Blizzard's mighty CCG is out now; read our Hearthstone review to see what we thought of it.
Everything about Hearthstone suggests it’s already arrived. Its frequent updates, which tweak the balance of in-game power this way and that. Its regular front page slots on Twitch, the very pulse of PC gaming. Even its name implies a position at the centre of every home. But as the vast majority of you not involved in Hearthstone’s closed beta can attest, it’s very much not out yet.
This helps. If you’re a North American, you can now download Hearthstone for free and play it, as if it were a finished game. What’s more, Blizzard expect to roll out the open beta across all other regions “within the next few days”.
Head to playhearthstone.com and click away at the Play Free Now button to do just that. You’ll need to download the battle.net desktop client first, of course, if you don’t already have one of those.
The last major Hearthstone card changes slipped into the game’s deck last week. Blizzard have “no plans” for any more progress wipes, so you can enjoy incrementally expanding your collection knowing that nobody is going to take it away from you.
“Open Beta is still not a final release, and we will be closely monitoring many aspects of the game to ensure a positive play experience for everyone,” write the dev team. “Please be aware that if smoke starts curling out of our servers due to unexpectedly high demand, we may have to temporarily disable Open Beta account activations until we’re ready to take on more players.”
All being well, though, Hearthstone will be available to all PC gamers by the end of next week. Android and iPhone support will follow later in the year - dramatically increasing Hearthstone’s playerbase with people distracted by train announcements and therefore easily beaten. The game will only become more satisfying as a result.
Are you at all interested in the idea of cross-platform play? As a standardised thing, I can’t imagine anything more exciting.