Steam and Half-Life creator Valve revealed more details regarding Artifact. Announced in 2017, Artifact is a card game based on Valve’s popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game Dota 2. Valve boss Gabe Newell also said that Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering is working on the game's design.
Artifact will come to Windows, macOS, and Linux via Steam. It will also release on mobile — Android and iOS thereafter. The game runs on Valve's Source 2 engine on all platforms.
Valve has stated that Artifact is slated for a 2018 release window on PC and will come to Android and iOS in mid-2019.
Unlike other card collection games, Artifact will not be free-to-play and it won’t be pay-to-win either. That being said, you will be able to purchase cards via the marketplace. Bargain hunting will be an important element for building your deck of cards but their power will not be tied to rarity. Valve is looking to towards players playing and understanding the game over time to provide advantages over simply spending more money.
Compared to Hearthstone where cards are rotated out of use each year, the company plans to make Artifact cards relevant beyond that by emphasising on deck-building and theory crafting. Money made from Artifact will go into tournaments akin to Dota 2’s compendium. An option to spectate card packs being opened is being considered as well.
Artifact will not have a single-player campaign or a story mode. There is no single-player content planned for Artifact other than the ability to play against its AI which could be useful to hone strategies. While most card games don’t have single-player modes, the likes of Hearthstone’s Dungeon Run and Gwent’s solo story are welcome attempts at increasing their lifespan. Evidently Valve doesn’t deem this important just yet.
Artifact gameplay explained
Artifact will have 280 cards with 44 heroes. The goal of each match is to take down towers in two of three lanes, each with its own board. The three lane structure is familiar to Dota 2 players though it plays out differently here. Heroes are of four types. Red, black, blue, and green to represent tanks, assassins, mages, and support classes. Players will build their decks with five heroes spread across two types.
Each hero has its own abilities and can be played on a board with a hero of the same colour. Some abilities can be applied to other boards, particularly for those heroes corresponding to the black type. The game emphasises on having the right heroes in the right place at the right time and each of them have three slots fo weapons, armour, and extra health. Certain cards have an additional ability too.
Artifact mods and Steam Workshop support
At launch Artifact will not support mods or the Steam Workshop. This may change in the future to allow for new card art given Valve’s community gear is purely cosmetic. Don’t expect Artifact to offer anything beyond new card art if Steam Workshop support is added.
With Valve stating its back to making games and its boss Gabe Newell labelling Half-Life as a series of regrets, it’s safe to say that Artifact is just one of many games planned by the company. Those that end up seeing the light of day however, will be a point of interest in the years to come.