I don't think you'd have that impression if you played HoN at max settings- that is, if you can; not bashing, just saying, because many of my friends have pretty good specs and could play many demanding games at max settings, but not HoN. That hero textures seem bad, let's say ok (I dasagree but let's just say ok)- have you seen the avatars in HoN? The overwhelming majority come with new quotes, particles, animations (unlike other games). Take Libra Master of Arms for instance- every time I use it, I get awe inspiring comments about how beautiful it and its effects are. And let's not talk about ultimate avatars (new effects based on the items you buy).
HoN did start as a DotA clone- and remains the only game based off of there (all the others are pretty much LoL clones- tho you can say "LoL is based on DotA" as well but that would start a never ending essay from many people) but over the time, there have been a lot of things that have vastly differentiated it- the HoN unique heroes (who are getting more and more), unique items. Plus, many DotA ports and items are nothing like their counterparts anymore, improvements to ward and courier system and many more. Other than the initial connection they share and hard learning curve, they're completely different games since a long time. About the pace of the game, from my experience, most moba players don't like games that drag over 40+ minutes more often than not. And that's the case with dota 2. I've seen games between top HoN teams last 15 minutes or less when the one team used a push strategy and executed it perfectly. While in dota it's a farm fest all the time, you said so yourself.
Ummm, I've played HotS since beta- and that's the impression I and most other who played it have. And unless you're a Grandmaster there yourself, I don't think you can talk to me about 'casual'. Blizz knows that casual atttracts people. Look at Hearthstone success. Many say "It is my first card game ever" (personally, I don't play it) and it already had to compete with well-known and established games of the genre (Magic) or up and coming ones like itself like HEX: Shards of Fate. Which are the "new mechanics"? Raynor? Valla? Li Li? This is just a term coined by people to masquerade OP/imba (censorship) characters (such as Kalista and the like- they even had to make her passive so that she gets only 90% and not the full AD) Even the Heroes dubbed as 'Very Hard' are rather easy to play-compared to the high skill cap ones in LoL. Abathur can just sit 'afk' all game long and impact the map globally-more risky ones may venture out of the base. I did write about HotS fast nature above as something I like in it (told you, most people prefer faster games; if you ask everyone who's playing dota I bet he/she'll tell you he/she dislikes overly long games). And again, you find something little bit you like in every game you play, that's why you play it.
Every "fanboy" can type (insert moba name) best moba but HoN happens to at least have an official award that backs this claim. And PAX conventions are some of the biggest events for games not 'just a LAN'. As for dota not making it there- too bad for it I guess.
Anyways, for my part, I'll just drop it here, cuz it's not appropriate to talk about other games in this thread. My only complaint is that, one who calls HoN a 'garbage game' without any reason/facts whatsoever apparently has no idea what he's talking about-if so, other games are below 'garbage'. I want to see what will happen with Supernova (though I have a bad feeling).