Magic 2015 (PC) Review
- Music is phenomenal
- Visual aesthetics are appealing and fit well with the music
- Online Matchmaking is really well done.
Not so much?
- Difficulty level isn't kind to new players
- DLC/IAP leaves a lot to be desired
- Deckbuilding tutorial is a bit rough around the edges
Magic 2015 is more of the exceptional game we’ve come to expect, but sadly it still has more of the exceptional lack of polish on the non-gameplay areas.
Magic has been the household name in trading/collectible card games for years, and their newest digital entry maintains the quality of that legacy.
Magic 2015 brings a lot of quality-of-life upgrades and newer sets and cards to the annual release, most visible being the abundance of links scattered throughout the game’s menus for the store locator. It’s presence throughout the menus shows that Wizards is dedicated to supporting cross-promotion between their digital and physical games. Even moreso, digital owners can find a hidden code (hint: it’s in the extras menu) for a free 6-card promotional booster pack.
Magic 2015 has newer sets, including Zendikar, Shandalar, Ravnica, Theros, and Innistrad blocks, which brings lots of crazy tech and combos to the already massive assortment of cards in the 2015 core set. Despite the abundance of new cards, the AI for the single player campaign is shockingly tough, even during the tutorial. Drawing anything but a perfect hand often results in drawing nothing but lands and getting hit for lethal damage on turn 7. After mulling to 6 a few times to ensure a good hand, I was racking up multiple consecutive wins (about 3 or 4), even in practice duels with 2 and 3 players. Now, I’ve been casually playing magic and been into games for years, so I know my way around a card game; for new players using the annual Duels of the Planeswalkers release to learn and get into the game, however, it’s pretty unforgiving.
The entire Magic menu experience has been known for being pretty rough around the edges, and Magic 2015 doesn’t seem to help any. From excruciatingly long menu animations and transition times, to having to click through a ridiculous amount of pre-game ads to even get to those menus, it’s enough to make someone who’s only casually interested in Magic 2015 to give up on it. The music is definitely a plus though, and I often found myself wishing for an OST as I’d hum along to the songs.
What Magic 2015 somewhat misses with it’s singleplayer experience, it more than makes up for with it’s multiplayer and extra content. Matchmaking is relatively painless (Quick Match really is quite quick) and only a few clicks to create your own game. There’s tons of people who’re up to play at all hours, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding someone to play with. You can even invite your Steam friends who also own the game (and fairly easily, I might add). There’s also multiple content-filled galleries to peruse at your leisure, including a Lore gallery that’s pretty awesome.
Whatever it’s called these days (DLC, IAP, whatever), the ability to spend more money on a game after purchase is ashamedly a full blown “thing” in this context; feel free to spend money on virtual booster packs for a game that already costs money. Granted, the virtual packs are considerably cheaper than their physical counterparts, but it’s still a kick in the teeth to people who buy the game. It almost feels like the pre-built decks are terrible on purpose to encourage buying of new packs. Or I could just be crazy, and the intent is actually to strongly encourage deck construction and de-construction to better understand and learn about the cards, but somehow I don’t think that’s on the minds of the Wizards shareholders. If the game were free (like big competitor Hearthstone), I might feel differently about the associated costs.
Overall, the quality of the gameplay continues to shine, and that’s where the real magic happens (that’s a great pun, don’t fight it). While the menus and DLC/IAP bog it down, the aesthetics and gameplay still outshine everything else. For those debating whether to pick this up on PC or console, the PC version of Magic 2015 works with Xbox usb controllers, so it can have the same feel as the console versions. I’ve always been more of a physical Magic player, but Magic 2015 is good enough to satiate my desire for more cards…at least for the time being.