Cryptic Studios has released an update to the highly anticipated MMORPG based on the global phenomenon trading card game, Magic: The Gathering.
In 2019, parent company Perfect World announced that it had secured the rights for developing a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game based on Magic: The Gathering (aka Magic or MTG). In January of 2020, the first trailer of Magic Legends was released, which showed promise, but left details on how the gameplay would emulate the popular card game. But today, about a year later, a new trailer, game developer details, and announcement of the Open Beta have been simultaneously unleashed.
What is Magic Legends?
In Magic: Legends, players take on the role of fledgling Planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are the default role of players in the actual Magic: The Gathering tabletop collectible card game (CCG). Planeswalkers are beings who, for unknown reasons, would gain a spark that links them to the mana that permeates the multiverse called Dominaria. This connection to the mana pool allows Planeswalkers to not only cast spells that are far more powerful than a standard wizard, but also traverse the different planes (hence the name).
Often, Planeswalkers will also gain other powers such as veritable immortality, enhanced senses, the ability to communicate through any language, superhuman physical attributes, and many others. These additional powers would generally be based on the type of mana the Planeswalker is most attuned with.
Mana types are dependent on the domains they are drawn from. In the card game, these domains are represented by different lands and the mana they generate are represented by the Color Wheel. Magic’s Color Wheel and what they represent are broken down as follows:
- Blue – Elemental forces of Water and Air. Mental Powers, Illusion, Knowledge, and the essence of Magic itself. Blue is renowned for its ability to take control and disrupt other magics.
- Black – Darkness, Death, and Decay. Necromancy, Vampirism, and sacrificing life to attain more power are common traits.
- Green – Nature, plant life, and growth. This color is often associated with generating fast mana and summoning very large creatures.
- Red – Elemental forces of Earth and Fire. Direct damage, destruction, and creatures that hit hard fast are the hallmarks of this color.
- White – Civilization, Healing, and Light. This is the color that focuses on life gaining, weak but useful creatures, and destroying threats.
In the Magic card game, players use these mana for all kinds of spells in the form of instants, sorceries, summons, and enchantments. There have been attempts to translate the game into digital form, the most recent being Magic: Arena. However, Magic: Legends is a bit different.
Instead of translating the exact gameplay of Magic, Magic: Legends is an MMORPG. Where the card game is just about Planeswalkers dueling one another, Magic: Legends follows the open world exploration and adventuring format of MMORPGs. Planeswalkers will be travelling the different planes of Dominaria to fulfill quests. As with other RPGs, typical features like gaining experience, leveling up, acquiring equipment and powerful items are going to be included in the gameplay.
Magic: Legends Planeswalkers and Spellcasting
With the release of the newest trailer, Cryptic has provided details on the character creation and spellcasting mechanics. Players can choose one of five Planeswalker classes, each representing the mana and magical attunement they are most associated with.
- Blue – Mind Mage
- Black – Necromancer
- Green – Beastmaster
- Red – Geomancer
- White – Sanctifier
Each Planeswalker gets class abilities that are separate from the spells they cast. For instance, the Sanctifier can use Divine Bolts that deal holy damage as well as Salvation which can heal but also summons a 4/4 White Angel with Lifelink (i.e. heals equal to the damage it deals).
However, while a Planeswalker may have a color affinity and associated class abilities, Magic: Legends does not limit their spells to the same colors. As with the CCG, players may choose different colors of mana and spells to build their deck. However, the current mechanics planned will limit players to choose only up to two colors for each deck.
The number of spells a Planeswalker can have in their deck is limited by their maximum point allocation. Each spell has a Rank that starts from 1 and maxes out to 10. Higher rank spells have a higher point value. A player’s active deck cannot have a total point value that exceeds their maximum points. For example, if a Planeswalker has a spell with a value of 4 points already in the deck and their maximum points is 12, they still have 8 points of spells that they can add. To further illustrate, that player can add eight 1 point spells, or one 5-point and one 3-point spells, or any combination as long as the total point values do not exceed the maximum points.
The spells themselves are also handled differently. Planeswalkers can have up to 4 different spells that they can cycle through at any given time. This is their Spell Hand. Once a spell is cast, it is randomly replaced by another spell in their deck.
Another difference from the CCG is the current spell types. Magic Legends will have enchantments, sorceries, and summon spells. Instants are currently not implemented.
Deckbuilding and Other Details Revealed
Each Planeswalker will have a starter deck to build with. However, as players progress in levels, they gain new spells to cast. They can also gain new spells in quests and winning battles. Resources such as Aether allow players to increase the rank of spells to more powerful versions.
One important similarity to the Magic CCG is that spells will have different rarities: Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Mythic Rare. Thus, rarer and more powerful spells will be harder to find and acquire. There is also a planned microtransaction element to buy booster packs that will randomly produce spells of different rarities, thus mirroring the collectable aspect of the card game.
After collecting feedback from the Closed Alpha testers, the Magic: Legends development team have added an MMORPG staple to the game. This is the implementation of gear that can be equipped. Aside from the bonuses to abilities to Planeswalkers, these equips can also alter the appearance of the Planeswalker, thus adding a cosmetic aspect to the game features.
In relation to this, Artifacts are not spells in the game. Instead of casting Artifact spells like in the card game, they are powerful treasures that can be found and equipped.
The game will also feature a similar mission/quest tree that Cryptic Games like Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter use. Here, players build Reputation in certain locations by performing deeds. Each successful quest unlocks another quest to complete the chain. These quests reward the player, with a bigger reward at the end of the quest chain.
One More Closed Alpha Before Open Beta
The Magic: Legends dev team has stated at least one more Closed Alpha will be conducted and new invites will be sent to increase the current 100,000 Closed Alpha testers. This is to ensure more creative feedback about the game is collected before Open Beta for the global gaming community.
Per the announcement trailer, the Open Beta will start on March 23, 2021. Players can apply for Open Beta through the Arc Games site. Magic: Legends will be available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.