Heroes of the Storm

A Mild Rant About Targeting and Movement

As you might know, in HotS it is impossible to input movement commands while targeting an ability. This has bothered me ever since I started playing, especially as a newcomer to MOBAs, because it makes properly repositioning while targeting an ability needlessly awkward. You have to exit targeting mode, move, and then re-enter targeting mode via the ability hotkey. It's also easy to accidentally cancel an ability instead of firing it if you try to move just a bit too early. With enough practice you learn to avoid this, but should you have to?

I've always felt that a system that treats movement inputs independently from entering and exiting targeting mode would be much more natural. This is basically how Hanzo's Q works, but its implementation comes with a number of issues and since it's the only ability that works this way, it runs up against players' expectations who are not used to having to press a different key to cancel the ability. Worse than that, since it disables the default cancel via right-click functionality and the seemingly identical Cancel hotkey (on Esc) is overridden by the Main Menu hotkey, as far as I can tell the default settings provide no way to cancel Hanzo's Q without also interrupting movement. However, I believe that if every ability worked like this from the start and was properly implemented and accommodated in the default settings, you wouldn't have it any other way.

When I say it is impossible to input movement commands in targeting mode, I mean it. The usual Smart Commands hotkey on right-click used for movement and interacting with things is ignored completely. The default hotkeys sidestep this issue by also binding Cancel Targeting to right-click, which overrides the Smart Commands hotkey while in targeting mode. You may be too used to this system by now to even notice that when you try to move while in targeting mode, your first right-click is consumed to exit targeting mode, and only the second right-click will actually be registered as a movement command. That's not the reason you can't move while targeting though; if you move Cancel Targeting to a different key, right-clicking (which is now Smart Commands) does nothing and you will be stuck in targeting mode, unable to move until you fire the ability or cancel it another way.

The Force Move hotkey plays an interesting role in this story. In case you're not familiar with it; Force Move can be used to input pure movement commands. Unlike Smart Commands, it does not interact with enemies or various other objects. This way, you never again have to worry about your right-clicks being misinterpreted as attack commands while moving through a minion wave or behind an enemy immortal. Unfortunately, it comes with a number of issues which can easily be deal-breakers to a lot of players; Shift-queuing movement is buggy, disabling minimap clicks is impossible, movement for Hanzo's Q and hatted Abathur Monstrosity are broken, and perhaps there is more I'm forgetting or not yet aware of.

Inputting movement commands in targeting mode via Force Move is impossible all the same. However, unlike Smart Commands, the Force Move hotkey appears to be implemented as an ability. If you've ever wondered why the Per Ability Quick Cast Setting screen lets you configure Quick Cast for "Move", this is why. This also means that if used while targeting an ability, it instantly switches to targeting mode for the Force Move ability. If you set it to Quick Cast On (as any sane person using Force Move should), a single right-click will cancel targeting mode and at the same time enter a movement command. I suspect even Force Move users might not be aware of this, because it only works if you remove the Cancel Targeting override, which would still eat up the first right-click otherwise.

There's a catch to this though; if you like targeting abilities via On Release, using Force Move this way will not cancel but automatically fire the ability, just like pressing another ability hotkey would. If you are okay with using Quick Cast Off on abilities, I find this setup much more pleasant than having to double right-click to move out of targeting mode. It's not perfect; you still have to re-enter targeting mode after moving, but eliminating the extra right click makes the whole thing feel a lot closer to the ideal of independent movement and targeting. As far as I can tell, achieving the same convenience with Smart Commands is impossible. This has made it hard for me to consider switching back to Smart Commands on right-click, despite all the issues with Force Move mentioned above.

Of course, setting all abilities to Quick Cast On makes this entire discussion moot, but oftentimes I appreciate having range indicators in targeting mode and I wouldn't be surprised if the clunky nature of the existing system is at least part of the reason many players choose to go with full Quick Cast On. Perhaps you disagree with all of this, but that's okay. I'm not here to petition for change, just to share my frustration. It's clearly much too late for a complete overhaul of the targeting and movement system, and considering how long the Force Move bugs have been around, it's safe to assume they'll stay with us for the foreseeable future. With that said, I hope this was an informative or entertaining read at least.


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