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The Heart of Storms Act II: Heralds of the Abyss

Rommel

Hosted Project: HoS
Level 19
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
139
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Art by Braderunner

It's been a month since Heart of Storms Act I: Dusk of Draenor Public Beta, and as we're finalizing and polishing last bits of the Release version, it's time to announce the next part!

Following Dusk of Draenor that culminates with the opening of the Dark Portal, Act II: Heralds of the Abyss is set during Warcraft I and II era, covering the last stages of the First War and the interbellum when the Horde expanded north into Khaz Modan. A number of canon events will be shown, such as the sacking of Northsire Abbey and Stormwind itself, the invasion of the Badlands, the siege of Ironforge and the climactic battle at Tol Barad. However, in a manner similar to Act I, "historical" events will be shown through the eyes of original characters caught in the conflict and trying not only to survive, but to manipulate its flow.

The story of Arnak Bladeweaver continues as more of his agenda is revealed (and keen-eyed players who noticed a few clues in Act I may have their theories confirmed). Don't expect this to be an orc-centered campaign despite the Horde being an integral part of the story - Arnak's status as a clanless orc makes him seek some unlikely allies. Meanwhile, a quartet of new heroes (or, to be precise, heroines) make their appearance:

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Dayoma Rainsong, a renegade high elven magistrix and a mercenary sorceress.

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Holga Brassbrow, Dayoma's old colleauge and companion, amateur adventurer, part-time scholar, professional troublemaker.

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Stephania, a Kul Tiran treasure huntress specializing in troll artifacts.

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Natty "Natalie" Threshwrench, the self-styled Great Communicator and the esteemed head (and sole member) of M.I.S.S.I.O.N.A.R.I.E.S. (Master Investigators of Sentientological Studies Institution, Nominated Asylum for Reeducation and Integration in Educated Society, a.k.a. Steamwheedle Cartel's Diplomatic Corps).

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Oh, and then there's Dr. Ishmael Dasariah Aedelein, the Healing Hand, once a humble Kul Tiran naval surgeon, now the head of a notorious sellsword company on Lord Ashvane's payroll.

As it's not too hard to see, none of them looks like a typical protagonist of the First and Second Wars. That is correct, while the tragic events of Dusk of Draenor called for heroic (but doomed) draenei and villainous orcs, the conflict on Azeroth is much more nuanced. Nope, we're not going to paint the Horde morally grey (in fact, we're turning their bloodthirst up to eleven as the roster of clan-specific orc armies have the enemy-exclusive Bleeding Hollow added into it, with units that have such nice names as Gutslicer, Eyepiercer and Bloodhunter, not to mention the Cabalist whom you will hate not only for using blood magic, but for being a nasty healer/debuffer) or make the defenders of Stormwind any less noble. But we definitely will explore other factions that stick their noses in this expanding conflict, for much more selfish reasons. The goblin cartels of Kezan take keen interest in the arrival of the orcs, and the trade princes' plans on shifting the Easten Kingdoms' economic balance might have a use for an all-out war... Meanwhile, the Ashvane Company of Kul Tiras feels like they could also benefit from the brewing conflict - you know, those novelty black powder guns won't sell themselves. And though only the hardcore old timers remember that, but Warcraft I did mention human mercenaries working for the Horde (even if it was only an excuse for a Human vs Human mission), and we're expanding on that piece of lore...

In addition to Orcs and Ogres (sadly not Draenei, their story in HoS is over... for now), Act II: Heralds of the Abyss brings three more full-scale races to the table: Humans, Dwarves (and Gnomes) and Goblins.

(A note regarding the screenshots: these are taken in Reforged (which doesn't allow unit shadows in the editor) on unmodified terrain only for testing purposes! Everything should be considered WIP anyway.)

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Humans are based on the Warcraft I unit list and design choices (including Knight with flail, Gandalf-styled Conjurer, and Water Elemental shaped like a woman), representing the forces of Stormwind, though with a dash of Kul Tiran mercenaries (who, in our headcanon, did take part in the First War, Stormwind being a huge port city after all). They also have Paladins from Warcraft II (who are a separate unit to the Knights), but they won't appear in the campaign until they are canonically formed as an order, similar to Orcs' Death Knights and Dragon Riders. Other human nations, such as Kul Tiras proper (and the Ashvane Company as a version of it), Stromgarde and Dalaran will appear as additional factions, similar to orc clans.

Humans are basically the "normal", intended way the Alliance should work. They've got abundant heals, self-buffs, AoE magic; dispelling and countering units are present. They somewhat lack in the air units department (Dwarves got all the good stuff) but this is compensated with powerful AA. Their Knights are also incredibly useful as both heavy assault and support units, cementing their role as Stormwind's elite.

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Dwarves (and Gnomes) are, once again, the recreation of classic known by WoW. We wanted to keep the iconic roster including everyone's favourites such as Riflemen, Gyropcopters, Gryphon Riders and Steam Tanks (in their early prototype form), as well as ram riders, bikes and all sorts of crazy gnomish technicians and magicians - of course, with revamped graphics and a few unexpected aces up their sleeves! As race variants, expect old classics here as well, Wildhammer and Dark Iron dwarves.

Being a powerhouse race, Dwarves (and Gnomes) rely on expensive, slow, armored units and artillery with decent range, as well as stuff that gives area buffs. They've got few mid-range units, most are either melee or siege. Damage reflection is common, and they have have the second best air units (after the Legion) - Gryphon Rider and Thunderer Gunship.

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Goblins... now, these were a tough designer challenge. In the old incarnation of HoS we were very uneasy about giving them WoW-styled technology, but reducing the roster to primitive contraptions and the classic but boring stuff like Zeppelins, Sappers and Shredders also didn't feel right. That was until we discovered the piece of lore concerning goblins actually becoming less advanced over the years and losing a lot of their old know-how as they grew less dependant on kaja'mite. That, and said kaja'mite being a completely unnatural way to boost the intelligence (as opposed to somewhat realistic technological progress) inspired us to go with the idea of showing the goblins somewhat past their prime but still making use of fantastic inventions of old even though they don't fully understand them now. To other races, it's not much different from magic. We also went wild with goblin slang that's based off modern terms and ideas but sounds like complete gibberish in a quasi-medieval world. And all goblin units are specifically civilians (they maintain neutrality after all, he he he he!), so say hello to Bouncers, Preservationists, Insurers and Advocates. Yes, they WILL sue enemy units on the battlefield, and it's deadlier than it sounds.

Goblins are a fragile gimmicky faction with an emphasis on being great inventors, but mediocre frontline soldiers. They rely on synergy between different unit types, spamming single unit type squads is ineffective. They have lots of disabling abilities and AoE damage as well as increased gold generation. If needed, they can quickly regain the income rate and shift economy to different tactics. Oh, and they come with lots of long-ranged artillery. And Giant Turtles. Everything's better with Giant Turtles.

Special thanks to @General Frank for giving permission to use his awesome mechanical units for some of goblin machines!

Since Warcraft III had a total of one goblin face type (with a pitiful polycount and terribad animations), we used a lot of remixed and heavily kitbashed WoW assets (as well as converted stuff provided by Dreamcraft) to give them the variety they deserve. Animating all those talking guys and girls was a pain, though!
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And we've also put effort into cinematic animations for new heroes so cutscenes are much more varied than usual. Thanks to @Maximal for his awesome work!

There is much more to tell about, like the new mercenaries mechanic, or the eponymous Abyss and its Heralds... but these are all matters for another day. Stay tuned, in due time, all will be revealed, for her eyes are many, and they never sleep.
 
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Level 3
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
20
Daym. This sounds and looks amazing. Going to be eagerly waiting for more updates.

But I have one question. No Troll sub-faction? The Amani/Forest Trolls don't get involved until much much later. But the Gurubashi/Jungle Trolls are a different story.

Though they're somewhat more prone to civil wars and internal conflict compared to other Troll factions (Amani, Zandalari, Drakkari, Farraki), and got decimated in their previous war against the Kingdom of Stormwind/Azeroth (courtesy of Medivh) a while ago.

They do get involved when Killrogg leads the Bleeding Hollow Clan more toward the south, to Stranglethorn while the first war was going on. And promptly learn why invading Stranglethorn is a bad idea. Since we're expanding on so much with Goblins and Kul'tiran mercenaries etc, maybe some Gurubashi involvement/expansion would be cool as well.

Just a stray thought I had. Anyways good luck with the project. :thumbs_up:
 
Level 5
Joined
Sep 11, 2016
Messages
19
Really awesome! I had a blast playing through the Dusk of Draenor, I looking forward to this one especially. I take that Act III of the story will continue Warcraft 2 plot and we'll see the war on further north of the Eastern Kingdoms. Since I remember the concept art, I guess the High Elves and Trolls will play much more prominent role in that chapter.

While the campaign largely followed the original character as we learn their stories, and event from their perspective. Could we expect to see named characters like Zul'jin, Sylvanas and kings of other human kingdoms in this campaign at all?
 

Rommel

Hosted Project: HoS
Level 19
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
139
Daym. This sounds and looks amazing. Going to be eagerly waiting for more updates.

But I have one question. No Troll sub-faction? The Amani/Forest Trolls don't get involved until much much later. But the Gurubashi/Jungle Trolls are a different story.

Though they're somewhat more prone to civil wars and internal conflict compared to other Troll factions (Amani, Zandalari, Drakkari, Farraki), and got decimated in their previous war against the Kingdom of Stormwind/Azeroth (courtesy of Medivh) a while ago.

They do get involved when Killrogg leads the Bleeding Hollow Clan more toward the south, to Stranglethorn while the first war was going on. And promptly learn why invading Stranglethorn is a bad idea. Since we're expanding on so much with Goblins and Kul'tiran mercenaries etc, maybe some Gurubashi involvement/expansion would be cool as well.

Just a stray thought I had. Anyways good luck with the project. :thumbs_up:
Thank you!
Concerning trolls, they are actually going to play a rather important role in Act II (and even bigger in Act III when Amani proper appear as a side of the conflict). While Stranglethorn will make just a very small appearance (on a map where Westfall borders it in the south), there will be jungle trolls among named mercenaries, and Stephania is wearing those Zandalari trinkets for a reason... Also, in the prologue mission that's set on Kezan, we plan to include Zandalari among merchants whom the goblin cartels are dealing with (in addition to Kul Tiran humans, Tortollans, and maybe even a Pandaren or two), and jungle trolls will be present there as well, as goblins' sla... uh, I mean, indentured servicemen. In other words, while we've not yet decided on adding tehm to creeps list, trolls of at least two kinds will play a role in Act II.

How lucky for me to see the latest developments about the project at the very first time . It's really amazing ! Cant wait to see this new chapter released .
Mhm, thanks a ton!

Really awesome! I had a blast playing through the Dusk of Draenor, I looking forward to this one especially. I take that Act III of the story will continue Warcraft 2 plot and we'll see the war on further north of the Eastern Kingdoms. Since I remember the concept art, I guess the High Elves and Trolls will play much more prominent role in that chapter.

While the campaign largely followed the original character as we learn their stories, and event from their perspective. Could we expect to see named characters like Zul'jin, Sylvanas and kings of other human kingdoms in this campaign at all?

Thank you! Yes, you got it completely right, Act III will cover the second half of the Second War, starting with the Battle of Hillsbrad and then going through the Hinterlands into Quel'Thalas and Zul'Aman. Zul'jin will be a major "historical" figure in Act III, as well as all four Windrunner siblings.

As for human leaders, Daelin Proudmoore, Llane Wrynn and Thoras Trollbane will be in Act II.
 

Rommel

Hosted Project: HoS
Level 19
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
139
Can this act 2 campaign run in the classic version? If you can, can that playable chapter reach the top 10 chapters? RTS has more elements to match the name of the battle. I had a good time building a building throat, training a lot of troops, and directing them to fight.
No telling yet. We are making art assets run on pre-Reforged engine, so it should work. Most likely when we come closer to Act 2 finalization, there might be an effort to make it compatible, but too hard to say right now. Only one way to find out :)
 
Level 20
Joined
Dec 15, 2021
Messages
317
The 1st image is so great ! I would love to read a comic in this artstyle. You can congratulate Braderunner for me if he never comes here.
This takes me back : I remember the old dayoma model/skin based on the sorceress. I once had a project of doing a cutscene using it way back when the (some?) models became available
 
Level 15
Joined
Sep 24, 2009
Messages
1,526
Wow, I just accidentally stumbled upon second part of the masterpiece. They should give you some exposure on this site. I had no idea that this has been posted, freaking 6 months ago.

I have had my doubts with your tech-trees before I played your Act 1, but I was really amazed with ingenuity of all 3 races that you have made, so fingers crossed that next 3 races will be at least close to the quality of the first three.

Any info about BETA or release date?
 

deepstrasz

Map Reviewer
Level 70
Joined
Jun 4, 2009
Messages
19,015
Wow, I just accidentally stumbled upon second part of the masterpiece. They should give you some exposure on this site. I had no idea that this has been posted, freaking 6 months ago.
It's literally on the top as a banner of advertising, has its own Hosted Project forum as well as map thread and has been featured in a news bulletin: New Hosted Project: The Heart of Storms
 
Level 5
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
76
How is this company progressing for you?
And good luck later in your company and your projects 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉
when does it come out??
 
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