“Once the Aspect of Wisdom, Malthael abandoned heaven after the Worldstone’s destruction. In secret, he had resolved to end the Eternal Conflict by becoming a Reaper of Souls and eliminating everything affected by demonic corruption, including humanity.”
The grim reaper himself has entered the Nexus, ready to begin the harvest of souls. Sporting a grim mark that deals percentage damage as his trait and a dozen other percentage-based abilities, Malthael makes all the tanks in the Nexus shiver in his presence. In fact, after his first week Malthael is sitting at 59% win rate in master league and living up to his title as the Reaper of Souls.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Percentage damage
- Objective utility
- Strong sustain
- Poor mobility
- Low damage against low HP targets
- Reaper's Mark
- Basic Attacks afflict non-Structure targets with Reaper’s Mark for 4 seconds. Marked enemies are revealed and take damage equal to 2.5% of their maximum Health every second.
- Soul Rip (Q)
- Extract the souls of nearby enemies afflicted with Reaper’s Mark, dealing 100 (+4% per level) damage and healing Malthael for 44 (+4% per level) per target hit. Heroic targets heal Malthael for an additional 3% of the Hero's maximum Health. 2 second cooldown.
- Wraith Strike (W)
- Instantly teleport through an enemy afflicted by Reaper’s Mark, dealing 50 (+4% per level) damage and refreshing Reaper’s Mark. 5 second cooldown.
- Death Shroud (E)
- After 0.25 seconds, unleash a wave of dark mist that applies Reaper’s Mark to the enemies it hits. 8 second cooldown.
- Tormented Souls (R)
- Gain 20 Armor and unleash a torrent of souls, continually applying Reaper’s Mark to enemies for 4 seconds. 80 second cooldown.
- Last Rites (R)
- Apply a death sentence to an enemy Hero that, after 2 seconds, deals damage equal to 50% of their missing Health. 75 second cooldown. Enemies killed while under the effect of Last Rites permanently reduce its cooldown by 5 seconds, to a minimum of 15 seconds.
Malthael has a very thematically fitting kit. His percentage damage can drain the very life of his enemies in the Nexus and eviscerate tanky targets. As such, Malthael joins an ever growing number of heroes designed to destroy warriors—considering the popularity of double warrior compositions this past year, that might not be a bad thing. Furthermore, his percentage damage also applies to monsters which make him a priority pick on maps such as Battlefield of Eternity or Dragon Shire.
As for the role Malthael will fill going forward it is hard to say. Initially, it would seem that his kit is largely anti tank, but he also possesses mobility with Wraith Strike, allowing him to close the gap on any ranged back line as well.
With Last Rites on level 10, Malthael is the first hero to possess a Heroic quest, which in theory lets him reduce the cooldown of the heroic ability down to a mere 15 seconds. The quest is exciting and opens up new avenues for Blizzard to explore when it comes to future hero designs. With Last Rites, Malthael can finish off low hp heroes that are trying to escape or help blow up a single target almost instantly.
On the other hand, Malthael gets extreme value out of Tormented Souls against clumped up enemies. Malthael can dish out percentage damage on several targets at the same time while healing himself for a significant amount and becoming basically indestructible, making it an ideal choice for wombos or big initiations.
Malthael’s biggest weakness is that his playstyle revolves around hitting Death Shroud for poke and mobility. If Death Shroud is avoided, he has a hard time applying his trait and opening up his kit.
Choosing the right talents of Malthael entails walking a fine line between life and death. On certain talent tiers you have the choice between extra healing from Soul Rip and more damage on Reaper’s Mark. Knowing when to take Soul Collector over Momento Mori at level 16, for instance, is a crucial distinction. Other talents such as the survivability talents on 13 are more straightforward, presenting a math problem depending on the type of damage your opponent possess. However the most interesting part of Malthael's kit are his Heroic abilities and the Storm talents at 20.
Those of us who played in the beta remember one of the most loathed talents to ever have existed: Resurgence of the Storm. Resurgence was a Storm talent with a 180 second cooldown that let any hero instantly come back to life. Due to its sheer strength in the late game where teamfights could mean the end of the game, heroes who possessed the talent dominated the meta for quite some time before it was removed. Now with Malthael, it’s back in the form of No One Can Stop Death with the added caveat of an increased respawn time after he dies again.
"The Nephalem will stop you!"
"No one can stop death"
Initially, it seems quite broken, but in the late game, an extra 25% on the respawn timer is brutal and a huge tradeoff so the talent can only really be used once to good effect. If you’re not in a gambling mood, you can try out Final Curtain to turn Malthael into a zoning machine. Both of the Heroic upgrades are interesting but rarely worth giving up on the utility of No One Can Stop Death and Final Curtain.
Malthael's overtuned stats allow him to fill a variety of roles at the moment, but in the future, Malthael's abilities will likely be more situational.
His kit is nothing too special, but the need to have your passive on makes him a harder hero to play. I can see his passive giving him a lot [of value], so his use is probably going to rely on him being able to keep his passive on bosses or fighting big health heroes and camps.
He benefits the most from playing against compositions with mostly tanky heroes and a lack of stuns or roots to keep him from spamming Soul Rip. If he gets a lot of focus on him he seems to go down quite quickly, but he can definitely sustain himself.
His biggest strength is percentage damage on monsters and mercenaries, allowing him to shred through bosses and pushing objectives. Despite the damage ultimately being capped, his percentage damage will make him a priority pick on maps that are centered around pushing objectives such as Battlefield of Eternity or Dragon Shire.
Malthael’s percentage damage plus sustain makes him a solid candidate for solo laning. By applying his trait to the enemy minion wave, Malthael is able to sustain very well during the laning phase and push most traditional solo laners like Thrall and Alarak out of the lane. Ranged heroes with good poke who can dodge Death Shroud like Genji or Falstad are better suited to dealing with Malthael in the solo lane.
With Tormented Souls, Malthael looks like a solid pick in the current meta filled with warriors and melee heroes. Double warrior compositions are out of the question against Malthael’s insane damage and AoE, and he can also sustain himself pretty well against “dogpile” styles of play. His only real weaknesses are poke and good CC layering, so Stitches pick compositions or strong poke compositions might be strong against him.
At the moment, he tends to work well as a first pick (which isn't unusual for an "overpowered" hero), but there are definitely counters to him. As his power levels are tuned down and players begin to better understand how to deal with him, he'll likely fall in priority to a solid mid to late power pick to dissuade double tank compositions. Even if he receives significant nerfs that drop him out of the metagame, his unique percentage-based damage will always make him viable as a surprise last pick.