A new trailer gives the first in-game peek at Magic: Legends, the action-RPG set in the world of monumental card game Magic: The Gathering. Made by Cryptic Studios, the mob behind City Of Heroes and Star Trek Online, it looks a whole lot more like a Diablo-y click-clicker than the MMO I had once expected. Initial whispers of Cryptic’s Magic game in 2017 described it as an MMORPG, but by its formal announcement at The Game Awards in December 2019 had become an “MMO action RPG”. I don’t see the “MMO” part at all here but hey, that’s what they say. Come have a look.
Magic: Legends will have us bash and zap monsters as different classes of Planeswalker, the all-powerful wizards we play as in the card game. Magic’s five elements of magic are here formalised into classes, like the Mind or Geomancer. It looks like wizards will still be summoning creatures like their cardboard counterparts. It’s an action-RPG game set in the fictional worlds of Magic rather than an attempt to capture the card game in action-RPG form, which is reasonably the only way they could do this – though a bit of a shame to me.
The Magic I know and adore is so much larger and weirder than scrapping and zapping on a battlefield. It’s about wizards scheming to complete their carefully-crated plan while foiling their foe’s scheme, which might work in a wildly different way with a whole other vibe. The range of options and the theming of cards make duels so much larger and weirder than goblins fighting in a car park. As I said back in 2017:
“A single deck will contain a mish-mash of creatures, spells, story beats, mechanical devices, and goodness knows what else. One recent tournament deck included a mighty fire wizard, an indestructible world-devouring titan, police confiscations, rogue magic refiners, mastercrafted bonsai, a shrine to false gods, and a waterfall which comes to life. Those don’t form a coherent story — they aren’t supposed to — but every deck presents weird facets of this world. A regulation-issue video game would seem small and drab in comparison.”
Ah but y’know, it can be fun to click on monsters until they burst. I’ll reserve judgement and not get lost up my own arse. I’d rather celebrate the wider worlds of Magic: The Gathering than try to tear down this game. They’re different and separate and that’s fine. But by god, I’d like to see how Legends could handle something like a titan which towers over cities.
Magic: Legends is due to launch in 2020.