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PAX East 2013: Blizzard Hearthstone Impressions

by on 03/23/2013

Blizzard has always been known for creating epic games. They take on a huge project to almost certain success and they pull in their fan base as well outsiders. Their new project “Hearthstone” that takes their approach on a card game should be no different.

With a team of fifteen developers which is there smallest team for a project (Starcraft II and Diablo were 60+) they decided to create a game of “epic” proportions without taking a super long time and forcing them to take the usual amount of Blizzard time.

Hearthstone lets players play a card game that is based in the Warcraft universe. They set out to make a less complex, but strategic/rewarding experience that pulled their fans and card game players in.

The game is free to play and as you play you can earn credits to buy new booster packs, compete in weekly tournaments, and earn weekly commendations to earn the rewards for the week.

As an added bonus, they decided to tackle the duplicate card system in a way that I wish the Mass Effect multiplayer would have tackled it. They let you destroy your duplicate cards for a currency and when you earn enough of the currency you can spend it to create the card you want. So you don’t have to keep wasting money just to get the one card you are waiting for.

They also made strides in allowing less experienced players not to be overwhelmed. They guide you without holding your hand in deck building and also made the whole gameplay less complex than most card games, which not only hinders new players but can confuse players who are already accustomed to card games.

All of this takes place on the Battlenet system which is incredibly nice and the game will be released on Windows, Mac, and iPad this summer in Beta form. It has a lot of potential and being free to play it makes the game even easier to just pick up and play.

Not being a card game fan myself though, I don’t see the reason they went this route. Granted there is a lot of passion here, but I feel like it could also be a cheap money grab, with microtransactions to buy booster packs, maybe give minor customization to your player, and to also create your own cards.

When Blizzard has a really good chance to make a splash in the next console generation especially leading with Diablo III, I think a card game that just adds to their profits, was not the announcement they needed.

I mean if it tied to WoW and affected your game it would be one thing, but as a separate addition and announcing outside of Blizzcon which is almost unheard of for Blizzard, it really didn’t seem necessary.

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