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Free-to-play WildStar photo
Free-to-play WildStar

You won't need a WildStar subscription starting September 29


That's when it goes free-to-play
Sep 03
// Jordan Devore
Before WildStar released, I planned on playing it. Really, I did! But like so many other MMOs before it, when the big day arrived, I was preoccupied with other games and lost interest. With the relaunch closing in, I suspect ...
LawBreakers photo
LawBreakers

Here's a long video showing what LawBreakers really looks like


22 minutes, if you want all of that
Sep 02
// Brett Makedonski
We sat down with Cliff Bleszinski at PAX Prime last week to talk about his studio's new game LawBreakers. We chatted about the gameplay mechanics and the free-to-play model. There's still more to come from that intervie...
PlayStation 3 game ending photo
PlayStation 3 game ending

Namco shutting down Soulcalibur: Lost Swords


'Gods, please forgive me'
Sep 02
// Steven Hansen
Roughly a year and a half after its launch, Namco is ending its free-to-play PlayStation 3 experiment Soulcalibur: Lost Swords. It was apparently not great and coupled with a bad microtransaction scheme.  Namco even mad...
Moshi Monsters photo
Moshi Monsters

The UK Advertising Standards Agency isn't happy with Moshi Monsters or Bin Weevils


'Members are going to be super popular!'
Sep 02
// Joe Parlock
Moshi Monsters is pretty popular with kids here in the UK. It’s been around for a few years now, and has managed to gain toys and shows alongside the website and games. Bin Weevils has been around for a bit longer, but ...

EndWar Online beta photo
EndWar Online beta

Tom Clancy's EndWar Online closed beta starts today, runs through November


'War never ends'
Sep 01
// Darren Nakamura
I had forgotten about Tom Clancy's EndWar Online. It was originally announced just about two years ago, took on some alpha playtesters, and went dark to everybody else. Today, it is coming out of alpha and into a closed beta ...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Who wants to try Evolve for free?


PS4 players are excluded. Sorry!
Sep 01
// Vikki Blake
If you've been on the fence about Evolve, here's your chance to try-before-you-buy -- developer Turtle Rock Studios is making the game free to play on PC and Xbox One this coming weekend (that's September 4 and 5, 2...
LawBreakers photo
LawBreakers

New footage has surfaced for Cliffy B's LawBreakers


Skill shots and domination streaks
Aug 31
// Laura Kate Dale
Oh hey, are you itching to see more footage of Cliff Bleszinski's upcoming futuristic sci-fi shooter LawBreakers already? Well, thanks to the official LawBreakers Twitter account this weekend, we have a whole bunch of new pie...
Atlas Reactor photo
Atlas Reactor

Trion announces turn-based strategy game Atlas Reactor


'Turn-based game... but competitive!'
Aug 31
// Joe Parlock
Rift developer Trion Worlds has announced its newest project: Atlas Reactor. A free-to-play, simultaneous turn-based strategy game, all players carry out their turns at the same time, meaning there isn’t hours and hour...

Cliff Bleszinski: 'I respect that core gamers see free-to-play as a dirty, dirty thing'

Aug 30 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]308383:60188:0[/embed] At this point, LawBreakers co-developer and Killzone series director Arjan Brussee chimed in "If you have a small barrier of entry like an early access fee, then I think that can work. For us, if you look at the game, it's definitely a triple-A type of experience. We don't want to charge $60, but our fans are used to paying money to play games with the Killzone and Gears of War stuff. So, I think we can leverage the free-to-play thing and do cool stuff in that space." Brussee's right in saying that this is a segment of the gaming population that doesn't have a problem coughing up some cash for games. The challenge comes in getting them on-board with free-to-play -- especially those who are distrustful of the model. But, Bleszinski wouldn't want to go back to the traditional sales metrics. "Yeah, for me, that's completely dead. That's pre-orders, that's 'how many do you get in the first two months' and then it's an exponential curve downward after that," Bleszinski said about the idea of his metrics for success suddenly shifting. "People who are still doing that: have fun. For me, that's old. For us, it's about a ramp." Bleszinski continued "We may not make a lot of money in the first couple months. But, in the first year, we may start to ramp up. These games are like a locomotive where they get going and going. Once they get momentum, you look around and say 'How did this game get so damn big?' The marking is a steady launch over the course of a bunch of different beats throughout the year as opposed to blowing the wad at Christmas while everyone else is blowing their wad. Or, the Super Bowl where you try to get Liam Neeson and Kate Upton to do goofy ads. We're in it for the long-run here."
LawBreakers free-to-play photo
But he's done with the traditional model
When Cliff Bleszinski formed Boss Key Productions to create the game now known as LawBreakers, he always knew that free-to-play was the model he wanted. That statement's not as black and white as it sounds. There's a lot of i...

Guild Wars 2's base game goes free-to-play today, no purchase needed

Aug 29 // Chris Carter
Opening up the conversation, O'Brien talked a bit about how the core message of the game is staying the same, despite the move to free-to-play. "We don't want to ask for more money, and all of the additional purchases will stay the same" he stated. Going on, Mike noted, "What we looked at after the release of the core game, is things like 'how can players catch up with their friends' and this new model makes that easier to do. We've always said 'if you wan't Guild Wars 2, just buy the game, and we'll provide free updates for it for months.' We'll continue to do that for Heart of Thorns: just buy the expansion, and you'll get every update for free." Another big new change is the addition of raids, which will make their debut in Heart of Thorns. Speaking on this new adventure, Colin Johanson, keeping with the spirit of the game, insists that "this is our way of doing things differently, even with the traditional format of raids with other MMOs. We're getting rid of barriers to entry. The way Heart of Thorns is built is by way of masteries, which will upgrade your character beyond the typical gear-based setup of other games. In that regard, raids will still be relevant six months later, and won't be completely replaced by a new tier of gear." Going on, Johanson stated that "although you can't necessarily PUG (pick-up-group) these raids, they are skill-based. In other words, you can use any combination of characters to complete them." Upon probing him a bit, asking whether or not it was difficult to design raids around the lack of a trinity (healer, tank, and damage), he responded with, "it's not necessarily tougher but balance them within our game, but they will be more fun since everyone can fulfill any role. You don't have to wait 40 minutes for your healer to get online, and you can use any class you want to play. It really is all about skill." If ArenaNet and their team can follow through with these promises, an accessible yet challenging raid scheme would be an enticing prospect for players old and new. I'm anxious to see what they come up with when Heart of Thorns finally comes out.
Guild Wars 2 F2P photo
Heart of Thorns still a paid expansion
Nearly three years after the release of Guild Wars 2, the base game is going fully free-to-play. Instead of following a method where users are required to purchase the core package before they are greeted with a subscrip...

Viridi photo
Viridi

Grow your own virtual succulents with Viridi


And play with your own virtual pet snail
Aug 29
// Ben Davis
Viridi is a free-to-play gardening simulator which released on Steam last week in which you grow and care for a pot of succulent plants. The plants grow in real time even while the game is closed, so this isn't the type of ga...
MEOW MEOW MEOW photo
MEOW MEOW MEOW

The best video game trailer ever that I can't stop watching


WHO LET THE CAT IN!?
Aug 29
// Jed Whitaker
I was browsing through the latest releases on Steam when I came across Let the Cat in, a free-to-play game about helping kittens get into a house and was ported from mobile devices. That isn't important though, what is is it...
LawBreakers trailer photo
LawBreakers trailer

LawBreakers features a few different aerial movement abilities


Gameplay trailer shows four classes
Aug 28
// Darren Nakamura
Two days ago we got the first reveal for Cliff Bleszinski's new arena shooter LawBreakers. Today we get a brief look at the gameplay and if I had to describe it with one word, that word would be "motion." Each of the four cla...
LawBreakers photo
LawBreakers

Cliff Bleszinski's arena shooter is LawBreakers


Releasing next year
Aug 26
// Jordan Devore
Cliff Bleszinski (Unreal Tournament, Gears of War) and Arjan Brussee (Guerrilla Games co-founder) have been off building something called Project BlueStreak at their new studio Boss Key Productions. It's a futuristic first-p...
Dragomon classes photo
Dragomon classes

Dragomon Hunter shows off monster hunting character classes


Chibi, colorful Monster Hunter-like
Aug 26
// Steven Hansen
That Monster Hunter-styled MMORPG Dragomon Hunter has put out a new video focusing on the available characters classes. All the classics are there: scout, mercenary, mage, buscemi, cleric, substitute teacher. The free-to-pla...
Clicker Heroes photo
Clicker Heroes

We're doomed: Clicker Heroes hits iOS, Android


Be strong
Aug 25
// Jordan Devore
It's a good thing I swore off Clicker Heroes. It was bad enough playing the game on a desktop computer. Now, the perpetual time-waster is available for iOS and Android. There's no escape. For the uninitiated, this is an idle ...

Review: Alphabear

Aug 22 // Darren Nakamura
Alphabear (Android [reviewed], iPad, iPhone)Developer: Spry Fox, LLCPublisher: Spry Fox, LLCReleased: July 8, 2015MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) The core mechanic in Alphabear is easy to pick up, but it bears an elegance upon close inspection. Letter tiles are placed on a variable-sized grid, and players are tasked with forming words with those letters. Using a letter clears it from the board, replaces it with a bear, and reveals new letters in any adjacent spaces. Bears can grow in size as long they have a full rectangle of cleared tiles to fill. Each tile has a countdown on it, decrementing by one for each turn taken. If any countdown reaches zero, that letter turns to stone, removing it from the pool of usable letters and taking up valuable real estate where bears could live. The end goal is to score the most points, which come from two main sources: words formed during a game and bear size at the end. Each letter's value decreases with its counter, so word values are calculated from both length and how close each individual letter is to expiring. For bear size, the aim is to create the biggest bear possible; one full-board bear is worth more than two half-board bears. [embed]307196:60082:0[/embed] All of these mechanics come together to make a game that isn't just about showing off vocabulary and anagram skills. For one, there is focus and direction. Tiles with low counters are shown in increasingly alarming colors, where those one turn away from fossilization pulsate with a deep red but those with four or more are a placid green. Instead of dumping upward of two dozen letters on the player and saying, "make some words," it makes using certain tiles more urgent, bringing them to the forefront. Maybe I could make a ten-letter word with these tiles over here, but I really need to use this J that's about to expire. It also causes the player to think ahead: not only does one want to use all of the tiles showing a one this turn, but he should also make sure he can deal with the tiles showing a two for next turn. Another important result of the base mechanics is the idea of spatial importance. The tiles all have a location, and clearing a tile in a certain area might be more beneficial than doing so in another. Some spaces are marked with a star or a skull, signifying the letter set to appear there will either have an unusually high countdown or an especially low countdown. Setting off a skull when there are several twos left in play is a bad move. The mechanics make the center of the board more important too, because a stone in the way there will prevent having a screen-filling bear at the end, but a stone along the edge or in a corner will only decrease its size by a small amount. The boards aren't all the same; the layout of a particular board affects how players will attack it. The last bit of significance that emerges from Alphabear's mechanics is a strong risk/reward scenario. Forming long words is worth more points right away, but it opens up more tiles at once. It brings more opportunities for even larger words but also more opportunities to miss using a tile in time. Play it safe, unlocking only a few new tiles per turn and banking on a large bear at the end, or go big on word scores at the risk of losing out on bears? There isn't a definite answer. In a word, Alphabear brings strategy to a genre that has severely lacked in it in the past. Considering the countdowns, board layout, and the available letters brings much more nuanced decision-making than the typical directive of "make the biggest word you can think of." Sometimes it's better to make a weaker word in the moment in order to pull ahead in the end. Every single turn presents this mental exercise. Outside of the main meat of the gameplay, there is also an almost Pokémon-esque collection mechanic. Completing a level above a par score nets the player a bear; completing it above a gold score gives a chance for a powerful rare bear. Each of these bears has its own costume and consistent with Spry Fox's modus operandi, they are all adorable. Look at Milky Bear (below)! It's a bear dressed up as a carton of milk. So cute. Each bear has its own powers to bring to the levels. Some only affect score, some have a noticeable impact on gameplay. By collecting the same bear multiple times, it levels up, increasing its multiplier. This makes high scores for future runs of the same board easier to attain. Not only does Alphabear inject strategy into a word puzzle, it also uses these light role-playing game elements to keep me playing. A particular level might be too hard now, but I can come back to it later with some beefed up bears and try it again. At the end of a level, the newly hatched bear will form a series of phrases using the words played during the game. You might have seen these on social media already. It's a silly little touch, but it adds another bit of meta to the experience. Not only do people go for high scores, they also go for words that would make for funny sentences to share with friends. The one big sticking point for many is Alphabear's free-to-play scheme. It uses an energy mechanic (honey), allowing for only a couple of games before honey is depleted. It builds up over time or can be accumulated by watching ads. Personally, I loved the gameplay so much I paid the five bucks for unlimited honey and haven't regretted it. Even then, the bears each have cooldown periods and the other currency (used to wake up sleeping bears and to play special levels) suffers from diminishing returns over the course of a day, so players who buy unlimited honey may still feel stifled. Spry Fox wants players to come back day after day; I'm fine with that, but I know there are many out there who aren't. Indeed, I'm still playing Alphabear on a nearly daily basis. I couldn't say how many hours I've put into it already (I'd estimate maybe 20?), but I'm not even halfway through all of the chapters. The injection of strategic concerns to a word puzzle is such great design. I would like that enough on its own, but the collection aspects, cute bears, and social media meta elevate it further. [This review is based on a free game with microtransactions purchased by the reviewer.]
Alphabear review photo
Word
If you had told me three months ago there was still untapped potential in the genre of using letter tiles to form words, I probably wouldn't have believed you. If you would have told me a word puzzle game would end up being o...

Rick and Morty Dota 2 photo
Rick and Morty Dota 2

Now Rick and Morty can nar-*belch*-rate your Dota 2 matches


Radiant just wiped out the Roshan guy!
Aug 21
// Patrick Hancock
The announcer packs for Dota 2 are easily some of the best purchases available within the free-to-play game. Personally, I go back and forth between the Stanley Parable and Bastion announcers. Not only are the...
Sploot photo
Sploot

Be a seagull and poop on people in Sploot


What more could you want out of games?
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
"You are a seagull. A beautiful, fragile seagull. You poop uncontrollably. Your purpose is to poop on things." Fantastic! I'm always clamoring for more games where you get to really feel what it's like to be an animal, and th...
Team Fortress 2 update photo
Team Fortress 2 update

Team Fortress 2 gets the ball rolling with a new sports-themed game mode


Created by Bad Robot, of all companies
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
Ready for another off-the-wall Team Fortress 2 update? After the addition of bumper cars from last Halloween, it seems anything is possible with this game. Now the multiplayer shooter is getting another shot in the arm with a...
Hearthstone update photo
Hearthstone update

Hearthstone version 3.0 is out, hints of upcoming co-op mode


Grand Tournament launches next week
Aug 19
// Jed Whitaker
Blizzard's ever-popular free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone just got a major update ahead of the release of its next expansion, The Grand Tournament. Blizzard just recently revealed all 132 new cards included...
New Skylanders photo
New Skylanders

Skylanders Battlecast is a brand new game in the Skylanders franchise


Free-to-play mobile 'adventure'
Aug 18
// Chris Carter
Activision has announced a new Skylanders game called Battlecast, and it's a free-to-play mobile card game. I'm guessing they want to get in on that sweet Hearthstone money (which funnily enough, is part of the sam...
Bling Bling for Blizzard photo
Bling Bling for Blizzard

Wowzers, Hearthstone pulls in $20 million per month


How much of that is you?
Aug 11
// Jed Whitaker
Research firm SuperData is reporting that Blizzard's free-to-play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is making $20 million a month; more than any other digital card game. When compared to other popular free-to-play games, Hearth...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online goes post-war in Season 11: New Dawn


A New Hope?
Aug 11
// Josh Tolentino
For the five years it's been running, Star Trek Online's story has been one of a galaxy at war. First it was a war between the Federation and Klingon Empire, then between an alliance of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans...
Rising Thunder photo
Rising Thunder

You don't need a code to test out Rising Thunder


Open alpha
Aug 10
// Jordan Devore
Nic's silly tier list introduced me to Rising Thunder as something I might enjoy, but I'm only now following through. You should, too! The fighting game is holding an alpha test and there's no waiting around for access -- jus...

My completely inaccurate Rising Thunder tier list

Aug 05 // Nic Rowen
Crow Crow is like a mini-Evangelion mech with a chakram, which I'd normally consider a strong look. But, when compared to the rest of the much goofier and lighthearted Rising Thunder cast, he just looks like he's trying too hard to be edgy -- like Hot Topic opened a mech garage. I can't wait for the DLC to give him a wallet chain and a checker pattern. Crow also looks like he'll be annoying as hell to fight against. Rising Thunder may be the first fighting game to actually do invisibility right (because it's online only, the Crow player will be able to see an outline of their character on their screen while the opponent will see nothing) and that will be sure to attract the trollish kind of player who likes to mess with people. I can already see the YouTube clip reels of time-out victories where a Crow player gets a life lead and dances around invisible for the rest of the match on the horizon. His spinning disk can be delayed to float in the air for a long time, which is the kind of thing that is always a pain to deal with. Any character that can force an opponent to defend while still being able to move and attack themselves seem to do well, so I wouldn't be surprised if Crow actually turned out to be one of the better characters in Rising Thunder. For the purposes of this list however, his high school-ish gothy design and my prediction that I'm going to hate fighting him will land Crow squarely at the bottom of this list. What, you thought this was going to be useful? Edge So, we can all agree that Edge is basically Zero with the serial numbers filed off, right? I mean, red armor, green energy sword, slim build. Heck, he's even got a freaking pony tail! It would be scandalous if Capcom hadn't already abandoned the maverick hunter. Someone might as well rescue him from the scrapyard and put him to work. The in-game description labels Edge as a rush-down character with a high skill difficulty. Given how Zero played in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the resemblance isn't purely coincidental. Edge looks like the kind of character who is designed to reward dedication and practice by becoming a sheer nightmare in the right hands. The kind of character I can never quite seem to grok but can look forward to being bodied by, over and over. Joy. Oh well. Here's hoping he doesn't have any lightning loop nonsense at least.   Dauntless I want to like Dauntless more than I do. She has all the right pieces, a goofy expressive face, extra large hands for Rock'Em-Sock'Em style fisticuffs, and a pleasingly robot-ish squared off design. But something just doesn't click. There is nothing wrong with her, but she's just a little too bland to really crack the top half of the list. Sorry, Dauntless, it's the curse of being the mascot character. Too inoffensive to hate, too milquetoast to love. Speaking of Rock'Em-Sock'Em, that's a cross marketing opportunity if I've ever seen one. Someone should get on that Kickstarter fast. Talos Talos is the big dumb grappler character of Rising Thunder and he knows it. He's got a silly accent, a boisterous attitude, a dumb haircut, and incredibly overdone command grab specials; everything you need to make Zangief, the patron saint of grapplers, proud. Talos goes one step further by joining the ranks of some of my other favorite big dumb characters like Iron Tager and Lex Luthor by having an electromagnetic suction mechanic to pull opponents in close for that real soviet damage. Come here and give daddy a hug.  Also, his forward dash makes him pivot on his arms like a gorilla. Perfection. Vlad I can't tell if Vlad is going to be the Dan of Rising Thunder, or the Akuma. All I know is that he's going to be a fan favorite and I'm no exception. He's so damn cute and silly that I almost don't want to love him, but I do, I do. How could I not? He's like if the Iron Giant had a goofy Russian step-brother. While all the other fighters of Rising Thunder are cutting-edge robots ripped from futuristic anime series and discarded Jagger design documents, Vlad is like a tin robot stumbling out of the 1950s, with all the adorable goofiness and Cold War tension that implies. He's got a jetpack, a tiny flag antenna, and he windmills his arms and torso about like a madman. He even fires a tiny elbow rocket! Vlad has everything I'm looking for in a robot. But I suspect Vlad harbors a darker secret underneath all that silly charm. Inside that metal chest beats the heart of a real terror, the kind of character everyone writes off as a joke until he shows up in a tournament one day and cleans house. It's that jetpack, and all the fly-canceling shenanigans it could allow. I bet we'll see someone break the game with it sooner or later, and then no one will be laughing anymore. Chel Chel makes the top of my list by virtue of sheer adorability. She's a little ball of energy with a whole lot of personality for a robot. A big plume of pink hair, a charming accent, and cute little rocket boosters on her hands for when she does a forward dash. Robot girls just want to have fun! In a weird coincidence, Chel is the one place where my dumb personal tier list happens to overlap with reality. As it stands in the alpha, Chel is one of, if not the, strongest character. Her keep-away fireballs and one-button uppercut lead to a simple, but brutally effective game plan that is easy to implement and difficult to work around. That Shoto archetype set the standard for a reason. Given how upset people seem to be at Chel right now, I'd expect to see some balance changes that will make her a little less of a cruise-control character. So I guess now is the time to scumbag it up and establish that character loyalty cred while sneakily enjoying a top-tier character. Rising Thunder is still in the earliest of early days, so any talk of actual tier lists is super dumb and I'm sure everything will change twenty times before the game is launched for real. There are still characters to be revealed, mechanics to iron out, and decisions to be made. As it stands though, Rising Thunder is remarkably fun to play, even if it represents a dramatic shift from traditional fighting game models. Has anyone else been playing the alpha or watching some streams of it? Picked out a favorite already or have a particularly despised foe? I'd be interested to hear what other people think of the game so far!
Rising Thunder tier list photo
From rust bucket to top-bot
Rising Thunder is an experiment I'm not quite sure about yet. On one hand, it seems to be custom made for me: an aging fighting game fan with a well-documented obsession with robots and a pair of cinder-block mittens for hand...

Lord of the Rings Online photo
Lord of the Rings Online

The Lord of the Rings Online shuts down most of its worlds


Five worlds to rule them all...
Aug 04
// Joe Parlock
Looks like The Lord of the Rings Online hasn’t been in the best shape recently. Developer Turbine has announced it will be closing all but five of the worlds for each region. The only worlds that will remain open in the...
New Hi-Rez game photo
New Hi-Rez game

(Update) Hi-Rez announces tactical team-based shooter Paladins


Playable at gamescom
Aug 03
// Darren Nakamura
[Update: In an email with Destructoid, a Hi-Rez representative confirmed that Paladins will be free to play, but the developer is "still working out the specifics." To prognosticate for a bit, I would personally guess the mon...

Review: Magic Duels: Origins

Jul 31 // Caitlin Cooke
Magic Duels: Origins (PC [reviewed], iOS)Developer: Stainless Games Ltd.Publisher: Wizards of the Coast LLCReleased: July 29, 2015MSRP: Free As its name implies, the story mode within Magic Duels: Origins centers on the early lives of well-known Planeswalkers in the series -- including Jace, Chandra, and Liliana. Each backstory is broken down into five chapters, which detail coming-of-age moments in their lives before becoming full-fledged Planeswalkers. Chapters begin with a short prologue and art piece which set the stage for the upcoming duel, and upon completion end in a similar vein. Battle Mode is the main attraction, containing the normal modes you’d find in any Magic game -- Versus battle (vs Human), Solo battle (vs AI), and Two-headed Giant (2v2). Solo battles come in three flavors -- easy, medium, hard -- however, you’re not able to select your AI opponent (the deck is random). It’s also unclear how the matching system works for the Versus battle system, since the servers were down the majority of the time and I wasn’t able to test it out. I also found it unfortunate that there are no extra fun modes present, as was common in the DoTP series (like Planechase or Archenemy), which I personally miss. In Origin’s free-to-play model, players collect coins via completion of Story and Battle duels or by shelling out cash. Coins are then used to trade in for booster packs, which are added to your overall collection. A single booster pack runs for 150 coins, which equals roughly $2.00 if you were to purchase the coins yourself. You can also buy coins in bulk at a discount, going all the way up to 7,500 coins for $39.99. Origins makes it surprisingly easy to collect coins -- completing a Planeswalker’s story (5 duels) is enough to get you a pack, or dueling a random human roughly 7 times could net the same amount. Quests, which are essentially achievements, rotate in and out and dish out coins when certain stipulations are met (for example: win two duels with a forest/mountain combo deck, put 20 +1/+1 counters on a creature, et cetera). After only a few hours of playing through some of the story, a few battles, and earning Quest achievements, I had enough coins to unlock 3 or 4 packs. I was surprised that the built-in cards were fairly solid (and a lot of new ones, to boot). Origins also features Planeswalker cards, an added layer of challenge which is also a first for Magic’s online games. It didn’t take me long to build some decent decks after opening a few booster packs, although with 251 total cards and only 6 cards in a pack collecting them all seems daunting. Deck-building has come a long way since the Duels of the Planeswalkers series was first introduced. In Origins, the two options are to build everything from scratch or to use the deck wizard. Building a deck from scratch gives players pretty much any freedom they need when building a deck -- it even has a nice filter system, allowing players to sort by parameters including rarity, type, and cost. Swapping cards in and out is pretty seamless, and I like that I could go through my booster cards to pick out the ones I want and have the game do the math and complete the rest of the deck for me. The deck wizard is much more restrictive, but probably the best option for brand new players. After selecting mana types, it walks players through three steps and explains which cards to choose along the way. Being a casual player who doesn’t really enjoy building decks, I actually found the deck wizard to be even more overwhelming than the “build from scratch” option. It’s oddly restrictive, as it doesn’t really give you much room to look at your available cards -- each step only displays a handful of cards to choose from at any given time. Although Origins has a number of viable options for deck-building, there were a few strange occurrences I noticed when building decks. When using autocomplete in the deck-builder, sometimes odd choices would be made -- for example, a lone forest land card would be slotted in when no forest mana was needed, or a card that calls for enchantments when none were found in the deck. Origins also makes it difficult to rebuild a deck if it was originally made with the wizard, as you’re not able to switch freely between modes. This means that if you get new cards in your booster pack that you want to add to your decks built with the wizard, you’re pretty much out of luck. My attempts to join a multiplayer duel over the course of two days were pretty much thwarted with network errors, which is a real bummer seeing how playing with actual people is the crux of playing Magic. I also found that occasionally the game would boot me out of the server entirely, rendering my account virtually useless. Hopefully Stainless will be able to sort out the server issues, as the game does not allow you to collect or spend coins, even in Story mode or AI battles. This is quite frustrating since the main purpose of the game is to collect these coins to spend them on booster packs and improve your deck. I also found it disappointing that you’re not able to earn coins via playing with friends. I’m assuming this is because it would be much easier to cheat the system, however, even giving small rewards via Quests, or a small amount of coins seems like it would encourage more friendly duels versus people taking advantage. Despite their servers not being ready, I feel Magic Duels: Origins brings the best of both worlds together, finally: a fun way to learn and play Magic with the competitiveness of collecting and putting together strong decks for duels in a fairly balanced system. I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the server issues improve with time, but in the meantime playing through the story and battling AI is still entertaining. Those new to Magic will find it easy to dive in and learn the intricacies of deck-building, while more experienced players should finally have the customization and card variety they’ve been asking for. Nothing beats the real thing (playing in person) for a lot of expert Magic players; however, I feel like this is a big step in the right direction. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Magic Duels: Origins photo
Free-to-play done right
My addiction to Magic began with the first Duels of the Planeswalkers game for the 360 back in 2009. Although it had its shortcomings (mana tapping, anyone?), the DoTP series created an accessible way for new (or rusty) playe...

World of Tanks photo
World of Tanks

World of Tanks rumbles on to Xbox One today


Time to blow stuff up
Jul 29
// Laura Kate Dale
The cannons are prepped, the hatches are down, and the big wheel roller things have begun to turn, World of Tanks is finally rolling out on Xbox One today. For the uninitiated, World of Tanks is a game about using tanks to sh...

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