Finding out how to adapt a classic collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering into a more action-oriented game genre is no easy task. Fortunately, isometric action RPGs like Diablo apparently lend themselves very well to the deep knowledge, deceptively complex mechanics and underlying sense of constant action that permeates Magic. It's a difficult task for Magic: Legends, an online action RPG that is due to arrive on the Open Beta for PC on March 23, 2021.
A game of Magic can sometimes take hours to finish, depending on the slowness of turns or the skill of the players. The first thing to do to combine this property in a fast-paced action RPG, then, is to eliminate the order of turns and condense the concepts. Notably, the developers were careful not to describe Magic Legends as an "MMO" anymore, but rather a "persistent online action RPG".
In a recent Magic: Legends automatic demo presentation, developer Cryptic Studios showed me a pre-release version of the game featuring a variety of game styles and an exclusive first look at how deck building works. Take a look at the exclusive trailer & # 39; Deckbuilding 101 & # 39; above.
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If you've played Diablo, Torchlight, Path of Exile or any fast-paced RPG, then you'll have a good idea of what to expect here. The camera is positioned at an isometric angle from top to bottom and you will spend time getting ready and getting ready to return to the central locations of the city before venturing into the game world and on dangerous missions. Unless you are doing a dedicated instantiated story mission, you can find other players in the world or in the city center, but it is not exactly on a "massive" scale. It is similar in concept to how Destiny brings players together to get content.
You start by selecting your own personal Planeswalker with three main choices that define the character: your load of equipment and artifacts, your class and your deck. Your class will determine your innate abilities, such as your primary attack, special secondary attack, and utility skill, such as jumping like a geomancer. And then your deck acts like your real CCG card deck. You will select a variety of spells (each "card" in Magic is a spell) and you will need to build it with a mix of creature summoning spells, sorcery / arcane magic spells and enchantments.
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From what I've seen, just like in the real Magic, deck building is a big part of Legends and it all comes down to how your hand is shuffled. Before starting a mission, you will need to customize your deck (12 cards at this point), as this directly affects which cards are randomly drawn to your hand (4 at a time) during combat. A single curved ball used to mix things up is that the buttons to use your spell cards are randomly assigned each time. For example, a Magma Blast spell can be button B in a moment, but after you cast it and it appears again, it can be X this time.
Another interesting aspect is how they chose to deal with mana costs. In CCG, you have a limited amount of mana resources that slowly build up over the course of a game, but in Magic: Legends the mana pool starts out large and is divided between colors based on the proportion of colors in your deck. If you have an exact 50/50 split between white and blue, your mana pool will be as well. But if it's 8 whites and only 4 blues, the mana pool will reflect that, so the mana you have available is proportional to the types of spells you have ready to use.
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There is a ton of strategy for defining the right character building. Since your class may have a totally different color from your deck's spells, you can be extremely creative, as it takes into account all progression paths and building varieties. Two players using the same class can play with totally different characters based on the colors of the deck they use.
Similar to how you can switch decks between matches in Magic if you want, you can switch decks and loadouts very easily and quickly in Magic: Legends too. Cryptic did a remarkably efficient job of combining the concepts of a game like Diablo with the basic rules behind Magic: The Gathering.
However, not all card game mechanics are translated directly. For example, in a Magic game, the order of the turn generally dictates that if it is your turn, you "declare" which creatures are trying to attack the player and then the other player chooses which attacks to block with which creatures. Skills like running over, blocking and provoking, of course, further complicate this central idea, but that is always the essence. In Magic: Legends, however, once you summon a creature, it usually follows and fights alongside you based on its powers – you really don't do a lot of micromanagement because the "agitation" of summoning, casting new spells, and the summons is so quick.
As of now, there is a basic 1v1 duel version of PvP, but the focus definitely seems to be more on the cooperative side of things and experimenting with how the various classes and deck combinations can work together. The flow of the game is extremely different, but the flavors of Magic are still there. Watching the incredible and iconic card art come to life in an action game, instead of just another digital CCG, is truly wonderful.
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That said, I definitely have my reservations about the monetization plan. As Magic: Legends is a free game, when you start you choose a single class to use, with all the others blocked behind paid access. Then, using a game currency that you accumulate slowly when playing the game called “planar mana” or spending money directly in the money store, you can unlock the other subsequent classes. Other types of items available in the money store include convenience booster items and random card reinforcement packs, but you won't be able to purchase specific spells or upgrade a specific spell in your deck.
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It doesn't sound like a "pay to win" system, which is good, but it definitely makes me curious about what types of content will be for paying customers only. There will also be a Fortnite-style Battle Pass, in which you sign up for a low-rate content season, typically $ 15 or more in most games, and as you play and move up the ranks, you'll unlock new cosmetics and packages reinforcement, and so on.
After seeing the demo in action and seeing the basic details of how deck building works in Magic: Legends, I am extremely eager to try it for myself. The extra layers of nuances that are transplanted from the CCG seem to give Legends a strong sense of identity that games of this genre often lack, so crossed fingers work.
David Jagneaux is a freelance writer for IGN. Chat RPGs with him on Twitter at @David_Jagneaux .