Return of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Franchise

Master Duel Provides an Excellent Choice for Former Fans


Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel boasts strategic gameplay and engaging visuals. Courtesy of Konami.

It’s time to duel! Any kid from the early to mid 2000s knows that line from the television show, Yu-Gi-Oh. Many years after Yu-Gi-Oh’s first introduction, fans still showed enthusiasm toward the franchise, prompting Konami to release an online Yu-Gi-Oh themed game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Years after Duel Links, the sequential Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel made its way to the scene, fully satisfying the series’ devoted followers.

While Duel Links had a decently successful run, hardcore players were mostly unsatisfied with the game, as the title drew more influence from the anime than the trading cards. There was a dire need for something more strategic, more in-depth, that would pay homage to the calculated and deliberate nature of the original card games. Master Duel served that exact purpose, offering more cards, room for strategy, and the beloved traditional TCG rule (a.k.a. the “Master Rules,” which codify terminology and core tenets of gameplay).

Die hard fans praised Konami for their excellent understanding of the game. Upon first installing Master Duel, the game offers three user-friendly bundle deals – the “Solemn Judgment” bundle, “Lightning Storm” bundle, and “Ash Blossom and Joyous Spring” bundle – all three provide the players with “must-have-cards,” which are hard to attain otherwise. These bundles are all easily accessible after a few minutes of playtime, allowing beginners to get into the game quickly.

Master Duel is super beginner-friendly when it comes to providing players with in-game resources. Courtesy of AndroidPolice.

Konami has also made the deck-building process more accessible in general. New features like the “special pack” system make it easier for users to acquire certain themed cards. For instance, if I wanted to get “Blue-Eyes” themed cards to complete the “Blue-Eyes White Dragon” deck, I would be able to open a special pack that has an increased probability of pulling cards from that specific theme, rather than having to open card packs blindly and pray (in the usual merciless nature of gacha games).

The game kindly tells you the pack where you can get a certain card from, which makes it even easier to look for specific cards you want. Courtesy of Dongjin Kim.

The visual representations on the interface should be appreciated, too. Systems like “Chain”, a part of the game where players decide the orders of resolution of the cards they used, were an aspect that players previously found confusing. Now, “Chain” is represented with much needed clarity as well as satisfying visuals, delivering the most intuitive and interesting gameplay found in the franchise so far.

The game is accompanied by exciting graphics that make the gameplay more explosive and intuitive. Courtesy of Steam.

Aside from the usual player vs. player gameplay typical of Yu-Gi-Oh, the single player campaign mode is equally spectacular. The unique stories and distinct soundtracks implemented throughout different storylines were all outstanding. Instead of telling the generic Yu-Gi-Oh anime plots all over again, solo modes in Master Duel tell us the lore of the cards. As a long-time fan of the franchise, it was thrilling to see Konami finally deciding to unfold the stories of the cards, expanding the universe with a deeper level of content. Konami also promised that they would be adding more solo modes in future patches; players should look forward to these updates as well.

“사이버스 퀀텀 드래곤” used to show up as “사이버스 □텀 드래곤”, but after a quick fix, the card finally reclaimed its name. Courtesy of DCinside.

The lack of fluency in the Korean translation used to be a problem–but not anymore. To be more exact, the font was a huge issue: the text initially used by the game could not express certain Korean characters, like “퀀”, and ended up expressing them as a square character (usually representative of font-related issues on tech interfaces). However, the problem was quickly fixed, going to show much care Konami is putting into Master Duel

Despite all these quick fixes and admirable gameplay aspects, Master Duel is far from perfect. While many players fell in love at first sight with the game, there was a fly in the ointment once you looked closely. 

There are the hackers, of course, who bypass the ingame limitations and make the matches virtually unlosable. While the presence of cheaters is inevitable – especially in games that assign rank – just knowing that there are hackers playing discourages regular users from participating in these ranked games. However, because Konami announced that they will be taking actions to heighten security against hacking, these issues will hopefully be resolved, or at least patched, sooner or later. 

In the end, it’s not the hackers, but the game’s balancing that troubles it the most. In Master Duel, some of the higher tier decks with objectively stronger “deck power”, tend to overpower the others with weaker “deck power”. Unlike offline games which are played out in best of 3s, games in Master Duel are played out in a single round, meaning using an unorthodox deck against a mainstream one often suggests an instant loss. This defeats the whole idea of strategic freedom that card games often value, as the users are forced to use popular standardized decks if they want to win. 

Heavily unbalanced power levels are often condemned and even ridiculed by the playerbase. Courtesy of Steam.

Thankfully, Konami has acknowledged this issue and promised swift adjustments to the game–that will hopefully resolve the massive deck power discrepancy plaguing it. It still isn’t a definitive fix, but I still look forward to the change.

To sum it all up, Konami has really delivered something special for not just hardcore Yu-Gi-Oh fans, but also casual players like me. Despite there being few problems, Master Duel’s excellent quality and Konami’s lightning-fast responses to user feedback make the game worth recommending to anyone who has seen a Yu-Gi-Oh series at least once.