During the Gwent Challenger #4 tournament this Sunday, CD Projekt RED gave the audience the first chance to see what Gwent: Homecoming will look like. Pawel Burza, the Community Manager of the Gwent community, featured a short video with Lead Gameplay Designer Michał Dobrowolski to show "Project Homecoming." The video only shows one of the new boards, namely for the Monsters faction. Each of the five factions will have its own specific board. Thronebreaker will also include unique boards apart from the factions. Just as with the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay reveal trailer, the video shows the disclaimer of a work in progress that does not represent the final look of the game.
The mulligan screen was given special attention, and perhaps more screen time than necessary. The main difference is that now, depending on who goes first, players can "redraw" up to five cards on the first round, and the rejected cards aren't instantly shuffled back into the deck, not to be seen anymore. Instead, they are set to the right side where they are stacked up. Dobrowolski also mentioned that the mulligan is tied to the leaders, and was quick to amend that this is all still subject to change. The number of mulligans will also depend on the power of the leader's ability. Burza also mentioned that there is now a hand limit of ten cards, which means a dry pass on the first round will mean that players cannot draw three cards on the second round. Once again, Dobrowolski was quick to reiterate that it's all subject to change.
The board was the main attraction as a gritty and dark battlefield, as CEO Marcin Iwiński had originally promised in his open letter back in April. It showed two leaders, the Unseen Elder and the Woodland Spirit as fully animated 3D models overseeing the battlefield, instead of the 2D cards of the beta. The angle and overall perspective of the board has been completely overhauled, closer to the tilted boards of Magic: The Gathering Arena. As the player hovers over the cards, they will get a pop-up view of the card with the abilities described on the side, as opposed to the beta, which features a preview space on the right.
They moved on to discuss the biggest change, which will majorly affect gameplay: the removal of one of the original rows. After Homecoming, Gwent will be a dual-row battlefield with a Melee row and a Ranged row. According to Dobrowolski, the goal was to put "more focus on row identity." During the beta, at first certain cards were restricted to certain rows, while some were "agile," meaning they could be placed in any row. Since the Midwinter update, all cards became agile, and there was no difference in how gameplay worked at all. After Homecoming, though players will not be restricted from playing the cards in any row they choose, certain cards with abilities will only trigger in certain rows, as seen in the example below.
The card and visual design slightly resemble the original closed beta from 2016 when the game was first released. The card borders now look more frayed and worn, to match the battlefield visual. Speaking of card borders, Dobrowolski announced that there will no longer be silver cards, only gold or bronze cards, which, as Burza chimed in, is more in line with the original Gwent from The Witcher 3. Dobrowolski said the reason why silver cards were created for the standalone version in the first place was for balancing purposes. It makes sense to remove them in the Homecoming version, as there is a new "provisions" system with all decks having 30 cards. Another detail highlighted by Burza is that all cards will now have their base power shown in the view mode. Visual effects have been overhauled, and weather effects are still in place, though they weren't shown.
It remains to be seen whether Homecoming will deliver on its promises, given that very little was shown in terms of gameplay. Since it is a complete redesign of almost 500 unique cards and five factions, there is a great chance that much of it will be subject to the prying eyes of the community and its eagerness to find exploits and overlooked flaws in design. Burza has mentioned previously that the developers will offer a PTR build for players to test and mess around with before Homecoming is released for good. If everything goes according to plan, it might be possible for CD Projekt RED to pull this off, but hopefully, a video of a full match in the new battlefield will be presented soon.
What do you think of the overhauled visual design of Gwent? What do you hope to see in terms of gameplay mechanics? Let us know in the comments below.