Enlarge /. Two posters, two free end-of-life games.
The strange, sad and almost redeeming development of Valve's digital card game Artifact has come to an end. Effective today, Valve has released the completely redesigned "2.0" version of the game for 2018 as a completely free – and "unfinished" – card fighting game called Artifact Foundry. Although it is playable, it is practically dead upon arrival.
That means the game (formerly known as Artifact 2.0) no longer requires signing up for a closed beta – and it's instantly available for anyone to download and play with without microtransactions or ownership restrictions. The obvious catch is that this near-complete overhaul of the ruleset and card capabilities of the original game won't receive a single major update in the future. While Valve admits Artifact Foundry could use more "polish and art", its developers insist that "the core gameplay is everything".
In addition, the original version of the game has been kept as a playable option in case you prefer the special variant of Magic: The Gathering-like Card Combat. The biggest change is that it has been updated to remove all microtransactions, while giving anyone who paid for the original game or their cards an odd perk: a bunch of "Collector's Edition" cards that can now only be traded and sold for real -world money within the Steam Marketplace ecosystem. Within the game itself, the "marketplace integration" has been removed as the original concept of buying blind card decks has been removed from orbit. Every card in Artifact 1.0 is now free and instantly distributed to players.
To review: two versions of Artifact are now available on Steam and both are completely free with no microtransactions. Neither of them will receive any updates in the future. Both can still be played online through traditional matchmaking.
From $ 20 to Beta to Free
The artifact foundry was clearly built with a cheaper and more digitally friendly card economy than its ancestors, as today's new version only allows players to unlock new cards for their battle decks through gameplay. Players must complete solo campaign missions and matches to get more cards instead of buying or trading them in a marketplace. It's unclear whether Valve would have sold the game as a "buy once" model at a bargain price or whether it might have included some form of microtransaction or DLC pack purchases.
At the most zoomed-out level, each Artifact 1.0 match begins as follows: With three battle lanes through which you arrange five heroes in a mission to destroy towers. Sounds a lot like how Dota 2 works, doesn't it? (Not shown here: the "flop" of your creeps, added randomly and placed between each round.)
Now we have enlarged a track. Based on the attack, armor and health stats on the board, the game shows you how the round ends if no other cards are played or mana / gold is spent. The bottom player has an unblocked hero who attacks the top player's defense tower directly. Both players still have all three mana points for that lane, which they can spend on any card with three or fewer cards in their hand that corresponds to the color of a hero on the same lane. The top player is out of luck if he doesn't have black cards of this value. Tap the "Pass Gong" in the lower right corner if you don't want to play any of your cards.
This eye-catching animation is the result of Luna's incredible hero-specific ability, "Eclipse".
Sometimes you may not have any crawlers or heroes on a lane due to sacrifices in previous rounds. At this point, your opponent can howl on your tower. (Similar to a Dota 2 game.) But even in this game, sometimes it pays to let go of a tower to direct momentum to the other two lanes, since you only need to drop two towers to win. (By the way, if you destroy a tower, it gets 80 HP instead of the standard 40 HP. Your enemy can just hang around and destroy the reinforced "old tower" again to count as a second rundown tower and win a game.)
The top row contains equippable items that you can add to your heroes as the game progresses. This zoom shows that the equipped sword and ring improve this character's attack and health stats.
This followed Artifact's chaotic start in 2018, which attempted to create a card economy powered by real money that was similar to the real-life Magic: The Gathering card – but also bought a $ 20 upfront purchase required. Once the game went live, its online play was largely dominated by card prices that skyrocketed on the Steam Marketplace, instantly cornering competitive players trying to figure out how to build competitive decks. This problem was exacerbated by a significant lack of updates from Valve to pump new, strategy-enhancing maps into the game's ecosystem. That development stall was not resolved when the game's co-developer Richard Garfield was fired from his contract position at Valve less than four months after its launch.
Weeks later, the remaining Artifact development team announced plans to revamp the game instead of sending out regular updates and patches as the number of concurrent players dropped from tens of thousands to just hundreds. A year later, shortly after the launch of Half-Life Alyx on PC VR systems, the serious announcement of the development of Artifact 2.0 was announced. Two months later, Valve opened up access to this massively updated and optimized version of the game as a closed beta, which released regular development updates and an emphasis on developer transparency. The newer game included a clearer tutorial process and more focused card skills. Instead of getting players to juggle exactly how cards could bounce around in separate lanes, it was easier to analyze each lane as a separate combat zone. The optimization looked promising in our closed beta tests, even if it watered down the uniqueness of the game compared to rivals like Gwent battling digital cards.
In today's announcement, however, the Artifact Foundry team admitted that interest in this beta version was not fruitful enough: "We haven't managed to bring the number of active players to a level that further evolves this one Time justifies. " As a result, many of Valve's greatest artifact ambitions, particularly a global tournament with a grand prize of $ 1 million, will never materialize.