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Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel looks to be the trading card game’s premier digital experience

Duel ex machina.

A recent livestream announced three new digital titles for the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game. Two upcoming video games will be dedicated to specific game modes, while Master Duel seems to be positioning itself as the main way for players to access a no-frills client with tournament support.

The announcement was part of a digital livestream held by publisher Konami, wherein they provided details on Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, along with Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel and Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel. Master Duel advertises “online Yu-Gi-Oh! for both players and audiences”, according to Konami senior producer Kenichi Kataoka, and will use the current Master Rules of the official card game as its backbone.

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Master Duel will be playable at launch across all current generation consoles, PC and mobile devices, including Xbox One and Playstation 4, and Konami is really pushing the 4K resolution and graphical fidelity of the game. “In card games, it is often difficult for audiences to understand what is going on,” Kataoka said. “But in this game we are confident that audiences can also enjoy watching it.”

That seems to imply that Master Duel’s main competitive element will also support a spectator mode, allowing friends or online audiences to watch a duel happen in real time. Matches can be nigh-inscrutable festivals of graphics, sounds and ever increasing numbers, and even the announcement trailer shows a fusion of several cards linked by a chain firing off in rapid succession before ending in some green cyclone.

Additionally, the current build of the video game seems to display all of a card’s text on the digital board, something Magic Arena - Magic: The Gathering’s main digital client - does. It’s cramped and you would need a magnifying glass to read it, but I guess it does demonstrate some kind of power. Konami has also yet to show off any of the other features a robust digital client needs - friends list, game modes, etc. - or say definitively whether crossplay between console, PC and mobile will be available at launch.

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Unlike past console entries, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel eschews adapting the manga or anime, or telling any kind of story, in lieu of “a game that allows the players to fully enjoy the OCG/TCG”, according to Kataoka. Konami is planning to hold several levels of competitive and casual tournament play through Master Duel, and expressed a desire to have the game be a part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship. 2021’s championship was canceled due to continued concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and Konami has not announced any dates for future events.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel and Rush Duel both take a different tack, focusing on different rule sets and player orientation. Rush Duel is based on the currently running - at least in Japan - Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens anime and will feature a storyline where players can gradually collect cards and build Rush decks as they progress. It’s planned to be released to US and UK regions in Autumn. Cross Duel is a mobile-only version that will support four-player matches and does not have a current release date.

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