- After a year of silence, Valve has finally outlined their plans for Artifact 2 in a series of blog posts. The first Artifact was largely an unsuccessful, and Valves strategy this time around is pretty different, yet pretty typical. They listened.
Valves first take on the card game involved a lot of strange decisions, to say the least. The games card system was pretty similar to that of competitors such as Hearthstone. These games had a vibrant economy where players could purchase cards off of the market place, and provide a long-lasting and challenging experience for everyone. The problem with this is that Artifact came with a $20 price tag. This instantly did not sit well with the community, mainly casual players. The precedent of Artifact set some standards and expectations, and the finished product did not reflect them. The game was announced during Dota 2‘s The International 2017 tournament. Being showcased along with a game that has more or less perfected a fair free to play system, made players expected a fair free-to-play game.
On top of the way the economy was handled, the game had some fundamental balance and gameplay issues. Without getting into too many specifics, casual’s and professionals complained about the RNG mechanics in the game. Not to mention how certain cards were incredibly powerful yet extremely expensive. It was really easy to criticize some of these decisions, and so players criticized. Almost every piece of text that had the word “Artifact” in it was accompanied by bashes and contemptuous remarks. It’s no wonder that Valve felt that this was too big a hill to climb, and decided to start over.
Why Is Artifact 2 Even A Thing?
Underneath all the games problems, was an incredibly promising and unfulfilled masterpiece. Despite all the complaints, Artifacts core audience was still hopeful due to how much potential the game had. It offered a brand new take on an ancient and saturated genre. The biggest thing holding it back was the monetization and specific mechanics, things that could be fixed. So the r/Artifact subreddit has been alive ever since, throughout all the uncertainty and silence. A community that continued to come together every Monday, waiting for Valve to break the silence. It’s what gave Valve the confidence that people still cared about Artifact, despite its abysmal failure the first time around.
The Blog Posts
Valve graced the Artifact community after a year of silence with a single blog post. They detailed their initial plans for Artifact 2, and made sure to let the community know that they did not forget about the game. As the weeks progressed, Valve would post blog post after blog post, constantly inviting user feedback on their plans. This is a stark contrast to the initial launch of Artifact, as the game was released under a veil of silence. This key difference could be the change that makes Artifact as successful and loved as it could be.
What Are The Biggest Changes
Although the Closed Beta isn’t even out yet, we do have a ton of information about the game. The first problem that we’ll go over, is the monetization aspect. We don’t have too much information on this front, especially whether or not the game will be completely Free to Play. We do know (somewhat), that Valve has decided to ditch the buying and selling of cards. “We (Valve) have some ideas about what we’d like to sell, but none of them are cards/packs.”(Plan Update – Beta 2.0) This already points to a game that possibly has the cards being unlocked purely through in-game achievements, or one where all hero cards are available from the get-go. An extremely welcome and exciting change for the Card game genre.
In terms of gameplay, there is a whole slew of details and information to cover. In terms of the design of Cards from a gameplay perspective, Valve has detailed their plans on that front. They even produced a poll where players could choose what card they’d like to implement first out of Arc Warden, Nyx Assassin, Huskar, or Snapfire. The vote ended with a close tie between Nyx and Arc Warden, with Nyx coming out on top. So naturally, Valve decided to add them both. The games shop has also been reworked, along with the mana/initiative relationship, items, deployment system (Thank you!), and a plethora of other things. For more details, be sure to take a look at the blog posts in their entirety here.
So Who’s Getting Into Closed Beta?
The first time around, Valve decided to select a few relevant members of their fan-base to beta test the game for them. Some other professional card game players from other games were invited as well. This proved to be a rather terrible strategy, as their opinion likely won’t reflect that of the core audience. Not to mention the immediately obvious conflict of interest it entails. This time, they are randomly selecting from a pool of players who have purchased Artifact 1. Over the next few weeks, Valve will handout these invites to literally anyone who bought the game near launch. I do suspect that a few key personalities and players will be selected as well, but at least some of the core audience will get to provide their input.
The million-dollar question; is Artifact 2 going to be any good? Based on Valve’s approach to the development of the game this time around, I can confidently say that the game will be superior to the first. Valves core philosophy of listening to their player base is the key to what makes their games so good. The community understands this, and has been putting their efforts to making sure that this game becomes the best possible rendition of Artifact that it can be.
Special shout out to Mathew Power, this game better be on Nintendo Switch or we riot!