A digital trading card game from Blizzard: need I say more?!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for you today, but your overall productivity in life has just received an expiration date: and that date is rapidly approaching. That’s because Blizzard is opening up their notoriously addictive World of Warcraft universe to the casual masses in a new digital trading card game called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. And with the incredible polish of the game’s presentation, and the promise of immediate accessibility to hardcore and casual gamers alike, I fear that no one will be safe from getting sucked into its rich and imaginative world and never wanting to come out.
In the game’s announcement trailer, Blizzard has ensured that Hearthstone will be more accessible to newcomers than any other game in the Warcraft universe. Whether you boast a level 88 Monk in Mists of Pandaria, or if you’ve never touched a Blizzard game before, everyone will be able to learn how to play Hearthstone in less than 10 minutes and jump right into the action without missing a beat. While the game is admittedly out of Blizzard’s comfort zone, the development team couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming project, as they prepare to bring “the same level of quality, the same level of investment, and the same level of passion” that Warcraft players would only expect.
In the game, players will be able to choose from one of nine classic Warcraft heroes, including the Warrior, Shaman, and Paladin, as they wield a powerful deck of spells, and battle through a never-ending sea of online combatants. The animations are some of the most lively I’ve ever seen in a trading card game, with bright colors and a slick production design. Even though the genre is a bit different from what Warcraft veterans might be used to from Blizzard, the atmosphere and battling mechanics are still inherently Warcraft. For one thing, the cards actually shoot spells out of them: lightning attacks will scorch your opponent’s cards, and a toxic green cloud will cover the battlefield. If only the old deck of cards collecting dust in my closet was able to do that!
Hearthstone is set to feature three different game modes that allow you to exercise your strategic card-battling tactics, and expand your deck with new powerful cards. The basic Play Mode has you hopping online and battling against a randomly matched opponent, where you can earn medals and new packs of cards with additional minions and spells to integrate into your deck and expand upon the strategy of your playing style. Practice Mode lets you test out some of these new strategies against a computer opponent with adjustable levels of difficulty. Finally, The Forge starts you out with a random set of cards, and pits you up against another player with a random set of cards, so the playing field is leveled, and both opponents will need to develop their strategy and tactics directly on the fly.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will be adopting a free-to-play model, where players can pay for additional packs of randomized cards, and be guaranteed to find at least one rare or higher-end card in each pack they buy. There’s no word on an exact release date yet, but Hearthstone will be premiering on PC and Mac platforms, with an iPad version to follow later on. And for those of you in the North American region who want to speed up that end to your productivity this year, you can sign up for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft early beta access right over at Battle.net.