A new Hearthstone game mode was announced at BlizzConline. However, the announcements were rather… cryptic. We didn’t see any in-game screenshots (only the map) or actual gameplay. Most of the information in this post comes from what developers have shared during Hearthstone panel. Still, the mode sounds quite interesting, so let’s dive in!
What is Mercenaries?
The new game mode was inspired by tactical RPG / roguelike games, such as Slay the Spire (which I wholeheartedly recommend – it’s one of my favorite games). Players will build their own collection of mercenaries, including old-school characters like Sylvanas or Ragnaros, as well as some new faces.
Mercenaries game mode is completely separate from other modes – it doesn’t use your collection, and my guess would be that it doesn’t even use regular Hearthstone cards (or at least not many). The mode has no deck building – you jump straight into the game like in Battlegrounds.
Before you start the run, you assemble a team of mercenaries from the ones available to you (you can unlock more by simply playing the game). Each of them has a unique set of abilities. After you start the game, you will see a randomly generated map with branching paths and pick one of them. You don’t know exactly what’s waiting for you there. There are all kinds of encounters, including normal (easier) fights, elite (harder) fights, as well as non-combat events. During combat, both you and your opponent will select their abilities at the same time and then the fight will play out.
What’s important is that your progress is permanent. Gaining XP levels up your mercenaries, which then gain new abilities. Eventually, they will evolve into a more powerful version of themselves (which sounds a bit like Pokemon, which come to think about it shares a lot of similarities with this game mode) which you can then take on future journeys. Any loot you gain also stays with you (at least as far as we know – there might be some ways to lose it too).
Is it PvP or PvE?
Technically, it’s both. It’s the first game mode that mixes single-player and multi-player aspects.
According to the developers, most of the progression will be done in single-player mode. You will level up your characters, gain loot and so on by playing solo. However, you will also be able to play a PvP mode, where you encounter other players instead.
PvP fights will look completely different than your regular Hearthstone match. Just like during the PvE encounters, instead of taking turns, both players will queue their actions and then they will play out simultaneously. How will that work exactly and how the winner will be determined is still unclear.
When Does it Release?
Initially, the next game mode (which we now know is Mercenaries) was meant to launch this expansion. However, it seems that the team had some delays, since we don’t even know a launch date yet and lots of details are missing. The only thing we know is that we will have more info about it (including launch date) “later this year”.
If we look at the Year of the Gryphon roadmap, it seems that Mercenaries is a part of the Phase 1 – first expansion. If that’s true, then we can expect it to launch anywhere between April and August this year. But again, nothing is confirmed yet. We’ll keep you updated.