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Magic:The Gathering - Battlegrounds Preview
developer: Secret Level
PIII 800, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1.4GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 18, 03 (released)
|» All About Magic:The Gathering - Battlegrounds on ActionTrip|
We've managed to catch a quick glimpse of Secret Level's unique title, Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds, at the E3 2003, but that didn't exactly sate our desire for more information on this game. Luckily, we were able to catch up with the people at Secret Level a couple of days ago, and ask them all the things we wanted to know about it. Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds is being developed for the PC and Xbox, and will feature an immersive single-player Quest Mode, which takes players deep into a storyline with characters from the Magic universe (i.e. the "Magic" card game). But that's not all, because the developers have also incorporated a variety of new characters and locales into the game. While players engage in exciting magic duels, they will have to rely heavily on their reflexes and strategic abilities, in order to overpower the enemy.
During our chat, we also found out a number of interesting details about the gameplay, spells, quests ... the upcoming demo, and more.
Action Trip: Is this your first project with Atari?
Secret Level: This is the first title we have done under the "Atari" brand, though before Infogrames changed their name to Atari, we did Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast.
AT: Are you guys happy with the how your game's shaping up so far?
SL: We are very happy. The game is turning out to be a lot of fun to play and the response from people who have played it has been great too.
AT: The game's storyline is going to remain true to the Wizards of the Coast license. Can you perhaps reveal some of the plot, and the chief characters who are in it?
SL: The story consists of duelist Legends from the Magic universe. Akroma, Multani and Maraxus of Keld are just some of the characters in the game. All the spells in the game were taken right off the cards as well. We chose spells that not only play well in the game, but look the best visually on the Unreal engine.
AT: In terms of gameplay, what makes Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds so unique?
SL: Battlegrounds combines an arena fighter setup with real time strategic spellcasting. Duelists move around the arenas, picking up mana which can be used to cast powerful spells. The endless strategy in the game comes from the deep variety of spell attributes, the creature placement in the arenas, and the timing and spell combinations. So far, we haven't seen any games that combine all of these elements in real-time.
AT: Naturally, players will face certain quests. Explain a little bit about the tasks that await us throughout the game.
SL: There are going to be over 70 different quests to play through in the single player mode. Each quest will consist of different boss battles and puzzles. The player will travel through environments based on the five colors of Magic (white, green, black, red, and blue). After each quest, you will be rewarded with a new spell and your character may also change in appearance. The quests are a good way to learn all the spells and get your skills ready for Xbox Live!
AT: Obviously, casting spells is the core of the gameplay. Describe some of them and tell us how they work.
SL: The player can cast from three different categories of spells; creatures, sorceries, and enchantments - after they have collected a specific amount of mana. The more mana you save up, the bigger creature or deadlier sorcery you can cast. We've also incorporated spells that can heal or disrupt your opponent.
Creature spells have a power and toughness that can be used for offensive or defense, depending on what kind of spell you select. For instance, the Magma Giant has a 5/5 power/toughness, but also does 2 damage to all creatures and characters upon its initial spawn. Sorceries do instant damage, such as the Scorching Missile, which does direct damage of 4 to the opposing duelist's health.
Enchantments are like permanent sorceries that continuingly function until the end of the match or until your opponent removes them with a counter spell. A good example for that would be the "Gratuitous Violence," which will make all your creatures deal double damage.
AT: The game looks great even at this early stage of its development - the Unreal engine has played its part beautifully. What has this technology allowed you to do in Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds?
SL: Our experience with the Unreal Tournament Dreamcast title has given us an incredibly deep understanding of the engine. Most people think that the Unreal engine is ideal only for first person shooters, but it's really very versatile. Having the tools available right from the start, allowed us to jump right in and get the gameplay going without worrying about bugs or any weird code issues that are known to be frequent occurrences with other engines. Also, we are rather pleased with some of the spell effects we created by using the Unreal particle system.
AT: Give us a bit more info about your plans for the multiplayer.
SL: The multiplayer experience will consist of over 70 spells, 16 arenas, and a multitude of different characters. The game is also going to be great fun to play via Xbox Live! Xbox Live! will feature global rankings, statistics, and a ton of downloadable content in the form of new spells, arenas, and playable characters.
AT: If it's not too big a secret, can you tell us what we'll be able to see in the upcoming demo of Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds?
SL: The demo is going to consist of 5 single player quests, some playable arcade battles, and a multiplayer mode between red and green. The red and green spellbooks are fairly large, so players will basically be offered a decent slice of the game. We have been playing and testing this demo for a while now and are still coming up with new strategies and incorporating them into the gameplay. After seeing the game in action, we hope gamers will get hooked on it... as we have...
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