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For his latest RPG Scrollbars column on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, videogame critic Richard Cobbett has penned what essentially amounts to a preview of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, based on the time he's spent with the beta. Cobbett didn't seem completely won over, though he doesn't exactly pan the game either:
Even in Closed Beta, it works well. Games are fast, fluid, and importantly, nothing like Hearthstone. The need to think about the bigger picture adds a fantastic psychological element to the action, while the number of cards at your disposal from the start and how much they interact with both the deck and the graveyard adds a whole new dimension to that game’s focus on ramping up and card draw. It’s more like having an army than individual heroes, and determining when best to drop the hammer rather than waiting for your chance to do that.
There’s also a couple of cute features that speak to CD Projekt’s usual attention to detail, with my favourite being to send a ‘GG’ to the other player at the end of a round. This gives them a tiny resource boost – just a few flecks of gold – but is a nice way of both rewarding a good opponent and something to feel smug about withholding if they’ve been the kind of dick that just wants to run the timer out when you both know they’ve lost. The downside is that right now, there’s no quests to reward simply playing the game and make it easy for good and bad players to keep slowly building up their collections for free – if you lose, it may as well play the old Willy Wonka clip.
My only real problem with it though is the same I had with Elder Scrolls Legends – the cards themselves have very little personality. Oh, they have recognisable names and faces and audio-clips and animations if you zoom in, but very few of them do anything particularly exciting. Take 10 Strength from this. Take 2 Strength from that. Promote a unit to Gold. That kind of thing. Part of the joy of Hearthstone is seeing what crazy stuff Blizzard comes up with, especially for its recognisable characters and Legendaries. Here… well, here’s The Witcher 3’s main crew. Geralt – 12 Strength. Triss – 8 Strength, Remove 4 Strength from 1 Enemy Unit. Yennefer at least spawns one of two units that either adds or removes 2 strength to all other units on the battlefield and Ciri returns to your hand if you lose the round, but still… not very exciting. Glancing through the cards, the only one that gave me a ‘Oh, come on!’ was the Bloody Baron, not for being powerful, but for his ability being to spawn a Botchling or a Lubberkin.
I mean… damn. Talk about rubbing it in, guys.