Update, January 17, 2018: CD Projekt Red have issued an apology for rushing the Gwent Midwinter update.
In the wake of community comments that Gwent's Midwinter update was in danger of over-simplifying the game, CD Projekt Red have issued an apology for rushing out the new content.
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The apology from CD Projekt say that they wanted the Midwinter update - which included 120 new cards, and tech and visual changes - out before the Christmas break, so that players would have access to them during their free time. Getting these changes out would also allow for more development on bigger upcoming expansions.
The statement goes on to say that in future, the team won't "mix new tech with big content drops," and should have "properly tested everything instead of rushing the release." The also say, "we'd like to sincerely apologise for all the problems this has caused," and promise that "there will be no more screw-ups like this in the future."
Further, they announce that the recent patch and hotfix only addressed major bugs, so there will be additional adjustments in the near future. Starting next month, however, card balance will only occur at the end of competitive seasons; the only exception will be major bug hotfixes.
Original story, December 22, 2017: The latest update for Gwent was a massive one, adding major new features, a bunch of new cards, and making some fundamental changes to the interface and game balance. Like any giant, sweeping, the community’s response to the features has been good and bad, but this time around there’s been a little more of the latter than the former.
Gwent is still in beta, which means big changes are par for the course, and there’s certainly some overwhelmingly good stuff in this Midwinter Update. The deck and collection interfaces have been integrated with each to streamline the deckbuilding process. You can now cancel an ability before you select a target, making misclicks a bit less of a problem. Cards now follow a more predictable order of triggers.
But not everything’s been a net positive. Rows are now limited to nine cards each, an attempt to dial back some complexity and improve performance, but it’s a change many players fear represents a “dumbing down” of Gwent. Many existing cards have been reduced in power, or had their abilities rebuilt into something far simpler. Kotaku detail one particularly chagrinning change to Clan Brokvar Hunter, which has gone from having a complex ability about damaging other cards to build its own power to a simple “deal 5 damage.”
That card in particular has also been renamed to the simpler “Clan Hunter,” and many other cards have had their names similarly simplified, dropping lengthy lore-appropriate monikers in favor of shorter titles. That’s a small point, but it’s one that speaks to a fear in the community that the game’s losing some of its grim Witcher identity.
Along the same lines, changes to the UI and visual presentation have started to look a little to colourful and friendly. “This new approach is much more all-ages, much more mobile-friendly,” says one graphic designer on Reddit. Gwent is, of course, very likely to come to mobile as a collectable card game, and part of the community’s fear is that CD Projekt may be trying to compete a little too directly against the simpler, friendlier Hearthstone on both PC and handheld devices.
CD Projekt’s Paweł Burza acknowledged the criticisms in an official update. “I want to tell you that we’re seeing what you’re telling us — both the good things, and the bad. We know who we’re making this game for. And rest assured, while we have concrete plans for GWENT and know the path we want to take, we also know including your feedback in these plans, and modifying that path is essential for the game to be a success.
“Please keep the feedback coming, but also — if I may ask you this — try to see things from different perspectives. It’s always hard to accept changes to things you’re passionate about, but sometimes these changes are beneficial in the long run.”