Cryptic Studios, the creators of superhero MMORPG City of Heroes, are making a free-to-play "action MMORPG" [official site] based on Wizards of the Coasts' mega-hit collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Publishers Perfect World Entertainment, who announced the game this week, don't have a name for it yet, they don't have anything to show of it (all the artwork in this post is from cards), and they can't tell us anything about it, but... huh!
Update: Oh for... I'd missed Cryptic's follow-up information that yep, it is an MMORPG, what a silly sausage I am.
Cryptic's blurb says:
"Experience stunning visuals and sound as we bring Magic to life in this next generation MMORPG. As a Planeswalker, you explore amazing worlds, combat powerful creatures, and meet the legendary beings that shape the fate of the multiverse."
That's about all they have to say, though.
Magic: The Gathering's setup is that hugely powerful wizards, who have the ability to step across the planes of the metaverse, are throwing down. Sometimes these 'planeswalkers' scrap with each other, and sometimes they become chums to fight bigger threats. Across Magic's 24-year history, it's had pretty much every story permutation of 'wizards do fighting'. In the card game, wizards can summon creatures which range from goblins to reality-devouring titans like that lot ↑ up there, and they can cast all sorts of weird ↓ wizardly spells.
I adore playing Magic so much that I have to avoid it now, having spent far too much money. It's a great game and I'm so impressed that Wizards of the Coasts have kept it fresh through all these years and expansions (some duffers aside). The story, yeah, sure, it's fun for something told across card artwork and little snippets of flavour text. In a full computer RPG? Dunno, mate.
Magic seems a curious one to adapt. The Magic of my imagination is a world with creatures both teeny and vast, dramatic landscapes, strange objects and curious, intricate details, styles differing wildly between planes (not to mention artists), and so very many colourful spells, all clashing. Across thousands of cards and pretty pictures, it builds a multiverse which is always too big and weird to be coherent. I dig that.
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.
But, y'know, Magic does have established core characters and locations and story arcs and all that, so I suppose you could make an RPG out of it if you're into that sort of thing, ugh, jeez.
Sid Meier and MicroProse released a Magic sorta-action-RPG in 1997, embedding actual Magic card battles into a 2D open-world with some boring story about wizards. It works a bit like that Witcher 3 Gwent combat mod. That game focused on the early sets of Magic before many of the stories and weirder bits started, mind.
No word yet on when this game might be released. Or its name. Or if it's an MMO. Or multiplayer at all. Or free-to-play. Or... anything, really.
Perfect World do have some interesting things coming along. They're also publishing a mysterious free-to-play cooperative FPS from Turtle Rock, the creators of Left 4 Dead.