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Hearthstone's reviled new reward system is getting a major overhaul

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Hearthstone's (opens in new tab) new seasonal reward track and paid Tavern Pass has not gone over well with players. We dove into the details here (opens in new tab), but the short version is that Blizzard said the new battle pass would absolutely not reduce gold rewards, and it did (opens in new tab)—and when Blizzard later apologized and boosted the gold outlay, it took away other rewards. It's fair to say the whole thing has been the kind of debacle that gives debacles a bad name.

Today game director Ben Lee apologized again, and detailed a more extensive overhaul (opens in new tab) of the new progression and reward system that's set to arrive later this month. One of the biggest changes will be the removal of weekly quests that require Legendary cards and playing Arena, which Lee said are being cut because the investment required makes them too difficult to access: "Frankly, these were a mistake and we shouldn’t have included them to begin with," Lee said. 

Other changes include an adjustment to the weekly quest to win seven games of ranked play, which is being softened to five ranked wins per week. Tavern Brawls and Battlegrounds wins will count toward quest progress following the update, all daily quests that currently reward 800 XP will be increased to 900 XP, and other "small tweaks" will be made.

"Some quests simply aren’t working as well as we think they should or are harder to complete than intended. For example, the quest 'Play 50 Corrupt Cards' had a couple of issues making it too hard to complete," Lee explained. "Now, Corrupted cards will properly count toward progress of this quest. We’re also reducing the requirement to 30 Corrupt Cards. These changes should make completing the quest much easier."

The amount of XP required to progress along the reward track has also been reduced by a total of 37,000, which should make higher levels of the reward track easier to achieve. Lee said Blizzard's original XP calculations had included rewards earned through in-game events, but it has "rethought this and recognize that the rewards track should stand on its own and not require event XP bonuses." Events will still take place but will grant event rewards rather than bonus XP, which Blizzard expects will make rewards "predictable and consistent across an expansion."

Levels 27 and 30 of the reward track will have 50 gold added to them, and the bonus levels that kick in once the first 50 levels are complete are also being changed up: Bonus levels will go up to 350 instead of 150, and because of that larger number, each post-50 level will take less XP to complete and reward 50 gold. That's a smaller amount of gold per level than is currently being rewarded, but will enable players to earn gold bonus gold rewards without having to put "an unusually high level of effort" into it.

Lee said that these are not intended to be the final changes to Hearthstone's new progression system, and that Blizzard is kicking around some other ideas for first 50 levels of the new reward track "to make progression feel even better."

"We knew this would be a new and complex system that required iteration, and we are committed to short-term changes and a long-term vision to make this a fun and rewarding part of Hearthstone," he wrote. "We also want to strike a balance between making changes quickly and ensuring that we get things right, and we’re taking additional time past this point to plan the next round of updates that we would like to implement in the future."

The changes seem like a big step in the right direction, but we'll have to wait for the update to go live so we can see them in action before we can properly judge. That's expected to happen later this month, although a specific date hasn't been announced at this point. Blizzard will also offer a one-time login reward of five Darkmoon Faire card packs and 500 gold, which will be available from December 15 to January 18.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.