Remember when Hearthstone just didn’t have enough things to do? These days, it’s likely to overwhelm the choice. The past year has been crazy – and sometimes bumpy – for players of the popular card game, although it’s more accurate at this point to call it a card platform. Blizzard’s foray into the auto-combat genre is still incredibly successful, so much so that at this point there is a strong case for saying Battlegrounds is Hearthstone’s main mode.
What happens in other popular games?
But last year wasn’t just BGs. After a major restructuring of its leadership two years ago, Team 5 embarked on an extensive program to add major new features. New class! New classified system! New mode! A new system for progress and achievement! How did the team keep up with all of this without missing a thing?
The answer is that some of the beats were definitely missing. 2020 was the year Hearthstone hit puberty. Demon Hunter has come Unbelievably Hot in terms of settings, and requires more Enerves Of what most of the original factions experienced in their lives, and received a renewed reward path Complete pitchfork treatment Once players realize that they earn less gold in the game. You can’t grow without the pains of growing, and the constant additions have led to some embarrassing bugs and unintended mistakes along the way.
So how is Hearthstone now?
In terms of construction, there has been a noticeable shift in the development philosophy. These days the focus is largely on keeping things fresh for the growing player base. There were 13 waves of balance changes in 2020 compared to seven in the previous year – although 2019 didn’t have to deal with the horror of the metagame that was Demon Hunter. Regardless, there is a very different feeling to Team Five, which regularly communicated about balance through official and social media channels. The standard is currently in flux thanks to the latest release of the Darkmoon Races miniature set, but the signs so far are indicating a meta with plenty of potential (unless Paladin slope Spoil it For everyone).
Meanwhile, Battlegrounds has enjoyed an impressive height, with the experience greatly materialized since its initial release in late 2019. Last year saw the addition of multiple types of new minions, a rotating system that dynamically changes available minions on a per-game basis, new ranked system, cooperative queue. , Private lobbies, Darkmoon Awards… The list goes on.
Looking at the numbers our friends gave at HSReplay It tells a great story. From what we can tell, Battlegrounds is the most popular mode, especially at the end of the standard expansion cycle – but overall build remains popular and 2021 more games have been played for the same amount of time in 2020. Battlegrounds doesn’t seem to break up the base game, but rather This attracts a new crowd of enthusiastic players.
In addition to the two main modes, last year also saw the addition of Hearthstone Duels – a new PvP challenging “roguelike” Dungeon Run that was originally introduced with the Kobolds & Catacombs expansion. The launch seemed somewhat informal thanks to the cancellation related to Blizzcon’s Covid, and the original beta was light. Many different powers and treasures have been added to the hero since then, but participation is still low. We’ve also received new single content in the form of the Book of Champions, which tells the stories of the game’s core heroes through free missions. Honestly, while you can’t argue for free, the combo element doesn’t add much and the whole experience feels very light compared to the paid shows like Dalaran Heist and Tombs of Terror, which are more replayable.
What happened recently?
- Darkmoon races launched. the first ‘Small group’ In the history of the game, it is mainly an adventure except that you can unlock and craft cards. With a fixed price of $ 15 or 2000 gold, players can purchase the entire set, avoiding any worries they might have about the economic impact of adding more cards. Which is good, because …
- Hearthstone economics remains a hot topic. While talk about the game’s cost dropped below Open War in November, the community is still keenly aware of how much money they’re spending and what the new bounty track has to offer. The improvements made so far have suppressed the first intifada, but there is a good chance that the conversation will repeat again when the next group falls. It is fair to say that many players are still uncomfortable about this issue.
- Declines show no sign of slowing down Monthly balance changes were unheard of at Hearthstone before this year. There have actually been two changes since the advent of Darkmoon Faire, including the long-awaited one to Edwin Van Cleef, and even Correction this week Aiming to fix Wild’s degenerate OTK group.
- Communication with the developer is at its highest level ever. Behind the group interviews of every form of media imaginable is a lead designer Dean “Exar” Ayala Position himself in the front ranks of Twitter with its weekly AMAs for the community. The conversation is often helpful, although unfortunately the answers are not always what people want to hear … especially if we are talking about feelings. Or Wild form. Or tournament mode. Or a priest.
- Team 5 turnover this year is clear and sizable. Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaieme – a New studio This year, several Hearthstone veterans are on the list. More people moved to Second dinner To work on Marvel with former game director Ben Brode, while the others simply left in search of other opportunities (we’ll miss you, Cusack!) But new talents have been added to the team as well, including experienced game designer John McIntyre, community mainstay and custom cards for Leo Robles, and pro gamers. Edward “Gallon” Goodwin And the George Webb “BoarControl”.
Are the players happy?
We’re now at the end of a record cycle when everyone craves to take turns, so it’s tough to gauge the mood accurately – and this year has tested the relationship between community and developers more than ever. The ongoing distrust about the economy was partially removed thanks to the small group price model, but that wasn’t the only problem.
Hearthstone Esports’ history has been tumultuous at best, and last year included a period of silence that lasted for months with no qualifying tournaments and no announcement of the game’s future. Many professionals left the scene while others remained in awe, remembering the abrupt cancellation of HGC’s Circle of Storm Champions just two years ago. The Go to YouTube Gaming It was just as devastating to Hearthstone’s viewership, which was down 90%.
The new architecture was finally revealed this week … and it’s not very different than it was before, except for ESL taking over Hearthstone operations. The jury is out of that change, but it spurred further change at Blizzard, including the reset of beloved producer Abar. (for him Twitlonger farewell Well worth your time for anyone considering a career in esports, or just looking for general advice about life.) Many were also hoping for Battlegrounds Esports to be announced, but nothing has materialized yet.
Wild gamers have expressed their concern recently as well, taking to Twitter to express their displeasure with the state of coordination in the form of open letters and angry responses directed at the developers. Wild seems to have settled around some repressive strategies, and while the mini-group created a new combo deck to shake things up, it came with times of grueling animation and non-interactive gameplay. Thankfully, the fix was actually carried out less than a week later.
Despite all these concerns, there is no way around the numbers. There is a lot of Hearthstone being played right now. Many of the new Quality of Life features that were added this year were huge, notably the rating renewal that reduced ladder anxiety while introducing larger monthly bonuses. And although Demon Hunter was behind many of the balance concerns, it was also evident that it had an invigorating effect on the experience.
So it’s hard to talk about the moods of a broad base of players, but it’s easy to see that the game continues to bring people back. Regular contact with developers has been a bright spot in a tough year and it feels like the team is talking to us more than ever. Many changes have been made this year through community participation, and often the most visible members of Blizzard go out of their way to solicit feedback. If you don’t believe me, just look at him Chad “Celestalon” NervijResponses.
So what’s next?
We’d normally have seen the next big Battlegrounds update now, but Darkmoon Races took the middle patch hole. All signs point to the next big announcement coming as part of the BlizzconLine On February 19.
Zephyrs the Great
Zephrys is one of the main cards that will be spinning out of Standard soon, and while many players will undoubtedly claim to be happy to see the back of this powerful utility, let’s take a moment to marvel at what remains one of the coolest designs. The game at all. Really is the kind of card that CCGs of paper struggle to replicate.
There’s a lot to look forward to, including new set revelations, seasonal Battlefield update, and anything else the squad has to prepare. And think about the blank board they’ll work on once the Year of the Dragon cards are spinning out of standard – no more Zephrys, no more Risky Skipper, no more Wrenchcalibur, no more EVIL Miscreant, no more Lightforged Zealot. There’s no set date for the exact rotation, which will happen alongside this year’s first expansion release, but our money is in late March for both.
There are also a lot of rumors about the future of the classic set. Back in April, director Ben Lee confirmed that the team was taking a closer look at Classic and Basic, and more recently a senior designer. Alec Dawson He assured that the Hall of Fame will no longer exist. Many feel that the game might receive some kind of spinning base set instead of the existing structure.
On top of all of that, we already know another mode is coming to Hearthstone this year and work is being done on another mode for the future. The shift from game to platform continues, which means it looks like players will spoil the choice for some time – just don’t expect the journey to be completely smooth.