Free-to-play mastered with infinite replay value.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a worthy entry into Blizzard’s amazing line up of games that prove them to be such a talented and well established studio. Making their way into the realm of virtual card gaming, Heroes of Warcraft is an enjoyable, simplified card game that does a great job of adding so much depth and content, into something that’s so easily accessible for gamers and simple to learn.
The tutorial-like nature in which most games have you wanting to skip through or pass over scenes isn’t present here. Instead you’re treated to something that’s as enjoyable as it is easy to learn. While the majority of most card games now a days involve complex methods of playing and understanding, coupled by a steep learning curve, Heroes of Warcraft doesn’t take this approach. The game still remains strategic however but it’s the accessibility to almost anyone, that the game handles so well.
The game uses simple rules, simple attack methods, then throws in a host of different card types while introducing new types of play to get the player familiarized with the more complex battles of the game. What’s unique about this way of teaching the player is that as the game progresses primarily within the first section of the game, difficulty and challenge rises accordingly and causes the player to use what they’ve previously learned in conjunction with their own strategic nature and choices in the battle.
"In its most basic understanding the goal to a successful battle and ultimately a win, is to break down the opponents health points using the cards within your deck. Each of the cards which can be drawn out at anytime during the player's turn can be placed out on the battlefield."
In its most basic understanding the goal to a successful battle and ultimately a win, is to break down the opponents health points using the cards within your deck. Each of the cards which can be drawn out at anytime during the player’s turn can be placed out on the battlefield. Although there’s a limit to just how much cards can be held at one time, not to mention are drawn upon random rather than choosing which specific card you would like.
This adds a more strategic way of playing, as well as staying on your toes for the unexpected. Cards placed on the field act as a line of defense and attack for the player’s main health points, each equipped with a lower amount of their own health. While this may sound straight forward and that the game is played on the basis of attack and defend until the player is directly out of health, this is far from it. Also within the player’s deck are a variety of spell cards that can contribute towards the card draw limit, the monsters on the field, bending the rules of the battle, and lastly the players health.
All of these random effects can have their way with the opponents, and this keeps the game interesting as well as throwing your opponent off guard. Any choices made by the player are subject to the amount of energy they have stored, known as Mana Crystals. These also increased by default as the player progress through the game and racks up experience. The feeling of player progression and your skill level rising is both a personal feeling as well as being evident within the game, and it does well in keeping the player engaged.
One thing in particular that I personally found out by the means of the game’s overall enjoyment and its fun factor, was actually to do with is business model. As Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play game with the inclusion of micro-transactions, it automatically defaults to a love it or hate it image from that of the players. But the way in which micro transactions are used within Heroes of Warcraft feel almost ironic and shys away from the the very idea of it. Let’s get one thing straight here, nothing in the game actually requires payment and is just as fun without even considering it.
"As Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play game with the inclusion of micro-transactions, it automatically defaults to a love it or hate it image from that of the players. But the way in which micro transactions are used within Heroes of Warcraft feel almost ironic and shys away from the the very idea of it."
While other games of this nature claim to have the same approach and it’s really down to the player’s decision to buy or play on. The majority of gamers out there can see through the disruption of this business model, and that it ultimately detracts away from anything that’s actually good about the game, here’s looking at you EA. There’s no denying the benefit of gaining things earlier on in the game but this feeling of getting one up on your opponents simply because you paid for it, takes away the feeling of progression which I previously mentioned. The use of micro-transactions seem to come with a negative vibe, and not just the business model in which it’s included in.
It tends to make the player feel like they’re being cheated or that they’re not getting the full package of the game, even if it is free-to-play. But since the paid items in the game can be unlocked simply by the means of playing which is what gaming is all about, it seems contradictory to free up your wallet. Heroes of Warcraft implements this idea well and I didn’t shed out a single penny. What’s funny about the micro-transaction nature of the game is the viewpoint in which you choose to take towards the game. Is it a free-to-play videogame or is it a card game?
If you look at the game as a videogame then the love it or hate it attitude will always remain. On the other hand, if you look at is simply as card game, a digital one, then you’re essentially getting a free starter content in which you would decide to pay for the rest like you would do with a traditional card game. The only few gripes I actually have with the game, starting of which is the abundance of trading your cards. Since there’s only so many cards actually available, be in the numbers of the hundreds, being able to trade cards would add to the already high fun-factor that the game already has. This doesn’t create a detraction from the game, it’s just a nice idea to have the feature.
"Every card and creature they posses include specific animation and dialogue appropriate to that card. This is taken a step further with your main character and opponents, who taunt and rage at each other over the course of the battle."
However, it could be said that this was a design choice to keep the player interested in unlocking as you play, as well making proper use of micro-transactions. The second feature that seems to be missing to the game is quite a strange one, and that’s a tournament match. As far as it stands the only real form of play modes are that of an arena mode and challenging friends online.
While this may see some existence in the future, this is largely what players are left to take part in. The game could do with a serious benefit from more choices of play and like many I hope to see it happen. Previously touching quite a few times on the aspects of immersion and player engagement which is partly down its gameplay, the visual aspects of the game have to be credited.
Heroes of Warcraft carries a visual aesthetic that’s both colourful and flashy as well as exciting and lively. The animations that the game makes use of is without a doubt its saving grace, and it does so in keeping the game pumping and immersive. Everything from the player’s card movements to the objects on the actual battleground carry a sense of life.
The small details of having an animation take place along with sound, when the player clicks on something that has no use to the actual game adds a nice touch. It should be said that audio and sound effects within the game go directly hand in hand with its animations. Every card and creature they posses include specific animation and dialogue appropriate to that card. This is taken a step further with your main character and opponents, who taunt and rage at each other over the course of the battle.
With near infinite replay value that ceases to create boredom, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an excellent game that delivers a lot of content for a minimal price tag of a minute install time. While it’s easy to see the potential in which the game could be taken one step further, there’s no denying the amount of value and rewarding sense of gameplay that it manages to give the player. Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play game that exceedingly walks past the negative viewpoints commonly associated with the majority of free-to-play games on the market.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Complex battles wrapped in a simplified and friendly nature.
Missing features that would be gratefully welcomed.
Heroes of Warcraft is an amazing game that knows how to make use of a free-to-play business model. While the absence of a tournament mode is a let down it's not enough to destroy its re-playability.