Heroes of Newerth: A Free To Play Cross-Platform Action RTS [Windows, Mac & Linux]
<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/intro15.jpg” />Here’s something you don’t see every day – a competent, multiplayer strategy game that plays nice with all three major operating systems… for free! Heroes of Newerth is the name, and team-based Warcraft-esque online strategy is the game.
Originally released as a full-price game in May 2010, Heroes of Newerth has just gone free to play – and that means no subscriptions or retail costs whatsoever. Read on to find out whether it’s set to become your next hopeless video gaming addiction.
Inspired By Warcraft
Introducing Heroes of Newerth, or HoN for short, a fairly brisk-paced multiplayer RTS that takes its inspiration from the hallowed Defense of the Ancients Warcraft III expansion map. Those of you who remember the original map, have played the fan-made tribute Defense of the Ancients, or are enjoying League of Legends will instantly recognize HoN’s style of play.
The game pits two teams against each other – the Legion and the Hellbourne – each beginning the match at opposite sides of the map. On a standard map there are 3 main avenues known as “lanes” that lead to the opposition’s base, and these are where much of the action takes place.
Each team has a primary structure in their base which they must defend (the Hellbourne’s Sacrificial Shrine and the Legion’s Tree of Life) at all costs or else it’s game over. These are the basics, and they’re easy to grasp – of course there’s much more to HoN, as any seasoned veteran will tell you.
Download & Register
To get HoN up and running you’ll first need to download the client for your particular operating system from. Download sizes vary, though all are around 600MB.
With your client downloading you can now register a new account. Install the game as per your usual methods (Linux users will need to execute the .sh file, which may require root), launch it and login using the account you just created. That’s that, you’re good to go.
Note: This was tested on a 64bit Windows 7 system, and at first I encountered repeated crashes on the desktop. I later learned that his was an issue with my nVidia graphics card and updating to the latest drivers at nVidia.com resolved the issue.
Gameplay, Heroes & Experience
After logging in, you should see an info-packed menu with news, several options and the lobby chat room. The easiest way to get a game is via the Play Now button, simply choose your map, game mode and player locations before hitting Solo Matchmaking to join up with some strangers or Team Matchmaking if you’ve already got friends who play the game (you will be prompted to invite them). At this stage you may have noticed a few limitations with the free account, which will be “basic” until you reach level 5 and buy some “goblin coins”, the in-game currency.
Once you’ve done this your account will change from basic to “verified” and you will be able to choose to play only against other verified accounts and have access to other game modes, though you can continue to play with a basic account. On the right hand side of this screen there’s a tutorial available, which is undoubtedly the best place to start.
There is actually quite a lot to master in Heroes of Newerth, so don’t skip the tutorial as it’s the quickest and easiest way to learn by example. On a standard 5v5 map there are 3 lanes, and non-player characters called “creeps” will spawn and run along these lanes until they encounter enemies to attack.
It is up to the (human-controlled) heroes to play up to their strengths and abilities without getting quite as involved as the creeps. Experience is gained simply for being near enemies when they die, with gold awarded for damage inflicted and bonus gold for getting that all-important final strike on a foe.
Accompany your hordes of creeps up the lane, killing enemies, destroying structures and earning experience and gold along the way. It is also possible to kill any creatures you encounter along the way (that are not allied with you or the enemy) for additional experience and rewards.
Winning a match will credit your account with goblin gold (which you can also buy, remember) which is used to unlock further characters, of which there are 84 at the time of writing. On average you’re looking at spending 40-50 minutes on a single match, with the option to surrender (4 out of 5 required) after 15 minutes.
Any resemblance of resource or base management (mining and so on) has been removed, and gold is the only commodity you can spend in-match. It’s a strategy game with a twist, though a familiar format to many.
If HoN strikes you as a game you might enjoy, then you should probably start downloading it right now. The game still feels like a full-price retail product, albeit with a few restrictions on free accounts, with fluid graphics, a fitting art style and hordes of players waiting for a game.
If you don’t like magic and goblins then maybe you’d be more at home with a free shooter instead ?
Have you played Heroes of Newerth? Did you like it? Did you pay for it? Will you be playing in future? Cast your judgement in the comments, below.