Blizzard has finally put out the first details of Hearthstone’s long-awaited single-player “story mode” at Pax East and an online article. The theme will be the raid of Naxxramas, which has long been one of the more memorable and popular dungeons in World of Warcraft; first appearing in the original game and then re-appearing in the Lich King expansion after being remade and re-balanced for the higher level content.
After reading the article, here is what I can glean:
– The adventure mode will consist of 5 separate bosses that must be defeated, one per “wing”
– Each boss will function as an AI controlled hero that must be defeated in 1v1 combat, and will have unique hero powers and probably unique cards also
– The first wing will be free. Remaining wings will release one a week after the first, and must be unlocked via either gold or real money. No prices listed.
– Defeating a boss will unlock one of the 30 new player cards associated with the adventure. Defeating all wings of the adventure will reward players with a legendary, most likely the Baron Rivendare card spoiled in the article. 4 other player cards are also spoiled. All spoiled cards have or interact with the “Deathrattle” keyword.
– The adventure will also include new “class challenges” for each class, the defeat of which will unlock a new card for that class. Details are this are very sketchy though.
– The adventure will be played on a new game board themed to the dungeon
– No release date announced or hinted.
So, some thoughts.
First off, on the positive side I think this is a pretty cool development for the game. I really loved the concept of the Raid decks for the WoW TCG and they really seem to be retaining the flavor of those, albeit as a single player experience which is too bad but expected. I also really like the idea of opening the wings over 5 weeks, it will give the community something to talk about and will give players a reason to keep coming back. Depending on how the class challenges are formatted, those might also allow for a whole lot of replayability as players keep coming back with different classes to unlock the class cards. The new neutral cards spoiled seem pretty powerful to me and may make silence effects incredibly important. Deathrattle was already a powerful keyword on it’s own even without these new buffs to it.
Still, though, there are a lot of questions. How will the class challenges be formatted? Will they be some sort of optional twist on the content? Will they be specific to one boss or include multiple bosses? It’s really unclear. Also, the difficulty level will be interesting to see; there will be huge amounts of public decks posted for defeating the adventure immediately after it comes out, it will be interesting to see how the difficulty is tuned with this in mind. Also, how many of the new player cards will be available via the single free wing?
But probably the biggest question of all is pricing for the 4 wings after the first free one. This is the first micro-transaction added to the game apart from the basic purchasing of packs and arena runs, but surprisingly it will be available for gold also… Blizzard is being even more faithful to the Free-To-Play model than I expected, though this is also because presumably they want to ensure all cards can be acquired for free. It will be interesting to see how they price it. If it’s skewed too far in either direction they will suffer. Too little gold and no one will pay the cash, too much gold and you’ll see massive whining about pay-to-win. Currently Blizzard has established a conversion of 100 gold is approx. $1.25-$1.50 so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the wings cost 200-250 gold each or $1.99. But we will see how much of a cash cow Blizzard is shooting for here.