Hearthstone had a pretty good year in 2014. Blizzard expanded the game’s card pool by 150+ cards split between the adventure mode ‘Curse of Naxxramas’ and the full expansion Goblins vs. Gnomes. Recently, Hearthstone also added the much anticipated spectate feature, which, as you might imagine, allows players to watch their friends play the game. Still, Hearthstone’s feature set remains somewhat barebones and the new year offers Blizzard many opportunities to expand on the game and perhaps make some changes to the way the approach certain aspects of dealing with its issues. This week, let’s take a look at a couple of ways Blizzard can improve the Hearthstone experience in 2015.
New Expansions & Card Balance
This is sort of a gimme. Everyone expects Blizzard to continue to expand Hearthstone’s card pool over time, but maybe a smaller amount of cards more frequently might be a better approach to things in the New Year.
New cards have the potential to shift the metagame and apparently, this is more sorely needed in Hearthstone than I expected. Hearthstone’s meta has been fairly stagnant for some time now and there was really no way to see how things would change until Blizzard put out a substantial number of new cards. As it turns out, players are pretty entrenched in what they’ve been doing, and 150 new cards later, players are still largely playing the same things. Combined with Blizzard’s apprehension towards balancing existing cards, things can get stale for months and months on end, unless Blizzard puts out sets of cards on a more frequent basis or adjusts its stance towards balancing existing cards.
As far as we know, Blizzard has no plans on adding new classes to Hearthstone. We discussed the topic with Blizzard’s Eric Dodds earlier this year and the reasoning behind the decision to stick with the game’s nine classes was sound. Still, I’d like to see new classes nonetheless, and I feel there are enough players out there that would be super excited for the addition of classes like Monk and Death Knight that the team may end up changing their tune at some point in the future. Perhaps not 2015, but we can certainly hope.
Other games get mounts and skins, so how about some cosmetics for Hearthstone? Currently, we have card backs we can earn through the competitive ladder and various promotions, but why not add some for pay card backs or other cosmetics to the game? Personally, I’d love to see alternate hero portraits come in for each class, each complete with their own VO for emotes and such. Supposedly, Blizzard has been working on this, but we haven’t heard much on it in quite a while.
Expanded Feature Set
As I mentioned in the opening, Hearthstone’s got a fairly minimal set of features right now and Blizzard could certainly stand to expand on them. That said, Hearthstone’s simplicity in this way is actually one the game’s best aspects. Blizzard is all about ensuring its games have mainstream appeal through accessibility, and the easiest way to turn off newbies is to have a bloated feature set. I don’t want to see Blizzard overload Hearthstone with new features and I’m sure the team feels the same, but there are a few things I’d like to see added.
One of the most requested features I’ve seen are replays and I’m inclined to agree with their level of importance. Games like Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II feature replays and they do a great job at letting players review matches to see where they went wrong so that they can improve their game. As someone still striving to improve, being able to easily review my last game and identify my misplays in Hearthstone would be a real handy feature. I’d also love to be able to share replays with friends or perhaps even online.
Another great way to spice up Hearthstone’s competitive play would be the introduction of both a tournament mode and regular tournament events. A tournament mode would be great for allowing tournament organizers to set up their events in-client. Blizzard could even run its own tournaments (with a cost to enter) and prizes on perhaps a bi-weekly to monthly basis. Many online games do this sort of thing already and Hearthstone’s lack of in-client tournament system really sticks out like a sore thumb.
And then there are deck slots. Of course, I was going to go here. Blizzard keeps telling us additional deck slots would add confusing complexity for new players and we keep telling them that we don’t care. We want our damn deck slots! And yet, here we are. Unfortunately, we as a community went a long way towards validating Blizzard’s stance on deck slots when many of us couldn’t figure out the simple task of purchasing GvG packs when the expansion came out, and that even includes popular streamers. Are we all dumb? Or did Blizzard just do a poor job of designing the pack purchase UI? I’ll leave that for you to decide. And for the record, no, I didn’t accidentally buy classic packs. It’s not that hard, people!
What would you like to see Blizzard add to Hearthstone in 2015? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB