isn’t going to be particularly helpful. From that point on you’ll just need your wits and, just as important, the wits of your allies to get your through.

Fantastic game

Which, although it doesn’t sound it, is entirely frustrating; as somebody completely new to the game, I rely on those around me as I struggle with unfamiliar characters and skills and try to grasp the way the game works. Unfortunately, the community isn’t especially helpful or even particularly nice. More than once my teammates and I have been insulted by individuals for not being able to keep up with more experienced players and, if you’re not thick-skinned, you’ll find yourself wondering why exactly you’re playing. Which is a real shame because, once you get used to it, Heroes of Newerth is a fantastic game.

Kill the NPCs to level up fast

The idea is very simple: you have a place to defend and a place to attack. If the enemy team (and their computer controlled grunts) manage to push their way past your towers and manage to destroy the place you’re supposed to defend, you lose. This is really only a side-strand of the game though, the ultimate objective. The majority of your game will be spent levelling up as quickly as possible by killing NPCs, making your hero as powerful as possible for the latter part of the game. The early part takes the form of a power play, thumping your chest along the tight alleys that make up the map in an attempt to intimidate your enemy into backing off and leaving their most important “pieces” unguarded.

Experience points to unlock magical abilities

As you play, you gain experience for every enemy killed around you and gold for every character you kill personally. Experience is used to unlock and level up magical abilities – some deadly, some used purely to boost the power of your allies – and is key to winning. If you and your allies can level up quickly and make the right decisions as to what skills to grow, there is absolutely no problem in gaining an early upper hand. Money is used to buy new items, health potions and upgrades to your weapons and armour, all key to making you harder to beat and, in the long run, the victor.

Each game (a game lasts around 30 minutes on average from my experience), is incredibly different depending on who you’re up against and more importantly, which hero you, your enemies and allies have picked to represent them. There’s a great variety of characters to choose from over three different categories – Agility, Strength and Intelligence.

Choose your hero

Each character even within the same category, has different strengths and weaknesses and it’ll perhaps take quite a few goes to decide who you’re comfortable with. If you’re a free to play user, you’ll need to spend a little extra to buy new heroes but there’s nothing especially wrong with the characters given to you from the get go. If you’re familiar with the original Defence of the Ancients map, you’ll vaguely recognise some of the heroes, with several apparently basically lifted from the source.

Fun to play: You'll never get bored

There are only a couple of map types available but, thanks to a different strategy utilized by each different person you come across (and a different strategy still for each different hero), they never really seem boring. With a little internet searching, you can find hints and tips towards winning every single time, which I think rather defeats the point, but I don’t believe for a second that there can be any definitive guides, that’s just the nature of the game. In the half hour that it takes to win or lose, there’s more drama, more action than in some $60 games and at least half of the fight it entirely out of your hands – very nail biting stuff.

Good graphics and varied animations

When you actually get a chance to look around and concentrate on something other than getting your ass kicked, you’ll probably notice that the graphics are pretty good. Battle animations are varied, the locations are good enough not to completely put you off playing but not so fantastic that the average person won’t be able to run the game without upgrades, it’s a sweet spot that many developers miss completely but Heroes of Newerth has it down to a T. Sound, similarly, has a pretty amazing effect on play and it doesn’t take long for the blood to be pumping AND covering the battlefield.

Finding games can take a little a while, a couple of minutes in 3V3, but not all too much longer than the average multiplayer game. The only difference as far as I can see is that you spend your time looking at a counter, as well as the “average time to get a game,” which isn’t a great thing to show. After a few seconds above the average time, you find yourself looking at your watch and questioning just what the hell is going on. Objectively, it’s not a big deal, and I’ve looked at this paragraph multiple times, trying to decide if I’m just whining. Then I go and try and get into a game and everything I say is confirmed. I think it might just be that damn timer.

Play Heroes of Newerth

Incredibly fun to play

Heroes of Newerth is a game that will not appeal to everybody. The community take it very seriously, almost too seriously, and expect you to take it just as seriously. If you’re one of those people who have ever said some variation on the phrase “it’s only a game,” you’ll probably find yourself way out of your depth. It’s enjoyable though, incredibly good fun, although I’m not sure some people would like to admit there was that side to such serious business. If you’re new to PC gaming and want to see what it’s all about, I think this game is a great example, but ultimately you’ll need to decide whether buying new things is at all worth it.

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