Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Now that Hearthstone has made its way out of beta and into the real world, it’s time to see what’s on the cards. Josh shuffles the deck and delves deep into both the PC and iPad versions and plays the hand he’s dealt from this no money down release. Does free really mean free?
Having taken a break from this game pretty much since the early days of the beta, it was good to see that not too much has changed, in fact jumping into my first round felt like putting on an old glove.
Pushing through the training I finally got to my first human opponent and the challenge felt great. Out of all the card games I have played in my life, Hearthstone is by far the most balanced and accessible title to date. Any round you play is like playing chess, only half the game is the cards in your hand, the rest is the player on the other side of the table. Removing the ability to speak and only allowing a few simple gestures mean that interaction is not vital to the experience and so at times the game can feel like poker, players will find themselves reading every little tell, right down to how fast someone plays their hand or how erratic they are at looking through their cards.
If you are new to the game, the basic drift goes like this: each player brings a previously constructed deck which is under one of 9 classes, Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock and Warrior. Each with its own style of play and special move to help vary gameplay. Once in a match, players are dealt their cards and from there your goal is to use a slowly increasing amount of mana to summon minions and use spells to defeat your opponent. At the start mana is scarce so battle is slow, by the end of a round the heavy cards come out and the battle hits a it peak and ends. Violently. This is the basic principal to the whole game, simple on the surface, but far from easy once you get started.
The thing that makes Hearthstone so special for me is that it really does feel like it is a free game, and not a pay to play experience. Though some of the cards you can get from purchasing booster packs may change the way you play the game does not. No card guarantees a win, not hand is able to defeat all other hands. The game is still one of skill and there is many hours of play even using the basic cards your are given.
But it doesn’t end there, players are not stuck with a beginners deck unless the pay money, as you unlock all of your classes through combat, more cards are given to you for each victory. Certain landmark moments will herald more bonus booster packs and even hitting the selected challenges gift you in game currency which can be saves towards more cards as well.
The point that I am getting too is this is not your usual cash grab system, there is room for casual gamers to splash around and also a great competitive edge for those that are looking for it. The game is also touch screen compatible for those with a new generation laptop and the newly released iPad app has ported it over with no loss to the experience in any way, opening it up to a whole new way of enjoying it.
Blizzard have infused Hearthstone with a lot of time and thought, every aspect of the game is balanced and interesting. This is not your standard dollar hungry money machine, nor is to pushing you to do anything you don’t want to. It is a wonderful time killer with a decent amount of strategy as well, for those that want to invest the time. Its matchmaking works well, pairing me with decent and difficult players without leaving me in the fetal position, meaning that every round leaves me yearning for “just one more”.
A great game that everyone should have a go with, I mean, what do you have to lose? It’s free!