In an interview by the Dutch website Techpulse, the Hearthstone Devs have given us more information about the upcoming expansion, the new Core Set, as well as some info about cosmetics, like returning Skins, card backs and future possibilities for Battlegrounds. They also gave us some news in regards to the new mode Mercenaries, which you can read here. Here is our summary.
- Core Set gives you a good foundation quickly.
- Both versions of the Dragon Aspects are playable in Wild - new ones will be available through Core Set.
- Priority is on designing cards for the Year of the Gryphon - new cards are designed to fill holes and might stick around for the next rotation.
The introduction of the Core Set means you can quickly unlock a foundation of 235 free cards which represents the experience you’ll see in constructed play and prepares you for it. In addition you’ll also get to experience Classic, which many new players haven’t experienced first hand.
Our priority is on designing cards for The Year of the Gryphon, but we also want them to fulfill that class’ fantasy. Like Vanessa VanCleef for example, who is a simple and exciting legendary. The new cards are designed to fill in holes. It’s possible they will stick around, and if they rotate they will probably end up in Wild, but that’s not sure yet.
Forged in the Barrens
- The Barrens is an iconic setting with a focus on the Horde - there are Alliance characters as well, but they’ll focus on those later.
- Leveling experience from World of Warcraft as theme - represented through Ranked Spells and the journey of 10 Hearthstone-exclusive characters.
- Spell Schools will have a bigger focus in the Mini Set - they create interesting possibilities, but they want to start off slow.
When designing a new set we brainstorm with the entire team. That’s how we came up with things like Karazhan or the good versus E.V.I.L. storyline from Year of the Dragon. Within Hearthstone’s history we have done very well theming expansions after places, but this time we wanted to focus on the leveling experience from World of Warcraft. It’s an exciting journey and we’re telling it through the lens of 10 Hearthstone-exclusive characters and is also represented in the Ranked Spells. The Barrens is an iconic setting and great for an expansion with focus on the Horde. There’s Alliance characters as well but we’ll focus on those later.
Spell Schools are similar to minion types. The key element is the synergies you can create with other cards. For example “When you cast a Holy spell…” or “Nature spell damage +3”. They touch on class fantasy and create more fun gameplay possibilities. We start off slowly with these but will be leaning into them a lot more in the upcoming miniset for Forged in the Barrens.
- The Devs want to give players more chances to get older Skins, like Thunderking and Sylvanas.
- They're thinking about making card backs and Skins craftable.
- Making cosmetics for Battlegrounds is difficult, but they're working on it - there are many characters you might not use that often, and the option to have some prioritized is off the table.
- Tavern Pass gets new cosmetics.
- Tavern Pass shouldn't become something that you have to purchase - "It is very much meant as a way to support the game in return for vanity options".
We have also discussed [cosmetics for Battlegrounds] and like the idea, but it comes with some difficulties. There are so many characters so you might not end up using skins that often, which can make you feel bad. Prioritizing champions you have skins for is also not an option. We actively have projects and people working on it, but there’s nothing to reveal just yet.
The Tavern Pass is meant to be light on functionality and more aimed at giving you vanity options. It doesn’t affect your gameplay outside of the small impact it has on XP gain. Many players have already made it to level 50 without. If you like skins though, you actually get quite a lot for the 20 euros it costs, including one for the coin. There’s also some new vanity options coming to the Tavern Pass for Forged in the Barrens that we haven’t revealed yet, but think players will be very excited about. We will not be adding more economy to the pass, because we don’t want it to become something that you have to purchase. The fact that we get this feedback though, means that we have to think about how we communicate about the Tavern Pass. It is very much meant as a way to support the game in return for vanity options.
Working from home
On a Tuesday at the start of the pandemic we decided to try and work from home for a day. The next day we told everyone to come get their stuff and started working that way full time. I’m proud of the team for adapting because It’s not something that Blizzard supported in the past. To get through it we invested heavily on activities to boost morale. As time went on we started looking for new ways to communicate and get together. We are still learning every month and put extra focus on awareness about what was going on. It’s also important for individual teams to have events and have fun together outside of building the game. Last week for example, I beat Ben in our Directors Battlegrounds Throwdown (laughs)
What are you looking for from the new Core Set and upcoming cosmetics? Tell us in the comments!