Magic: Legends released its Act IV update this week, bringing with it the Pyromancer class alongside some quality-of-life improvements and bug fixes. Magic: Legends is developer Cryptic Studio’s free-to-play action-RPG set in the Magic: The Gathering multiverse, and it draws heavily on inspirations from the tabletop card game’s lore and products to build out its world.
However, Magic: Legends is also a game that’s designed to allow players to build out their own style of character. Avatars aren’t famous characters from the game’s lore, but new planeswalkers to allow for players to better represent themselves in-game. Magic: Legends also features a diversity of other customization options, including equipment, deck-building, and skins to help further create a sense of identity for its new heroes.
In a game with as rich a history as Magic: The Gathering, however, it’s a daunting task to create brand new characters to stand alongside the icons of old. Senior Writer Winter Mullenix recently sat down with Screen Rant to discuss her philosophy behind characters and themes, the exciting Act IV updates, and just what to look forward to as the game’s unique story continues to progress with its continued updates.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Magic: Legends’ story is something I think a lot of long-time fans of the tabletop property will be interested in. What themes can they expect to see explored through the unique lens of Magic’s lore-rich universe?
Winter Mullenix: My pleasure, Cody, and thanks for having me! The start of Magic: Legends takes place after the Great Mending of Dominaria. That period of time informs the stories that take place on each plane, but the larger, overarching themes are determined by the unique setting, characters, and history of each region.
Players can expect to travel through the Multiverse in real time, seeing these overarching themes unfold. Some key themes surrounding that period of time will be prevalent, such as the Cabal presence in Benalia, Zendikar’s Roil, the necromantic arts of Innistrad, and more.
Early looks at Magic: Legends revealed the game has a healthy interest in showcasing existing characters in new situations. What challenges come with bringing some of these characters who have only existed on cards or in short stories to the world of Magic: Legends?
Winter Mullenix: The Multiverse works a lot like a watch. There are several small but necessary gears that orchestrate each moment with precision. As a result, I would say the biggest challenge is making sure that our stories maintain parity with the established timeline.
Many of us on the team are longtime fans of the Magic Multiverse. It’s very important to us that players get facetime with beloved characters. Players will get to meet Nissa, Ral, and Jodah during the launch story, but they all have their own agendas that exist within a bigger, predefined picture. We work very closely with Wizards of the Coast to ensure characters in times and places all fall into place properly.
Act IV takes place in Benalia. That’s an area that’s particularly lore-rich in Magic history. What were some of the locations or moments that were must-include for this area?
Winter Mullenix: We wanted to capture the contrast of the Cabal’s presence and that of the Benalish frontier. Part of that is confronting Josu Vess himself in Caligo Morass, the very place where fan favourite Liliana Vess began her journey. We don’t want to give away the reveal of Act IV, but suffice it to say that this is just the beginning. The quest started in Benalia, but there are still several areas left to explore and many stories to tell surrounding the outcome!
A big part of Magic: The Gathering is its planeswalkers. Fans have identified with some of them spanning across years, and they’re some of the most recognizable characters in product packaging, stories, and more. Magic: Legends lets players build out their own planeswalker – how do you make sure those player avatars measure up to the expectation of what a planeswalker is?
Winter Mullenix: Great question! The Planeswalker power fantasy serves as the foundation upon which Magic: Legends is built. Classes, Spells, Artifacts, Traits, and Equipment all work synergistically to give players a wealth of options that clearly impact their gameplay experience.
Let’s take the newly released Pyromancer class for example. Players can orchestrate their Artifacts, Traits, and Equipment to enhance their fire-based abilities, or they can focus on enhancing the creatures they summon. If they want to add some cool, calm control to their gameplay, all they need to do is add some Blue spells to their deck. They are truly empowered to define their experience based upon that Planeswalker power fantasy!
As far as the story goes, there are several key mysteries surrounding the player that begin to unfurl with the starting experience. They will get to walk alongside famous Planeswalkers and be a part of the Multiverse in a comprehensive fashion. Future updates will slowly unravel these mysteries and further ground the player experience in the lore.
How did the team go about weaving Magic: Legends lore into the game’s larger universe? Are the events taking place in the game canon in the property’s larger world-building?
Winter Mullenix: We worked very closely with Wizards of the Coast to identify a clean point of entry into the timeline. The story of Magic: Legends begins after the Great Mending of Dominaria, placing us on the cusp of several key stories told through card sets and other mediums. The player’s experience will run alongside the established timeline, in which they’ll get to see existing events from different angles. They’ll also get to experience brand-new stories as well.
Each of the planeswalkers in Magic: Legends has their own playstyle. How do you tie lore into those different playstyles?
Winter Mullenix: Our approach to player character development is comprehensive. A series of mysteries will unfold within the story to ground the player’s experience. Meanwhile, our Loadouts System puts the power of a Planeswalker in the player’s hands. By mixing and matching the character’s Class, Traits, Artifacts, and Equipment, the player gets to build something truly unique. Each class’s visual design is informed and inspired by existing Planeswalkers and broader Magic lore.
If you had to break down each planeswalker as a sort of central identity or drive, what would you describe them as?
Winter Mullenix: Our starting classes are all mono color in theme. The Sanctifier class is centered in White Mana, with skills based on peace, structure, and order. The Mind Mage embodies the cool, calm feel of Blue Mana, with skills focused on manipulating the battlefield. The Necromancer’s skills toe the balance between life and death, personifying the sheer power of Black Mana. Geomancer is a durable, melee class that personifies the molten, explosive passion of Red Mana. The Beastcaller coordinates attacks with their Aether Fox companion and embodies primal might and savagery of Green Mana.
The Dimir Assassin is a dual colour class that captures the Blue-Black secrecy and shadowy dealings of House Dimir. Our newest class is the Pyromancer, an explosive Red Mana class filled to the brim with incendiary skills!
What are the plans for Magic: Legends’ story after release?
Winter Mullenix: Like Cryptic’s other titles, Magic: Legends will receive regular updates. We can’t give away details just yet, but players can expect to see more planes and an expansive narrative with new and familiar faces alike.
Will there be any tie-ins between Magic: Legends lore and the card game following release? It would be cool to see avatars players get familiar with appear in card art, for instance.
Winter Mullenix: Throughout the course of Act IV, players will learn the identity of the mysterious Planeswalker they first meet during the game’s introduction. She’s an original character of our creation, made in collaboration with Wizards, so it is possible that you might see her in a future book or card set!
What inspirations did the Magic: Legends team draw from to build out the game lore? Was there a particular narrative archetype that the team wanted to capture with the way the game’s story plays out?
Winter Mullenix: That’s a very good question! We draw inspiration from the existing novels, short stories, and cards, all of which we have available for reference in the studio.
The story of Magic: Legends leans heavily towards the quest story archetype, but there may be some variation along the way. Our storytelling devices are mechanically consistent, but we respect that each plane is its own unique setting. If a different story archetype better serves a plane, then we’re open to exploring that.
Is there a particular story beat or lore moment you’re really excited for players to experience? Any hints about what it might involve?
Winter Mullenix: I’m really excited for players to learn about the mysterious Planeswalker in Act IV! I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises, so make sure to check out our latest update at www.playmagiclegends.com!
Next: Magic: Legends Equipment Will Sometimes Be Based On Existing Cards
Magic: Legends is available now and free-to-play. Act IV released on May 20, 2021, bringing a new story update and the Pyromancer class with it.
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