Magic: Legends, a new action RPG, looks a bit like Diablo on the surface but Cryptic Studios’ new free-to-play multiplayer video game has its own pace and style. The trick is in the way he applies the mechanics of the original universe: the collectible card game from Magic: The Gathering.
In Magic: Legends, gamers they assume the role of planeswalker, powerful spellcasters of the Magic lore. Each has their own basic combat specialty: the Geomancer fights with his fists while the Necromancer has a whip-like censer for his mid-range attacks. Classes also have cooldown and ultimate abilities to match and combine with these powers – one is for doing damage over time while the other needs to be charged for massive damage once or twice a round.
Players can use the mouse and keyboard just like in a traditional ARPG, clicking on the ground to mark a destination for their character and let loose with the attack keys. Alternatively, a WASD movement mode allows MMO and FPS players to adapt more easily. Basic combat is fluid and fun, although at the moment the enemy AI behaves more like a team of kids playing soccer than a real fighting force.
Things get a lot more interesting with the game’s hotkeys. The players put it together a small deck of 12 spells before launching into battle, all drawn from the long history of Magic: The Gathering. Everyone, just like in the card game, it will require a certain amount of mana to be thrown and will have attack and defense values in the classic X / X style. All cards appear in your hand, which is your list of keyboard shortcuts numbered one through four, randomly.
Just like in a traditional Magic analog game, players never know which hand they will receive or which cards will come out over the course of the game. This means that you will have to adapt on the fly. Maybe your favorite combo will only appear once or twice every 10 minutes, or maybe it will be given to you a terrific hand and you will destroy the enemies with ease.
I personally had some problems with card recognition during my first game. Although the spells are drawn from Magic lore, the graphics on those spell cards are not. This makes sense, in a way, since there isn’t much room on those tiny hotkeys along the bottom of the HUD. It would have been nearly impossible for the rich and detailed graphics of the modern card game to make sense on that scale.
Then how much content will be available at launch? The game’s developers have said to expect about 30 hours of gameplay to unlock all base spells for the game’s five planeswalker classes. Apart from this you will be able to collaborate with other players to tackle particularly challenging levels of difficulty and you will be rewarded with all the tokens needed to create new cards and improve old ones.
After launch, fans can expect a steady stream of new content for the free-to-play game to be implemented over time. Narrative content will always be free, the developers told us, and will include new storylines, new enemies, new regions and more. Microtransactions won’t include things like level or progression.
There will be no friction between the different levels of power, the developers said, which means that players will not be limited in game content which they can consume based on their character’s power in the game. Magic: Legends will enter open beta for PC on March 23. The full game will be released for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One later in 2021.
The Magic: The Gathering franchise as a whole is still going strong. Netflix recently announced that it is working on an animated series set in that universe and the latest set of cards, Time Spiral Remastered, is a throwback that is sure to delight fans and collectors alike.