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Game Breaker / Heroes of the Storm

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A few characters have been accused of being Game Breakers, particularly throughout the alpha and beta.

  • Healing was considered this early during the beta, when one team had a healer and the other didn't — teamfights are a big part of matches on smaller maps and especially PvP games and the ability to recover more easily/get healing within them was seen as a major advantage for the team with a healer. Complaints lessened once people learned to include healers in their comps.
    • In 2017 the metagame developed to favor double-support compositions, as this allowed teams to quickly and efficiently recover from misplays. In the same vein, double-tank became prominent, resulting in a team that had just one Assassin on it. While this state of affairs wouldn't necessarily be a problem in League of Legends or Dota 2, Heroes is a game about combat; 40% of all characters in the game are Assassins (30 of them, 19 Warriors, 14 Supports, 12 Specialists), and there are four or five other DPS characters masquerading as other classes. Despite this, only two of them were getting picked per match... and they were always "hyper-carries" who could reliably deliver an entire team's worth of damage (if properly babysat), of which there are less than 10. Meanwhile, at least 25% of the Warrior and Support pool were present in every match, as though being overrun by a bunch of Fake Guest Stars. Finally, almost all Supports are Combat Medics in one way or another; pound-for-pound, they are actually more powerful than Heroes from the other categories. The end result was that the same 20 or so Heroes comprised the entire character roster at the 2017 Heroes Global Championship, with the other 55 ignored except for in very rare cases. Blizzard's response was to simply nerf every Healer in the game by about 5%. The real solution — releasing nothing but Warriors and Supports until there are as many of those as there are Assassins — was never contemplated, as it would have required not releasing new Assassins for years.
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  • Every character's been accused of this at some point or another, but special mention must be given to Nova (whose combination of stealth, range, and fast/high damage can destroy unprepared teams, killing players almost before they can react in some cases) and Abathur (who's difficult to play, but very effective, particularly against teams who haven't figured out how he operates) towards the end of the alpha. Blizzard responded to this by nerfing both of them into Tier-Induced Scrappy status at the beginning of the beta, with Thrall seemingly taking their place as a highly complained-about strong character... then nerfed him to ground while Kael'thas reigns as the king of meta, thanks to his high AoE burst designed to melt down team fights, and apparently, a patch that removed one of his key Talents to do so (Ignite) wasn't enough to bring him down yet. His only contenders so far (overpowered hero release) are just Li-Ming and Xul (see below), but in spite of that, Kael'thas is still sitting on top of the meta throne.
  • Sylvanas is at the top of many tier lists, but in the old Haunted Mines map she truly became this. Unlike the other maps' "super units" (the Dragon Knights and the Terror), the bone golems in Haunted Mines do not have a time-limited life. Instead, they disappear only when they are killed, which in the case of strong golems is only feasible with the help of towers and forts. Too bad Sylvanas can stunlock said towers and forts, making them unable to damage her team's golem. Many Haunted Mines games have ended after a team with Sylvanas took a good amount of skulls and wielded an effectively unstoppable golem for a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • And it came back around again in the 2018 Gameplay Update. With towers no longer using ammo, there only being one fort past the gate instead of a fort and tower, and minions hitting for more, Sylvanas' lockdown lost all of its downsides. If left to her devices for even a minute, she can turn all of your defenses off and let the minions chew through a fort like wet paper. She was later altered so she couldn't shut down forts and towers with her abilities (only basic attacks), and even later was totally redesigned and had her trait become a temporary buff on a long cooldown.
  • Li-Ming gained a reputation for this at her launch, and remained one for a while. She has three abilities: Magic Missile, Teleport, and Arcane Orb. Magic Missile is a very useful poke based attack that is a instant cast and will prioritize hitting enemy heroes when they're near; Teleport allows her to escape fights and with the right talent can allow her to deal damage; Arcane Orb throws out a small orb that increases in size, is fast, and if it hits it stuns for a second. Her passive ability automatically refreshes all her cooldowns with a kill. This lead to Li-Ming being able to kill enemy heroes from almost full health simply by combining her abilities at once. Making this even worse is how one of her heroics, called Disintegrate, is a ridiculously fast and powerful Kamehame Hadoken. A Li-Ming player can kill most heroes with simply combing Magic Missiles, Arcane Orb, and Disintegrate. Her two primary weaknesses are her abilities using up a lot of mana and her being a Squishy Mage but both are easily manageable as she gets very powerful talents that can increase her mana regeneration by 100% if she's below half mana. Her talents all increase various parts of her abilities, including allowing Teleport to deal upwards of 500 damage for being near when she hits her spot or, the one players most hate, is her talent Ess of Johan, which makes Arcane Orb, when it damages a enemy, drag the enemy to the center. All of these, combined with her ability to spam heroics when no other hero can, quickly earned her a spot as arguably the most broken character released in the games history after Kael'thas. Li-Ming was so broken in fact, that Blizzard's Nerf for her in the Patch Notes out right states she was "a little too strong right now" and reduced many of her most game breaking talents, with Ess Of Johan being outright removed as well (much like Kael lost his Ignite). While later characters have been clear counters to her like Tracer and Genji, Li-Ming remains an infamous character in the games history.
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  • Xul. He's capable at doing almost everything, being durable enough to take a lot punishment with his Bone Armor and a health pool almost equivalent to Anub'arak's, able to push down waves and forts quickly due to the combination of his spells and passive, and having the damage and crowd control to contribute to ganks and fights very well. That's all combined with very varied and great talents that allow him to be extremely flexible with his builds. Even with his notable flaws, such as a lack of escape and gap-closers and his reliance on his team to get his spells off and fight effectively, he very quickly climbed to the top during the week of his release, and, as of this writing, has the highest winrate in the entire game, with his most popular builds maintaining above a 70% winrate and climbing. His nerfs two weeks after his release, which brought him more in line with the other heroes without making him useless, were well received by the fanbase.
  • Post-rework, there was only one support considered viable. His name is Rehgod. Immediately after the rework, Rehgar had high damage, healing, crowd control, mobility, pushing, and durability, making the entire support class (And to some degree, the warrior class as well) obsolete by comparison. Blizzard spent an entire month nerfing him patch after patch, and he only left the meta after they stopped him from casting his Ancestral Heal on himself.
  • Kael'thas is one of the top Assassin heroes thanks to his multiple Herd-Hitting Attack spells, in a game that emphasizes team brawls. Get too close to each other when his spells go off, and you'll infect your teammates with Living Bomb, make his Flamestrike deals 8% maximum hp damage bonus (particularly painful for tanks, doubly worse if the Flamestrike is talented to explode twice), and his Phoenix dealing way more damage than it deserves. There's been patches that both buffed and nerfed him, but he remains one of the top tier Assassin heroes, even close to 3 years after his release. The Dev Notes also lampshade it in one of the patches:
    Patch Notes: We’re a little uncomfortable with how much single-target burst damage Kael’thas is able to put out with Sun King’s Fury, so we’re toning it down. He threw a fit about it, but we’re sure he’ll manage to find some other way to be a little too powerful. He always does.
  • Samuro can be an absolute terror. He's like a melee-range hybrid of Valla and Nova: the more he hits, the faster he hits and moves; and he can spawn illusory-but-still-damage-dealing copies of himself & turn invisible to escape or position for a kill. If you're sharp, you can tell which of the copies is the real one — it's the one who acts as though his Hit Points matter — but when all three of them literally spawn on top of you, with full HP, in the midst of a teamfight, it can be hard to be that sharp. In the meanwhile, all three of them: get attack- and move-speed buffs every time they hit a hero (which can be strengthened by Talents); deliver Critical Strike (double damage) every few attacks (which can also be strengthened by Talents); and are tangible, meaning they can body-block you into a corner. He will almost certainly be nerfed, hovering at a 62% win-rate as of this writing.
  • Overwatch characters in general can be somewhat problematic. Where the Diablo universe focuses on Stone Walls, StarCraft on Glass Cannons and Warcraft on Mechanically Unusual Fighters, Overwatch specializes in Fragile Speedsters; as of Mei's release into the Nexus, there are nine Overwatch agents in the game and seven of them have (at least!) one Flash Step, Dash Attack, Foe-Tossing Charge, Wall Run or Rocket Jump to their name. That doesn't sound like much of a problem until we start talking about just how prevalent manually-aimed skillshots are in MOBAs, and how valuable mobility is as a result. You can't kill what you can't hit... and most Overwatch characters are very slippery.
  • After his nerfs, Murky had the lowest win rate of all heroes in ranked play, and as a result, tended to get a lot of hate. Good Murky players existed, but people were generally better off picking other heroes. His rework on the Lucio Patch, on the other hand, made him the most overpowered thing since Xul (see above), with effectively no weaknesses and a plethora of abilities that essentially negated all counterplay. It upped his respawn time by an extra 3 seconds, but also greatly increased his health pool, giving him more time to escape from a gank with Safety Bubble. He also received many new, extremely powerful talents. Even if you did take him down, he was still worth a measly 25% XP and respawned shortly after. Most of his talents were nerfed to a more reasonable level by the Probius patch though, keeping him viable, but not unbeatable.
  • Genji was pretty much single-handedly responsible for breaking the entire metagame, easily dethroning Kael'thas as the king of the meta. He's probably the single best diver in the entire game, with nearly unrivaled mobility that lets him easily rip squishy backlines apart and heavily punish enemy slip-ups while being nigh-impossible to punish thanks to Deflect. He also has a good amount of teamfight presence with his Dragonblade Heroic letting him dish out huge amounts of area damage; with his level 20 talent, The Dragon Becomes Me, he can keep Dragonblade active almost indefinitely as long as he can keep hitting heroes with it. All of this pretty much forced most teams to run double Supports and made squishy backline heroes almost extinct, just so that Genji doesn't tear them a new one. Even after being nerfed significantly and repeatedly, he's still a guaranteed pick/ban, with no signs of slowing down. The fact that Blizzard released an entire hero (Maiev) just to counter dive heroes like Genji should speak volumes.
  • Malthael saw almost instant success upon release, with his winrate still climbing in spite of nerfs to his key talents. His kit makes him a potent threat that's very hard to escape from without help, and his immense self-sustain means he's nearly impossible to kill when it matters. Not to mention, his percent-based damage and sticky teleport skill counter tanks and high-mobility heroes respectively; two staples of the then-current meta. He was later refocused into more of an off-laner, relegating him to So Okay, It's Average status.
  • Garrosh for the first few months of his release. Not only was he a generally strong tank, he had one the most punishing kits in the game. His Wrecking Ball was (and remains) a nightmare for any melee hero. Point, click, chuck an enemy to a target location, usually in the middle of your team or into your fort. The only downsides are its targeting system (it picks the nearest enemy, with no priorities over heroes) and its puny grabbing range. The first problem can be alleviated by not fighting in lane, and the second was automatically made up for with the old version of Groundbreaker. While Groundbreaker is a pretty narrow skillshot, all you had to do was land it once to score a free kill. Compared to fellow displacement tanks Artanis and Stitches, Garrosh had less risks and was far less telegraphed, while also having the most rewarding displacement of the three. It was a nightmare to deal with.
    • This lead to an almost total redesign, giving him far lower cooldowns so he's not just a one-trick but removing the pull effect from Groundbreaker entirely. Now he's more focused on personal positioning to land stuns and engage properly, although he still can make major plays with Wrecking Ball. This makes him far easy to handle.
  • While Hanzo saw a fairly lackluster launch, a handful of buffs in the Blaze patch tipped him over the edge. For his base kit, he already has very strong wave clear, can do mercs better than nearly any hero thanks to Scatter Arrow, and is incredibly safe thanks to the long range of Storm Bow, his obscene 7.2 attack range, and quick escape via Natural Agility. He also has a very powerful setup womboing tool which also happens to have global range (and can be upgraded to give him a global teleport with a 20 talent) with Dragon's Arrow. The big thing he lacked was hero damage and teamfight presence - something Blizzard more than made up for. When Blaze was released, Hanzo was given a new level 7 talent called Sharpened Arrowheads. It applied a stacking -5 armor debuff (up to -25) with both his AA and Storm Bow. Keep in mind how safe he and his damage are: this gave him long-lasting, refreshable, flexible damage bonuses for both him and his entire team - either one huge one on a priority target, or lots of little ones on everyone. And he is insanely hard to punish. It turned him into a first pick/ban monster. It was promptly nerfed to only do -4 per hit among general number reductions, but it did little to hamper his power, and it had to be nerfed again to -2 per hit. Even then, he only became reasonable after they dropped his attack range to 6.5.
  • Maiev was an absolute monster at launch. Despite being touted as an anti-mobility hero, she did little to quell Genji's power. Instead, she became another highly mobile assassin, this time capable of teamwide displacement, and with insane survivability and high damage. She terrorized non-mobile squishies, Blinking up to them, binding them to her, then yoinking them directly into her team. Add in a crap-pile of health, ten passive Armor, and an invulnerability button on an eight second cooldown, and Maiev was essentially unpunishable. It was so bad, Blizzard broke their "don't touch balance for at least two weeks so the meta settles" rule in only two days - issuing an emergency nerf that lowered her damage and outright removed her Armor. Later nerfs gutted her damage output, leaving her a high-skill (and still very desirable) CC monster.
  • Fenix is a prime example of a seriously overloaded kit. He is absurdly safe in the early game; because of his shield, he essentially takes no damage until a large chunk of his health is already worn down. That should be fine, since his real health is low and it takes 5 seconds for his shields to start coming back online, but that weakness is made up entirely by Warp. Warp allows him to retreat from a bad situation, let his shields recover, then return completely undamaged. This makes him out-value both sustain and burst opponents in lane. Throw in excellent wave clear with Phase Bomb, excellent sustained damage with Repeater Cannon, and even a slow for kill securing, and you have a hero who can pretty much fill any damage role at no risk. He was released with a 67% winrate and it took nearly a month for him to be balanced.
    • Warp itself is one of these, ignoring Fenix's overall power level. With all teleports, the user is briefly taken off the map, allowing you to potentially disjoint projectiles. For most heroes, this requires pixel-perfect timing. But for whatever reason, Warp's invulnerability period is almost one second long, essentially granting him a 1 second Safety Bubble along with his escape tool.
  • Deathwing was released as an utter pubstomper. He is completely unhealable, and while he has a ton of Hit Points and armor, he's very weak to percentage-based damage and coordinated play... which are purely matters of the Random Number God matchmaker when you're playing Quick Match. Meanwhile, he is permanently immune to all forms of crowd control. In a game where Tank characters have Hit Points, CC and nothing else, this has the side effect of turning one (or more!) of your five teammates into The Load. (Diablo and Anub'arak are two of the best tanks in the game because two of their three Basic Abilities provide crowd control... and thus cannot be used on Deathwing. They literally must fight him one-handed.) It's now a 4v5... and in HotS, outnumbering the enemy is an almost-insurmountable advantage. Meanwhile Deathwing is furnished with a kit that lets him hang back and poke; even if the opponent could win a 4v5 fight, the Deathwing player is not required to offer them one, and can simply win through attrition. The devs are on record as wanting Deathwing players to feel like they can steamroll the entire enemy team singlehandedly. They succeeded, resulting in a character who boasts a 62.4% win rate in QM, and a similarly-lopsided 59.1% in ranked play.
  • Falstad ascended to the top of the tier lists after his early-2021 rework due to the power of his Lightning Rod build. Lightning Rod zaps a target up to seven times if you manage to keep that target within the skill's radius. The opening talent alone is broken: in addition to being a stacking talent, it resets the skill's cooldown if you get a takedown, meaning Falstad can just use it again. Add to this the fact that Falstad is relatively maneuverable — he has a Dash Attack, Barrel Roll, on E, and his Trait increases his movespeed if he hasn't taken damage for a few seconds — and you have an oppressive hero who essentially has an "Instant Death" Radius.

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