So last week, I came home from work and was greeted by email from Blizzard telling me that I was now able to participate in the Hearthstone closed beta test. Now as an avid World of Warcraft player (I’ve been playing since 2005), I’m used to receiving many a phishing email from would be gold farmers trying to obtain my precious log in details so they can hack my account, so I took said beta invitation email with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, I casually logged into my Battle.net account and much to my surprise, the invitation was genuine! So I immediately started the 1.3gb (I think?) download, waited patiently for it to complete and then jumped right in!
I wasn’t sure what quite to expect from Hearthstone. I’ve been a fan of Magic: The Gathering for a few years now, but I’ve never played an online collectible card game before due to a lack of interest. For me, a big part of the fun of Magic is going and collecting those physical cards and building that custom deck just the way you like it. Can you really do that with an online card game? Sure you can buy “packs”, but how much of a factor is some random number generator going to be in determining what kind of cards I receive? Either way….it doesn’t matter because what I’ve played of Hearthstone so far is so much fun that it renders those concerns meaningless!
As you would probably expect from a game titled “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft”, the game is set purely in the Warcraft universe. Pointless fact for the uninitiated: a ‘hearthstone’ is an item in WoW that lets you set an inn or town as your favourite rest location. When you are ready to log out of the game, you can click your hearthstone to take you back to that location and gain some rested experience. The more you know. Anyway…if you’re not fan of the Warcraft series of games, you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying Hearthstone, as you don’t need any prior knowledge of Warcraft to enjoy it. If you do enjoy Warcraft, it will just add to the enjoyment level.
So what’s so great about Hearthstone? Everything! The production values are top notch in every aspect. The visuals are great (which is not something that I thought I would ever say about a card game) and ditto for the audio, with a vast number (if not all of them) of the voice actors from World of Warcraft making a return for Hearthstone. But great visuals and audio don’t count for squat if the gameplay isn’t fun, but thankfully Hearthstone is top notch. It strips away all of pointless bullshit found in other card games and makes it simple, fun and easy to follow without sacrificing the strategy element that makes TCG’s great. It does a great job of guiding you through the basics and the matches a fast and enjoyable.
This is one game that I can’t wait to play once it’s available to the general public and expect a full review then!