Updated Fri, Jan 17, 2014 by Mem
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is already shaping up to be a great game, even though it is only currently in beta. At one point, it seemed as if players would sell their very souls just to get a beta invite. Without a doubt, Hearthstone has some serious potential to be the next great Blizzard game. However, with more and more players getting beta invites, Hearthstone, like all games in the beta phase, is showing some very real problems that will hopefully be addressed before the game goes live.
One of the major problems jumping right into the game is the starting tutorial. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved the tutorial. Unfortunately, it only covered a small fraction of what actually makes up the game. When it comes to things like the Arena, building my own deck, or even something simple like how to concede a match, the tutorial leaves new players painfully unprepared. Thankfully, the game is pretty self explanatory and some trial and error will ultimately get you to where you need to go.
Nonetheless, the tutorial could use some serious work before this game is really totally user friendly. The tutorial isn't the only place that Hearthstone falls short. There are some other kinks in the works too.
Another one of these kinks lies in the lifeblood of Hearthstone; the cards. It goes without saying that Hearthstone is a game that revolves around cards. Without the cards, there is simply no game at all. So it stands to reason, since this is a card game, that there be a lot of card diversity. However, the sad truth of the matter is, there isn't. In fact, for a card game, Hearthstone boasts a very small amount of cards. This is especially true when comparing Hearthstone to epic old school card games like Magic where the variety of cards was nearly endless.
Considering that Hearthstone allows
players to keep their cards online, it would seem that the amount and
variety of cards available in game would explode. This of course is
not the case. This causes a lack of play styles, deck types, and
overall variety in the game. Basically, with so few cards to choose
from, players are stuck doing the same thing over and over again to
be effective. To say the least, things can start to feel a little bit
Perpetuating that sense of boredom is the lack of socialization in the game. While there are some premade in-game emotes, they are pretty generaticand make a real conversation impossible. Unlike other card games, in Hearthstone you are forced to sit in stoney silence while you wait your turn. Non of the razzing, congratulating, or other forms of normal socialization can happen. This of course is a double edge blade, as communicating with random strangers on the internet can be...unpleasant, to say the least.
Equally unpleasant, is being matched up against players who are far beyond your play level. Picture this, me as a new player prancing happily through the tutorial and preparing for my first match up against a real opponent. I hadn't created a deck yet, instead I jumped right in with one of the starter decks. Big mistake. I was taken to school, brutally, over and over again.
It wasn't long until I officially
decided that matching me with a “Worthy Opponent” was a bunch of
hogwash. I finally did create my own deck, which produced better
results. However, the matchmaking in Hearthstone is still undoubtedly
broken. At the beginning stages I should have been matched up with
players with starter decks, just like me. Instead I faced off against
opponents with more experience and better cards. Which lead to a
rather discouraging first experience.
Also discouraging was learning that, despite Blizzard's best efforts, some classes are still better than others. Better cards, better innate abilities, better everything. This is why you will see a ton more Mages than many other classes. This leaves you feeling like, in order to be effective, you have to play a particular class or face losing almost every match. While achieving total class balance may be impossible, getting close is something that the game should be striving for. No one wants to be forced to play a particular class just so they can win more often.
Finally, one of the last major things I feel needs to be fixed in Hearthstone is the amount of gold a player earns and how quickly they can do it. In my mind, the meager amounts of gold received for completing a quest or winning matches is simply not enough. Especially considering you have to spend it to buy decks and use the (rather pricey) Arena. While I do believe you should have to work to earn your gold, it shouldn't feel like such a grind. Grinding isn't fun. Ever.
Despite all these issues, Hearthstone is still an amazing game. I think I will be playing for a long time to come. I know some will be angry with this post, wondering how I could bash such a great game. Just because a game is great, doesn't mean it doesn't have issues. And it is totally ok to point these issues out, especially when a game is in beta. Remember, I love Hearthstone too, I just don't think it is perfect. No game really is. What problems do feel Hearthstone has in it's current beta state? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!