It is strange to think that is was way back in June 2012 that I reviewed Diablo III, strange as it just goes to show how time flies. It also means that I hadn’t touched the game since the summer of 2012, at least until this past weekend when I started to gear myself up for the upcoming expansion, Reaper of Souls. What brought me back ahead of the expansion? The promise of a limited time only 50% XP boost did the trick. …
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is one of those games that a lot of people might not understand or gel with immediately. If you have no background with Blizzards Warcraft games then learning the ins and outs of classes, abilities and how best to play might take a little while longer, although a background in CCG’s (collectible card games) of any form will certainly help. As a person who played World of Warcraft for around five years, I knew from the instant I saw my first game that I wanted to play it for myself as it brought back memories of time spent on many of my characters, but still posed something of a new challenge as far as gameplay was concerned. But enough of my nostalgic babble, I suppose you want to know just exactly what Hearthstone is.
Hearthstone is a strategic digital CCG, based around Blizzards popular Warcraft games. The aim of the game is to lower your enemies health (from thirty) to zero using a pre-compiled deck of thirty cards with different stats and abilities. Each card has a mana cost and you start the game with one mana crystal, rising by one each turn to a maximum of ten. As is the case with most strategic card games (digital or otherwise) knowledge of your opponent and their abilities is key, but that mostly comes with practice and experience with different situations.
There are nine classes in the game, each with class specific and neutral cards that can be used to adapt your heroes deck theme. For example as a Mage you could construct a rush-down deck that consists of direct damage to the enemy hero and spellpower minions used to increase that damage to a maximum. You could alternatively construct a turtle deck (defensive) that allows you to restrict the use of your enemies cards against you, reducing the damage you take whilst slowly chipping their health away. For each class there are many themes of deck that can be constructed and with nine classes at hand there really is a wide variety of outcomes that could appear in every game.
There are also three game modes to be considered; Casual, Ranked and Arena. Casual gameplay consists of practice games against scalable AI of your choice and also includes a multiplayer portion, where most players gather to grind gold and test out new decks they have created. Ranked mode follows much the same structure as casual multiplayer except that each win and loss will move you up and down a ladder. The lower your ranking, the better a player you are generally considered to be. Ranked gameplay is generally considered as hardcore mode as most players participating in this ladder system will have honed their decks to perfection and will rarely make mistakes. If you enter into ranked mode unprepared, do not expect to go very far.
For me Arena mode is where the real fun is to be had, and is essentially a way to make maximum use of your gold (in game credit) whilst testing your skills to the max. Buying a deck in Hearthstone will cost you 100 gold and consists of five randomly chosen cards. Entry into Arena costs 150 gold, but gives you the chance to win more than one deck, along with bonus gold and dust (used to craft individual cards). The minimum you can walk away with at the end of a bad arena run is one deck of cards, so the choice is yours to spend the extra 50 gold and gamble with the chance to extend your collection or play it safe and just buy decks.
Part of the reason why I enjoy Hearthstone so much is that I have almost never played exactly the same game twice. With 439 cards to chose from there are so many different options for every class that the potential for gameplay is almost endless. There is an addictive side to the game, as you only start out with a basic card roster. It’s only once you have levelled up your characters and played a few arena games that you will be able to craft some proper decks and by that time your hooked to the flush gameplay, RNG of the card draw and the chance to prove your skills at all levels of the game. Blizzard are dedicated to balancing this game as well as they possibly can and have already implemented several patches based on feedback and statistics. I for one am very interested to see what the future of this game has to hold. Did I mention it will be free to play upon full release? What more could you possibly want?
My experience of the StarCraft games has long been limited to the early levels of the first game, I don’t think I even got a quater of the way through the campaign. I was always more interested in titles like Red Alert 2 and so the different style of Blizzard’s seminal title didn’t quite grab me. I missed out on the release of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for reasons unknown to me now, but I decided to grow up and take the plunge into the latest part of the StarCraft II journey with the Heart of the Swarm expansion. …
Activision Blizzard’s popular MMORPG World of Warcraft has lost another 1.1 million subscribers this month, bringing the total number of lost subscribers since June of last year to 2 million. AB put the loss down to strong performances from their other games that have dragged customers away from WoW. They also believe that people waiting for the expansion to WoW have unsubbed until its release in October. Making a statement on the official forums they said:
Contributing factors to the lower subscribers were likely the launch of Diablo III in the quarter, which provided consumers with an alternative gaming experience to World of Warcraft (although Diablo III has not yet launched in China), as well as the lack of new content patches in all geographies resulting in less overall game play. Looking forward, Blizzard Entertainment expects to release World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria™ on September 25, 2012, which will deliver new game content in all regions that is expected to further appeal to the gaming community (with availability in mainland China to be announced at a later date).
Ten million copies of Diablo 3 have been sold since launch making it the best-selling game on PC for the first six months of 2012. 1.2 million of these people have signed up for the annual pass, almost enough to make up for the loss of subscribers to WoW.
Blizzard have kindly informed us that Diablo 3 is the new all-time best selling PC game of all time after selling 3.5 million copies within the first 24 hours of its release. On top of this, 1.2 million more people received a copy of the game as part of the World of Warcraft annual pass promotion. A bit of simple maths leads to the fantastic figure of 4.7 million gamers with access to the game at launch, a figure which may explain some of the server issues, but which doesn’t disguise the fact that the always online requirement is baffling. That though is a story for another time. More details and quotes about the launch of Diablo 3 can be found after the jump. …
Diablo III, Blizzard’s monster dungeon-crawling RPG is launching at midnight tonight. Somehow we haven’t actually talked about Diablo at all yet. Better late than never though, as after the jump there is a new trailer which will introduce you briefly to the different classes in the game and the various Battle.net options that will be in the game. Personally, I am rather looking forward to Torchlight 2 a bit more, but I am sure Diablo won’t disappoint. …
Chances are that you already know if you’re going to like Starcraft 2. If you’ve played any of Blizzard’s games then you’ll pretty much know what to expect: an accessible if somewhat cheesy game with high production values and extensive multiplayer support. I could go into detail on the unit balances and the intricacies of battlenet, but those are not really important. In fact, the important parts of this game, really, are the multiplayer and the campaign, and I imagine a sizeable chunk of consumers would disagree with me on the latter point.
Some interesting news coming through TXT; the previously thought dying MMO Myst Online has been giving a second wind by opening up the source and letting the community host their own servers. This, in addition to the one free server Cyan Worlds still hosts, could mean that fans of the game won’t be let down as they see the game they enjoyed wither and die. It’s still rather interesting on it’s own, just as an experiment with this formula.