Earlier this year, Blizzard revealed that Hearthstone will be getting a new, single-player game mode coming to the game called Mercenaries. Today, the developers revealed more information about the game including how the gameplay works and how progression works in the game. Mercenaries is Hearthstone’s take on an RPG experience with roguelike mechanics. Players will collect iconic Mercenaries, assembling parties to take down procedurally generated Bounties. The new game mode is set to launch on October 12.
Hearthstone Mercenaries takes place in the land of Azeroth. The main hub of the game is The Village. Here, you will manage your mercenaries, prepare for bounties, check the task board, and more. There are various buildings that you will create and upgrade as you continuing playing.
The Workshop will be the first stop when you enter Mercenaries. You’ll build and upgrade all of the locations in The Village here. Upgrading locations give each a new look and improve their functionality. The Tavern is where you will manage your mercenaries. Here, you can craft mercenaries, browse through your collection, select different cosmetic options, and upgrade their abilities and equipment. The Travel Point is where you access Bounties and engage in PVE gameplay. You will pick a Zone and then select a Bounty to hunt. The Bounties unlock sequentially within a Zone and each has a suggested level. As you upgrade the Travel Point, you’ll gain access to the Heroic difficulty which makes Bounties more challenging.
The Fighting Pit is where players engage in PVP. Players will always be paired against a similarly powerful team of Mercenaries. Gameplay is also a little different than usual because you won’t be able to see what moves your opponent is locking in. Competing in the Fighting Pit allows players to complete achievements, get rewards, and move their way up for a spot on the leaderboard.
The Merchant Cart is Mercenaries’ in-game shop where you can get Mercenaries Packs, Coins, and other seasonal or personal offers available to you. The Mailbox will house in-game announcements about Hearthstone’s Mercenaries mode. The Campfire houses the Task Board which is essentially the Quest Log or Achievements tab in the Journal. There will be new tasks daily and you will return to the Campfire to claim rewards.
Gameplay is a little different in Mercenaries than The game pits parties of 6 against each other. 3 will go on the playing field while the other 3 will be available on the bench where replaces Mercenaries who are knocked out. The game ends when the entire party has been knocked out of the game. Mercenaries are separated into 3 roles: Fighters, Casters, and Protectors. Fighters use aggressive abilities to deal major damage. Casters tend to cast spells for powerful effects-sometimes supporting your party, sometimes blowing the other party up. Casters will have less Attack which can make them targets for your enemies. Protectors are the Tank and Support members of your party. They will have a lot of health and tend to utilize effects like Taunt and buffs to control the flow of the battle. Some of them are good at hand-to-hand combat but will not have many ranged options. They also tend to be slower than the other roles. Each role can do twice the damage on another specific role. In other words, Protectors deal 2x the damage to Fighters, Fighters deal 2x the damage to Casters, and Casters deal 2x the damage to Protectors.
Mercenaries fight with abilities and equipment. More abilities unlock as Mercenaries level up whereas equipment is unlocked by completing Achievements and Task Board tasks. Equipment can be upgraded like abilities but only one piece of equipment can be selected per Mercenary. Mercenaries will have up to three abilities when they are leveled up. The game plays out in two phases. The first is the Command phase. You will select an ability for each Mercenary to use. The time at which an ability gets used is determined by Speed. Some abilities will also have a cooldown. After the Command Phase comes the Combat Phase where every choice you made in the Command Phase will play out. The actions play out automatically, in order from lowest Speed number to highest Speed number. If multiple actions have the same speed, one side is randomly chosen to go first. If a character goes down before their action, that action is skipped. If a target of an action goes down before that action, then the action will randomly re-target. Some Mercenaries also specialize in a particular Spell School, sometimes using effects that get stronger as you dig deeper into the Spell School. These Mercenaries might give themselves bonuses based on their own continued use of a particular Spell School. You can also team up other Mercenaries with Spell Schools and utilize Arcane Combos. Each Mercenary also has a minion type including some that don’t exist in other game modes. Hearthstone Mercenaries will feature 8 Mercenaries when you complete the prologue and introductory missions.
Each Bounty includes a procedurally generated series of encounters before culminating in the Bounty Boss. These encounters include fights, the Spirit Healer, and random point of interest nodes that can either help or hurt your party through universal boons, additional characters, or a rule change for that Bounty. After each fight, you will gain experience for all Mercenaries in your party, regardless if they participated in the fight, sat on the Bench, or even died. You will also gain one Treasure per fight for one of your surviving Mercenaries. Treasures come in the form of stats boosts, passive effects, or exciting and powerful new abilities. Treasures will only last for that Bounty. Some fights will be “Elite” encounters. If your Party survives, more experience will be earned and you will get better Treasures than normal. After each fight, Mercenaries will have their health restored. If a Mercenary died, they cannot be used for the rest of run, unless you get to a Spirit Healer encounter where a fallen Mercenary will be revived. The prize for a completed Bounty is a chest full of Mercenary Coins which are used to obtain a particular mercenary or power up other Mercenary abilities and equipment you already own.