This week S2 Games has decided to bring their game Heroes of Newerth to the masses by making it free-to-play. HoN’s competitor League of Legends has been free-to-play from the beginning, S2 hopes this move will expand their player base, letting gamers try the game before purchasing/earning more content.
Existing paid accounts have been upgraded to Legacy accounts with access to all the current heroes. Free accounts are limited to one game mode, “All Pick” and can only choose from 15 heroes.
This pool of 15 will be rotated every couple of weeks to give free accounts the ability to try new heroes. If you want to keep a character available to you for good, you’ll have to purchase it from the in-game shop.
Heroes of Newerth players can get pretty fired up about having to play with noob players. Verified/Legacy accounts select an option that will put them in games with other Verified/Legacy players. A new account will stay “Basic” until the player spends some real world money on Goblin Coins. Alternatively, you can become a Verified account through accumulating a certain number of playtime hours. Being Verified opens up access to all the modes of play such as Single Draft and All Random.
This creates a gating mechanism that helps to ensure games aren’t ruined by trolls on new accounts that have nothing to lose from being banned. Although, I’ve yet to see an effective method of keeping all trolls at bay, I do like this idea.
With this new model roll-out also comes two new heroes; Drunken Master and Monkey King.
The Drunken Master is based off Jackie Chan in his role as a martial arts student in the style of Drunken Boxing.
The Monkey King is based off the Monkey character from, Journey to the West(classical Chinese tale). Similar to Monkey Magic or Goku from Dragonball.
One of the controversial new features introduced is the, “Early Access” system. Players can pay to have access to a hero a couple of weeks early compared to other gamers. At the moment Monkey King is the Early Access hero.
Personally I don’t mind waiting for an extra few weeks before being able to play Monkey King. Some players are getting furious on the forums though, with threats of quitting HoN because of this change.
The argument is, S2 has gone back on their word of promising to never sell power. Fans believe that not being able to select an Early Access hero will imbalance the game in favour of those who paid for it.
I think there will be a sea of rage for some time. We gamers don’t like change, once we get settled the QQing may die down a little. Personally I would like to see Legacy accounts purchasable for a one time fee of $50 or something.
Some may scoff at that price, but you had a chance to buy the game a month ago for $10. Too bad, you missed out. But purchasing all the current heroes sets a player back $300 if they use real world money. Luckily coins can be earned by playing, but still, to get access to the full content immediately, $300 is too steep.
Ultimately, I recommend giving the game a try, now that it’s free-to-play there is one less excuse not to test it out.