How beta tests shaped Warcraft Rumble, Blizzard’s next mobile game

How beta tests shaped Warcraft Rumble, Blizzard’s next mobile game

In May 2022, Blizzard first unveiled Warcraft Arclight Rumble, the next mobile game coming to the Warcraft franchise. Over a year later, the game has had beta tests and has received updates and changes, including a snazzy new name — it’s just Warcraft Rumble now. Warcraft Rumble is also going to roll out for more players, starting in the Philippines.

When the game was first announced, Blizzard promised a single-player campaign with over 70 missions, as well as PvP matches. The game has been refined and polished, but one of the biggest things to change was the PvP system. It was simple at first, as explained by game director Tom Chilton in a recent call with Polygon: “It was really just, if you’re in the queue and someone else is in the queue, you fight against each other and the winner gets some XP. That was pretty much it.” Once the bare bones were set up and the mode was declared appropriately fun and balanced, the team built a fully featured PvP mode, including matchmaking, a ladder system, rewards, and a seasonal structure.

Gameplay from Warcraft Rumble, showing the player engaged in a battle using the hero Jaina Proudmoore against a sea of Murlocs.

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Warcraft Rumble runs on a six-week seasonal cycle for both PvE and PvP. In PvP, the featured map changes with the seasons, and certain rules within that map change on a two-week cycle. Sometimes a regular guard tower might become a fearsome dragon tower with AoE fire shots — how will you change your strategy to topple them? It’s a chaotic system that’s meant to avoid metagame stagnation and objective tier lists. Blizzard will nerf and buff armies and heroes as needed, but the designers’ hope is that the constant change in maps and variables will allow every strategy to have its time in the sun.

“Hopefully, that ends up in a spot where players don’t have to suffer through our constant buffing, nerfing, buffing, nerfing, buffing…” Chilton said.

Another lesson learned during beta was that Warcraft Rumble’s difficulty ramped up far too quickly, and players would soon get lost in the complexity of the game. Blizzard has spent the beta ironing out that on-ramp process, making it so players can dabble with the game and find their sea legs before diving into PvP. For PvE fans, Blizzard built a heroic campaign to come after beating the standard one; much like with Hearthstone, these harder difficulties allow players to return to completed content and try it again with fewer resources against a tougher enemy.

“The heroic campaign is not just a numerical change, where everything does more damage or has more health,” said Chilton. “We actually hand-adjusted the mechanics on every map to make it the most wild version of itself that it can be.”

Warcraft Rumble is designed around leaders; some of these are characters from Warcraft lore, like Sylvanas Windrunner or Grommash Hellscream, and others are “upgraded” versions of iconic units like the footman. “We didn’t want everything to be about playing your leader,” Chiltan said. “We wanted to make sure that mechanically they didn’t overshadow all the other parts of your army. The leader’s abilities don’t make the leader itself stronger — it influences your army in general. That was our approach to it.”

Warcraft Rumble will eventually be launched worldwide for iOS and Android; there is no release date at the moment.

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