• Deck-building concept
  • Polish
  • Extra Playable Modes

It’s that time of the year when we get another version of Duels of the Planeswalkers to coincide with the release of a new Core Set. Released mainly as a way to get people introduced into the game using a constrictive format and the use of hints to help people understand what ‘Scry’ does and what ‘Convoke’ does, just to name a few, I’ve often played these games as just a little way to pass the time and to, you know, play Magic: The Gathering again without spending a fortune on cards. With the release of Magic 2015 this time around, what new things will players get who dive into this series year after year?

If you’re familiar with past Magic: The Gathering- Duels of the Planeswalkers games, things will seem pretty much the same and standard as far as gameplay. As a planeswalker, you’re tasked this time with taking down Garruk. To do this, you’ll duel your way through locations like Theros, Ravinica and Innistrad among a couple others, taking on challenges and other Planeswalkers. Multiplayer is also around like it usually is with the ability of creating custom matches and quick matches.

The big difference in Magic 2015 is something that people had been pining for a long while: full deck-building. In past games, you usually just unlocked character-driven decks and would unlock cards for those as you played and won with them. Magic 2014 introduced a form of deck-building in the form of Sealed Play that wasn’t so great. You were restricted to only using cards you unlocked with the boosters given to you and, if you wanted to make more decks, you had to buy more slots.

Magic 2015 introduces full, customizable deck-building for the first time and, I have to tell you, the idea is pretty sweet, but I’m a little divided on it. Whereas in past games you had multiple decks to choose from, you only receive one deck at the start when you go through the tutorial (although you can build more once you start stocking up on cards). While the deck choice is all up to you, once you beat the tutorial you’re stuck with that deck and you have to hope it can stand up to what you start facing from then on. It really feels like it’s all about the luck of the draw and, to some, I’d imagine that this could be a bit frustrating.

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As you win duels against opponents, you’ll receive booster packs that act like actual boosters with 15 cards total in them. However, each location has just specific cards that you can receive from the boosters there so you’ll find yourself receiving quite a bit of copies of specific cards until you move to a new area. There are also microtransactions available in the game to unlock sets of cards or to purchase sets of boosters if you were to feel so inclined (but I think I know what the general thought on those would be).

While the deck-building is a bit touch-and-go, the biggest drawback of Magic 2015 is the lack of different modes of play. Want to play Two-Headed Giant? Planechase? What about those little puzzle challenges where you have to figure out how to beat the opponent in one turn? Couldn’t find them in here. I feel like some of the modes from the past could have been included into the multiplayer at least, but woe to the loss of fun game modes.

There were little things here and there as well that didn’t seem quite as polished to me. The menus, for one, were a bit laggy and I found often times that if my mouse cursor was not in a particular position on the screen, the menu would not scroll when I used my arrow keys (it may not be anything to drastic but it did get on my nerves just a little bit). Issuing commands like trying to play a card or stopping the timer so I can see a card my opponent played would often not recognize my commands one or two times. I was also quite perplexed by the decision to not include this game on Sony platforms as they have done with other games in the series’ past.

The Verdict

I find it quite odd that the inclusion of full deck-building would still lead to a lesser game, but that’s how I generally felt overall. Most of my feelings regarding that have to do with the utter lack of extra playable modes that made past games that little bit more fun above the card grinding. However, if your larger focus is finally making your own decks in Duels of the Planeswalkers, Magic 2015 might be worth a look for you.

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