Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist, the latest video game in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise was released for Xbox One and Playstation 4 a short time ago. With almost 7,000 cards and 5 series to cover, the initial concept can be enticing for long-time diehard fans, but is it overwhelming for the newcomer or even fans returning to the franchise after a break?
Fans of even the original series will be happy to know that not only can you recreate duels from the original series as well as the newer ones, you can even use the same decks as each protagonist and antagonist in each battle. You can even win deck recipes so you can use any in game deck for any duel, either single or multiplayer. Players also have the option to do reverse duels, where you switch places with the antagonist and try out their decks against your heroes. For a video game based around a card game and TV franchise, it’s a nice little extra. That being said, the campaigns may keep some players lacking. Intros and ending intermissions for each campaign duel are done through text screens with anime cutouts of each series character. No audio or video segments are included, which really prevent the immersion feeling of reliving any TV series. For newcomers for any series, the game provides just the bare minimum context for why two duelists are squaring off against each other. Given that the game is based around the duels themselves, this isn’t a massive flaw, but it doesn’t help pull people into the charm of the franchise.
Almost every new Yu-Gi-Oh! series has brought with it a new play style with fusions, synchro summons, tuning and pendulum monsters and a new level of complexity to the game. Any newcomer or person returning to the series after a long hiatus may find all the new play styles intimidating; however Legacy of the Duelist does try to provide an introduction tutorial at the beginning of each campaign for the new game play style, allowing players to try and understand. In all honesty, I felt that the game should have included more tutorials as those unfamiliar with a lot of the cards will often take time during duels to read each card effect/ability before using them, causing match length to extend more in the later series.
The actual duels themselves are standard Yu-Gi-Oh! game fair, meaning a minimal amount of duel board backgrounds based on a few franchise locations, but don’t do much to stand out. You can easily play a duel on any duel board and forget (or simply not care) where it’s based on. If there’s one thing I can say above all else about this game, it’s that RNG rules this game. I often found myself at times unable to beat a campaign duel a dozen times before I finally was able to move on, and often it wasn’t even because of my good or terrible RNG with card drawing, it was hoping the enemy AI would have a worse RNG than me. I get that card games are based a lot on what you draw from your deck, but there’s something inherently wrong when you can play duel after duel consistently and either have a bad hand each time, or the enemy AI has what seems like perfect luck in drawing their own hands. Card animations are nothing extravagant; however a main duel monster for each franchise does have their own 3D model sprite when used in game. While it’s a nice touch, I’ve encountered two consistent problems when using these cards:
1) You can’t skip over the animation. When you’re 14 turns into the match and have used the monster around 4 times, you quickly become annoyed and exhausted of watching the same animation over and over.
2) On the Xbox One version that I reviewed, I noticed that at times the 3d models either froze when they appear on screen or the models failed to work correctly with sometimes just the head appearing, or the model didn’t appear at all. Two blatant examples would be the Dark Magician, where his attack would fire from his hat instead of his hand, and the Stardust Dragon who simply turned invisible. It leaves an impression that this game was rushed out rather than polished properly.
Cards themselves can be obtained through two main methods: The Card shop (where you exchange duel points for card packs), or through campaign and duelist challenges themselves. Duel Points are awarded at the end of each duel, regardless if you win or not, and allow you to purchase card packs in the card shop to expand your inventory. Cards can be used in numerous decks, so having only one copy of a card will not prevent you from adding them to another deck. The biggest problem with the card shop/packs; however, is that there is no completion percentage shown for each card pack in the shop. With almost 7,000 cards in game, you may continue trying to pull cards from packs for a needlessly long amount of time without knowing if you’ve drawn every possible card from the packs. In addition, it’s not inherent which packs a lot of these cards can be found, causing a lot of players to need to seek online guides and support to find out where players need to focus their attention to build the decks they want. It’s not unusual for players now adays to look online for additional guidance, but it is odd when it becomes almost a requirement. Searching for cards in your trunk is a mixed bag. There’s no filter you can type an actual card name which feels inhibiting when you have almost 7,000 cards to scroll through to find the one you want. That being said, there is one additional filter which will automatically pull any cards that have a relationship of some kind to your current highlighted card. It’s nice because it can help give players ideas on how to modify a deck recipe they already have.
Duelist challenges, on the other hand, provide a challenging mode to the game which can frustrate rookies but feel incredibly rewarding upon victory. Duelist challenges take character from each TV series and give them a more powerful, modern deck using their original deck themes (example: Mai Valentine will have a much stronger Harpy deck in duel challenge mode than in the main campaign). Winning against these higher difficulty decks gives players that characters deck recipe so they can recreate the deck for use themselves. In addition, playing against these characters in duelist challenges also gives players cards from the characters decks, allowing players a more precise way to collect duel recipe requirements to use the decks themselves. Players can also take part in draft battles, where players can pay 2,000 duelist points to buy a sealed pack of cards they have to use in a 5 battle tournament against the AI or online against other players, recreating tournament style battles. It’s a nice bonus to let players practice and get real world players responding, but online play can be very intimidating to casual players and by no means is required to enjoy the majority of the game.
Legacy of the duelist may not be the most polished Yu-Gi-Oh! game ever, but it does allow long time and new fans to enter the card game with a fair start and try out large contents of the card library without having to plop down the hundreds to thousands of dollars to do so.
Note: This game was provided by the publisher and reviewed on the Xbox One.