Magic: Legends is an actual, Magic: the Gathering-ass MMO action-RPG currently in development at Cryptic Studios with, presumably, some form of input from Wizards of the Coast. Announced during tonight’s Game Awards, Magic: Legends will be available at some future date on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and you can sign up for a mysterious beta test right now.
As seen in the below teaser trailer, a bunch of real Magic-y looking folk are killing each other all over the place, and everything is very slow motion. Any one of these people, who are just inches from death, could soon be you as Magic: Legends allows players to become their very own dimension-hopping Planeswalker. Magic lore is extremely thorough and complicated, and there’s probably a lot of people out there with Planeswalker OCs rattling around in their heads, so I totally get the appeal of getting to act those fantasies out in a game.
Very little is known about what the game might actually be like, in terms of gameplay, customization options, factions, or most other things that people think about with the letters “MMO” come across their screen. I was, however, able to unearth some basic details using the art of “journalism,” which I have meditated under many a waterfall to master. Magic: Legends publisher Perfect World Entertainment actually announced that this was happening back in June — the press release just failed to mention the “MMO” part of the whole deal. Meanwhile, Cryptic Studios put up its own blurb, which said that “Cryptic Studios is developing a new free-to-play, action MMORPG based on Magic: The Gathering, the acclaimed strategic card game.”
Since nobody said the words “free-to-play” at any point today, it’s impossible to know if that’s still the model that Cryptic and Perfect World are going with. Still, free-to-play has been a very successful monetization model for Magic: the Gathering Arena, and the days of subscription-based MMOs are long gone, so there’s no way they’d be fool enough to try that. Perfect World could also concievably come at it from the “one-time purchase” angle, ala Guild Wars, or offer a free base game with paid expansions, as Destiny 2 has done.
You may remember Cryptic Studios from such cult-classic MMOs as City of Heroes/Villains, Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter, another Wizards of the Coast joint. Heroes/Villains and Champions are both dead, may they rest in spandex-clad peace, but Star Trek Online and Neverwinter are totally games that you can still go play right now, despite being nine and six years old, respectively.
Cryptic has always made games that just kinda hum along quietly in the background, never really getting talked about in mainstream games media but still somehow bringing in enough cash to keep the lights on. A Magic: the Gathering MMO seems like exactly that sort of thing; something that could carve out a small but dedicated base of players who are more than happy to buy whatever cosmetic wizard hats they’ll inevitably sell in this thing.