Magic: The Gathering games always need to strike the right balance. Stray too far away from incorporating cards, and you pretty much just have a generic fantasy game. Don't stray far enough, and it's Magic Online with a few added features. Magic: Legends tries to find that balance, but does it? Let's find out.
For a variety of reasons, this review is by no means complete. I did play for a significant amount of time, but a lot of that time was marred by a bunch of problems with the beta.
In Magic: Legends, you play as a planeswalker, and can choose between one of five classes: Sanctifier, Mind Mage, Necromancer, Geomancer, and Beast Caller. Each one represents of the five main colors. There's also the Dimir Assassin class, but that one costs money. (Oh yeah, we should throw this out there now: this game is monetized.) Along with the five classes, you have five different campaign options to choose from, with each based on a different color, although they only had three available in the beta. I played the jungle one and the tropical one, and they were reasonably distinct, with different stories between them. I won't spoil anything, partially because this is only a beta, but they were engaging enough.
It uses an isometric camera angle (like the old Fallout games), so it doesn't exactly deliver on the graphics promised in the teaser trailer, but it still doesn't let you down with sub-par graphics like other titles with similar looks. Several people told me that this game is basically "Diablo meets Magic", but I don't see it that way. This is partly because I haven't played much of the Diablo series, but it's also really hard to compare a Diablo-style RPG to one where deck-building is such a big part of the game.
As opposed to a more standard RPG, it all comes down what cards are in your deck, as they are your spells, weapons, creatures, everything. And it all comes out at random. Wanted a specific spell for something, or a particular creature? Well, too bad - just like playing Magic, it's all randomized, so who knows what you're going to get. The best you can do is build your deck wisely and play strategically, and if you think I just described normal Magic: the Gathering, well, you're not wrong. It's basically Magic with extra steps.
I think that's when it hit me while playing this "free to play (but we'll charge you for things anyway)" game. It's like any normal game, except that you're traveling around and using your deck to pick things off here and there. I still played after that realization, but the thought never really went away.
I tried switching between classes, but they honestly weren't radically different from each other. During a normal card game, your color choice is an indicator of what you may be looking to do or what your play style is. In Legends, all you get is a few distinct abilities, but the core gameplay is the same.
The sound was fine, if a little generic, and the frame rate held steady throughout. Despite the game being in beta, there weren't any real glitches to be seen. Then again, your character is so far away on the screen that you can't really tell too much about what's happening at a glance.
Overall, Magic: Legends is a nice little game that offers some fun challenges while also not beating you over the head too much with microtransactions (though they are there). If you're looking for a more traditional RPG, you won't find that here, but you will find a fun, neat deck-building game.
Also, for the love of God, stop comparing it to Diablo.
Magic: Legends is due out for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year.