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I told myself I wasn't going to make this post. Let the community figure it out, let Blizzard respond, we'll all be friends again. I believe it's more important though, on the day Darkmoon Faire launches, that someone joins the conversation as a partial devil's advocate. I want our readers to know that for the most part, we agree with the general consensus, this is bad.
There has been so much negativity, justified of course, in the Hearthstone community lately thanks to the information we datamined for the experience requirements of the new rewards track. I have zero regrets doing so, it is so important that everyone stays informed and I'm thrilled that we can be that service for the community. Through math, it has been discovered that players, in general, are going to be earning less gold than the old system which is a really shit way to jump into a new set.
Before we continue, I've got a bunch of links that need to be shared. Many community members have also spoken about this topic and like every single member of the community, their voices are important too. I'm just the weird uncle with a front-page exposed to the community.
- Dekkster: We need to talk about the Tavern Pass... (YouTube)
- J_Alexander: Hearthstone's New Progression System Doesn't Meet Expectations
- Solem: Blizzard Lied about the Tavern Pass.. (YouTube)
- RegisKillbin: Let's have a little chat about the battlepass cons ...and pros? (YouTube)
- RidiculousHat: Why Hearthstone players are so angry about the new season pass and what Blizzard can do to fix it (PCGamer)
- Zeddy: Blizzard has LIED to all of us about the Battle Pass and this is NOT OK! (YouTube)
With that out of the way, let's begin.
Sidenote: As this was being written, Hearthstone's Ben Lee has responded to the Rewards Track feedback. We will touch upon that too.
The Rewards Track
For those that aren't familiar with the new system (as I've seen confusion about how it works), the Rewards Track is Hearthstone's new progression system and it has replaced the original goal of daily quests.
The new system is much more fascinating than simply logging in, getting a quest, and exchanging your time completing the said quest for some gold. Now in addition to the gold rewards, we are able to earn card packs, heroes (provided you pay to upgrade), a cosmetic coin (paid), and experience boosts to increase the speed at which you progress. Never has there been so many rewards to earn by just playing Hearthstone.
That's the big key in this whole system, the reason why it was so important to add to the game. You see, Hearthstone isn't just playing ranked Standard and Wild anymore. The game has evolved and is continuing to evolve to support new modes, ways to change up how you'll play and the original system sucked at giving everyone rewards for gameplay. With this new system, experience is rewarded for Arena, Battlegrounds, and Duels too, which means those types of players can work their way towards new rewards. A huge win if you're trying to get new people to play the game and they aren't very interested in the core gameplay.
How Blizzard Goofed
I have one big problem with all the math that is being done and we're on the hook for this too, sort of. None of the math considers what we'll earn from participating in legendary quests that are active during events. Now, here's where the "sort of" comes into play because I don't fault anyone for it. Blizzard, you goofed hard.
It isn't that the system in itself is difficult to understand, a common complaint I've seen. Most online games these days have a battle pass and they all work the same way:
- Complete objective
- Earn experience
- Level up and earn a reward
Yes, it is more "complicated" than the old system of "get daily get gold", but that system was boring. Being stuck with something for 6 years doesn't make it good, that's just a bad relationship if you feel that way.
We're just playing Fortnite!
Had Blizzard provided us with a better picture of how the entire pass was laid out and a breakdown of what we would be able to use for experience gains, we'd be able to have the full picture now. Just tell us how much a legendary quest is going to give us and how many you're planning on distributing. Pushing players into the system blind gets everyone angry and they start cancelling their pre-orders. Blizzard, remember that blog that you used to sometimes use for posting cool developer updates? This is a great space for information like that!
The interface for the new system of progression and achievements is horrendous.
- By trying to keep things so simple, everything has become a nested mess in the Hearthstone client.
- By trying to keep things so simple, we've got a bunch of meaningless icons that are useless for a player new to the system.
- Collection Manager scrolling from an older patch uses the wrong scroll wheel direction. (That's an article for another time).
Labels are good. The icons on the left, not so much. Was a tooltip too hard for desktop at least?
I don't understand what happened at the Hearthstone team in the past year or two as far as their user interface and experience team goes, but this is getting out of hand. We see the same trend of having nothing labelled extended into the new "Modes" tab where you can't tell the difference between Arena, Battlegrounds, and Duels until you click on them all and eventually learn the icons. Why are people so afraid of text?
I'm starting to feel like the reason we couldn't have more deck slots for a while was that the team themselves couldn't find a way to make the entire thing out of icons without text. At least they got the scroll wheel direction correct on that feature.
The third gaff is that the reward track's Tavern Pass component (way to go on reusing the name from Battlegrounds because that isn't confusing) should have been included in the mega pre-order bundle. I know Bobby Kotick has to buy a new sports car and mansion, but surely there has to be a better way to go about this.
The game gets more expensive twice with this expansion. Although I don't agree completely with the community on this one because we still don't have the full breakdown of the cards to come in the 35-card set addition, it is additional cards we need to acquire which ultimately is more money (amount pending). I don't mind spending money on the game, but this is another place where some transparency would be nice since you're doing something weird. We knew Galakrond's Awakening was going to cost what you'd expect out of an Adventure, is the same true here? More expensive? Cheaper?
The Tavern Pass though is absolutely a requirement for playing, or at least should be more than just a bunch of cosmetic heroes.
The paid version of the pass is the literal Barrens in World of Warcraft. Occasionally there is a town or a dead wife to find, but the rest is just empty. Make it more interesting by moving a handful of packs from the bundle into the initial pass, giving better rewards to players who don't buy the bundle but opt instead for the pass, that'd be neat. It also wouldn't take more than a couple of games to unlock the few packs, so it isn't a big hurdle.
There you go, another free blog topic. Talk about why the paid pass is the way it is.
Blizzard, You Can Do Better
This really isn't rocket science. No seriously, you weren't responsible for yesterday's SpaceX ISS docking, this is just a children's card game (CCG). Obviously, there are many different teams and responsibilities of the Hearthstone team, but it sounds like you need a new person or team to keep things in check with your player base.
- Detail your new progression mode. Absolutely unacceptable everyone was left in the dark.
- Detail the amount of XP per hour for every mode, not just a select few.
- Tell us exact plans for the additional experience gains that aren't a part of the quests and achievements system.
- Figure out what happened to your user experience and interface team. Is the dog on the computer again?
- Communicate. JUST DO IT! Learn from Riot, they know how to communicate with the community.
Also, really? A Year of the Dragon pack as the level 48 reward? Who designed this system? You are more than capable of giving out multiple rewards on each track level, your new system uses the old achievement/quest system internally after all so you can definitely give players multiple rewards (how about gold and that crud pack?) for completing a single objective, you've done it before and your current system supports it.
Update: I should have fact-checked this before going live. I misremembered client data.
We Should Still Enjoy the Expansion
Although Blizzard has dropped the ball here, let's be real though, it's whatever the monetization team is called that we really have a problem with, Darkmoon Faire still looks like plenty of fun and we shouldn't let them ruin the atmosphere.
- Share your favourite decks with your friends and the community.
- Talk about the stuff you love about the new set.
- Give the developers positive feedback on your new favourite cards and decks; Don't turn them into alcoholics.
- Figure out the overpowered stuff and abuse it so we can get dust refunds in 2 weeks. This is why you never disenchant duplicate cards at the start of an expansion.
Remember, we can still enjoy the game while not liking certain aspects of it. Arena and Wild players have been doing exactly that since the beginning of time so find a friend who partakes in those sides of the game and ask them how they cope.
Have a fun expansion launch, don't let Blizzard off the hook, and most importantly:
- If you see people not providing constructive criticism, ask them what they believe would fix things.
- If you see someone attacking developers personally, tell them to take a hike. Be angry at the company and the process, not the individual people.
- If you have a queue lasting more than 4 hours, restart the game.
An Update Before Posting
Before this was posted, Ben Lee responded to the rewards track community feedback.
- Your team has still not addressed how much experience we should expect. We're talking numbers now, you should be too.
- "Variety of ways" is the usual Hearthstone vague.
- Its good to see there will be a catch-up mechanism for players who join in late. Why not describe it?
- 1350 Gold being added instead of some poor reward choices near the end of the pass is a damn good change.
I still trust that Blizzard will ensure "players earn more gold and total rewards per expansion" is a reality, because they've been repeating it non-stop and because of that it is their one saving grace with me, but I feel like they could have given us more to chew on than just knowing there's more gold at the end.