Posted September 3, 2011 by Arec Phanthapanya in Video Game Reviews

Heroes of Newerth Review

*Disclaimer – This is a long review.  I can’t exactly review this game in a short fashion that would give a feel of how this game plays*


With the MOBA genre increasing in popularity, there are a slew of games that are being released to try and get their hand in the cookie jar.  It all started with a Warcraft III custom map named Defense of the Ancients or more popularly known as DotA.  DotA is arguably the father of MOBA gaming.  However, DotA was restricted and constrained by the engine on Warcraft III.  With that said, it became a race for developers to create a game that was similar or as addictive as DotA.

That is where Heroes of Newerth comes in.  Heroes of Newerth, or HoN for short, was S2 Games  attempt to recapture the essence of DotA.  In the beginning stages, HoN caused a lot of controversy with critics saying that it was an exact port to DotA without offering anything new to the table.  It also drew a lot of comparisons to its only competition at the time, League of Legends, but that is another story.

While you can say that Heroes of Newerth is an exact carbon copy of DotA (it even has some of the same heroes, abilities, and items), I must say that it plays completely different from DotA.  Coming from about a year of DotA experience myself, HoN is generally a faster paced game than DotA.  If you were to switch between the two, then it would almost seem as if you were playing a completely different game.  The gameplay difference is just huge despite being the same game in essence.  Not only that, HoN came with a $30 price tag that many felt was overpriced due to already having access to DotA and/or League of Legends as an alternative to DotA (which is Free to Play).

Now that almost a year has past, Valve’s cease and desist order to stop the porting of DotA heroes, and S2 Games decision to make HoN Free to Play, HoN has grown away from being that carbon copy of DotA.  It is an extremely fun game and very addicting as well, especially if you are the competitive gamer.  However, I will have to warn you about the community.  MOBA games in generally have a pretty bad community and HoN is not any different.  In fact, one would even say HoN has THE worst community in the history of online gaming.  The trolls are strong in this game and if you have a weak, internet trolling capacity, then I would suggest you to stay away from this game (or just ignore every text/voice although that is not recommended because communication plays a very big role in this game).

Another thing that should be mentioned is that HoN has an extremely high learning curve.  If you played League of Legends, then you should know that it is an easy game to pick up.  HoN is not the same.  Sure, it may seem easy at first, but as you get higher in the brackets, more techniques and mechanics will be called for in order to compete.  HoN is also merciless.  One person can completely ruin the game (as well as your experience with the game) because they either do not want to participate or are just being bad sports.  Also, asking for help or even telling your own team or the opposing team that you are new to the game will likely get you kicked from that game.  So if you are new to the game, then it would be wise to just seek out help and training on forums before jumping into games and asking the random players for help.  Usually they are just a bunch of trolls anyway.


Okay, enough about the background.  Time for what you can for.

The goal of the game is simple, destroy the other team’s throne before they destroy yours.  Each team consist of five players.  Each player has the ability to pick a hero/champion and each hero are categorized by HoN by either Agility, Strength, or Intelligence.  For a general understanding of these classes:


Agility heroes are usually your “carry” heroes.  They are the DPSers if you are familiar with those terms.  They are the ones that will “carry” you to victory because they generally have the highest damage output at the end of the game.


Strength heroes can be defined as your tanks.  The ones that will be soaking up damage, initiating battles, and so on.


Intelligence heroes are usually your casters.  They are the ones that will be focusing on their skills to cause immense burst damage, supporting your team with their skills, or just disabling the enemy team.

Even though HoN categorize these heroes into Agility, Strength, or Intelligence, it does not necessarily mean that those heroes are destined to be carries, casters, and so on.  They are not restricted to those roles just because they are Agility, Strength, or Intelligence.  There are heroes that are categorize as Intelligence but are meant to be played as carry heroes, Strength heroes that are meant to be played as casters, and Agility heroes that are meant to be played as support.  Basically, every hero does not have to be played a certain way just because of their class, but each hero does have a role where they are best at.  For example, Puppet Master is classified as an Intelligence hero.  From the look of his first two skills, one would think he was meant to help disable enemies.  However, his last two skills contradict the disabler role.  His last two skills are meant to dish out damage, so what role does that put Puppet Master in?  Well, he can be played as a disabler if you wish to play him that way, but Puppet Master is actually one of the best carries in the game despite being an Intelligence hero.

Now before you even get to the throne, you’ll have to get through a total of 11 towers total that are built to protect the throne.  Every other building is there to just give you a bounty when you destroy them.  You start at level 1 and the max level is 25.  As you fight creeps and heroes, you will gain experience and gold.  That gold that you gain will be used to buy items that will give you an advantage over the opposing enemy heroes.  Also, if you kill enemy heroes, they lose  gold which means they are prevented from buying items that will help them in the long run.  With that said, it is basically a race to see who can get to the throne and destroy it the fastest OR who can beat up and hinder the opposing team the most to the point where they do not want to play any longer (which means they concede).

Each hero is unique from each other and there are about 80 heroes in total, give or take.  There are also items that can give different effects and abilities as well.  For example, there is an item called Shrunken Head and it basically gives you invulnerability to all spells for a set duration.  This is an essential item for all heroes but are most important for carry heroes.  The map is quite large.  There are three “lanes” where most of the action will occur.  Creeps will spawn in those lanes.  It is up to the team to decide how to distribute the heroes.  Keep in mind that experience is shared within a certain area which means the more heroes in the lane, the more of an experience advantage you will be giving the opposing enemies.  Usually, you will see lanes distributed as 2-1-2, which is two heroes top, one in the middle, and two heroes at the bottom.  There are also other maps as well, but Forest of Caldavar (the 5v5 map) will be the most popular one.

Games usually average to about thirty minutes.  Games can also be as short as fifteen minutes or as long as two hours depending on how long you and your enemies are willing to drag the game.  With that said, HoN is definitely not a game that you can sit down and play for a quick game.  It will definitely be a game that you want to invest a large amount of time in or at least have a good amount of time to play.  Now, it is not at MMORPG time investing levels, but it is pretty damn close if you want to be at least good at the game.


With all of that said, HoN is a pretty fun game if you can get past the bad community.  Almost all of the heroes are fun to play and every game can be a different experience from the last.  There will always be competition, so if you are a competitor, then this is the game for you.  There is no harm in trying the game out now since it is free to play, so I would suggest you at least give it a try.  Coming from someone who has been playing HoN for more than a year and DotA for even longer, there are not many games that give me the adrenaline, excitement, and just sheer fun that these type of games do.  Then again, I am really bad at shooters.  Nonetheless!  HoN is my Call of Duty and I would at least give it a chance.

What You’ll Like:

  • Competition
  • Clan organization/scrimmages
  • Graphics
  •  Alternate Avatars/Skins
  • A Ratings/Ranking Ladder
What You’ll Hate:
  • A Community Mainly Consisting of Trolls
  • Disorganization
  • Ragers, QQers, AFK, and Disobedient players
  • S2 Games’ business model
  • Lack of communication from the developers

Final Verdict:


I will not do a Buy It, Rent It, Skip It segment since HoN is F2P.  You can check it out on your own time and then decide if you want to keep playing or not for yourself.  I will mention that although I do enjoy playing HoN, HoN will get EXTREMELY frustrating at times.  Personally, I dislike trolls.  I am sure we all do, but I can only ignore so much before I just have to say, “I’ve had enough” and take a break from the game.  With that said, keep that in mind and hopefully your first experience will not be ruined by those bad members of the community.


Arec Phanthapanya

I did not choose the thug life. The thug life chose me. Contributer to the GPR show!