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On Monday, Artifact update 1/28 landed, bringing numerous buffs to the game’s items. Only that wasn’t everything the update patched in.

Fans of the game took to themselves whether the update carried with it any unrevealed secrets. And as it turns out — it absolutely did.

On Tuesday, Reddit user /u/ketura did some digging in the game’s API and found out a bunch of new cards with a distinct new type: mutation. What “mutation” means is unknown still, but the effects suggest that this keyword could potentially appear in some casual game mode in Artifact. After all, who would play a mutation that takes 10 health from all your towers? At the same time, other mutations have extremely powerful effects, ranging from doubling the bounty on all enemy heroes to giving Rapid Deployment to all heroes in all lanes. 

If these cards are available in traditional modes and constructed, though, they are likely to come with some big asterisk attached, given their extremely powerful effects.

Later, Valve News Network producer Tyler McVicker did his own datamining, discovering even more stuff in the 1/28 update. One of the major things unearthed included a puzzle mode for Artifact, which is even launchable through the console.

This is technically not news, since the code for puzzle was already in the game and used for Artifact’s tutorial. What’s new, however, is the inclusion of other puzzle modes and an insight in how you’d do them. According to McVicker, the new puzzle mode is likely to play in a progression, where a player uses the same deck to defeat different opponents, as the rules for each level change. You might get less mana, your heroes might deploy slower, or your opponents might start using better cards.

The datamined code also indicates that players can create their own puzzles and set their own parameters for them.

McVicker also found references to:

  • Imp customization
  • Imp animation customization
  • Board customization
  • Unity conversion, indicating a release on mobile

The big question, however, remains whether this will be enough to revive the game. McVicker speculates that a campaign-like single player progression system indicate that Artifact might go free to play. Although that doesn’t have to necessarily be the case, it will be great news for many community members who’ve been saying that this is the only logical step Artifact can take after having lost 98% of its player base.

More and better content is certainly to cause an uptick in interest but Valve will have to also solve the core problem of Artifact. The game doesn’t have a problem with attracting people; after all, it peaked at 60,000 on launch day. It has problems with retaining players, however. If Artifact is to get new life with its first expansion and stay alive, it will have to do a lot more to keep players interested.

Related article:

The three big winners of the Artifact 1/28 update

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