Thursday 22 March 2018

Hearthstone - Goblins vs Gnomes review: Even more exciting card action from Team 5


Max Wallis

When Blizzard first announced Hearthstone it was met with a noncommittal shrug by much of the gaming press. Where was World of Warcraft 2, the sequel to the most successful MMO of all time? Better yet, where was Warcraft 4 - a sequel to the beloved Real Time Strategy game of 2002? Many fans were angry, accusing Blizzard of ‘cashing in’ on the Free to Play market.

Rating: 4/5; iOS

Hearthstone was the product of a small-scale team at Blizzard called Team 5. Designed to attempt to develop new games with fresh ideas on a small scale but with the same devotion and level of quality that was befitting of a company whose Californian HQ is guarded by a humongous iron orc.

When Hearthstone dropped last year it quickly garnered praise and, importantly, a defined fan-base and in its first year received two expansion packs. While its first, Curse of Naxxramas saw the player battling against deviously clever computer opponents, the latest, Goblins vs. Gnomes, simply adds more cards - albeit a huge 143. This in itself makes it rather hard to review - there's no way we can go through every single card as they're unlocked at random by paying 100 gold coins of in-game cash.

But there's no doubt that the game is definitely a success. I said in my last review that Hearthstone's mark of excellence is its ability to pull the gamer in for one more game - Goblins vs. Gnomes has done that again. There's the new introduction of mech cards - which feed off other mechs on the playing table to result in searingly powerful combinations. Also introduced are a boatload of legendaries, such as a new Warrior card which hides a mine in a player's deck, ready to be set off when it's picked up.

Hearthstone is a beautiful little game. It packs the punch of a real-life battle, but on the surface it is ‘just’ a card game. At once perfectly simple, and yet steadily complex when you try and create the perfect deck. Its online-only nature means that gamers have to sit there, focused, knowing they are fighting another player likely across the other side of the globe. If this is the product of small devoted teams such as Team 5, I’m eager for Blizzard to branch out again.

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