Hex's split with PvE and PvP content puts most of the RPG focus on playing against the computer and not other people. After all, what would the fun be of playing against a slew of level 1 characters with no cards? This lets Cryptozoic open the game up and do some things that are quite unorthodox, though. Aside from going through dungeons and unlocking pieces of story and additional cards, each dungeon can be different depending on the faction of the deck. "If you're playing Ardent or Underworld, when you enter a dungeon, it may be presented to you in a very different way. Why you're there may change. If you're Ardent, you might be there to defend them and help them, but if you're Underworld you might be there to pillage them," Jones says.
The types and colors of the decks to take down this dungeon are up to the player, though, and deckbuilding will play a big role in many dungeon battles. "When it comes to what kind of cards you play, that's more about the mechanics of the dungeon, which relate back to the story. We have a dungeon called ‘Junkyard Dogs' with these Gnolls that live in this mile-long trash heap of the dwarves. They've taken all this tech and strapped it to themselves... so you may want to build a deck that has a lot of artifact removal," Jones says.
Once a set of dungeons has been taken down, boss battles are unlocked. Jones was behind the idea of Raid Decks for the World of Warcraft TCG and boss battles here are somewhat similar. You and a group of friends team up to take down a big baddie who might counter everything you throw at it. Balance is important here, and the team at Cryptozoic has made sure that players' decks are powerful, but the game is still challenging. Regarding people commenting on current cards, Jones says, "[People] aren't giving our raid bosses enough credit. They are a ton of fun, some of them are very puzzle-y, and some have countdown timers where events happen and you have to plan your turns around them; there's just so much going on, it's very cool."
The shift to a digital medium gives the developers plenty of freedom. Without the restrictions of cardboard and table space, bosses can take up a huge amount of screen and even eschew the normal rules of the TCG. Imagine using your deck of cards to suss out a mystery or engage in a battle of wits — these kinds of "battles" are exactly what Cory wants to happen. He adds, "Some of the dungeons are completely bonkers. They break the rules of the TCG completely. One of them plays like [the board game] Werewolf, where there's this city of gnomes and you have to discover which one is becoming a Wendigo and eating the others. You're gathering up clues; we've got this huge amount of gameplay that's not even TCG related, it's just using the TCG cards."
All of these dungeons give players loot in many forms — be it an additional mercenary to join their party, more cards to put into their deck, equipment, or gems to socket — though these cards stick exclusively to the PvE modes. To make sure that things are balanced for competitive players, Cryptozoic didn't want to have players hunt and hunt and hunt in a PvE mode for PvP gear. The plus side for PvE players? This mode is completely free-to-play. If you want to do nothing but play games against the computer, not a single dime needs to be put into your account. There's also an auction house available in case you want to shed some of that excess loot for some PvP cards.
Of course, while the bulk of Hex's RPG aspects find their home in the PvE mode, like any card game, there's always going to be an aspect for the competitive players: beating up your friends.
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