Artifact’s new tournament mode wants you to play for three hours straight

As well as a chat wheel, Artifact's Call to Arms update brings a three-hour Free for All tournament


Artifact’s first major update has arrived, bringing two new pre-made decks as well as a bunch of social features to the game. As well as finally allowing players to actually communicate with one another in-game, you’ll be able to hop in and out of tournaments more easily, and use two new Call to Arms decks.

Those new decks are hyper-aggressive, based solely around blue and black heroes. Death from Above is filled with powerful blue hero spells, while Dark Aggro lays siege to your opponent, crippling their towers and units before lining up a kill-shot thanks to Sniper and his signature spell.

On the social side, the Call to Arms update offers an awful lot, but the highlight is the new chat wheel. Until now, you simply had to sit in digital silence as your games played out, but the new update brings in dialogue options for every hero and creep in the game. All you’ll need to do is mouse over a unit and press ‘Y’ to bring up a wheel of unique options for that character.

Elsewhere, new tournament and leaderboards have arrived. A Call to Arms win streak leaderboard will track your success with each deck, and will reset every two weeks. The update also brings open tournaments to the game, letting you jump into three new types of competition. Automated tournaments simply drop you into a competition, while Pauper challenges task you with building decks using only common cards. Finally, free-for-all lets you fight as many players as you can in a three-hour time limit (so that’ll be about three games, then). Once the dust settles, the player with the most wins is crowned the victor.

Other additions include an improved colourblind mode and a ‘Bot Gauntlet’, which pits you against increasingly tough AI opponents until you lose. Hopefully, the changes will do something to stem the flood of players leaving the game. In just two weeks since its release, Artifact has lost around 80% of its player-base. I’d imagine Valve’s prepared for a bit of an uphill climb when it comes to building an audience, but it’s got some work to do just to get back to step one.