Amidst all the talk about Half-Life: Alyx, Valve boss Gabe Newell dropped a surprising message a couple of weeks ago that Valve is still working on Artifact, its big-flop CCG. Right around the same time, the Artifact Twitter account sprung back to life with its first message in almost a year, declaring that the game is "under construction" and linking to a message promising more information after the launch of Alyx.
With Alyx now out and fans well into the process of freeing it from its VR shackles, Valve has followed through with a new, more detailed update about what's in store for Artifact's near future. It's still relatively early in the re-development process, but it sounds like big changes are coming, beginning with the ability to zoom out to view all three lanes at once. That sounds like a fairly basic feature, but Valve said it should make it easier for players to stay on top of what's happening in the game and avoid being "shut out" as happened in the original iteration.
In an even bigger change, cards will not be sold as they were in the first release, but will have to be earned through gameplay instead. There will also be a Hero Draft mode added "that gives you a taste of constructing decks without all the pressure."
All of this is still a good way off. Valve said that it's currently testing "boring stuff," and once that's done it will send out invitations to early testers in small amounts, beginning with original Artifact players. Work on the game will continue until its ready to move into an open beta test, and then a full release, "hopefully quicker than Dota 2." (Dota 2, for the record, was in open beta for about two years.)
In a brief FAQ, Valve warned that testers for the new Artifact will be selected from among people who purchased the game before today, so there's no point buying it now in hopes of getting into the beta ahead of everyone else. (And yes, it is still available for purchase.)
And unfortunately for those who went in big on it, cards, decks, and stats from the original release of Artifact will not be available in the reboot. "Individual cards are likely to have been changed, removed, or brand new; so old decks and stats wouldn’t be valid," Valve said.
As for how it's going to make money, that's not entirely clear at this point. Valve said it has some ideas in that regard, but emphasized that it will not be through the sale of cards or packs. (My money's on hats. It's always hats.) Dates haven't been attached to any of this, but for now it's impressive (and surprising) enough that it's happening at all.