Hearthstone's upcoming Mercenaries mode was announced at BlizzConline earlier this year, and will introduce a new hero-focused mode to the established card-battler. It looks like a significant departure from the core game, with players building teams of mercenaries then battling through a series of randomly generated challenges before facing a boss (there's also a PvP element). Mercs themselves will 'evolve' over time, and can be boosted with gear.
In the run-up to release, Blizzard has been surveying existing players about the new mode, and in doing so shared some new screens and one especially excellent marketing idea. Predictably enough, the survey soon leaked and is now all over various Hearthstone communities.
The screens show what is presumably the mode's splash screen, followed by views of the battle arena, the 'map' between rounds, and the post-match levelling up screen. Take this with an entire shaker full of salt, but the survey also apparently mentions 50 mercenaries to collect, and some sort of village hub within the mode.
The survey's highlight, however, comes when asking players what kind of celebrities they think Blizzard should try and associate Hearthstone with. There's the usual list of big-name actors and celebrities, Henry Cavill and all that jazz, then we get to the marketing idea that has to happen (posted here).
I ain't playing, fool!
PC Gamer spoke to game director Ben Lee when the mode was announced, who explained some of how the progression elements of the mode will work.
"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."
Mercenaries doesn't have a release date yet. In the meantime, why not build one of the best decks out there and get smashing some warlocks, and always remember the wisdom of the man that absolutely must be the future face of Hearthstone. "I believe in the golden rule," says Mr T. "The man with the gold, rules!"
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Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."