At Blizzcon 2019, we got an in-depth look at the newest hero for Heroes of the Storm: Deathwing. As production director Kaéo Milker put it, Deathwing is “the biggest thing” to come to the Nexus so far. Designed from the ground up to feel like a final boss, he plays very differently from everyone else on the current roster.
For starters, Deathwing is huge, and not just figuratively. He has possibly the largest hero radius in Heroes of the Storm. As he strolls around the battleground, he separates and body-blocks his opponents while spacing out his own team. His presence alone impacts positioning gameplay around him.
Additionally, Deathwing has access to an arsenal of area-denial abilities in his base kit. Lava Burst and Molten Flame can block off pathways continuously, while Earth Shatter can disrupt an entire enemy team as they attempt to dive or retreat. To top it all off, at level 10 he can unlock the Roar ability: a large area-of-effect spell that damages and Fears all enemy heroes hit. This is only the second instance of Fear CC in Heroes of the Storm, after Gul’dan’s Horrify.
High skill ceiling dragon
Considering how lumbering and brutal everything about him is on the surface, Deathwing is a surprisingly intricate hero to play. Using him effectively is rather complex. For starters, he can freely switch between two separate skill sets: Destroyer and Worldbreaker. As a Destroyer, Deathwing is an outstanding duelist with a lot of raw damage output. In Worldbreaker form, he instead gains additional zoning and CC abilities.
In Heroes of the Storm, Deathwing also has to manage more cooldowns than most other heroes. Instead of mounting up, he takes off with Dragonflight, which is also his only sustain ability. In effect, his Z is another ability, and it can be put on a short cooldown by taking or dealing damage.
He also only has one heroic ability, Cataclysm, but he gets access to it at level 1. The reasons for this are entirely thematic, as the developers were candid enough to reveal. Deathwing just didn’t feel like himself without Cataclysm, and play-testers were reluctant to pass it up for other options. Consequently, his ultimate is a part of his base kit.
Deathwing is not a team player
Playing as the arrogant dragon may feel a little bit like playing solo mode inside a team game. This is because, in Heroes of the Storm, Deathwing has very little interaction with his own team, other than tanking for them. To counter-balance his innate strengths – and the fact that he is permanently Unstoppable – he cannot receive friendly buffs in any way. Deathwing gains no armor, speed, or damage bonuses from friendly abilities, although he can still get map objective buffs.
He also cannot be healed, although that should not be a problem. Dragonflight heals Deathwing at a high rate of 2.5 percent max health per second, while also making him completely invulnerable. While on the ground, he is incredibly tanky. He has the biggest health pool in the game – more than Stitches or Cho’Gall – and has passive 40 armor.
However, like an inverse version of Garrosh, Deathwing becomes more fragile as he takes damage. With every 25 percent of his health gone, he loses 10 armor. In that way, arrogance can quickly become his undoing. As Deathwing, you must be careful not to rely too much on your innate superiority. Respect your limits in order to win.