E3 2013: Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Preview

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Having been a fan of the Magic: The Gathering collectable card game for at least 10 years I was stoked to find out that I was due to check out Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers at this year’s E3.

We were first shown a small cinematic that presented Chandra as the main character. Wizards appear to be focusing quite heavily on story and characters which I find a little confusing for a collectable card game, but hard-core Magic lore fans will be certainly be satisfied.

One of the main points stressed is that Magic 2014 will be super friendly for beginners as it includes helpful getting started tutorials and other features to help beginners feel right at home. One such standout features is the ability to press the right trigger to bring up information about a selected card at any time. The information includes details about the card’s colour, type and any abilities it may have. As such, Magic 2014 is said to be the best place for newcomers to learn how to play magic either physically or digitally.

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Magic 2014 includes upgraded graphics and HUD design.

In terms of gameplay, Magic 2014 brings 10 brand new decks, 15 new encounters, 5 new planes (locations) and 10 new puzzle challenges. It must be noted that this is an entirely new game and does not include the decks from previous Magic titles. Though keeping with the tradition of the franchise, DLC will provide the ability of unlocking new decks and cards to play with.

It almost seemed like somewhat of an Easter egg but selected cards now have their card art slightly animated as they come into play, not a game changing inclusion but something that is definitely welcomed.

It was also confirmed that the Sliver creature type was set to make a triumphant return in Magic 2014. It was mentioned that the Slivers have since evolved from their previous encounter and are slightly more humanoid in their appearance. Their abilities have also been slightly modified, where the older Slivers abilities used to read “All Sliver have …” the new cards will instead read “Slivers you control have …” This means that you will no longer be helping your opponent if they also control Slivers.

One of the cooler new features in Magic 2014 has to be the sealed deck play. This is essentially an entire new gameplay mode that has you creating brand new decks from sealed booster packs. You’re then able to take these decks in a campaign mode built specifically to face your custom decks.

To compliment this feature, you’re given access to a nifty deck builder that has the ability of guiding you through the deck making process. Fear not though, these beginner friendly features will not impede the seasoned pros.

You start off with a maximum of 2 sealed deck slots meaning you can have a maximum of 2 decks built at any one time. The Wizards crew confirmed that additional sealed deck slots would be available for purchase as DLC. Your slots are allowed a maximum of 6 boosters worth of cards, meaning your decks will be built from a limited card pool. This will put your deck building abilities to the ultimate test. You’re also able to go head to head with other human opponents to test your deck making abilities against non AI foes.

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The all new deck builder in action.

It seems like they’re also trying to push their physical cards a little more with some of the initiatives they’re taking with Magic 2014. One such initiative is the inclusion of certain promotion codes that can be accessed in the game’s menu. At launch you’ll be given a promotion code that you can take to a physical store (they didn’t specify which) which will allow you to redeem a single booster pack.

All in all the game looks similar to previous titles in the franchise but has some notable improvements. It’s a solid upgrade from Magic 2013 and the 20+ hours of new content should have fans eagerly awaiting the title’s release. Speaking of which, the game does not have a solid release date but a Steam pre-sale will be available on June 26th.

The game is set to be released on Xbox LIVE Arcade, Steam, PlayStation Network, iPad and Android tablets.

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