The Lost Vikings is a Hero — or set of Heroes — very few Heroes of the Storm players will be able to play effectively. Blizzard knows, accepts, and embraces this.
“It’s our first insane-difficulty hero,” Lead Game Producer Kaeo Milker told IGN. “They’re controllable individually, they’re controllable as a group….The real way to play them is to control them independently.”
This is tough, because none of the three are particularly powerful. They’re a balancing act, capable of jungling individually at the risk of being caught out, particularly if you’re not watching. They can claim the Dragon Knight statue in Dragonshire from top to bottom by themselves. They’re great in lane, strong in pushing back waves of enemy minions with a simultaneous Spin to Win skill that deals damage in an area — or three areas, as the case may be.
Milker admits that the Vikings is a Hero “that isn’t for everybody, but we’re trying to give players options.” For those with higher skill, who find characters like Raynor, Nova, or Lili too simple, sending three characters into the fray at once holds pretty interesting appeal.
The three operate differently, as it turns out, and in charming ways as well as challenging ones. They mostly share skills, and they don’t have a ton of activatable skills. Erik, the petite, ginger Viking, runs faster than the others, so he’s typically in battle sooner than his brethren. He deals minimal damage at a range, and is great for harassment. Baelog is slightly slower, and deals damage from a mid-range by chucking swords at his foes. Olaf, meanwhile, waddles slowly, and closes the gap aggressively, initiating with a charge and following up with gut-based melee strikes. Olaf is obviously the best.
When one Viking falls, the others continue fighting — unlike Dota 2’s Meepo, whose clones vanish when only one dies — and respawns individually. I forgot, on multiple occasions, that I had a Hero lazily eating meat in the base, waiting for an order. I am not terribly good at Heroes of the Storm, or The Lost Vikings, but I am increasingly interested in both.
Also, their Ultimate ability has them group up in a floating boat that blows stuff up.
Blizzard looked at its catalogue of notable legacy Heroes outside the Big Three — Diablo, Warcraft, StarCraft. The Lost Vikings was, for four years, always in Blizzard’s face.
“Lost Vikings really came to fruition because of requests we got,” Milker explained. “Lost Vikings was the common thing we were always asked about. So we started taking it to heart. They were on our list and something we were building towards. We knew that it would be really cool to do one of our classic characters, and we’re finally getting to them.”
They may not be the last of Blizzard’s more obscure, older games to appear in Heroes of the Storm. “We talked about getting Blackthorne in there, we can have Snake Sanders from Rock n’ Roll Racing.”
Another fun fact: Sam Didier, Art Director on Heroes of the Storm, worked on The Lost Vikings, and reimagined the aesthetic for the new version. New colors, new weapons, and new skills played into reimagining The Lost Vikings — a Hero I’m hoping shows up in the Heroes of the Storm beta next year. Because I miss them, and this is a delightful, interesting, and satisfying way to bring them back.
Original Story by Mitch Dyer