BlizzCon 2015: Hearthstone League of Explorers Hands-On Preview – Blizzard Candyland

Do you like Indiana Jones? Blizzard hopes that you do, as the new Hearthstone single-player expansion League of Explorers arrives next week. Chock full of traps, tricks and temples, I had a chance to sit down and try the first wing debuting November 12th. The wing was plainly titled “Temple Escape” but as you quickly learn, it is anything but.

Immediately a sense of urgency hits you as the ceiling starts to collapse (Not the actual ceiling. The Anaheim Convention Center is a remarkable monument of architecture). League of Explorers changes things up by removing the traditional 1v1 setup of a typical Hearthstone match. Instead, the game plays out like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Every other turn the player is presented with two cards to choose from. For example, in the beginning I encountered a lava-filled pit. I could slowly make my way over it and lose five Health, or I could risk swinging across and have a 50/50 chance of losing ten health. I suspect most of the players next to me thought, What Would Indiana Do? and lost ten health as a result.

As you inch closer to the temple’s escape, the traps become more devious. If the game doesn’t already make apparent its love for the fedora wearing archeologist, it summons a rolling boulder alongside your minions. The ceiling collapses again and clears the board half-way through the match. Touch the ruby, you get ten health back! But, you also get to fight an Anubis-looking fellow who does ten Damage. This coincides with the new Discover mechanic. Cards played with the Discover keyword will be granted a choice of three class-specific cards not from their deck. Some may loathe the RNG element of the recent Hearthstone cards, but for now it’s here to stay.

Another nice thing about the League of Explorers is its sense of personality. While Blizzard products are always bursting at the seams with creativity, the last few expansions have been too deeply entrenched in Warcraft lore that as a casual fan, it can feel like chuckling at someone else’s inside joke. The League of Explorers introduces a cast of characters that are instantly likeable and not reliant on Warcraft lore. Reno Jackson, for example, literally swings in with an often humorous but helpless quip as you attempt to make your escape.

The whole thing just oozes fun. And a murloc dressed as a British explorer? Expect expensive merchandise in the near future. This was only a taste of the forty-five new cards being introduced next week, but if the League of Explorers is looking for one more, a human with a gift for gab and dual joystick controllers, sign me up.