Valve Corporation, the developer behind hit titles such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike and the Dota series, announced on Monday that the invites for the upcoming Artifact beta are scheduled to start rolling out next week.
The first version of Valve’s collectable card game (CCG) entered closed beta in early 2018 and was first publicly playable at PAX West 2018 in April. The public beta was released in November 2018, only a week before the official launch on November 28. There was a lot of initial hype surrounding the game, but it proved to be a massive disaster and soon died out.
The developers acknowledged that the beta phase for the original game, which was deemed one of the worst releases of the year, “started too late and was too short”. The poor reception of its initial release led Valve to fire the lead game designers, Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias, and put the project on hold.
In March this year, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell announced that the company were rebooting Artifact, which was internally named ‘Artifact 2’. Since then, Valve have been slowly teasing changes that will come with the game’s second release, including new cards, an improved shop and various hero reworks.
Most of the modifications were unveiled throughout May. Although the majority of the changes to Arfitact remain a mystery, the community won’t have to wait too long to test them out.
Valve will start sending out the invites for the new beta next week, but only to players who have already purchased the original game. Also, the firm will prioritise players who obtained the game before March 30, 2020. The invite process will use a lottery system, meaning that the overall playing time won’t affect players’ chances to receive the beta invite.
“Access to the Beta will remain closed until we’ve worked through the signups from players of the original,” read the blog post.
“Communication about the game will remain open for the duration of the Beta.”
The second Artifact beta will mostly focus on testing “Gameplay, Balance, Hero Identity, Color Identity, Social Features, Card Unlocks, Ranked Play, Replays, Spectating and the Campaign”, and will have some gameplay modes locked from the start. The game developers explained that tournaments and draft modes (other than Hero Draft) won’t be available until more players join the game.
Additionally, the tutorial mode will be disabled, as Valve will only be inviting players who have already played the game before. In a bid to avoid another wave of criticism, the developer also explained that the Artifact beta could have bugs, temporary art and data resets, and so players who find these issues too troublesome should wait a while and try out the game later.
Perhaps the biggest step forward from the original release is Valve’s decision not to monetize cards and packs. Instead of buying cards, players will be able to acquire them by playing the game.
While Valve have “some ideas” about what they would like to sell in the Artifact store, they reassured the community that none of those things will be cards or packs. This means it’s likely that Artifact 2.0 will only sell cosmetic items and other products that won’t affect the gameplay.
Artifact is currently available for purchase on Steam for €17.95 (US $19.99). The game has only 48% positive reviews and an overall score of 6/10, while Metacritics has ranked it an underwhelming 76/100.