When Blizzard released the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion for HearthStone, Dungeon Run was included as the single-player content. In The Witchwood, Blizzard is releasing Monster Hunt.
These two additions are entirely different from the single-player content that’s come before.
I spoke with Dean Ayala, Designer on HearthStone, about the new approach to single-player content in the game.
HearthStone Single Player Content
Prior to Kobolds and Catacombs, HearthStone’s single-player adventures had been a series of battles against the AI. These battles were set to a short story and when completed were over and done with.
The old adventures were one-shot experiences and Ayala told me that Blizzard wanted to rectify this going forward.
We’ve been wanting to do a roguelike, re-playable, solo adventure for a really long time now. I think it’s just a matter of coming up with the right theme and idea for it to work.
We had never had a solo content team before Kobolds came out. So we have, basically, a new team comprised of people that started on HearthStone that work on solo adventures now. It really had a lot of new resources to dedicate to that experience, ’cause we thought it was really important.
Replayability is a big factor in HearthStone’s success, but it’s not for everyone. Since its release, HearthStone has been an almost exclusively PvP affair.
PvP or PvE, you decide
“HearthStone, at its core, is a competitive, PvP game and that doesn’t speak to a lot of people,” Ayala admits. “There are a lot of people who might have enjoyed HearthStone, but competitive PvP doesn’t speak to them.
“Now, there is a mode in HearthStone that is re-playable enough for you to come in and play HearthStone every day and not have to really engage in competitive PvP. Which is huge. That’s a huge deal.”
Ayala and Blizzard are hoping that the new solo adventures, will bring “a whole other tier of players that can enjoy HearthStone that maybe didn’t before.”
The solo adventures did offer some PvE gameplay, but as described they were limited in appeal and replayability. Ayala told me that Dungeon Run, Monster Hunt and other upcoming solo adventures are “not comparable to any of the solo content we’ve done before. It’s a completely levelled-up experience.”
Ayala’s excitement and love for the new PvE solo adventures are clear. He told me, “You can play for weeks and still be having really fun experiences, which is just not the kind of experience that the previous solo adventures were directed at.”
Playing with yourself
It’s not just Kobolds and Catacombs and The Witchwood that will benefit from this new focus on solo adventures. Ayala told me, “We’re doing some solo content every expansion from here until the foreseeable future, so we wanted a team to really give that the care it needed.”
As mentioned above, HearthStone now has a dedicated team for work on solo adventures, which means the quality of the content is going to remain consistently high.
It’s really exciting for us to do. We like having a mode where you can go and play solo HearthStone in a low-stress environment, sort of do whatever you want and have a fun time.
Low-stress is not often something you’d associate with HearthStone, given the PvP nature of the gameplay, but when you already have over 50 million players, attracting new ones requires you to offer something different.
Ayala and the HearthStone team are acutely aware of the barriers that exist for new players to get involved in the game. This is something he hopes content like Dungeon Run and Monster Hunt can address.
Learn by doing
Ayala believes that the solo adventures can really help introduce new players to HeatrhStone in a simple, but effective way. “If you’re having a hard time thinking that you may not understand what’s going on in HearthStone or you missed a lot or you’re new, Dungeon Run is completely free.
“I think it does a really good job of re-teaching you the mechanics of HearthStone or teaching you them for the first time. So you feel a little bit more comfortable if you want to enter the multiplayer.”
According to Ayala, the new solo adventures are “definitely the most unique thing that we’ve ever done. I think the single-player experience for them will bring in people that weren’t necessarily even HearthStone fans.”
Dungeon Run is already available free in HearthStone as part of the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion and The Witchwood is launching on April 13, 2018.
Thanks to Dean Ayala for his time.