Welcome to GameAcide. Here we take everyone’s favorite and most hyped games and tear them down. What follows is a comical examination of the game depicted. Liberal doses of sarcasm, satire, exaggeration, and a pinch of toilet-humor have been employed.
Hearthstone is a delightful online Collectible Card Game. It was inspired by the World of Warcraft MMORPG, which was inspired by the Warcraft RTS — making it the world’s first RTSMMORPGCCG! Ok, you got me; it’s just an online CCG. But I’ll be damned if Blizzard doesn’t know how to milk a franchise.
Blizzard’s very own Team 5 was responsible for the lion’s share of developing Hearthstone. On Hearthstone-Wiki’s design and development page, the swiftness of the game’s development is attributed to the efficiency of the smaller 15-man team. Indeed, it only took them six short years to complete the title, which is obviously a record for Blizzard — especially when one considers the slightly less brisk 100 years it took them to develop Diablo III. Making free-to-play card games must be very time consuming.
So now that Hearthstone is out, what is it really like? An important question on everyone’s mind when considering playing an online collectible card game is, How good are the graphics? Hearthstone’s got you covered! You didn’t think they’d spent six years just hanging out and counting their WOW-money did you? Nope, Hearthstone probably has the best graphics and effects in the genre. Cards played from the hand arrive with more eye-candy and glitter than an eager stripper during fleet week. The effect is nearly as alluring, but will still probably end up costing you a fist full of ones.
The sound is worth mentioning too! Enjoy a nostalgic chorus of quotes and noises like, “Zug zug” and “Job’s done.” These will surely fit right in with your collection of all-time favorites like, “Damacia!” and “Hadouken.” It’s quite possible that every sound in this game is recycled from old Warcraft titles. Even some of the background music is recycled from Warcraft 2. Good thing Team 5 didn’t go through the trouble of recording original sounds for this game… It would have surely added another five years to its development.
What’s better than killer graphics and sound is that Hearthstone is a social experience. Not just an online one, no! Play this game in a Starbucks full of strangers at obtrusively loud volumes like I did, then watch the social interactions roll in! One particularly rewarding social interaction occurred after I had just summoned a Murloc and it emitted the song of its people — one inquisitive individual asked me: “What is that noise…? It sounds like a blowjob!?” To which I could only reply, “It ‘sounds like’ you wana come back to my place.” Obviously Hearthstone had brought us together for a reason.
This aesthetic stuff is all fine and well but what about gameplay? Truly, this should be the main indicator of quality in a game designed around deck-building and strategy. How does Hearthstone compare to other popular online CCGs? Blizzard in its infinite wisdom has decided to combat power houses like Magic The Gathering Online with this simple strategy: Painfully fewer cards, coupled with delightfully less monetary obligation.
Sure, there may only be 500 some-odd collectable cards in the game, with every class only having access to around 300ish a piece. Yeah, your deck may only consist of a strategy-crippling 30 cards and two different people playing the same class will often have disturbingly similar decks, but who cares when it’s freakin’ free!
Last year I dropped over $200 on MGT, and didn’t even walk away with 40% of the cards in the current standard format. In Hearthstone I paid zilcho and have around 90% of the available cards. Some people may call earning the in-game currency to get access to more cards and expansion features “grinding” but all yer doing is playing a game you fully intended on playing anyways. I’m sure requiring people to pay absolutely nothing for all the content in your game is an excellent business strategy, but even if it wasn’t, Blizzard could probably power the Hearthstone servers off the money-laden fumes of its WOW servers.
Naturally, all this leads us to one final question? How did Hearthstone get so popular, so critically praised? Oh duh, it pandered to an army of WOW fans and gave away beta keys like free samples at an opium convention. Alas, if only it was quite so addicting.
In the end I thought Hearthstone was a sexy diversion, but kinda like dating a really dumb trust-fund brat that could literally only count to 30. Good looks just aren’t everything and I can’t help but think that if this same game was produced by anyone but Blizzard it would have gone mostly unnoticed. Yup, Hearthstone needs to go back to college if it ever wishes to stand on its own and last half as long as Magic The Gathering. If it wises up and dramatically expands its gameplay, it will be a force to be reckoned with. Good thing daddy-Blizzard has all the time and money in the world to work these things out.