Hands-on with Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers at E3
The upcoming edition of the mobile Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers game made an appearance at E3. The biggest addition to this iteration of the classic fantasy card game is that now you can custom build your decks card-for-card. Previously, you would be given a core deck and would unlock additional cards to swap in through gameplay.
As usual, players put on their robe and wizard's hat in the role of an elementally-attuned planeswalker. They duel one-on-one against other interdimensional mages by summoning powerful allies, hurling spells, and wielding ancient artifacts. Five colors of spells represent different elements, each with their own play style and themes.
As much as Magic: The Gathering is a venerable franchise, it faces some stuff competition from Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which, though shamelessly based on Magic, enjoys greater accessibility, equally rich lore, and a strong competitive scene. Adding full deck customization is a great step and more cards are always welcome, though I find Magic is a little heavy-handed on the story, which should play second fiddle to deep strategic gameplay. The way Magic keeps launching entirely new apps every year is also a bit frustrating; Iould much rather invest time and money into a single unified Magic game and dip into in-app purchases for expansions as they come out.
Magic 2015 spans five planes, each with their own series of challenges, and of course online multiplayer. An expansion is in the works, though it's still a ways out. Pricing will sit around what you'd expect based on previous editions, so likely a free trial with a $4.99 upgrade and $0.99 for new sealed decks. I did notice that there are some cards that you'll only be able to get through in-app purchases of booster packs, but the Wizards of the Coast folks insisted these cards weren't overpowered. The proper cardboard Magic 2015 series launches on July 18, and we can expect the digital version to launch sometime in the same window. Though it's being demoed on iPad here, Android, Kindle, and Xbox editions are also going to be ready to go.
How many of you guys played previous Magic games? Have you been hankering for more control over your deck? Do you prefer Duels of the Planeswalkers or Hearthstone?