- [Tom] Five years after Valves last major game
the legendary developer proves it still
knows how to make amazing things.
As a Dota two themed digital card game
Artifact may not be what people were expecting.
But it does something truly different
and exciting within the genre.
We still need to test out its newly Live Marketplace
but Artifact is already challenging, detailed
and a whole lot of fun.
Well, playing cards and dealing damage might feel familiar
to hearts shown or Magic the Gathering fans.
But the Artfact makes you think about those actions
is fundamentally different and that makes it stand out
from the crowd.
It splits the play field into three lanes,
but you only need to win two.
Each player take single actions back and forth in a lane
before combat occurs.
Then you move down to the next lane and do it again.
Sharing a hand between lanes forced me to think hard
about every move.
Just because a card was effective in one lane
doesn't mean it couldn't be even better in another.
Each of the four colors has its own unique
and interesting play style.
For example, read heroes are usually beefy,
green has access to the biggest units.
Blue has powerful (inaudible) spells
and Black has great direct damage spells,
and can also generate tons of gold to buy items
for your five responding heroes mid match.
Picking which lanes to deploy those heroes in is a puzzle
in itself, forcing me to consider what color I might need
in a lane multiple turns down the line.
My most gratifying wins and Artifact were the ones
I planned out whole rounds in advance,
creating consistently tense matches.
On the other hand Artifacts randomization
can occasionally frustrate my carefully thought out plans.
I never felt random effects like targeting arrows
would undermine a solid strategy
but it also doesn't make cards like cheating death
which gives units in a lane a 50% chance
to just not die any less aggravating to play against
in the moment, no matter the strength or balance of it.
Amidst all the mind games are more tiny details
than any one person could ever possibly find.
An absurd amount of well voice dialogue
is hidden behind extremely specific interactions.
For example the Cedar do list will say different things
depending on which allied green hero you use to play with.
- [Cedar Do list] Like with you by my side there
is no enemy I can't fell.
- [Narrator] And all of those lines are influenced
by the fully voiced lords found in the collection screen.
That added flavor makes every card more than paper thin.
The music and art and Artifacts are also lush
with the score shifting as towers are destroyed
or damaged is threatened.
Along with the horribly expressive decade sidekick
each player has.
That said Artifact is still missing a few expected layers
outside of it's fantastic in match experience.
There's no ranking system, cosmetic customization
or stat tracking at all.
I want to keep playing Artifacts simply because
of how fun it is, but I still wish it had the hooks
I expect from most modern online competitive games.
But Valve has been listening to the community
and is making significant updates and
progression is at the top of its post launch to do list.
Artifact is model itself after a physical card game
when it comes to getting cards, it's $20 cost
comes with far more than $20 worth of stuff.
So it's less of a price tag and more of a way
to warn everybody that this isn't free to play.
Though you can win card packs by doing well
in competitive gauntlet modes,
you'll mostly have to buy cards for $2 per pack
or individually on the community marketplace.
That could get pricey, but thankfully, valve is included
a free version of Artifacts, excellent draft mode,
which means you don't have to spend any money at all
to have unlimited access to a competitive mode
where the size of your collection doesn't matter.
The biggest question currently left unanswered
from the beta is what the prices in Artifacts marketplace
will end up looking like.
I'll continue to play Artifact and let its economy shake out
over the next week or two before I put a final score on it.
But until then, I'm loving what's already here.
Artifact is a challenging, deep, yet surprisingly
approachable card game that breaks many of the conventions
I've come to expect from the genre.
Mechanical bliss is complemented by countless
Easter eggs and compelling lore.
But we're still waiting for more meaningful progression.
Even if the marketplace ends up being less than ideal.
The completely level playing field of draft mode
is so fun that it's probably worth
the price of admission alone.
For more on Artifact, check out our primer
on how to play
or a video on nine things the game doesn't tell you
and for everything else, keep it right here on IGN.