Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel
Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
Genre(s): Card & Board, Simulation, Strategy
Platform: Xbox One X (also available on PC (Microsoft Windows) / Android / iOS / PlayStation 4 / Nintendo Switch / PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series X|S)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 19/01/2022
Price: £Free+ (in-game purchases)
My Love for Games!
There have been several games over my lifetime that have really captivated my attention, and have really made me invest a lot of time playing them, simply because of the fact that I really enjoy them. The gameplay mechanics are fantastic, the stories are captivating and allow you to feel personal connections, the replayability of the game makes it worth the money that you have spent, the graphics of a particular game are breathtaking, and the soundtrack is filled with emotion. The list goes on and on.
One of those games is a card game that was introduced in the late 90s in Japan, and after release it took off in popularity around the world. It has spawned manga, seven different shows spanning two decades, and released three different films. That card game is Yu-Gi-Oh!
Recently, Konami released a new, free-to-play Yu-Gi-Oh! video game on multiple different platforms, including Xbox, PlayStation, PC, mobile devices, and the Nintendo Switch. That video game is called Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel.
Now, I have been around Yu-Gi-Oh! for over twenty years, and I know a good Yu-Gi-Oh! game when I see it. With Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, it is the best that I have seen by far. Konami advertises it as a way to be able to play against real duelists, in real time, regardless of where you are, or your skill level. With over 10,000 individual cards to unlock through various methods, the ability to create your dream deck is closer than ever!
How Do I Do This?
When you first start up the game, you have to go through and learn the basics, regardless of your skill level. The Tutorial helps you out to better understand the game, and Duel Strategy helps you learn all of the different summoning methods that are available in Yu-Gi-Oh! overall. Completing both will net you a decent amount of gems, which can then be used in the in-game shop. On top of the gems, you’ll also get one of three starter structure decks, several individual cards, and customization items.
I’m All for a Story… Maybe?!
When it comes to a story mode, there isn’t really much of one that is linear. You don’t get to go through and experience the Anime Duels from the shows that you could in Legacy of the Duelist Link Evolution, and it doesn’t have its own story like Duelists of the Roses had. Instead, you have a Solo Mode that allows you to explore the stories of certain archetypes of monsters, such as the Monarchs or the Lightsworn, while using these amazing archetypes in duels. Completing these different stories will net you a variety of rewards, from decks, to cards, to gems.
The downside to Solo Mode is the difficulty of the AI, combined with the AI taking forever to decide on what move they want to make next. You’ll start encountering this during your duel strategy session, but don’t worry, if the AI starts kicking your tail, surrendering and restarting the duel is super easy, and takes you less than forty seconds each time. The AI has made me want to bust my controller multiple times, so don’t succumb to the anger I have experienced.
Time To Start Building, or Crafting?
The main focus of this game is building a deck that suits your play style, and you will end up knowing the ins and outs of it. As I pointed out earlier, there are over 10,000 individual cards for you to unlock, and you can do this through various methods. The most common one to use when unlocking cards is spending gems in the in-game shop, but you also have the option to use legacy tickets, or, you can craft the cards that you want, or need, in order to build the deck you want.
Wait? Did I just say crafting? Yes I did. This game has crafting, and that can either be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. What crafting does is it will allow you to craft individual cards that you need, but for a cost. You see, each card has a rarity attached to it, and there are four total rarities: N, R, SR, and UR. Each rarity requires thirty of that rarity’s crafting points, or CP for short.
Obtaining CP is either relatively easy or difficult. You can either dismantle certain cards to obtain CP of that card’s rarity, or, you can go through the games duel pass, which is like a battle pass, and get CP that way. Whatever way that you choose is perfectly fine. Just don’t build everything right out of the gate, otherwise you’ll start running out of CP really quickly, and you will be in a drought for who knows how long.
Another downside to this game (apart from the AI) is obtaining CP. While, yes, we can dismantle certain cards, and level up our duel pass in order to obtain CP, those are the only two ways that you can obtain CP. There are currently, at the time of me writing this, no other ways to obtain CP, which is highly unfortunate as I have some decks I would love to build, but can’t.
When you are building your very first deck, there is one important piece of information that I feel you should know. When comparing Master Duel to previous Yu-Gi-Oh! games, as well as the real life card game, you would have the opportunity to make a side deck to take with you into online matches. With Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, you do not have that option. While it is a bit unfortunate that we do not have a side deck, I can understand Konami’s reasoning behind not including that feature.
I Challenge You to a Duel!
The online portion of the game is something that I won’t really discuss in too great detail. What I will say is that it is very interesting to play against people on different platforms. You can turn cross-play off and on at your leisure, so if you decide to keep the cross-play function turned on, you won’t have long to wait for an opponent.
The dueling format for Master Duel differs from the real life card game and previous Yu-Gi-Oh! video games. When it comes to dueling online, you are not in the match format, or as the Yu-Gi-Oh! base calls it, the best-of-three. Instead, you are in a single duel format, where you go up against one person in one duel. Whoever wins that duel, wins, and advances up the ranks.
There is one final downside to this game that I don’t like: the chance of encountering a hacker within the multiplayer portion. While, yes, I haven’t had any encounters within the game yet, they are there. If you don’t want to encounter them, then I suggest that you turn off cross-play. Just a warning though, you cannot turn off cross-play on the Switch or on mobile devices. I can’t say for sure about other consoles other than the Xbox.
Time To Go Shopping!
While I have given my thoughts on other things, I have forgotten a key aspect of this review, the gem shop. As I have said earlier, Master Duel is a free-to-play game, but it does have microtransactions. These microtransactions are strictly gem purchases, and you cannot use those gems to make yourself an easy winner. You can use them to purchase a variety of things from the in-game shop, such as purchasing booster packs, customization items, and structure decks, just to name a few. While some may argue that buying gems will make the game pay to win, it doesn’t. You are bound by the same RNG as everyone else.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Digivolve to…
I would like to go ahead and make a side note that Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a constantly updating game. At the time of me writing this, Konami released the limited time XYZ festival, we are about to start the limited time N/R Rarity Festival. On top of that, we have had several new Solo gates have added to Solo Mode. With that in mind, there should really be no reason for anyone to be bored of the game, but obviously, there will be others who don’t see it the same way that I do. The constant updates to Master Duel have kept the game fresh, and have allowed me to experience something I never would’ve before.
My Final Thoughts
So, that’s my review for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel. But what is my score? After giving it some careful thought and consideration, I am going to give Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel a four out of five. Even though there are a lot of really good things about the game, there are still some things that are not so good. If Konami is able to fix those issues I mentioned above, then I will adjust my rating. Overall, I really love the game, and I look forward to seeing it last well into the future
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can buy Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel in the Microsoft store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.