Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, the review of the ambitious free-to-play trading card game

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel review tells of the trading card game that returns in a truly remarkable video game iteration

From the beginning of the 2000s until today, countless video games dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh!, one of the most famous collectible card games in the world together with the immortal Magic and Pokémon, have arrived on the market. As always, when the number is high, the quality is fluctuating. This quality would reach its peak with the titles dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh! GX on PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, and then gradually decline. Until today.

In the past few days the publication of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel on all existing platforms (on mobile is already planned and confirmed, but will arrive later) has given a lot of material to discuss to the community, composed of casual players, experts, newcomers and those who had stopped at Yu-Gi-Oh! GX or even the first animated series. But a free-to-play, usually, nobody can resist. Of course we couldn’t resist it: naturally we have dived into the world of Monsters and Duelists to offer you a comprehensive article as soon as possible.

Our review of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, we anticipate, confirms an obvious fact: there is a considerable change of trend, qualitative and quantitative, compared to the entire past video game series.

An intuitive and accessible free-to-play

The chains of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel are also extremely clear

Konami has built the Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel experience around convenience. Every menu is captivating, clean, precise: it’s impossible to go wrong, it’s really difficult to end up in the wrong place looking for a certain content. The first time you start you’re asked if you have a Konami account: it’s a good idea to create one right away, because game data can be transferred from one platform to another without losing content (decks, progression, purchased gems, and so on). Extremely minimal and effective is also shown the main menu, with just four items on the left: Duel (to fight immediately online), Deck (to create your own deck), Solo (it is the story mode / tutorial, which we will discuss), finally Shop (the store purchases).

In the upper right corner, on the other hand, you’ll find various secondary features: it should be kept in mind that Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is first and foremost an experience designed to be enjoyed online, so much so that, in the absence of an internet connection, you can’t even start the game (just like Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Link on mobile). These items include notifications from the developers, quests (daily and otherwise), the gift box and your friends list. At the top of the screen is the player banner: by pressing it, you can access the customization menu and change the name, icon, and assistant. The latter is an iconic monster of the series that supports us during duels, praising our skills or suffering for a possible defeat.

There are currently a few familiar faces such as the Black Mage, Sangan, Rescue Rabbit, and Amphora of Greed; many more (for a fee) will likely come later. These are in all respects mere aesthetic items. And since the talk has shifted to cosmetics, for the first time Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel allows for a customization of the playing field worthy of the name. The latter, realized in 3D though without really complex elements that slow down the game, can consist of the ruins of an old temple, a volcanic landscape, the “ritual cage” of the related ritual monsters, the city of the archetypal Ancient Gear. Not only new terrains can be purchased in the store, but also individual parts of those already in our possession are easily modified (for example, the areas related to the cemetery and the banned cards, or the assistant’s location).

Solo mode

An example of the solo mode of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

Not everyone has continued to follow, over the years, the history of Yu-Gi-Oh! It is a very complex history, not so much on the anime side, as for the constant introduction of new game rules, new modes, new archetypes, new cards (Synchro, Xyz, Pendulum, Link). The days when Toon monsters, Black Mage or Egyptian Gods dominated the scene are over: sure, they can still be fun, but they would never stand up to the so-called “meta decks”, able to summon six hundred monsters every turn with an attack of over 3000 points. To overcome these problems, newcomers (but also veterans) can then devote themselves to the Solo mode.

Solo mode is the almost perfect fusion of the classic tutorial and the actual plot: let’s consider it a long, interesting, engaging tutorial masquerading as a narrative. Here, too, the simple voices immediately explain what we’re going to meet: the first two explain the basic rules of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but then we move immediately to something different. “The Absolute Monarch”, for example, in addition to allowing the player to try out a deck based on Monarchs, literally tells the story of this archetype, in a narrative composed of static images accompanied by text. At the end of the short chapters (all consisting of targeted duels) one has the impression of knowing more about the lore of the Monarchs, the context of these monsters, and indeed it is so.

All the Monarch cards are already present in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

This strategy is repeated in each main chapter of the solo mode, in which you progressively learn the history (and play with the cards) of the six Elemental Lords, Ruin and Demise, the Megaliths of the Gladiator Beast, the Dinofoschia, and many other archetypes. Each chapter requires certain conditions to be unlocked, usually having completed all the previous ones, while also respecting other requirements (for example, you must win both with the “in test” deck and with the personal one). Above all, the rewards are very tempting for the less poetic: gems, new cards, even entire decks.

The ultimate Yu-Gi-Oh! themed video game?

Visually, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a delight.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has been proposed by Konami as the ultimate gaming experience. At present, although obviously we can and should intervene on many aspects, it is difficult to oppose serious objections. Indeed, the title contains over 10,000 cards, virtually all those existing, the missing will probably come at a later time, there is no reason why they should not do so. But already all the material present allows you to build every conceivable deck, from those loved in their childhood to the “meta deck” tournament.

However, we are not faced with a mere container like Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, which mainly allowed you to relive the plot of the various animated series. Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is much better than both Legacy of the Duelist and Duel Link: the duels are much more exciting, thanks to small (but appreciable) touches in the animations; to the general care for the playing field, which is animated and starts to suffer damage as the Life Points decrease; to the presence of assistants on both sides of the screen. And it is also appreciable progression, at least for the moment: the newcomer finds himself in the hands, in a few hours of play, an incredible amount of gems to spend in the store to open the envelopes of cards. With the same gems you can also buy the Season Pass, which does not require an additional expenditure.

Pendulum, Xyz, Link: it will take some time to understand how Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel works

Another fundamental mechanic, long requested by players, is the one related to the dismantling and generation of cards. After opening fifty packets, it is possible to find a lot of cards in your hands – you know it right away – that will never be used. This is why Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel allows you to destroy the excess items, gaining material with which to craftare (i.e. create from scratch) cards that you have not yet found, but that you need to complete the deck. In this way, in the long run, anyone will be able to make at least their favorite deck.


At the moment, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has all the cards in order (literally) to become in a short time the best video game of the series, at least the best of the last ten years. Stable online duels, solo mode, graphic-stylistic care for the duels, possibility to recycle excess cards to generate new ones are the main strengths of the production. Of course, we still need to understand how intrusive will become, in the long run, the microtransactions: for now it is very easy to earn thousands of gems with which to buy everything you want. But what will happen in three months, six months, a year, when presumably the stores will overflow with offers and new content? Some filing would also be necessary for the menu of creation and modification of your deck, but they are all minor aspects on which you can intervene. It’s the basics that are important: and those of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, to date, shine brighter than the Blue-Eyes White Dragon’s Blast of Destruction.


  • Impressive content
  • Care for the technical, graphic and artistic compartment
  • The solo mode is a real treat
  • Localization still has problems
  • Doubts about the (future) invasiveness of microtransactions
  • A few more modes would make it perfect
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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