Back in May last year, I wrote about how Hearthstone felt like it was trying to reach more casual players with the release of The Dalaran Heist—a single-player expansion that focused less on theorycrafting the perfect deck and more on experimentation and play. A lot has happened in the game since then, including the release of a new game mode that seeks to capitalize on the popularity of auto chess games like Dota Underlords.
I wouldn’t say any of these updates have made Hearthstone any friendlier or more accessible as The Dalaran Heist did, but they have given players different ways to engage with the game’s cards in new and neat ways. Keeping all of this in mind, I was pretty excited to hear that another single-player expansion was coming to Hearthstone. But—now that it’s finally here—Hearthstone’s latest update, entitled Galakrond’s Awakening, feels like a return to basics for Blizzard in a way that feels a bit disappointing.
Unlike previous updates that have added new wrinkles to how you traditionally play Hearthstone, Galakrond’s Awakening is a straightforward, linear set of battles that play out a lot like typical Hearthstone matches. In the normal mode of this expansion, players have to use pre-built decks to win these matches, but in heroic mode, players have to build their own decks out of cards in their collection for each fight.
To be fair, there are some twists to the fights in this expansion, plus it rewards players with 35 new cards that players can add to their collection (though they release slowly as each chapter unlocks). As someone that only pops into Hearthstone every once in a while though, slight alterations to matches and new cards don’t really appeal to me. After blazing through the normal mode of Galakrond’s Awakening, I found myself returning to make runs in The Dalaran Heist and even trying out the Battlegrounds mode, both of which I had more fun with.
I can see how Galakrond’s Awakening could appeal to seasoned Hearthstone players. The idea of having so many new cards rolling out over time and seeing how they shake up the meta sounds exciting, but only if you’re already a devoted Hearthstone player. As for me, I just see Galakrond’s Awakening as a sort of stripped-down expansion that steps back from some of the more creative and inspiring work that Blizzard had previously been doing to breathe new life into a six year old game.