Hearthstone

Hearthstone VR prototype allows players to walk around the Tavern

by Brad Norton

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You might soon be able to see the salt emanating from your opponent more authentically than ever before as Blizzard has confirmed that there is in fact a playable version of Hearthstone in Virtual Reality (VR).

Blizzard’s Collectible Card Game (CCG) invites players to a charming tavern filled to the brim with all sorts of whimsical characters from the rich Warcraft lore. Pulling up a chair by the hearth will keep competitors warm while they face off in the deeply strategic game.

That experience could be translated into the virtual world in the near future as a PowerUp interview with Blizzard teased that a playable version of Hearthstone VR has already been developed internally.

Hearthstone characters around a table
Blizzard
Could you picture taking a seat at this table in virtual reality?

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Having transitioned out of Beta testing in 2014 upon its official release, Hearthstone quickly became available on a wide array of platforms from desktop to mobile. One market that it is yet to enter, however, is VR. 

Internally at Blizzard, developers are invited to an event labeled ‘Free Your Mind.’ This period allows for developers to work on brand new projects outside of their core tasks and one such group recently decided to focus their efforts on a prototype for Hearthstone VR.

Designed by just two developers over the course of two weeks, developers outlined how the playable build actually allowed you to “walk around The Tavern and sit down to play a game with someone.”

Hearthstone game board
Blizzard
Rather than an overhead view that we're used to, VR would offer a new perspective on the board.

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While it was merely an experiment for two developers to tackle on the side, there’s no denying that the proof of concept was appealing to those internally. Features were extremely limited in the quick build, only allowing simple interactions such as throwing “cards at the table” or flipping the table over, but the potential is certainly there.

Being able to physically walk around in a crowded tavern, spectate ongoing games, and interact with countless others similar to the likes of VRChat could be a fantastic way for Hearthstone to evolve moving forward.

Purely a test run for the time being however, there’s no telling whether the two developers were allowed to continue their efforts and further flesh out a VR version of the game.

Hearthstone characters
Blizzard
Perhaps a release on VR could coincide with a new expansion.

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Despite its potential, some developers at Blizzard “believed players would prefer to be able to swipe their finger on a tablet” rather than having to manually place cards on a board in a physical space.

Perhaps we’ll see a VR version of Hearthstone one day, but for the time being it seems as though it’s not the highest priority for Blizzard and that the concept will just remain a prototype.