Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers

Having developed into an annual franchise many may be wondering what advances Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers offers over its predecessors. Of course it’s updated with the newest revision of the rules and a preview of the new Magic the Gathering decks, but […]
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Having developed into an annual franchise many may be wondering what advances Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers offers over its predecessors. Of course it’s updated with the newest revision of the rules and a preview of the new Magic the Gathering decks, but this content will only be relevant to fans of the real world trading card game (TCG). For those who simply like to dabble with a virtual representation every now and then it must be difficult to see what Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers offers that Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 didn’t, or even Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers before that.

That’s looking in from the outside however: once beginning the videogame for yourself it’s easy to appreciate the effort that has gone into making Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers a more streamlined experience. The user interface has been refined significantly, intended to allow both experienced players and newcomers to reach a point of competency in competition in as swift a time as possible. Immediately upon starting the videogame the player is asked how much Magic the Gathering they have previously experienced, presenting a tutorial to those who need it.

Of course the rules are largely the same as ever, bar the addition of a few new cards and specialist skills, so as handy as the tutorial will be for newcomers anyone with even the slightest experience of Magic the Gathering or any previous Duels of the Planeswalkers videogame should be able to jump into Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers with ease. Heading straight to campaign we find that the most important changes are happening off of the virtual table top.

A new timer system helps speed up unnecessary stalls and much of the artwork has been polished, but the biggest renovation comes in the form of the story. The development team are obviously getting more confident, most certainly thanks to the growing number of successful releases under their belt, and so the opportunity to flesh out the experience has not been wasted. A number of high quality cutscenes punctuate the campaign at specific points, telling a tale that comfortably expands the Magic the Gathering fiction. It’s dark and moody, yet never excessively visceral. There’s violence in this world but it’s delivered in a fashion that wouldn’t be out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon aimed at adolescent boys; not too far from Magic the Gathering’s core audience, then.

In addition to the campaign Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers presents the new Sealed Play mode in which you build your deck through opening virtual booster packs. As you play you’ll unlock additional booster packs that will, hopefully, allow you to improve your deck. Of course there is still the standard deck builder for the campaign and online modes, but Sealed Play is a more immediate experience that allows you to improvise and develop new tactics on the fly.

The Challenge mode presents preset matches – specific decks set at either an advantage or distinct disadvantage against their opponent – that have very demanding victory conditions. The Custom Match option allows you to select alternative rules, such as starting decks for you and your opponent and the popular Two-Headed Giant matches in local play.

Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers benefits from a number of new additions and a slightly revised aesthetic doing just enough to keeps things fresh, but at the end of the day it’s still the same virtual Magic the Gathering experience gamers were treated to last year, and the year before that. It’s undeniably the best iteration thus far and Electronic Theatre has no hesitation in recommending Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers to fans of the TCG or those who have already experienced previous Duels of the Planeswalkers titles to their fullest, however if you still have some gameplay ripe for time investment in previous titles you’ll find just as much worth in doing so with the content you already own as you would with Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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