2018 will see the release of three new expansions for Hearthstone, lead artist Ben Thompson told Metabomb at a recent press event in the UK. What that will work out to in hard numbers hasn't been set yet, but Thompson said said they will be "full sets" of cards, with new missions in each—and added that Adventures won't be coming back.
"At this point we feel it's best to continue to add mission content to the actual release set for several reasons," Thompson said. "There's a lot of solid single-player content that happens with each and every set, there's certainly a subset of players who like those, and even prefer those in some cases. At the same time it provides a lot of opportunity for complexity to be put in that model."
The big problem with Adventures is one of balance: Blizzard needed to get new cards into the meta, but dialing back the difficulty to ensure that all players could complete them and thus acquire the cards left them disappointing for more experienced players. With missions, Blizzard can "put the challenge into them—and certainly with the Dungeon Run there'll be a ton of challenge in there," but the only gated content will be a card back.
"It's very different from 'I don't have a card I can add to my deck now and make a certain deck type'," Thompson said. "For that reason, putting together three full releases with mission content is a big part of how we see the game going forwards."
Senior designer Peter Whalen, who also took part in the interview, touched on concerns about the distribution of Legendaries and the rising cost of keeping pace in the Hearthstone weapons race. He said that Blizzard is "doing a better job of having a diverse and interesting metagame that's evolving and creating lots of different archetypes," and so it's naturally become more difficult to be able to maintain all decks.
"It used to be there was a small handful of cards that showed up in every deck. I think that made Hearthstone less fun and it was just not as good an environment to play in," he said.
"[Now] there's less overlap between them. You mentioned two Legendaries in each class. I think that's been great for gameplay. It means that classes... if one of their Legendaries isn't that great they're still excited about the other one. We often try to do Legendaries for different types of players and our goal is not to make Legendaries be the most powerful cards in the set."
As for the actual cost involved, he pointed to changes Blizzard has made to help ensure that players are getting proper value for their money: Duplicate Legendaries don't drop anymore, for one thing, and players are guaranteed to get one in their first ten packs.
"We've been giving away more Legendaries—the Death Knight or a Legendary Weapon or Marin the Fox. We've done more events as well like the Dual Class Arena where we gave away free Arena runs. Things like the Fire and Frost Festivals too," he said. "At the end of the day our goal is to make sure you feel when you're opening Hearthstone packs, when you're spending your time and money, that you feel like you're getting good value. That you're excited and happy about it."
Blizzard announced earlier today that the Hearthstone: Kobolds & Catacombs expansion will be out on December 7 in North America, and December 8 in Europe.