The Magic Legends Open Beta dropped on Wednesday afternoon, and I was pretty excited to install it. As someone who willingly runs a Magic: the Gathering content site by my own free will for whatever reason (it definitely isn’t the money) one could assume that I would be in the target demographic for any new Magic-branded video gaming experience. (I even gave ManaStrike a go when it came out, and I’ve been known to dust of MTG Puzzle Quest on occasion.)

To say I was disappointed in Magic Legends would be a massive understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this is an Open Beta, but Magic Arena was in Open Beta for what felt like several years—so that term doesn’t really mean anything other than “we’re still adding features to the game but we need to start bringing in money because we got bills to pay.”

And boy does Magic Legends want to bring in your money.

Actually, I’m not even going to get into what seems to be absurd monetization strategies for Magic Legends because I didn’t actually have the patience to get that far. Three things stopped me from progressing past the end of the tutorial:

  1. The voice acting is potentially harmful to my mental stability.
  2. The game’s graphics, even on the low settings, are too choppy.
  3. The game lags extremely any time I try to do anything in combat (cast a spell, move, attack, etc).

I don’t want to throw the voice actors under the bus here, because I think they’re actually fine at their jobs. What needs to be called into question is the casting decisions. Who decided Nissa should have a deep warrior-like voice. This is Nissa, not Brienne of Tarth. And for Ral Zarek I was completely put off by the decision to use some kind of comedic-style voice actor, when I expected something a little more confident and powerful for a lightning mage who regularly stared-down Niv-Mizzet.

I didn’t get far enough to meet any other characters besides the introductory antagonist, but suffice to say if I was able to bring myself to continue playing I would be relying on the subtitles for dialogue. If this game is trying to be like Diablo, the decisions around casting and direction for the voice acting are a huge miss.

But let’s talk about graphics. Before we get too deep into this, here’s the specs that Arc Games recommends versus what I have on my Alienware gaming laptop:

  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 or 10 (I have Windows 10)
  • CPU: Intel i5 Quad 2.3Ghz (I have an Intel i7 8750 6-Core at 2.2Ghz)
  • Ram: 8GB (I have 16GB)
  • Hard Disk: 15GB (I have 12GB free after installing Magic Legends)
  • Graphics: nVidia GTX 750 (I have a GTX 1060 Mobile)
  • Sound: DirectX10 Compatible

There’s only two points of contention here. First is my 2.2GHz processor when the recommendation is for 2.3GHz, but I’m very confident that having a 6-Core i7 versus the recommended 4-Core i5 makes up for the difference. Second is my GTX 1060 Mobile graphics card. For desktop graphics, the 1060 outperforms the 750 by a significant margin. The mobile version of the card is only slightly less performant.

All of that is to say that my Alienware m15 more than meets Arc Games recommended specs.

And yet, the cut scenes were choppy, movement would periodically get choppy, and the combat was almost unplayable. After 20 frustrating minutes of Ral Zarek leading me through the tutorial, I had no desire to keep playing.

I hope they improve the graphics performance because I’d love to learn more about this game, and learn more about the terrible in-game economy everyone else seems to be complaining about.

That said, I’ll almost certainly be using the subtitles. Sigh.

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