After years of small but constant changes, sometimes even negative ones, to a well-tested and decidedly folded game formula, there is no doubt that it was the cumbersome and violent entry of the Blizzard colossus with his Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, at finally convince Wizards of the Coast to rethink from scratch the presence on the gaming market of its most famous and profitable property. And so, after years of Duels of the Planeswalker, we find ourselves today talking about Magic Duels: Origins, the new formula created by the Washington giant to offer all players in the world a version that finally lives up to the expectations of its card game, just what has allowed the entire genre to establish itself on the market and which, especially in recent years, seems to be experiencing a rebirth especially on tablets and smartphones. This new product is clearly a starting point towards something bigger that will probably reach maturity in the next few months, not to say years, but which already represents a very tantalizing and enjoyable pastime, although limited in its scope by some little choices. understandable. But let's go in order and try to understand how much good there is in the new Magic Duels and obviously also what has not convinced us completely.
Magic Duel: Origins marks the long-awaited rebirth of the card game, but it will have to evolve in the coming months
Let's forget the past
Let's start by saying that Magic Duels: Origins is a free to play, one of the good ones if you allow us to judge. The game can be downloaded without spending a euro and all its contents are available to the player without any type of in-app purchase except, of course, the cards, as we will see later. It is still very evident the intention of Wizards to offer with this title a real guide for newbies, for those who have perhaps only heard of Magic but have never had the opportunity and the desire to embark on a hobby that it can become too expensive and overwhelming in a moment if you do not have a friend or a shopkeeper next to you ready to hold your hand on the first occasions to get to know the product.
This Origins, just as it happened in the past with the various Planeswalkers, is literally littered with tutorials and tips: all the basic rules and advanced tactics can be studied through small missions, called skills, which allow you to face pre-set scenarios to understand. all the way to the strategy underlying the game. And then, once you are in the game, you can access contextual help that explain the rules and special functions of the cards with a few lines of text. Compared to the past, however, this time all this dynamic aid system is just a pretext to continue making the digital version a sort of bridge between those who are beginners and those who already know Magic: The Gathering in depth and want to finally find a way to play a few games on the fly without having to carry around his favorite deck every time. Going into the details of the contents, Origins offers a campaign mode focused on the story of five different Planeswalkers that narrates their transformation from teenagers with supernatural abilities to real walkers between the planes, through five missions of increasing difficulty for each. These strictly single player challenges will be based on pre-set, non-editable decks of a color directly related to the nature of the Planeswalkers themselves. From mission to mission, the deck will automatically upgrade to allow us to face the next battle more easily. Outside of a couple of really tough battles as a matter of balance, the campaign goes away all too quickly and allows in a moment to begin to understand what Magic knows and can offer. Once this part of the game is archived, we can devote ourselves to battles. These are one-on-one challenges with artificial intelligence or human opponents, in the latter case with the possibility of choosing between friends or challengers chosen through a matchmaking that in reality, during our test was never very clear. There seems to be a ranking system with levels assigned based on the amount of wins, but we are definitely far from the highly structured (and repetitive) Hearthstone system. It is also possible to play a game in Two Headed Giant mode that finally returns to the digital version of Magic with this Origins. It is a two against two in which we can also play in split screen on the same computer with a friend of ours against human players or the inevitable computer. All battles can only be played with a deck built from scratch and this is where the cornerstone of Magic Duels comes into play.
... they made us 'o mazz' tant pe 'll ave'
Compared to the past of the Planeswalkers series, this time the game offers a completely free and extremely versatile system of building your own deck. It will be possible to create a practically infinite number of decks (there is a limit to 30 but you will not notice it) simply by choosing the cards from your collection with the help of a whole series of extremely convenient and immediate filters, which allow in a moment to study color compositions, synergies and of course mana curves. The auto-completion of the deck is also back which makes it possible to better understand the strategies that are the basis of the best grimoire constructions, simply by choosing the favorite cards and leaving the artificial intelligence the task of reaching the 60 units necessary to close the deck. Zero limitations also with regard to the choice of lands.
This is where the only payout mechanic of the entire game lies. By completing the campaigns for the first time and winning the 1vs1 challenges (even against the artificial intelligence), but also by carrying out the skill missions, we will earn coins that we can spend to buy the booster packs: sleeves containing six cards that will be added to the our collection once opened. It takes 150 coins to buy a package and consider that each campaign "gives" just this amount of coins, while a challenge against a human opponent, if won, allows you to put 20 tokens in your pocket (15 in the case of a battle against the computer at maximum difficulty level). It won't be that difficult to unlock the entire collection just by playing, as the coin donation seemed rather generous to us, but obviously it will be a long and tiring road. Of course, the game will also allow you to spend real money to buy coins at the conversion rate of € 1,79 for 150 coins (thus a booster pack). There is also a small aesthetic function as it will be possible to spend small amounts to transform the cards of your collection, or an entire deck, into its shiny foil version. Precisely with regard to the collection we feel we can move probably the most important criticism of the game. Origins currently contains 251 different cards made up partly of cards from previous base sets and expansions (indicated by the Duels symbol) and in the vast majority by cards from Origins, the new core set of the game (indicated by its logo). It might seem like a lot but we guarantee that, especially for those who want to dedicate themselves to particularly performing single-color or two-tone decks, the choice is really reduced to the bone.
On paper, the Magic Duels project is extremely interesting since Wizards intends not to release other versions of the game but to "limit" itself to updating this one constantly and completely free of charge both from a gameplay and modality point of view and, above all, , with new cards at the same time as the release of new expansions and future core sets. This means that in one or two years we could be faced with an endless and extremely attractive number of cards, without ever losing our collection over time. At the moment, however, we feel we can criticize a decision that makes the freedom granted to the player appear rather reduced. Why not already implement at least the latest expansion block released? Furthermore, for those who may have become accustomed to the mechanics of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft over time, it must be emphasized that in Origins it will not be possible to "split" the cards found in order to build more. The only way to get them is to "physically" unwrap them. Although it must be said that compared to the Blizzard card game, Magic allows you to have a maximum number of copies for each card, depending on its degree of rarity. This is a small limitation that could make the most avid fans of the Wizards card game turn up their noses but which on the one hand could also lead to several surprises in terms of meta-games (it will not be possible to have the same identical decks running in "physical" competitions due to this maximum number of copies per card) and, on the other hand, ensures that in the long run the collection is necessarily completed as it is not possible to continue to find duplicates indefinitely.
Watching you learn
One last element of Magic Duels gameplay is still missing, the one that probably best highlights how well Hearthstone did at Magic: the missions. Just like in the Blizzard card game, also in Origins it will be possible to have up to three daily missions (with the possibility of discarding one every 24 hours) which, if completed, will give access to rich loot of coins. In addition there is also a community quest with really complex objectives but which involve the entire user base and last a week.
On the same page there is also a small space dedicated to tournaments but, as in the case of the ranking and the total absence of a spectator mode, it is evident that at least in this phase all the e-Sport component has been practically set aside by waiting Wizards probably better times and the first substantial updates. We close our review with a few small notes regarding the technical component of the game. With an operation already started on the occasion of the last two Duels of the Planeswalkers, Origins also offers a decidedly minimal and basic graphic aspect. The board is even more neutral and if possible anonymous, to give greater prominence to the cards, while the animations and effects that "embellish" the clashes and the various spells are particularly simple and in any case all can be eliminated from the settings in case you don't like them. these trappings. Magic Duels: Origins is a card game that obviously comes from a very strong physical counterpart and does nothing to hide this origin by detaching itself from Hearthstone and other card games much more elaborate from a visual point of view. We do not feel like judging this choice because in any case it represents a precise design choice that gives its best, obviously, in the tablet and smartphone field since the battery and the heating of the device will benefit from it. Moreover, in the iOS environment, compared to its competitor mentioned several times, the game will be freely playable even offline, albeit with some limitations regarding the money that can be earned and the elements to unlock the campaign. To make us turn up our noses we thought the small sequences in computer graphics that underline the conclusion of the adventure of each Planeswalker and that appeared to us really anachronistic as well as animated in a very bad way. Small note of demerit also for the musical accompaniment, repetitive and without bite. Finally, the game is fully localized in Spanish.
CommentTested version PC Windows Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, App Store Price Free Resources4Gaming.com
Magic Duels: Origins represents a new starting point, finally attractive but above all up to the expectations of the digital transformation of the popular Wizards of the Coast card game. It is clear that this is a real platform under development which, on paper, is full of many good ideas that will be put into practice in the shortest possible time but which, at the moment, is the victim of some limitations that affect a vote. even higher. The card collection is small, the competitive and ranking part is reduced to the minimum wage and the single player campaign runs out very quickly without the game then offering other alternative modes to those who do not want to focus exclusively on single clashes. But at the same time you breathe that typical Magic air and once you enter the game it is really difficult to break away from the game.
- It is a true free to play and in-app purchases do not affect the balance
- Magic's gameplay and rules offer the perfect blend of complexity and immediacy
- Finally, the construction of the deck is completely free from constraints
- The starting card collection is too limited
- The competitive and e-Sport component is very small