Magic: Legends – First Impressions

I’ve liked Magic The Gathering for quite a time. I’ve got some friends that like it so I had to get into it as well… and then we never talked about it again since they only play the physical card game and since I don’t have the funds to get a deck like that together and since I don’t see why people hate MTG: Arena so much… but either way, it’s fun and the systems are interesting and just recently I found out about Magic Legends, which just launched in the open beta. Hence, I wanted to write a bit about my first impressions of it and my general thoughts and concerns. Enjoy!

So, Magic Legends was initially announced as an MMO in the MTG universe but eventually got published as an ARPG in that universe. You play as a Plainwalker and… and… I honestly don’t know what the plot is about. The plot is a clear weak point. I found it a bit cringy and the voice acting is bad and really, who cares anyway? I get to play as a Necromancer, so that’s cool. There are also five other classes. One of them has to be unlocked through different mechanics in the game… or through the shop. It’s quite interesting. When you play the game, you’ll basically have a normal attack available to you, two spells tied to your class and your deck. Since it’s based on MTG, you’ve got a card-based battle system in there with twelve cards from all elements. These can be classified as either Creature cards, Enchantment cards, or Spells. Based on your class you may summon more enemies or enchant your attacks more or you heal allies while smiting enemies and that sort of stuff. It’s interesting and I like it in a lot of ways but I have one core problem with it at the same time… It’s incredibly slow.

The story is lame but the implementation of the card-mechanics is even worse, in my opinion, as combat just sucks. It’s kind of fun since I get to summon a lot of creatures as a Necromancer and I love the way they implemented that class and the Black Spell Type and all of that,… but it’s really just “spam one button to get mana” and “spend mana on your cards to deal more damage”. There isn’t really much depth, in my opinion, but that’s not really important, I guess… It’s quite satisfying in a way since you can watch a show while playing the game with your attention split. Diablo 3 required more focus than this. Torchlight 2 did… Hence, being able to do literally anything else while playing the game on the other screen is quite refreshing, I guess.

So, it’s more of a chill experience where you grind runs to get better gear and then you eventually run dungeons and stuff. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, sadly, since I’ve had my difficulties with the game and the motivation to start up the game… but I’m quite sure that it’s going to be something like that later on.

My biggest issue with the game isn’t the lacklustre gameplay or the boring and empty world but mostly that the progression feels so incredibly slow… It took a friend of mine two hours to get to the good part (aka when you have 12 cards). It took me longer than that since I took longer breaks from the game between play-sessions and even dreaded the story and missions during the play-sessions. But I really want to get to the later missions that I can play with my friends… alas, I’ve got to pull through this.

Currently, I have 11 cards unlocked. Those include a Voracious Thrull that’s looking incredibly disgusting and I love it… as well as a Drudge Skeleton and Scathe Zombies and token monsters and the Bone-tip Archer. I can also summon other undead monsters and cast different spells to impale, burn down or shoot enemies. I also some spells that deal more damage to low-health targets or snare them. I feel like the Necromancer is quite a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to adding cards from other elements into my deck and creating synergies between different elements. I feel like that could be quite cool.

Throughout the fights, you’re able to find loot and spell cards as well as materials to upgrade your cards with. It’s quite nice to see frequent drops, although I’d like it even more if it would actually tell you which equipment pieces had the better stats or what equipment is suited more for your character, especially at the beginning. Magic Legends has a tutorial for everything, which is quite frustrating and annoying… At the same time, it doesn’t give a fuck about explaining stats to you… because everyone obviously knows what +2/+1 means or what it means to pick up Spark Globes or what CRT stands for. I would love it if the game had fewer tutorial windows pop up at times to speed up the pacing a bit more. Similarly, I’d love it if you could look all the information up again somewhere else or if you could look up terminology. I know people that haven’t played ARPGs before and hence wouldn’t know what certain terms would mean.

At the same time, I’d also like it if you could zoom into the world. You can turn the camera around quite well (especially with the gamepad controls that work really well actually) but you cannot zoom in, which is kind of weird. At times the world looks quite pretty but it’s missing NPCs or enemies or any interactables or breakable urns, crates and that sort of thing. The game definitely needs some polishing in my opinion. The Voice Acting is garbage, the storyline is boring, the world feels empty and the pacing is incredibly slow… but once you get to 12 cards, it actually is quite chill and rather fun.

Although, I’d imagine that the end game is probably super grindy and annoying. The publisher for this game is Perfect World after all, so… it’s quite heavily monetized and despite being free-to-play and despite having the option to grind gold, I’d imagine that the grinding in the later stages of the game is going to be horrible to the point where it’s really just “pay up or go home”. I at first figured that this game sounds quite good to me with the MTG universe and it being an ARPG… and then I saw that it was hard to get to the good part… and when I heard that it’s published by Perfect World it all just kind of made sense to me… There is a shop for the game where you can get booster packs and extra deck-slots for real money. At the same time you can get a battle pass for ten bucks and 25 bucks, if you want more rewards. They did have a whole class locked after lootboxes but I think they got rid of that completely now and made it unlockable for free… still, all those practises make it hard to enjoy playing games for free really. And I don’t want to shit on people for trying to make a living off games and for having to feed their families and hence resorting to these types of things… but I think I’d rather enjoy paying a subscription fee every month or paying one price upfront for a great game than playing a mediocre game for free only to realise that you kind of have to cash in to make some progress in it.

And yeah, Magic: Legends is mediocre at best. Overall, if you get through the boring part and just rush through everything and skip the mediocre story, you may get to the good part quite fast… The Necromancer class is a lot of fun actually… but it’s an issue if you have to get through at least an hour or maybe even two hours worth of boring content in order to have fun in the game. It’s an issue for me and if I hadn’t had friends that started playing it, I would’ve stopped super early and just uninstalled it completely. Pair all of those issues with the fact that there are no European servers apparently and that all European players get redirected to the American servers… Yeah, I don’t know. It just kind of sucks, to be honest, when you cast a spell five or six times before it actually gets cast…

Hope you enjoyed my first impressions. Have you played Magic: Legends yet? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Raid: Shadow Legends and why I don’t like mobile games

There are some mobile games out there that are actually quite good. The first Plants vs. Zombies game, for instance, was great! There are also “Arcade”-style games like Pac Man or Space Invaders that are actually well-ported and very much play- and enjoyable on the phone. I also had my fair share of puzzle games in the past, like Doodle God or Sudoku and even know I sometimes install a Chess-App, just to not get too rusty before visiting my parents and playing against my father.

But when I say I don’t like most mobile games, I’m talking about games that are so obnoxiously advertised on all forms of social networks and YouTube videos. Games that are falsely advertised on a lot of ends with gameplay stolen from “actual games” that have nothing to do with the actual gameplay inside of the App. Games whose developers bribe people into sponsorships with a whole lot of money to make them say stuff like “innovative gameplay”, “console-level graphics”, and “absolutely free to play and a lot of fun”, even when they don’t mean it or even when they don’t even play the game themselves.

And while the latter is nothing to be judged – after all, I’ve heard that there is a whole lot of money involved when you get one of those deals and some people really need that money when they make YouTube or Streaming their full-time-job – it is quite concerning when huge Streamers and YouTubers promote stuff that they don’t believe in, which may result in kids playing gambling-style games. In Germany (and probably other countries) there has been the case of “Coin Master” which got promoted by a whole lot of people that have a fanbase of 13-18 years. Coin Master is getting suspected of being artificial gambling and there has been a debate about it being prohibited altogether for kids, as it doesn’t even hide the slot-machine-aspect of it and as it’s unplayable without using money.

But today’s post isn’t about Coin Master. It’s about a game that exactly uses the “innovative and immersive gameplay”, “console-level graphics” and “free to play and a lot of fun”-keywords, amongst others. We’re talking about “Raid: Shadow Legends”, a game that is shit, I assumed. And then I installed it. To find out if it’s actually as bad as I thought. And I must say, it’s worse.

Now, when you play the game on your phone you’ll realise that the game itself doesn’t look as pretty as you’d expect for “console-level graphics”. If you use “console-level”, you should elaborate on what kind of graphics you mean. N64-era graphics were great and Raid Shadow Legends is better than. Xbox One level graphics are great – Raid can’t be compared to that, though. The graphics are alright. At some point, I played it on PC instead of using my phone, due to storage-limitations that made my phone’s other functions not work properly. On PC, you need to create an account, then download a launcher, download that game on the said launcher and then you end up getting thrown into the game.

In-game you then chose your starter-hero out of four classes. A Ranger, a Mage, a Barbarian and a Templer/Paladin. Then you go through a little tutorial and go start “playing” the game.

Playing the game means that you select a dungeon to run through, then fight in three to four combats, including one stronger enemy at the end or even a boss monster. Combat is turn-based and not that immersive or innovative. You click on an attack and select an enemy to attack. Then the next enemy or ally gets to attack. You can speed it up to double-speed if you don’t feel like seeing the animations play so slowly. An option to turn them off altogether would have been neat as well but I couldn’t find anything like that.

The little depth there is.

Around level three, you unlock the “auto”-function. With it, you don’t need to do anything anymore apart from selecting the next mission, hence getting rid of the little gameplay that is existent in the game. If you feel like training your characters more, you may as well use the “Multi battle” feature which allows you to queue up 15 runs, so that you save the time that is needed to click on two buttons between run.

Another aspect of the game is the collection of characters. You unlock them by paying silver to open Shards that then unlock the characters you then can train. These characters have stars depending on rarity and are stronger the higher the star-rating is. Legendary shards have a higher chance on Super Rare characters while normal shards have an insanely low one to get said Super Rares. In the beginning, you will have to open some for the tutorial and probably receive something rare, despite the odds, due to the devs wanting you to see what “great units” there are. Despite them being stronger, these characters then still need to get trained, equipped and skilled.

182 Defense! Less clothes mean more armour after all!

The game brags about “over 300 unique champions” when instead there’s maybe 50 different once and a ton of variations of the same characters with just different clothes and more or less clothing on. Female characters usually are busty or half-naked, because of more skin that is shown means more armour, right? Meanwhile, guys are either muscular or armoured. There are some more androgyne males in the game but those are usually elven mages or something like that. There is not much uniqueness between characters apart from colours and clothing.

While they may vary in looks, characters have the most boring names ever with a few exceptions. There’s “Magekiller”, “Sniper”, “Bully”, “Knight”, “Shadowkiller”, a different coloured “Magekiller” that just looks like Magekiller but has a different element, and the list goes on with stupid names without any character or back-story of sorts. “300 unique champions” is something you have in this game if you close your eyes, imagine 300 unique characters and then dance in a circle until your wish of these “300 champions” becoming unique comes true.

Oh nice! I got a Lvl. 1 Uncommon character called “Sniper”. Now that’s rad. Not.

Skills usually are the same for most characters with single-target or multi-target spells. There are some status effects here and there like poison, fire and debuffs, I guess, but nothing too strategic or innovative. I found a Support-Character who can protect allies and heal them but there still is no depth to the gameplay. When you play it on Auto-Mode the A.I. does exactly what you’d do. Some may call it “smart programming” others may call it “making the obvious move and just doing the simplest and best way of winning the round”.

Now, to participate in those fights and continue with the poorly-written run-off-the-mill story, you need Energy. Just like in other games, Energy recharges over time and can be refilled using micro-transactions. These micro-transactions are really expensive for the most part, so you either have to wait it out or you take a deep dive into your pocket. You can pay for Jewels (cash), Silver (in-game currency) and all sorts of bundles that combine characters, jewels and gear, and eventually you will have to pay again to continue with the game as it is.

The skill tree that requires you to buy scrolls in starter-kits using real money. Wohoo.

In my two-hours of “gameplay”, I hit a road-block where enemies were too strong for my current party and the only way of progressing would have been to get Legendary Shards and have luck with the rolls, resulting in four-star-characters as most of my party-members were at max-level, already. Now, I tried enhancing them using other characters and raising their star-levels but it didn’t seem to increase their strength at all. So, my options were limited as a free-to-play-player who doesn’t want to spend money on a game like this, so I stopped playing.

And that’s probably the point where a lot of people would say that nobody is forced to play the game or that the game isn’t forcing you to pay money for it. BUT – and that’s a big “but” – the game is actually manipulating the player quite easily with a ton of obnoxious pop-ups that give you better offers for skill-books, gems, shards, jewels and gear. In my first two minutes of “gameplay”, my screen was covered in pop-ups for a lot of time. The “game” offered me limited-time offers that were up to 90% better than the usual shop offers… but they are only available for the next fifty minutes! Oh no! And the timer is ticking down! What should I do now? I am in fear of missing out (FOMO) and may want to grab this nice deal that allows me to play the game and suddenly I’m buying something in this shitshow of a game that is abusing people that might suffer from FOMO and that might be easily manipulated. Like kids that are playing it on their parents’ phone or kids that know how to access their parents’ data. And parents that think that this is what their kid needs because of all the other kids in school having it already. Welp.

An offer you can get right now that isn’t limted time-wise.

And that’s the last point I’d mention about this game. It’s a pay-to-win shit-game with essentially no gameplay to it that gets rid of its own gameplay by introducing an “Auto-Battle”-button to it and that essentially requires of you that you pay something to gamble for good characters before venturing into the dungeons again where you then stumble across the point of pay-to-win-iness. There is also PvP in the game but it’s not based on skill or strategic know-how but purely on who invested more money into the game to get powerful units. The gameplay is limited to a few clicks per battle. It’s not immersive or innovative at all. The graphics are not bad but they aren’t on – what I’d call – “console-level”. The characters are overly sexualised with no variety or diversity.

Raid: Shadow Legends is not a roleplaying game, it’s, at most, a glorified Gacha-game with turn-based combat and false advertisement. There are issues in this game like the abuse of FOMO and the pay-to-win-aspect. And I honestly don’t get why people would play it, apart from the instant-gratification some people may get from gambling.

“Gameplay”

So, that’s it for the post. I’m sorry if it turned into a rant. I tried to look at the good aspects of the game until I realised that there are no good aspects to it.

As a last point: Why don’t I like mobile games? Well, most of them are filled with micro-transactions and have nothing else to offer, so I don’t like them and usually don’t think much about it. Raid: Shadow Legends managed to not meet my already super-low expectations and is a shit show of a game if you can even call it a “game”.

Have a nice day!