Just hours after issuing the latest patch for Hearthstone, Blizzard announced that its online collectible card game (CCG) is officially out of beta in the U.S.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play card game similar (but different in significant ways) from popular CCG Magic: The Gathering. Players take turns drawing cards from their pre-built decks and playing cards onto a field where the creatures on those cards battle it out for victory. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that and exceptional players have shown that the microtransactions built into Hearthstone are not needed for even top-tier Hearthstone players.
For a game that has become consistently popular on game streaming site Twitch the switch from beta to full release was greeted with surprisingly little fanfare. Blizzard's announcement thanked beta participants for their feedback and invited even more players to try out the game. As Hearthstone is styled after the locations, heroes, and enemies of the Warcraft series, the developer is also offering World of Warcraft players an epic flying mount called the "Hearthsteed" to use in the MMO after they play a few Hearthstone matches.
The final Hearthstone beta patch was also relatively demure, making some final slight tweaks to the game before its release. The most important new features added include new golden hero portraits awarded for playing 500 ranked games, new card backs for participating in ranked play, and a system to separate previously high- and low-ranked players at the start of new ranked play seasons. Two highly-used legendary-level cards were also altered ("nerfed," in gaming parlance) to make them less essential in ranked play.