It still feels strange to report on a game "launching" when people have been playing it for months beforehand, but such is the age we live in today.
Titles such as Minecraft, Frozen Synapse, Frozen Endzone and any number of popular Steam Early Access titles have proven that there are plenty of people out there willing to play unfinished games -- even throw money at them. And Blizzard's free-to-play collectible card game is no exception.
Hearthstone's undergone a number of major balance changes since its original launch into closed beta, but Blizzard announced a while back that in the run-up to the game's "full" launch there would be no further major adjustments to cards and abilities. Now, the shedding of the game's "beta" tag suggests that Blizzard is now willing to consider Hearthstone to be feature complete, with future updates likely taking the form of minor balance tweaks, new cards, expansions and ways to play. We can also apparently expect the long-awaited iPad version "soon" along with Android, iPhone and Windows tablet versions "in the future."
The new update adds a number of new features. Experienced players can look forward to unlocking Golden Heroes after winning 500 ranked matches, and participating in each ranked season will earn you new card backs for your deck. You can also win a Hearthsteed mount for World of Warcraft simply by winning three games in Play or Arena mode.
Blizzard has also added a Diablo-style region selector to the game, allowing you to connect to and compete against friends in any of the four available regions around the world -- Americas, Europe Korea and Taiwan. Account progress and card collections are saved separately per region, however, so it's probably a good idea to use the region in which you have the most friends as your "main" region unless you really want to start gathering four different collections.
Those who have had connection issues with the game can take advantage of the new reconnect feature, too -- if you find yourself disconnected for whatever reason, you now have a whole minute to re-log into Hearthstone and continue playing, though take note that the match will not pause while you are disconnected. This is "to maintain the fast pace of the game for both you and your opponent," apparently.
You can find the full patch notes for the new version here, and if you're yet to delve into the world of Hearthstone, grab a copy of the game for free here and keep an eye on USgamer for tips and strategies from our master players.