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Heroes of the Storm’s huge 2.0 update adds major, Overwatch-style changes

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Loot boxes, a new progression system and more

Blizzard Entertainment is revamping Heroes of the Storm, it’s free-to-play online battle arena game. Entering beta today, version 2.0 adds a variety of new content, while leaving some longstanding features behind.

Game director Alan Dabri outlined this “bold new era” for Heroes of the Storm in a developer’s update, covering much of what looks different in the game’s next iteration.

The highlights include a new progression system, with hero level caps removed and a flatter experience curve than the game has currently. Players now increase their characters’ level beyond 20, the previous cap.

The separate player level has also been streamlined. It will now reflect the “total sum of all hero levels you’ve obtained,” Dabri explained. Before, the player level became inscrutable after hitting level 40, giving them little way to gauge how much time they’d spent on the game.

This is meant to make progression more meaningful, and it’s the banner feature of the 2.0 update. But Blizzard is also revamping the reward system to make it more like another one of its popular multiplayer games, Overwatch. Instead of doling out currency or skins upon leveling up, Blizzard is giving Heroes of the Storm players a loot chest every time a hero levels up.

Loot chests include “nearly any item” in the game, Dabri explained. These include randomly dropped cosmetic items, colors and heroes, even rarer ones — like Cassia, a new character for the game who comes from Diablo 2. While these items previously required players to earn them or purchase them with actual cash, loot chests give them another way to gather some of the game’s many items. They can also use in-game currency to pick up new heroes.

There’s also a new currency, shards, that players can use to purchase cosmetic items. These previously required spending real-world money in the game’s initial version. Shards come from duplicate loot chest drops, so players will likely amass them with ease.

Other features coming are sprays, stickers and announcer packs, a la fellow MOBA Dota 2.

“We’re going to continue to support and expand it with balance adjustments, gameplay improvements and more,” Dabri promised players at the end of the update. With more frequent communication about updates teased, perhaps players can look forward to Heroes of the Storm adopting another classic Overwatch feature: regular developer update videos, which are widely beloved by fans.

Update: The beta for version 2.0 is actually live today, March 29, and the full update will be available April 25.