Hearthstone Battlegrounds is set to go into beta today (November 5) but will only be available to some fans.
Blizzard has confirmed that early access has been reserved for those Hearthstone fans who have acquired the Descent of Dragons pre-purchase bundle.
And it’s not just pre-order customers, with BlizzCon Attendees, and BlizzCon Virtual Ticket holders also able to access this new game mode on the same date.
The good news is that the open beta for Battlegrounds is also going live later this month and is scheduled to kick off on November 12.
But Blizzard has confirmed two big facts about the new Hearthstone mode that fans should know before they download and play.
The first is that a new Hearthstone update is being released today that will bring a number of changes, and not just the new Battlegrounds Mode.
During BlizzCon 2019, the dev team behind the popular card game announced that they were taking further steps to reduce the size of the game.
It remains quite a chunky download, and there are fears that the launch of Hearthstone Battlegrounds will just increase these issues.
But the good news is that today’s update should improve game performance on mobile phones.
It’s unclear if this means the launch of Battlegrounds will keep the game at the same size or not, but Blizzard has confirmed that two new patches will improve the game experience.
“We’ve iterated on the phone issue for some time, and we’ve reduced the download size a bunch over the last year or so along with loading time,” Mike Donais, Principal Game Designer on Hearthstone, told the Express Online.
“And we have a couple of new improvements coming soon; one is happening in the Tuesday patch, and we got another coming in a patch a week later.
“This will be improving phone performance yet again, because we are hoping to include more and more phones, with better and better accessibility.
“It’s a big deal for us.”
And while Battlegrounds will be free-to-play like the base Hearthstone card game mode, it will come with limitations during the beta phase.
Due to the nature of an 8-player match, Hearthstone Battlegrounds is currently only supported on mobile devices with more than 2 GB of RAM.
This is due to the added effects and the sizeable eight-player group size that Battlegrounds is launching with.
This means that some older devices may not be able to run Battlegrounds, which could frustrate some Hearthstone fans.
Blizzard has reassured fans worried about missing out over the longterm that the new mode is being optimised, following the end of the beta phase.
As confirmed by Blizzard earlier this week, Battlegrounds will go live at 10 a.m. PDT on November 5 for a week of Early Access.
For gamers in the UK, this means a launch time of 6pm GMT and an hour later for those in Europe.
After this early access phase ends at 10 a.m. on November 12, the Open Beta phase will begin and allow everyone to hop into Bob’s Tavern to try their hand at the new Auto Battler Mode.
“Every time you enter the Tavern, Bob will present you with a fresh line-up of minions willing and ready to be recruited onto your team,” a message from Blizzard confirms.
“Of course, you’ll need to play any minion you’d like to recruit with coins before they’ll do your bidding. Recruiting a Minion will cost you three coins.”