Magic: The Gathering Arena will be implementing a unique new card animation in its next update, allowing players to acquire 3D versions of cards they already own. The new feature will be called "card styles" and will be introduced in Arena's next major update, following a long period of the beta remaining relatively unchanged outside of a few select quality-of-life changes.
Magic Arena is the central conceit of Magic's esports plan in 2019, and will soon feature as the platform of choice for Wizards of the Coast's Mythic Invitational tournament. That event will award $1 million in prizes to its participants, and will be run using Magic Arena's best-of-one match style. While that has caused a bit of controversy, it's also the easiest way to introduce a new audience to Magic, which is clearly part of the philosophy behind the creation of a tournament series that rewards dedicated streamers and interested celebrities with an opportunity to compete.
The March Update for Magic Arena will prioritize allowing new levels of customization to players that simply hasn't been available in-game as of yet. The card styles update will be the most noticeable by far, introducing a new, 3D element to cards that will completely alter the way they look on a battlefield. Players will be able to shift the card around slightly while holding it, getting a glimpse into more of its art as they go. Check out the latest State of the Beta video to get a glimpse of card styles in action, which will be implemented when the update releases on March 27, 2019:
Some more details on card styles: once they've been unlocked, they'll be unlocked for all cards, so they don't need to be unlocked four times for the same card. They'll be obtained through bundle deals, seasonal rewards, playing through daily or weekly quests, or through purchase in the deckbuilder. The latter one will probably be something of a sticking point for the community, especially since the price of card styles for mythic rare cards (the hardest to obtain and typically the most powerful) seems a little steep:
While some card styles are going to be given away as rewards or in events, here's the cost if you want to buy them from the store (you also must own the card for the purchase to really do anything). https://t.co/z8kZOfIsRb pic.twitter.com/o8L3skEChu— Saffron Olive (@SaffronOlive) March 20, 2019
The March Update will also introduce another feature that's been heavily requested by fans in the form of cardbacks. Called "sleeves" in Magic Arena, they function identically to Hearthstone's existing system that allows players to earn stylized cardbacks that they can then apply to the decks they play. It's a nice way to separate visuals on-screen, too, and will likely make watching Arena events a bit more colorful than they already are.
The game is also totally revamping its progression system, featuring a very RPG-inspired layout that looks a lot like a skill tree. Players will be able to play and unlock rewards like gold, deck upgrades, and more while watching a much more satisfying visual representation of that progress. Arena will also add Huatli, Angrath, and the ten guild leaders from Ravnica for purchase as new, alternative avatars. Finally, the update will include a practice mode that lets players test against an AI opponent to hone any new deck ideas before venturing out into the game's online multiplayer.
It's a sizeable batch of updates in store for Magic Arena, then, but they're all positives that makes the game feel much closer to an esport. Wizards of the Coast is still relatively new to the world of competitive online gaming - at least, the way it's been structured by competitors - but updates like this seem like an indicator that acclimitization is moving well and quickly. We'll see more evidence either way when the Mythic Invitational kicks off Thursday, March 28th at PAX East.
Source: Magic: The Gathering