What’s next for Hearthstone?

Hearthstone

Good ideas (they’ll get to eventually)… cont.

New game boards and customisation options

That the Naxxramas board has now moved into rotation for standard Play mode matches suggests Blizzard will keep refreshing the lineup. Given that the next set of cards is said to be themed, I would expect a couple of new boards based on whatever that theme is to be added at the same time. (Here’s hoping for Icecrown.) I also wouldn’t rule out additional ways to customise your own play area. Think different coloured mana crystals. Also think: more microtransactions.

Co-op mode

The idea of some sort of two-player cooperative mode was first hinted at in November last year, as part of a poll of possible new features conducted at BlizzCon. That particular option in the poll also mentioned “raids” and “boss battles”, which makes me think it eventually led to what would become the Naxx content. However, the idea of two-player teams continues to crop up in interviews. Woo told Game Informer: “We have a list of things we want to do with Hearthstone and we think they are all awesome. Co-op is one of them. I think a double-headed dragon could be really cool.” I get the impression it’s not a live project yet, but it sounds like it might be quite high up on the to-do list given Team 5’s enthusiasm for the social side of Hearthstone, as evidenced by the Fireside Gathering programme.

Expanded Arena and new Tournament mode

Blizzard’s devs have also spoken enthusiastically about the Lord of the Arena tournament, which has been run twice by Tempo Storm. The format involves pro players drafting decks, as per a normal Arena run, and then battling each other in a typical knockout structure. However, the current deck building restrictions in Play mode mean you can never pick more than two of the same card, limiting the fun somewhat. I expect Blizzard to give players the freedom to create Arena-style decks to use against friends at some point.

I also think, given the increasing vibrancy of the competitive scene, that organising and joining tournaments using the game client is likely to become a thing eventually. Imagine if that spare button slot on the main menu page became a new ‘tournaments’ section. Here you could either create your own competition with a bracket builder and invite system, or pay gold and/or real money to enter an existing one and then compete for a share of the winnings. (With Blizzard taking a cut off the top, of course.)

More off- the-wall modes

Why stop there, though? How about a completely unrestricted mode which lets you pick any number of any card, with no class restrictions. Would 20 Soulfires, 5 innervates and 5 Ragnaroses work? No, probably not. But it'd be fun trying. Or how about 60-card decks? Or 5-card decks in which the game starts on 5 mana and with your hero on 15 health. These quickfire matches would be like little Hearthstone haikus. I actually think some turbo-charged variants of the standard game would be enormously popular. So long as this sort of stuff is treated the same way as Casual mode, then there’s really no reason not to let players set their own match parameters and experiment with formats. It’d certainly add some new life for those of us who can’t face another month of grinding on the ladder.

Might happen, but won’t be for years

New Hero classes

Yes, yes, we’ve all seen Amaz’s Death Knight and Monk class concepts, yes they’re really fun, yes it would be exciting to have another Hero to try… But it ain’t happening anytime soon chums. According to game director Eric Dodds, speaking here with BlizzPro, the idea isn’t even currently in discussion. And when you consider that there was a four-year gap between World of Warcraft’s launch and the arrival of the Death Knight class, that’s probably no great surprise. Blizzard aren’t ones to rush, and clearly see Hearthstone as a very long term project. There will be plenty of time, and other extra features, before we get a new class. What we may get, though, is the option to use alternate heroes for the existing classes. Bored of Garrosh? Just switch to Grommash. For a price.

Never going to happen

Card trading

Look, Blizzard didn’t get rich like Gadgetzan Auctioneers at a magic convention by allowing you to just swap cards with your friends. Tsk. The very thought of it. (Although wouldn’t it be cool if once a month you were able to trade, say, one card for a card of equivalent rarity with someone on your friends list?) But nope, it’ll be a cold day in Baron Geddon’s sauna when that comes to pass.

What do you think? Agree with my picks, or do you expect to see the game go in different directions? Let me know below.