'MTG Arena' Hands-on Impressions: Easy Interface Makes Playing Simple

A long line of digital versions of Magic: The Gathering have popped up over the years, and the latest may be the best one yet. MTG Arena is still in beta, but already plays smoothly, with an intuitive interface that makes your first game easy enough to figure everything out.

MTG Arena is a fairly intuitive way to transition Magic: The Gathering into a digital experience Wizards of the Coast

MTG Arena includes every card currently in Standard, and will release new cards digitally when new physical Magic sets hit store shelves. While this means that every Magic card ever made isn't part of MTG Arena, that's O.K. for now. It's possible older cards will make the jump, but that definitely isn't a priority as MTG Arena prepares for an open beta.

Sitting down to your first game of MTG Arena can seem slightly overwhelming at first, but quickly makes sense for veteran Magic players. The interface is intuitive enough that it's easy enough to click your way through your first game. The in-game tip prompts seem to be kept to a minimum, but it's possible there is a setting to make them more prominent if you are new to MTG Arena or Magic in general.

A look at a game of MTG Arena Wizards of the Coast

Once you understand how the turn order works, and what you need to click on for certain moves or abilities, MTG Arena really starts to flex its muscle. Rare cards can sometimes include special animations when you play them, or you'll notice other small flourishes that help draw you into the game.

The one funny thing about my experience with MTG Arena is how much it makes me realize I don't strictly follow the rules when playing physical Magic with friends. MTG Arena, for better and worse, forces you to walk through every step in a turn order, one by one. This makes sense, given there are different times when Instant cards or something similar can be played, which impact a turn differently. That said, if you're anything like me, you may find yourself trying to do a move that isn't possible until the game progresses to the next step in a turn.

Rare cards have special animations when played Wizards of the Coast

I haven't had the opportunity to dive into the various game modes found in MTG Arena right now, but during a quick constructed match it didn't take long for matchmaking to find me an opponent. Wizards of the Coast is already supporting MTG Arena with live events as well, meaning you can expect plenty more once the open beta and eventual full release are here.

MTG Arena is only available on PC right now, but is built using Unity. This means porting over to other consoles and even mobile devices shouldn't be too difficult. That said, MTG Arena probably will not come to other platforms until the PC version is released, or at least closer to launch.

If you want to play MTG Arena, you'll need to sign up for the closed beta. Invitations are slowly rolling out as more and more players are needed for testing, but signing up doesn't guarantee entry into the beta.

So what do you think? Are you interested in playing MTG Arena for yourself? Will you wait until the open beta or eventual release instead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.