If you’ve already read my previous review of the base game then you know I wasn’t a big fan of Card Hunter. I found it cool in terms of its theme but lacking in substance. Essentially how I feel about the expansion, “Expedition to the Sky Citadel”, is that if you like the base game then Expedition is going to be a worthwhile investment for you. It offers a lot of the same in a shiny new box with a handful of new toys. However, if you found that after trying this free to play game that you agreed with me, and felt that that the game tended to lack in execution, then Expedition will do little to change your mind.
On the positive side, ‘Expedition’ features a series of campaigns that include a radical re-theming of the base game. Gone is the traditional dungeon crawler. Instead it is replaced with a sci-fi action adventure complete with robots, aliens, and lasers. The adorable dungeon master brothers are joined, and somewhat replaced, with a malevolent robot. Any cards or associated equipment from this adventure is also sufficiently sci-fi themed. In a way the success with which this game completely rebrands is a testament to the universality of this game’s system. It’s frankly amazing that such a radical departure works at all, but it does. It just feels right for the game to head in this direction.
I also enjoyed how the game allows you to jump into the new content right away even if you haven’t hit level 20 on your current characters. It outfits you with a party of three modestly geared adventurers, and it lets you delve right into the robotic depths right away. That said, I did find some trouble with this. The adventurers are barely equipped to handle the challenges of even the first campaign of this futuristic hellscape. I found myself buying chests just to try and get through the ramped up new content. I suppose that is probably the point, at least from a certain perspective, for a free to play game, but it was a bit unfortunate in its heavy handedness. I’m aware that this is such a ridiculous complaint because, let’s be honest, I was just thankful they gave me option of not having to level all the way up to 20 to experience this new content. So I would count this as a big plus for the expansion.
The downside is that the gameplay itself remains largely unchanged. No new class, nothing to write home about in terms of new mechanics, and cards that largely felt like they were, albeit radically, reskinned versions of older cards. While some of it certainly was a decent addition, it just didn’t feel like enough to keep me interested in a game like this, and the problem of not being able to micromanage the characters decks in a meaningful way really hurts this game. Some people may be able to get past this this, but it is a huge turn off for me as a player.
The truth of the matter is if you enjoy the base Card Hunter game then Card Hunter: Expedition to the Sky Citadel will be a welcome addition. It offers some interesting thematic changes and a handful of unique powerful cards. The developers deserve to be rewarded for the pure amount of work that went into this expansion. This being said, there are better card games on the market, and many superior grid based tactical games. So I question whether Card Hunter will have the staying power despite the developers valiant efforts.
***A review code was provided by the Publisher***