Mercenaries – What’s Next
It’s been three weeks since we first released Mercenaries and we’re delighted to see our community hunt down bosses, make themselves cozy in the Village, and chase glory in the Fighting Pits. We’re excited to share some numbers with you, some insights into recent changes, some of our upcoming plans, and a few changes we’re making over the coming months to improve the player experience.
Mercenaries Launch Celebration
When we were building Mercenaries, we were looking to make a mode that delivered different gameplay experiences than Standard, Battlegrounds, and our other modes. Our goal was to figure out how to build a great collection RPG, with deep, strategic combat that you can pick up and play even for bite-sized play sessions. To us, the heart of Mercenaries is collecting Mercenaries, powering them up, and engaging in strategic combat with your foes – be they PvE or PvP.
We’re grateful for the millions of you who are playing Mercenaries. So far, you’ve totaled over one billion minutes of combat time and over 100 million combined Bounties (and that number’s excluding Heroic Air Elemental). As a big “thank you” to everyone for embracing this mode and making it so popular, we’re giving everyone 5 free Mercenaries packs! If you played Mercenaries in the 21.4 patch cycle, we’ll drop your appreciation gift into your collection on November 9. (If you’re a new player, it’s not too late to join in the fun! Complete the Mercenaries tutorial and introductory missions for a total of 8 free Mercenaries packs to start your journey now.)
This week, we’re adding our first new Mercenaries, with your favorite Deadmine-dwelling pirate, Edwin VanCleef! Along with VanCleef and his pirate band, we’re releasing new bounties in Blackrock Mountain to pursue. New Bounty Bosses Highlord Omokk, General Drakkisath, and Rend Blackhand await your challenge, and grant you rewards upon their defeat!
This is the first of many content drops we’ve planned for Mercenaries, and we’re excited to see how all of you hunt down these bounties and utilize these new Mercs in your Parties!
What We’ve Done & Changes to Come
Over the first few weeks, our team has been fixing bugs and tuning systems guided in part by your feedback. We’ve already made some immediate changes and have several larger challenges that the team is focused on tackling. We’re looking to improve the mode with content releases, balance patches, quality of life improvements (e.g., making it so that many daily and weekly Rewards Track quests will be completable in Mercenaries), system improvements in the Village, and more clarity in product descriptions and functionality. We’ll continue to look at both the data and your feedback as we improve and polish the Mercenaries experience.
We’ve loved the outpour of excitement around the Village artwork and the fantasy it evokes. That said, there are areas of the Village that we think have room for improvement:
- Task Board: Early on, we heard your desire for more Tasks, so we increased the Task Board daily refresh to refill all open daily slots, instead of only two. That said, we also know there are things we can improve on from here. For instance, we think Toki is doing her job well, but that her visits could be more interesting. We’re also exploring more ways to give players Tasks.
- Buildings: We launched the Village with future expansion in mind, but we want to make sure we add systems and upgrades that the community is excited about. Our first addition is something we’ve heard a lot of desire for: alternative ways to level up your Mercenaries. We’re excited to announce the Training Hall will be coming in a future patch, to let your Mercs passively gain XP throughout the day. We’ll have more details on the Training Hall closer to when it launches. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about other buildings or systems you want to see added into Mercenaries.
The Fighting Pit
We’ve been following along with the constantly evolving meta for PvP and have many people on our team playing along with you. It's been awesome to see the community enjoying PvP, and we want to continue to deliver on that skill-testing, mental game that it provides.
We saw your feedback on queue times and AI, and we made some adjustments to matchmaking parameters so that players, on average, would have shorter queue times and face fewer AI opponents. We saw players engaging in exploits that detracted from the Fighting Pit experience, and we made a couple changes to that system. After seeing your response, we adjusted our initial fix so that you now only need to defeat one enemy Mercenary for the game to count as a win. We’ll continue to monitor this and work to find that sweet spot that discourages behavior that ruins the mode for everyone, while also still ensuring that our core player base is properly rewarded.
Finally, we wanted to let you know that the first Mercenaries season will end at the same time as the November ranked ladder season. We wanted to give players more time in the first season to learn the ropes and make up for the mid-month launch. After this first season, Mercenaries seasons will reset every month, like the ranked ladder season.
The Travel Point
You’re all excellent Bounty hunters, and we see a lot of players having fun with PvE! We’ve noticed that most Bounties are the appropriate difficulty for Parties at the map’s suggested level. However, we also noticed that some bosses are a bit too tough—we're looking at you, Heroic Snowclaw—and we’re working to get these re-balanced in a future update.
Heroic Bounties are an integral part of Mercenaries–they give a breadth of Mercenaries an opportunity to shine, and are an exciting challenge, especially for players who prefer to focus on the PVE aspects of the mode. We’ll continue to invest in late-game content by adding additional challenging Bounties as part of our regular content updates.
Pacing and rewards are things we want to continue to address. Currently, we’re working on another adjustment to how the Mysterious Stranger works, which will be included in a future patch. We’re also considering holistically re-assessing Normal and Heroic Bounty rewards. On both fronts, we’re testing solutions with player interests in mind, and will have changes to share soon.
Building Your Collection
We’ve heard feedback about how the pack system and the experience of collecting could be improved. We’re making some short-term fixes here, but we’re also taking a look at the system as a whole to make sure it’s delivering the experience we want for you. Here are some of the things we’re considering:
- Getting you what you want: One of the biggest challenges in Mercenaries has been getting the players the things they really want, in an appropriate way. We like that Bounty Boss rewards provide direction to earning specific coins, and we think that system is working well.
- Duplicate mercs: We’ve heard feedback that some products aren’t working how players expect, or want, so we’re exploring options for changing how duplicate Mercenaries work in the shop.
- Pre-purchase Portraits: We saw confusion and disappointment with how the pre-purchase Diamond Portraits interact with other Mercenaries products. We thought that the super-rare Portraits were a strong value for the pre-purchase bundle, but we can do more. For each player who pre-purchased any Mercenaries bundles, we will be adding the base version of the pre-purchase bundle Legendary Mercenary to your collection. If you bought the Diablo pre-purchase, you’ll be given the base Diablo portrait. The same will be true for Lich King and Sylvanas. Anyone who already owns the base version of their pre-purchase Mercenary will have the extra copy automatically converted into 100 Coins for that Mercenary. We plan to add these to your account by November 16th.
- Pack logic: The philosophy behind Mercenaries Packs is to grant you both Mercenaries and their cosmetics along the way. We’ve gotten lots of feedback on both sides of the fence—from those who only care about the functional value of having all the Mercs, and those who love the Portraits. We don’t have anything to announce today, but we wanted to let you know that we’ve heard your feedback and are looking into this.
- More Portraits: We see that there are some players who are very interested in finding all the Portraits that Mercenaries has to offer. While the only current way to get Portraits is via Packs, we’ll be adding more direct ways to acquire Portraits and are considering other changes to how Portraits are obtained.
We’re excited to continue to grow and refine this game with you. We love how the community has passionately embraced Mercenaries as a new game mode. We also know that Mercenaries isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay too. There’s tons of new content coming across all of Hearthstone’s modes! We’ll continue to service all our players, in all our modes, so we can all keep playing our favorite game in the way we want. We’ll see you in the Tavern!