Blizzard provided collectible card game fans with an update on Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft's development today. The beta for the free-to-play multiplayer game could begin by the end of the month.
"Our overall focus has shifted onto fixing bugs and improving our infrastructure so that it can support a larger number of players," said Blizzard in a new blog post. "We’re making good progress, and while we definitely won’t fix every bug before releasing the beta, we do think it’s important to address any issues that would pull focus away from the core game experience. What that means is that we’re not days away from launching the beta, but we’re not months away either."
In Hearthstone, players take on the role of one of nine legendary characters from Warcraft lore in head-to-head battles. Each character has access to different spell, minion and item cards. For example, Gul'dan the warlock can summon demons and sacrifice them for an edge. Jaina, a mage, can unleash elemental spells on her foe.
To stay at the top of their game, Hearthstone players must assemble a strong deck. They can win new cards through battle or purchase booster packs for real-world money. Any undesired cards they find in booster packs can be disenchanted. The materials gained from disenchanting cards can be spent on assembling other cards.
The beta for Hearthstone will support the cash shop. In return for testing this feature, Blizzard will give you a free card.
"We’re pleased to reveal that that gift will be a golden version of Gelbin Mekkatorque, which will be available throughout the closed and open beta tests. When you purchase card packs or an Arena ticket in any phase of the beta test, you will be granted the golden Gelbin Mekkatorque; he won't be available through crafting or getting a lucky hit inside a card pack. Once the game has released, you can still craft a regular Mekkatorque if you save up enough arcane dust."
Hearthstone's beta test will begin in North America. Dedicated testing for Europe, Korea and Taiwan will follow. While the beta will be limited to the PC and Mac at first, Blizzard says that they're making good progress with the iPad version as well. They recently tested the first full cross-platform match between the PC and iPad versions. Regardless of what territory or platform you test the game on, Blizzard wants your feedback.
"You definitely have a part to play as we move into the final phases of Hearthstone development, and we're probably going to have some misses along the way, so share your thoughts and help us make Hearthstone awesome!"