Hearthstone Mercenaries is a roguelike mode with teams of heroes and simultaneous combat

Valeera Sanguinar and the other heroes of Hearthstone Mercenaries
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Not content with having Battlegrounds mode to compete with autobattlers, it seems like Hearthstone is coming for the roguelike deckbuilder genre with its next mode, Hearthstone Mercenaries. Announced today during BlizzConline, Mercenaries will be about building a team of mercs—some familiar faces like Sylvanas Windrunner, King Krush, and Ragnaros the Firelord, while others are new to the mode—then pitting them against a set of randomly generated challenges on the way to a final boss.

Each battle rewards you with loot and experience, and your mercs will eventually evolve to become more powerful. Kind of like Pokémon, or those mobile games that advertise how cool you'll look when you level up. If you play well, they'll be strong enough to defeat the boss—or other players' teams in PvP mode.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Mercenaries' combat system involves choosing which of your characters to send out and then picking actions for them each turn, while your opponent does the same. Then those actions play out simultaneously, and if other games with simultaneous turn-based combat are anything to go by, that's when I'll get to realize how bad I am at predicting someone else's moves.

PC Gamer spoke to game director Ben Lee earlier this week, who told us this about the Mercenaries mode: "The big difference between our take and other roguelikes is that the progression is permanent. So, say you're taking King Krush and Rexxar through a level, they gain experience and they get to keep that. They have skills and abilities, and you can get item drops that enhance your abilities as you go. You keep all of that stuff.

"You're going through this progression of levels with bosses until you get to the end game when you hit the maximum level. The game then becomes a little bit different. [At that point ] it's not really about level progression, it's more about skill, meta counters, and so on. 

Hearthstone Mercenaries is scheduled for a release some time in 2021. 

BlizzCon is happening now. Here's how to watch it. So far there's been plenty of Hearthstone news, like the Core set getting reimagined versions of Malygos, Ysera, and Deathwing, and the Forged in the Barrens expansion being very much for the Horde.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.