With release, there are likely to be a lot of people asking about which Hero they should buy/play, and what each one is like. I’ll avoid any sort of ‘Tier List’ and just focus on how a Hero behaves in-game and what their niche is. I do not own or play every single Hero, so feel free to chime in if you think I’m missing important details about anybody in particular.
Falstad- The most mobile of all Assassins. His ability to be everywhere on the map and deal considerable burst is his greatest strength. Often times, you will want to use Falstad to solo push or collect XP, and then fly him to wherever he is needed. Whether you build him for auto-attacks or as a spell-slinger, this Dwarf packs a wallop.
Illidan- The master of evasion. This Hero starts out somewhat weak early on, but scales tremendously into late-game. He can be great at both chasing to secure kills and escaping with his skills, but requires a team to be built around him to maximize his potential. Use him to cap mercs in his down-time, and as a janitor during fights.
Jaina- The cold killing machine. Jaina has amazing spell damage that is best when used in combinations. Her spells are made even more potent by the slows they give, which can set up kills and combos, as well as give her some escapability. Be careful with your positioning though, she has very low health and can be focused down extremely quick if caught unawares.
Kael’thas- “Kill It with fire” is his strategy, and he does it well. Kael’thas functions similar to Jaina in that he has fantastic burst spell damage, but very little health. Since he has no ability to take escape Talents like Sprint and doesn’t apply Slows, he is actually more punishing if a mistake is made in positioning. However, his Trait boosting his abilities means he can dish out some of the highest damage in the game.
Kerrigan- The Queen of Combos. A squishy melee Assassin, Kerrigan is at her best when you use her to exploit bad positioning and chase enemies on the run. A full Q-W-E combo from her almost certainly means death when she has teammates nearby to follow up. Her AoE abilities can clear waves quickly if needed, but her main focus should be securing kills.
Nova- One of the biggest backline killing Heroes. Nova tends to hide behind the enemy and finish them off as they retreat. Her cloaking makes her difficult to spot, but she’s not invisible (look for the shimmer). She shouldn’t be trying to deal sustained damage, and should never be used to clear minion waves.
Raynor- Blizzard’s idea of a good starter Hero. He is decently easy to learn, but does have depth to keep him interesting for veterans. His solid range, damage, and attack speed make his auto-attack surprisingly potent and his self-heal makes him arguably the most beefy ranged Assassin in the game. Lastly, knowing when (and when not) to use your Q knockback is an essential skill for every Raynor player.
Thrall- Another very solid melee damage Assassin. He does a ton of damage, but is extremely weak to kiting if you miss his root. His ability to duel and bully enemies with his self-sustain is great solo and in team-fights, and both of his Ults are very powerful when used correctly.
Tychus- This hero is capable of the highest auto-attack damage in the game, but at the cost of having a shortened range. The ability to run n gun with his Q spell helps make him a solid source of damage in a chase composition, and he can whittle down opponents while retreating. He does have solid self-sustain if built for it, and two very viable Ults.
Valla- Alongside Raynor, this is one of the easiest Assassins to learn and her kit makes her very popular as a source of sustained damage. With good auto-attacks, a short cool-down AoE, a solid single-target damage spell, an escape, two perfectly viable Ults and great talent choices, you’ll likely see her quite often in the nexus. If you’re not sure which Assassin to try out, I suggest Valla.
Zeratul- The most Cloak and Dagger style Assassin in the game. Zeratul is great at sneaking up, stabbing you (and everyone near you), and teleporting away. Like Nova, Zeratul isn’t so good at sustained damage, but is great at harassing or cleaning up retreating enemies. He does do better than Nova at wave clearing though, mostly due to his Q ability doing AoE.
Brightwing- This healer is great at ruining the day of the enemy. Her spells are used to provide great CC on high priority targets and to help teammates in trouble get away. Like Falstad, BW can have a global map presence by teleporting across the map to nearby team-mates. However, Brightwing does not always function as the best healing focused-support, as BW does not have any targeted healing until level 10 (assuming you pass up on Emerald Wind).
LiLi- An often underestimated and very aggressive Support, LiLi is another Hero that scales extremely well into late game. At level 20, a healing spec’d LiLi puts out the highest raw healing in the game. Be mindful of the fact her healing is not targeted though. For anybody trying Support for the first time, I’d recommend this Hero.
Malfurion- One of the most versatile Supports, he can dish out some of the best healing in the game, or very solid damage with great poke for objective denial. Also the only Hero that gives out mana to the team with his Trait, which can have a huge impact throughout the game. His AoE root is a big factor in separating a good Malfurion from a mediocre one.
Rehgar- A very powerful healer with great escapability, Rehgar is very strong in chase compositions. His unique mount trait allows him to chase down enemies, hit them, and potentially slow them with his E. It also makes escaping bad engagements or diving to save a teammate possible. Combine that with his raw healing and ability to boost melee damage, and his Ultimate, the biggest single-target burst-heal in the game, and you have a very strong Support kit.
Tassadar- Not what you’d expect from your usual Support Hero, Tassadar is more of a ‘Utility Support’ in that he focuses more on Shielding, Area Control, and Vision. He is a fantastic counter to stealth units with his Trait being able to reveal them at a great distance and his Psionic Storm can do tons of damage to enemies foolish enough to stand in it. Also, possibly the hardest Hero to kill with his Dimensional Shift, especially with the right Talents.
Tyrande- Another Hero that is more of a ‘Utility Support’, Tyrande is a very difficult but highly rewarding Hero to play. Like Tassadar, she doesn’t have as much healing as other Supports and generally shouldn’t be used as a solo Support. However, her ability to get Vision, provide Stuns, and boost Damage with her Trait more than makes up for it in my opinion. Be careful with her positioning though, as her health pool is very low and she doesn’t get access to any escapes until level 13.
Uther- This is quite possibly the most well-rounded Support Hero. He has great crowd control, solid healing, and the ability to spec into a few good builds. Also, his trait allows for him to heal others after death for a limited duration, and even resurrect after level 20. With two Ults that are viable and an interesting kit, he’s a Support you’ll likely see frequently in the Nexus.
Abathur- Quite possibly the most unique Hero in the Nexus. His job is to be both everywhere and nowhere. Pushing lanes with his Locusts, giving friendly Heroes Symbiotes (hats) for Shields/Damage, and either contributing to teamfights or split pushing with his Ult is what this Hero will be doing all game. Also, please note that just because Abathur isn’t moving doesn’t mean that they are AFK. A lot of what Abathur players do is done while stationary.
Azmodan- This Hero specializes in creating and buffing minions with his W and D spells to help push a lane. Those spells, combined with his AoE fireballs (that can be shot extremely long-distance) and his E beam of death make him a very potent lane killer if ever left unattended. However, he has little to no escapability and is extremely weak to crowd-control, so players have to be very careful about positioning and map awareness to keep from getting ganked.
Gazlowe- This Hero is all about owning an area. He places Turrets to damage anything nearby, bombs to deny space/punish people for not retreating, and shoots a ‘Lazor’ at anybody still silly enough to stick around. He will likely spend the majority of the game in-lane or capturing mercenaries (for those of you from other MOBAs, he’s the closest thing to a Jungler Heroes has). His two Ults offer great utility, although they contribute to very different play-styles.
The Lost Vikings- A difficult to master Hero, TLV challenges you to control 3 separate but weaker Heroes simultaneously. This allows you to soak XP, capture objectives/mercenaries, or contribute to team-fights simultaneously. With great escapes and the ability to be very powerful when grouped up, they are quite rewarding when a player knows how best to balance separating for an advantage and grouping up for added strength. Each death only gives the enemy a fraction of the XP of most kills, so don’t be too timid.
Murky- MRLGH!!! Was that annoying? Good. This Hero is all about being as obnoxious as possible. Murky has the ability to lay an egg from which he will hatch 5 seconds after death. The egg can be repositioned throughout the game though. Murky kills are only worth ¼ a kill unless both him and his egg are destroyed simultaneously. He’s a great lane pusher early game, and late-game can be great at singling out and killing squishy Heroes. Plus, he will literally beat people to death with a shark, so that’s kinda cool.
Sgt. Hammer- This Hero is all about positioning. With her Siege ability, she can create a fairly wide AoE ‘kill zone’ 360 degrees around her. However, the trade-off is that she is immobile in that state. This makes Hammer a very powerful lane pusher. However, rather than a mount she has the ability to speed herself up for a limited time. A solid escape, but it has a long-ish cool-down and runs out quickly if she is stunned or rooted. To defend against being jumped, she can lay mines with Q or push enemies back with W. Her Napalm Strike Ultimate has the shortest cool-down of any Ultimate in the game at 6 seconds, and strongly affects how she plays if you pick it.
Sylvanas- This Specialist deals damage on par with many Assassins, and can be played as either role. No matter how you build her, the ability to shut down enemy minions and defensive structures via her Trait is nothing to scoff at. As such, a Sylvanas in lane demands a response from the enemy before they lose everything. Her very small health-pool can make her a prime target for ganking. Fear not though, she has a teleport ability and can fire her Q spell while on the move to soften up enemies in pursuit/being pursued. Lastly, her Wailing Arrow Ult can almost single-handedly turn the tide of team-fights.
Nazeebo- This is another Specialist who plays similar to an Assassin. His Zombie wall is a damaging trap, and can do very considerable damage to any Hero caught within. His Q Spiders grant additional poke damage, as well as his E Toads providing decent AoE. While he doesn’t rip through lanes quite as fast as some other Specialists, his ability to damage and secure kills still makes him quite strong. Both of his Ults are viable choices, and any enemy damaged by him will be poisoned to take additional damage over time. One last note- his Zombie Wall can be dropped by pressing W again, so if you trap a team-mate please let them out.
Zagara- This Zerg Hero summons the Swarm to attack enemies, while spreading Creep Tumors across the map which provide vision and a Healing/Speed boost to her and her minions. She is a strong lane bully early game, and her W will force any Hero to back up to their gate or take massive damage. Her Q Banelings deal AoE in a slow traveling line and her E drops a bomb of Roachlings. Her Ults allow her to travel globally via Nydus Network, or use a powerful AoE Trap with great utility in team-fights.
Anub’arak- While not quite as tanky as most Warriors, this bug has great utility. He has some of the best crowd control in the game, and deals decent damage. That damage is augmented by his Beetles, which he will release with the use of every spell. Due to his less than tanky nature, he is a bit more reliant on teammates to Heal/Shield him. However, with two Supports and/or another Warrior by his side, Anub’arak is a scary scarab indeed.
Arthas- Once a powerhouse in the Nexus, Arthas went through some changes and is currently struggling. However, with some tweaks, he’ll likely be back on top due to his great kit. His E is toggled, and any Hero standing within it is slowed/damaged. Along with that, he has a powerful root, the ability to do damage or heal himself with his Q, and his Trait can boost his damage while refilling his mana. Mix in one of his two viable Ults, and you have a great kit that just needs a little help.
Chen- The tankiest tank that ever tanked, with an extreme weakness to crowd control. This Hero doesn’t do as much damage as other Warriors outside of his combos, but can self-sustain nearly permanently with his brew if the enemy doesn’t have any hard crowd-control available. He can be used to hold an area and absorb the enemy’s attacks, as well as be talented to help sustain allies. His Ults are extremely impactful, and both are viable depending on the circumstances.
Diablo- The Lord of Terror, this Hero is all about setting up combos with his abilities. He is unique in that as enemies near him die, he will become stronger and more resilient until maxing out at 100 Souls captured. After becoming maxed out, he can drain his Soul count upon death to revive 5 seconds later. Use him to initiate fights or punish squishy Heroes who are out of position, but try to limit deaths to remain at max power for as long as possible.
E.T.C.- A very beefy master of crowd control, ETC has great stuns, knock back, and self-heal. He can be spec’d to increase his damage, or to help buff/heal his allies. Both of his Ults are viable, with one giving him a global presence and the other an AoE stun. Be careful with your knock back pushing enemies out of your teammates spells though.
Muradin- This Warrior is a master of self-sustain thanks to his trait healing him out of battle. Combine that with his high health pool, great crowd control, and a leap that can be used for initiation or escapes, and you have a very well rounded Hero. He has two viable Ults, but his damage is relatively low. However, you can improve his damage later in the game with the right talent choices.
Sonya- This Warrior has a smaller health pool, but gets fantastic self-sustain and damage in return. She’s a midway point between Warrior and Melee Assassin, and generally shouldn’t be used as a team’s only Warrior. Also, instead of mana, her spells use ‘Fury’, which is generated by landing her Q skillshot, taking damage or doing basic attacks.
Stitches- This Hero has quite possibly the best initiation skill in the game with his hook. Combining that with his decent AoE and self-heal makes for a pretty solid kit. While Stitches was once King of the Storm, he was recently nerfed and is struggling now. Look for some changes headed his way in future patches.
Tyrael- This Hero, like Sonya is slightly less tanky in exchange for better damage. He has the ability to teleport to his AoE skill, making him quick to close on enemies and great at escaping. If you don’t escape, you become a walking bomb, so chase down your enemies and deliver some justice for your death.
Johanna- Incredibly tanky warrior hero with the ability to interrupt anyone and everyone. She excels at harassing enemies at key objectives, and her shield trait makes her immune to crowd control. With two viable heroic abilities plus an AoE blind, she excels at helping allies escape, although her own escapability depends on talent choices. Her main weakness is her low damage output and her lack of non-heroic hard CC.