Reviews - Updated on April 14, 2022

Hearthstone laurels haunt many developers. Dire Wolf, for example, in his desire to repeat the success of Blizzard is already preparing a second card game. In addition to The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the developers are going to give the world a more universal Eternal setting. We talked with the publisher of the game in Russia – Mail.Ru, and also personally felt the early version and are in a hurry to share our impressions.

Hearthstone? And here it is not.

Between magic and hearth

The review of any card game is always built on its comparison with Hearthstone. There is not a drop of bias in this: the creation of Blizzard, for objective reasons, has become the trendsetter of the genre. From a marketing point of view, Eternal should occupy a niche between HS and Magic Duels. And this approach can hardly be called wrong. On the one hand, there is Blizzard’s tactically undemanding but fun and spectacular game, and on the other hand, there is the strategically deep, but not so visually attractive Magic. So, Eternal is a kind of golden mean, designed to satisfy everyone: both fans of “casual” fun and fans of thoughtful CCGs.

The developers of Eternal not only do not try to disguise the ideological roots of their project, but openly flaunt them. When visually familiarizing yourself with the game, you are sure that you have Hearthstone in front of you. Units have familiar attack, health, and mana stats. Each fighter has their own voice acting and animation, cards bounce provocatively from their places during strikes, heroes are thrown with fireballs, all sorts of lightning and magical projectiles hit the table every now and then. There are even interactive elements of the environment.

Following in the footsteps of Hearthstone?

Thanks to this external similarity with the titan of the genre, the threshold for entering Eternal becomes minimal. So if you’re a Blizzard fan and you’re running Magic or Gwent, you’re sure to feel uncomfortable. Here, nothing will make you frown. However, the feeling of family affinity with the game arises and is strengthened solely due to visual similarity.

Eternal very unobtrusively demonstrates its own mechanics to the player and imposes complications. The realization that you are not playing Hearthstone does not come immediately. Everything is more serious here: from the musical accompaniment to the depth of the gameplay.

Here we choose not the target of the attack, but the target of blocking. We cannot issue instructions to our creatures to beat certain fighters on the side of the enemy. By default, the blow is directed at the hero – but the enemy, in turn, can block the attack with one of his warriors.

At first, this defensive mechanic seems like something insignificant, but you soon realize how much it changes the gameplay. For example, you are bolder in putting weak “units” on the table without fear of wasting them. There is more opportunity and time to enhance them in various ways.

The visual style should appeal to the mass player.

The game implements a phased turn system, which makes it similar to Magic and adds a pinch of additional strategic potential. Each turn consists of the stage of summoning creatures, assigning an attack and blocking. Together with the lack of the ability to specify the target for “units”, as well as some spells that are allowed to be used only in certain phases, the game often creates rather non-standard problems, the logic of solving which differs from that in similar projects.

In this context, familiar cards appear in a new perspective. “Summon” gives a unique effect when playing a card, “Acceleration” allows you to attack immediately when laying out a fighter on the table – everything seems to be familiar, but in practice it feels different. There are many original effects here. For example, flying “units” are of great importance – they cannot be counterattacked by ground troops, so even one fluttering dragonfly played at the beginning of the match can cause a lot of trouble.

We compose the elements

Indeed, as the developers said, Eternal maneuvers somewhere between the two giants of the desktop-card world. At first, you feel like you’re playing Hearthstone. However, time passes, and you feel that the kind of analysis boils in the convolutions, which the creation of Blizzard is not able to evoke.

The logic behind deck building and creature summoning is reminiscent of Faeria. There is a system of five elements here, each of which stands out with some kind of tactical zest. So, yellow decks are designed for rapid development and improvement of cards. And the dark element is an analogue of the Warlock class in HS – everything here is built on sacrificing your creatures.

The fun begins when we try to create a hybrid deck consisting of creatures of different elements. As in Faeria, you are not limited to any one class, cards of different elements can be combined in one deck. A natural limiter to our wild imagination is the mechanics of playing creatures from hand.

Having recruited warriors of all types, we simply will not have time to use them. To lay out a creature card, in addition to mana, you need to spend special seal cards that give us influence points of certain elements. Each turn, we can use one such faction card.

Hero portraits can be changed.

So, to lay out a vampire, you need to give up two mana and have one point of dark power. And to call the desert marshal, you will need both yellow and green seals. This approach seriously complicates the gameplay, but also enhances the element of chance. After all, success will depend not only on the strength of the strategic potential of the deck, but also on the loss of print cards of different elements. That is, in the starting hand, you need to strive to get both the desired set of creatures and the cards that allow you to play them, which is far from always possible. In practice, a series of failures due to “no entry” very often occur.

Such an algorithm for creating a deck does not always give original results. Many of the popular combinations are reminiscent of well-known Hearthstone mechanics. For example, by combining a yellow deck (strengthening creatures) with a blue one (quick draw cards), you can effectively play an army of cockroaches. Each of them, when it hits the table, enhances the characteristics of insects that have not yet been played. Together with a quick draw, you can turn frail cockroaches into powerful creatures in a few moves.

Card Adventures

Two campaigns are available in single player mode, one of which can only be opened for in-game currency. The story is not particularly exciting, but you follow it thanks to the stylized comic book briefings. In addition, there is the “Challenge” mode, in which you need to fight seven opponents in succession, never losing, and “Test” – an analogue of the “Arena”, where cards are drawn randomly. In multiplayer battles, there are regular and ranked matches.

The game is generous with rewards. For each victory, a chest is issued, and after completing the main campaign, you will feel like an oligarch-collector. Although in reality, of course, it will be far from a complete set of cards. Nevertheless, everything is in order with monetization, according to the feedback of the players, it is quite possible to progress without cash injections.

Chests are generous with rewards.

***

So far, it seems that Dire Wolf has succeeded in what the creators of Magic have failed. Due to the visual similarity with Hearthstone, the project does not scare away with its ascetic design and the prospect of many hours of mastering the mechanics. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Eternal is a completely different game with its own rules, nuances and complexity.

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