Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 – Preview

Title   Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015
Developer  Stainless Games
Publisher  Wizards of the Coast
Platform  Windows PC, iOS, Android, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Genre  Collectible card game
Release Date  16th July, 2014
Official Site

Personally, I get sick of developers releasing the same product every single year with just a slight tweak or new feature. FIFA 15 with improved hair physics or Call of Duty 89 with the same AK-47 you’ve always used, except that it now comes in dark mauve. That’s why when Wizards of the Coast announce a new game every year, I’m always first in line to check out whatever they’ve been trying to tweak in the latest edition of Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers. They are always trying to innovate their products and bring the best experience possible to Magic players and, based on what I’ve seen of the 2015 addition, they look set to be releasing the most in-depth version yet.

Wizards of the Coast believe that the videogame version of Magic:The Gathering is the ideal way to introduce new players to the Magic experience.  For those who have never tried it before, they usually include a single player mode, a multiplayer mode and one ‘feature’ mode. An example of the feature mode in previous games would be the Planechase and Archenemy game modes, although neither of these will be in the 2015 addition – instead, players are being treated to a fully customisable deck creator, but I’ll come back to that shortly.

The single player story looks as rich and colourful as it has ever been, and this time we are following Garruk Wildspeaker who emarks upon on a quest to visit a pyromancer named Chandra, but instead finds Liliana (a Planeswalker skilled in necromancy) waiting for him. Unfortunately, it all goes a little pear-shaped for Garruk and he ends up cursed by Liliana, which also leaves everyone else in a rather unfortunate predicament because, instead of hunting beasts, Garruk Wildspeaker is now hunting Planeswalkers. As a Planeswalker yourself this means you need to hunt him down first, and the story will see you battle a number of different people in order to get to him. What happens when you do will largely depend on the decks you use along the way. Through playing the single player story, you’ll get hold of ten two-coloured decks that are all yours to use and experiment with.

If you’ve never set foot in the world of Magic: The Gathering before then I should imagine that sounded a touch confusing, and you’re not going to know your Genesis Hydra from your Polymorphous Rush. Thankfully, the 2015 release of Magic comes with a very robust tutorial, designed to take you through every step of the process, and will even put you on the path to unlocking your own deck. I personally enjoy a decent game tutorial, even if I think I know it all, and this looks to be one of the most user-friendly and polished in the series.

While the tutorial and single player mode look good, the deck builder is positively tantalising. Wizards of the Coast know that a fully integrated deck builder has been something that fans have been after for years, and was really the only thing missing from the PC version of Magic:The Gathering. The 2015 version looks set to finally nail that desire and, by all accounts, it looks excellent. There is currently scope to customise up to thirty different decks in either a single or two-coloured system, meaning players will not have to worry about running out of room. You can also name your decks so you know what purpose each is designed for.

The deck building facility has a great user interface and is easy to use. You can sort your cards by type, rarity, cost or colour and can slot them in and out of your deck with relative ease. As you trade cards in and out of your deck, you are given statistics on balance, colour, size and synergy distribution, meaning that you have all the statistics at hand to build the deck you want to build.  Perhaps you want a deck full of rare damage-dealing cards or more common but shielded cards? The choice is yours, and with the deck-building facility on hand, you can’t really go wrong. If you aren’t sure what deck you want to build you can get the computer to do it for you and, in a stroke of genius from Wizards of the Coast, you can still have some say in the matter. By selecting two or three of your favourite cards, you can ask the computer to build a deck around them, based on their statistics, allowing for a ‘random’ selection that’s a little more refined.

There are three hundred unique cards to unlock, which can be done through both single player and multiplayer modes, and will come in the form of booster packs that contain anything from five to eleven cards. There will also be microtransactions to enable the purchase of booster packs, but these will only include cards you could earn, as well as special graphical foils, meaning no-one will be getting an unfair advantage.

The main draw for these types of games is never going to be the graphics and sound but, from what I’ve seen, the cards are as exquisitely detailed as I have come to expect. There have been some graphical upgrades to the cards and playing environment, too – everything is getting a fresh lick of paint for what should be the best version of Magic yet. Wizards of the Coast are currently aiming for release on all platforms, including Android and iPad, although the PlayStation 4 has been curiously omitted. However, with all the other platforms on offer, I’m sure Sony fans can get their dose of Magic through a different medium. If there was ever a time to try your hand at Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers, it will certainly be this year.

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  1. Thor says:

    Are you saying that the Premium cards can be earned through gameplay? Because, so far, it has appeared that the Premium cards could only be unlocked by purchasing Premium boosters?

  2. Stu Stu says:

    I’m really hoping the lack of MTG2015 on Playstation is only due to a timed exclusive. Worst case I’ll end up getting it on PC I suppose, but the versions range from £6.99 to twentysomething pounds which is a hell of a jump.

    Really intrigued by the new deckbuilder though, the sealed deck in 2014 was an okay half-way house but this one looks to be much improved. Huzzah!

  3. Chris Toffer says:

    I’ve not directly mentioned Premium Boosters in the article but as far as I’m aware you can unlock a variety of cards through gameplay. If you want Premium cards (i.e Foils) then those will need to be purchased.

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