Developer: Wizards of the Coast LLC / Stainless Games, Ltd.
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Review Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade (Xbox 360)
Review Copy Provided By: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: June 26, 2013
Since 1993, Magic: The Gathering has been one of the most acclaimed trading card games of all time with approximately 12 million players still playing. Since 2009, developer Wizards of the Coast LLC / Stainless Games, Ltd. has cooperated with publisher Microsoft Studios to release video games annually based on the popular trading card game. Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers is the fourth release of the series, and it is now available on Steam, PSN and Xbox LIVE Arcade.
As a kid, I was obsessed with collecting and trading cards. Unfortunately, I never got into MtG, so I was excited to get the opportunity to play and review this game though I wasn’t expecting much. My conclusion: the entertainment value of this game is quite mediocre.
Single player for DotP 2014 breaks up into four basic modes: campaign, sealed play, challenges, and custom game. In the campaign, the player must duel a series of Planeswalkers to unlock more cards and opponents. As the player progresses through the campaign, opposing Planeswalkers become harder to defeat, and better cards may be necessary. New and improved cards can be collected by playing the sealed play mode. In sealed play, the player is given booster packs to build his or her own deck. As you play, more booster packs become available to improve your deck. In the games challenge mode, the player must defeat the opponents in a certain situation or with a certain method. Finally, the custom game mode is available to construct a game of your choice. Players can also compete against other players around the world in a ranked or unranked matches. Quite a lot of content is available to the player.
I reckon that the gameplay of DotP 2014 is nearly identical to the card game. The objective is rather simple: deal 20 damage points to the opposing Planeswalker to win the duel. The player receives a hand of 7 cards and is allowed to summon one field card along with a monster or sorcery card. Obviously, the more powerful the monster or sorcery card, the more damage it deals. Monster cards may also have special abilities that take effect every round. The player also has the option to summon an instant and artifact cards to take affect anytime during the duel.
However, playing this game did not entertain me for long. I believe that not being a long time fan of MtG can really hinder the entertainment value for the player. That being said, certain aspects of the gameplay that were just difficult for me to appreciate. My biggest issue was that many of its components were very recurrent and monotonous. After about 30 minutes into the campaign, I grew more and more inattentive. The player has few options to execute: summon field, summon monster or sorcery card…repeat. Once in awhile, an instant or an artifact card can be summoned to spice things up a bit but thats about it. Certain game mechanics were quite vexatious as well. Particularly the brief, but numerous, hiatuses between card options that the player initiates. I cannot recommend this game to the impatient gamer.
Despite the flaws with the gameplay, there are elements within the game that I can acknowledge. DotP 2014 is very user friendly, and even the player without the slightest MtG experience can get in the hang of things within a few minutes. Quite a feat for such a complex card game.
As a newbie to the Magic: The Gathering universe, I can’t help but see the game for what it is: a slow paced, strategic card game. I can appreciate certain elements of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, such as game’s the user-friendliness and its concept. I suppose that experienced fans of Magic: The Gathering will be quite pleased with this game, as it provides bulk of content and game modes. However, I cannot recommend this game to the impatient gamer, due to the numerous pauses throughout the duels. Gameplay can also be quite repetitive and entertains only for a short while. I would only recommend this game to fans of Magic: The Gathering and the previous Duels of the Planeswalkers games.