Magic Duels is a free to play, yet fully featured Magic The Gathering game which made its way to the Xbox One last week. The game features a single player campaign as well as a battle mode in which you can challenge AI or human opponents with your custom built decks in order to earn coins. The coins you earn can be used to purchase booster packs, or other upgrades such as converting cards to foil cards.
I’ve been casually interested in the Magic games in the past. I’ve played the 2014 and 2015 games (both of which required a purchase) but could never quite get hooked. Magic Duels certainly has a very slick presentation, however the gameplay feels sluggish and dated, especially when compared to Hearthstone. I’m sure comparing Magic to Hearthstone will offend Magic players, but Hearthstone is much easier to play and its card battles run smoother than Magic’s. There are way too many button prompts in the magic games. When your opponent plays a card the game expects you to look at it and press ‘A’. When your opponent attacks you’re expected to hit ‘A’ after every card attacks. The battles should just be able to play out smoothly, without all of the prompts slowing the game to an annoying crawl at times.
Magic Duels will certainly appeal to Magic and card battle enthusiasts, but those with a more casual interest in the genre will most likely be put off (especially for those who have played Hearthstone). Ultimately, Magic Duels has me hoping that Hearthstone someday makes its way to consoles. Sure the ideal way to play is on an iPad, but I wouldn’t mind playing a game or two on the Xbox One if it were an option.