2014 was a polarizing year for the gaming community. But now we begin with a new day to a new year — a time when we reflect on memorable experiences and look forward to gaming in 2015. Here at APGNation, we decided to take part in the Game of the Year tradition similar to many other gaming websites, but instead of a million categories, we thought it be best to decide an overall Game of the Year. Our winner was chosen from our staff’s pool of nominations without taking platforms to account. This doesn’t mean that other games weren’t deserving of the title — simply that the winner was nominated the most times.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: March 11, 2014 (Windows/Mac OS X), April 16, 2014 (iOS), Android (December 8, 2014)
Congratulations! The Blizzard card game makes its way to the APGNation Game of the Year. Many on our staff spent hours upon hours trying to make the best decks possible and enjoyed every second they played. Here’s what we had to say about it:
Jeff — Yup. Another Blizzard game. 2014 has been a big year for this little card game that could. Even the humble beginnings in the days of Beta, when the community and the card pool were small, were exhilarating to experience. It did not take long for this game to find traction in the competitive scene, and now that iOS and Android tablet support has been added, the addictive quality of a game that is simple to pick up yet so very hard to master is definitely present within this collectible card game.
Those who have gotten a taste of this game have found themselves sinking hours in. It is the perfectly portioned play length for matches — players can pick it up and play a quick game, then put it down if necessary. You can also sit and play for long sessions and still find something new in every game. The nuances in the meta-game strategy are varied and the approaches one can take in a game offer an overall experience that can appeal to the casual and hardcore alike.
I’ve already spent plenty of time crafting decks, playing in Arena (where players are forced to pick a class and draft a deck at random), and working through the recent Naxxramas adventure mode. Few games are played more often for me than Hearthstone. Blizzcon 2014 featured the first World Championship for this fledgling eSport, yet nearly as many people watched it over the weekend as they did other Blizzard titles like Starcraft 2. It is a uniquely Blizzard take on genre that has been, by and large, ruled by Wizards of the Coast and Magic: The Gathering. The game is free to play, and an online store is available for purchasing groups of booster packs and a new expansion with over 120 cards is on its way in Goblins v. Gnomes.
There are questions going forward in regards to the long-term viability of the game, but with each major content update features are being added in to set this card game for many years of competitive play and casual enjoyment.
Mike — Hearthstone took a really hard medium to master and did it. Card games in general have a hard time to succeed, but making an online version is ever harder. Taking a card game from nothing and building it into one of the best card games played online is incredible. I was hooked from day one. I took a brief hiatus but then I had friends join the fray, and now I’m more into Hearthstone than any other game. It is such an easy game to pick up and play either competitively or casually — they did a good job grabbing at all audiences with their fun animations and voice work. In fact, Hearthstone is the only game I play on a daily basis.
Garrett — I’m a sucker for good card games, and Hearthstone is easily the greatest since Magic: The Gathering was introduced all those years ago. Using the tried-and-true “easy to learn, hard to master” system, Blizzard crafted a game that’s going to be sucking up a lot of people’s spare time for years to come. The creative cards, art, boards, and voice-overs all add depth where most card games fail to, making it instantly comfortable and lovable. The ability to play competitively or casually with the flick of a switch makes sure it’s ready to play regardless of your mood. With a full adventure mode and the first expansion already released, it’s well on its way to being another Blizzard juggernaut.
What are your thoughts on Hearthstone and our honorable mentions? Let us know in the comments or stalk us via Twitter. 2015 looks to be a stellar year for gaming, with the Resident Evil remake, Dying Light, Bloodborne, Evolve, and others too numerous to mention. We will definitely have our work cut out for us trying to figure out the next Game of the Year. Once again, thank you for your continued support and we hope to provide you with more industry stories and gaming highlights this year!