If there’s one thing that would make Magic: the Gathering even better, it would be the ability to play it while reclined on my couch, preferably with my dog curled up next to me and one of those huge cans of Arizona iced tea at hand. Wizards of the Coast has said, “Make it so!”
Duels of the Planeswalkers is a video game version of Magic that will be available via the Xbox LIVE Arcade starting June 17. It shares a name and many concepts with the Microprose game that was released for PCs more than ten years ago.
The core of the game is a system that allows you to play games of Magic against AI or human opponents (as long as you’re connected to Xbox LIVE). It works in a similar manner to the game engine from the Microprose game and Magic: Online, although there are flashy special effects when certain spells are cast, and the game takes place on a swanky 3D tabletop. Everyone starts out with a few pre-determined decks to use, and you unlock more cards to customize your decks by playing through the game’s campaign mode. You won’t be able to build custom decks from scratch, just tweak the ones they give you.
I like the “unlockable content” strategy – you won’t have to buy virtual cards or anything like that. Although I have little doubt that this game will spawn multiple releases of Downloadable Content. Can I just have my pay checks directly deposited in WotC’s account?
Assuming the campaign mode follows the pattern set by the Microprose version, players will walk around a 3D world completing various quests and finding new places as they traverse the planes. When an enemy is encountered, you drop into the card game mode to battle it out. In the original, games could be altered by various effects based on your enemy’s powers or the location you happened to be fighting at.
Screenshots appear to show multiplayer modes, and the game’s designers have confirmed that a cooperative campaign mode is available. When you drop into card game mode, you play a game of two-headed giant. That sounds like a lot of fun!
Pricing hasn’t been revealed, but the game will have 12 Xbox accomplishments to unlock in addition to new cards.