If you’d rather watch this preview rather than read it (or just want to see some gameplay), check out the video above.
On the surface Magic: legends looks like little more than a Diablo clone. All the genre staples are here: a frantic mouse click to attack, hold Shift so you don’t accidentally click to move during combat, and cycle through abilities in a flurry of blinking effects to mow down countless enemies. If you could distill the essence of top-down action RPGs and apply a lick of Magic: The Gathering paint, then that’s exactly what we have here, but luckily there’s more to it than that thanks to its deck system. .
New type of caster
I had the chance to try two different classes and two different spell sets to put the game to the test. Granted, the character the devs set me up with wasn’t low-level at all, so the content I tried was easily single-player, but the actual game is designed to be more fun with up to two friends – although you can play alone too if you want.
The only thing your class has a major impact on is your basic free attack ability, a passive part, and a few of your specials. Each class in Magic: Legends is themed on a deck type or mana color, but you’re free to mix a class with a deck that doesn’t match its mana type and vice versa. So you can play as a geomancer, who harnesses fire magic and traditionally red abilities, but equip it with a green deck. Mixing things up and experimenting is a big part of the game’s design, as each character can swap classes and decks whenever they want in central areas outside of quests.
The characters in Magic: Legends are a bit unique in that there are several progression paths and arcs of customization to dig into. Not only do you have a list of classes to choose from that define your fighting style and basic attacks, but you also have your character’s gear and, most importantly, your spell deck.
Magic: Legends – Screenshots from March 2021
To be clear though: in magical parlance, a “spell” simply means an ability. Technically, whatever your character does is a “spell” in itself. For example, if they were to throw a fireball, it would be a ritual spell and if they summoned a skeleton warrior, it would be a creature spell. Much like the Trading Card Game (CCG), everything in your deck is a spell, it’s just a matter of the type of spell.
Building a deck is full of choices and sacrifices. You can fill it with 12 cards in Legends, and depending on the types of cards you choose, your mana pool will be automatically generated and exactly proportional. So if you have 6 blue cards and 6 white cards, your mana pool will be exactly half and half between the two types, for example. Unlike CCG, you don’t “pull” mana during a game, you gradually recharge it naturally.
CCG’s random influence in Magic: Legends comes from the way your deck is distributed. As you play, you only have four cards in your “hand” out of the 12 total in your deck and they are drawn at random and assigned to your active bar. What’s exciting about it is that it keeps you on your toes – you never really know which card you’re going to get at any given time – and adds an extra layer of strategy since spells will land in different hotkey slots. keyboard every time.
This creates many opportunities for strategies reminiscent of the CGC. For example, when playing Magic: The Gathering, you can hold onto super powerful cards until the right time to maximize the impact, but in Magic: Legends you can instead take them out quickly in the hopes of getting some another soon.There are, essentially, three styles of deck play that I noticed during my play session: the creature-heavy summoning deck, the sorcery-focused noncreature deck, and a mixed deck that exploits a little invocation and a little arcane witchcraft. cards. I turned to this third guy for versatility, especially as a solo player. Your class of choice also determines that a bit. If you go for a ranged glass cannon damage dealer type character, it makes sense to have plenty of summoned creatures in your deck that can protect you and absorb damage while you drop big bombs from a distance.
One of the decks I tried was all about synergies. I had an equipped item that increased my percentage chance to summon a dragon creature every time I cast a spell (note: this just means “used an ability” in this context), so that resulted in the spawning of a great dragon in my army. every few minutes depending on how quickly I cast spells. Another deck was all about raising corpses and summoning a legion of undead and it really felt like I was in control of a huge horde of creatures at all times. It’s kind of what my college brain imagined while playing Magic: The Gathering in the cafeteria with friends.Upgrading your cards is a bit hit and miss here too, leaning even more on the CCG aesthetic. Not only can you buy “boosters” in the store and open them to see what’s inside, but as you play you will find spell pages around the world increasing. gradually the power and efficiency of your different cards. From what I’ve been told, this is intentionally designed to be random to level progress and prevent people from just paying to upgrade a handful of spells and max out on day one.
However, there are aspects of microtransactions that concern me. Since Magic: Legends is a free-to-play game, you’ll choose a starting class when you create your character, and then any other classes you need to unlock by saving enough in-game currency to purchase them. Or, you guessed it, you can just pay with real money to get enough currencies to buy them. I’ve also learned that there will eventually be classes that must be purchased exclusively with microtransaction currency.
However, all is not bad. According to developer Cryptic Studios, you will be able to earn paid microtransaction currency by “trading” your accumulated in-game currency with other players on a marketplace. They have a similar system in place with their other longtime Wizards of the Coast based MMOs, Neverwinter. This way that means you can technically get anything in the game if you do enough, but it also means that there will be a rampant market full of currency farmers who will load players with pockets. deep to grind things for. their. I’ll be curious to see how this affects the economics of the game in the long run.Most of my curiosity and interest centers on the tremendous creativity found with the deck system. There is so much depth and potential here that it was impossible to really understand it all in just an hour of play. I still have a lot of other questions about the game, such as how quickly you will progress and progress in scenarios, if the quests are really good or if I’ll skip them just to get back to clicking faster, and if adding more players will make it more fun or just more chaotic.
I don’t have answers to any of these questions yet, but we won’t have to wait much longer since the open beta for Magic: Legends kicks off on the Epic Store for PC next week on March 23 before launch. Complete the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 later this year.
David Jagneaux is a regular contributor to IGN. Talk Magic: The Gathering with him on Twitter at @David_Jagneaux.