I was going to title this article something like “Beta Impressions from Magic: Legends” because usually, I think it’s a bit unfair to review a game that is still in beta, but since Cryptic has already has the real money shop up and going, this really isn’t a beta is it?
Cryptic is calling it a “soft launch” and there will be no wipes going from beta and into the official launch, so it feels more like they are just eager to start making money off this game sooner rather than later.
On the whole, the game feels like it’s nowhere near being ready for an open beta. The game isn’t all terrible, there’s definitely some potential there, but at the moment the gameplay just feels too bland and there are too many bugs.
Generally, the gameplay is what you would expect from an MMORPG that turned into an ARPG, developed by a company that makes F2P games driven by cash shops.
You run around grinding currencies, cards, and equipment. On the first day, I played for a couple of hours with a friend and I honestly had fun with the game for a bit.
The deck/spell system certainly is different and a fun idea and the combat was decent and engaging, at least given the fact that there’s still time to improve on it during the beta testing.
The combat is decent at times, but movement feels very awkward. The only times I ended up dying was either due to bad spell animations or when movement completely locked up because I got surrounded by mobs.
To Loot, Or Not To Loot
What’s the most addictive thing that ARPG players just love? Loot and loads of it. Well, let’s just make the loot and equipment system as boring as we can. That seems to be the thought process of the developers when making Magic: Legends.
I mostly play MMORPGs (duh), but I spent an insane amount of hours farming loot in Diablo 3 and Path of Exile. It’s just so addictive to see those colored letters pop up all over the screen, and then open your inventory to see if you got an upgrade.
Magic: Legends has none of this. Once in a while, I would see some coin or a piece of gear but I didn’t even bother picking it up by the end. The first reason being that the stats were too confusing and it seemed to hardly matter what I equipped, and the second reason was that I didn’t want to open that god-awful equipment screen.
The inventory and everything else is opened by pressing TAB by default, which I found out after trying to open my inventory by repeatedly pressing I, C, or P over and over to no avail.
Having an inventory and character screen that you can quickly open and close, even during combat just works. It’s been a part of pretty much every RPG ever, but someone at Cryptic obviously thought this was a bad idea and decided to go for whatever this mess is:
You even have to open the menu just to have a look at your XP bar.
When I logged in to play on the second day I was suddenly getting huge lag spikes and low FPS. I could probably try to fix it, but at this point, I was so unengaged in the game, that I just quit.
A big advantage with isometric graphics in RPGs is that you can make a game look beatiful with limited resources, and game developers have been doing this for a long time.
Just take a look at Baldur’s Gate which came in 1998 or the Divinity games, or the Diablo series.
And while not all aspects of Magic: Legends look terrible, it does look mostly like a cheap mobile game by 2021 standards. I don’t expect a Free-to-play game developed by Cryptic to look like Baldur’s Gate 3 or Pillars of Eternity but I feel like a bit more work could have gone into the graphical style of the game.
I actually had to turn my sound off in the game after a while because even at the lowest settings it was still so loud that I couldn’t hear anyone speak over Discord, and with the quality of the voice acting in this game, I feel like I was better off with the sound off.
Magic: Legends could have been a decent game, but should be in alpha at the moment, certainly not in open beta/soft launch.
On the fate of this game, my guess is that Cryptic might have time to make it into a decent ARPG just in time for the launch of Diablo 4.