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Hearthstone Mercenaries Release Date, Characters And Gameplay - What We Know So Far

Blizzard dropped some huge announcements at BlizzCon 2021, including the introduction of Mercenaries, a new game mode for Hearthstone. The official Hearthstone website also shared the news as part of the transition to the Year of the Gryphon, however, there wasn't much information on offer.

Even with the initial details available, it seems Mercenaries will set itself apart in more than one way. Hearthstone is known for its game modes, and they come out regularly for players who don't enjoy climbing the PvP ladder. As part of its Feb. 23, 2021 interview with Blizzard's Joseph Killion, Inquirer.net pointed out that other Hearthstone game modes are played with a horizontal board that's split in half. "Mercenaries is a very different game mode compared to the deckbuilding style we see in Constructed, Arena, and Duels, and it's also very different from Battlegrounds," confirmed Killion.

In a separate interview with YouTube group The Angry Chicken, Killion commented that Mercenaries is still early in development, and there are a lot of unknowns about what the game mode will include. While Hearthstone is no stranger to misconceptions, Blizzard has at least confirmed a few key aspects about the type of experience players can expect from Mercenaries. We've also managed to piece together a few more possibilities regarding Mercenaries' release date, characters, and gameplay.

What is the release date for Hearthstone Mercenaries?

Blizzard declined to offer any specifics about the release date of Hearthstone Mercenaries, but it did offer a clue when it welcomed players to the Year of the Gryphon. According to the post, Mercenaries will release in Phase One, which will be part of a three-tier phase system that brings new features and updates to the game. Phase One kicked off with the announcement of the Forged in the Barrens expansion on Feb. 19, which means Mercenaries likely won't be far behind.

These year-long, multi-phase roadmaps aren't new to Hearthstonethe Year of the Phoenix started back in March 2020. However, as Killion confirmed during an interview with Amove.tv, not everything detailed in the 2020 roadmap made it out the door on schedule. In fact, Mercenaries was originally slated to debut in Phase 3 of Year of the Phoenix. Looking at the previous roadmap timeline, Phase One should finish up by the end of the summer. Hopefully, that means Mercenaries will come to the game before Fall 2021 — assuming it doesn't get delayed again.

Who are the characters in Hearthstone Mercenaries?

Mercenaries will include classic Warcraft characters like Ragnaros the Firelord and Sylvanas Windrunner. However, after the Feb. 19 blog update mentioned these characters joining the game, it went on to say that there will be "new faces" coming to the lineup. According to Inquirer.net, Gruul and Thrall are also confirmed to be in the new mode. In the same interview, Killion mentioned that the 10 mercenary characters slated to debut in Forged in the Barrens will appear in Mercenaries, giving players the opportunity to learn more about their stories.

Blizzard employee Liv Breeden expanded on this while speaking to The Angry Chicken, revealing that long-time Warcraft players might recognize some of the new characters coming to Mercenaries, such as the Human Paladin and Orc Warrior. The full roster hasn't been fully revealed just yet, but with at least 14 confirmed characters, it's turning out to be a powerful lineup with plenty of backstory to keep fans occupied.

What is the gameplay like in Hearthstone Mercenaries?

Similar to other Hearthstone game modes, Mercenaries will require you to create a deck of unique cards that you can level up to take into PvE and PvP battles. The goal, according to Killion, is to build a great team that works off of each other to climb up and become the best. Killion also mentioned that there will probably be leaderboards or some form of MMR in the new mode as well. 

There will also likely be a way to knock out quests while playing Mercenaries. As Killion said, the goal is to let players engage with Hearthstone however they want. Breeden went further, saying that players should be able to get rewards on the game modes that they enjoy without being forced to play modes that they hate. Quests should be general enough to let players complete them and unlock rewards in Mercenaries. 

For those who prefer more narrative focused gameplay loops, Blizzard also has an accompanying serialized story, Book of Mercenaries, scheduled for a semi-monthly release throughout the year.