Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is one of the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! duel simulations to come out, and possibly one of the most successful. Players claim that Master Duel singlehandedly brought Yu-Gi-Oh! back to the eyes of the mainstream public. Does it deserve these claims?
I’ll be reviewing the PC version of Master Duel. I’ve also tried the mobile version, but unless you have a really high-end phone, Master Duel‘s going to be almost unbearably laggy. Hopefully, they optimize that in the future.
I also just find it more convenient to use a mouse rather than a controller, but other than that, the console versions of the game function exactly the same.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is available on Steam, the App Store, Google Play, Xbox One & Series X|S, PS4 & PS5, and the Nintendo Switch.
Story – Not Much, This Isn’t a Game You Play for Plot
The main focus of the game is the multiplayer aspect. There is a solo mode that features some storylines if you even decide to play it. Let’s get into it.
The first few matches in solo mode don’t have a plot. They’re designed solely to teach you what Master Duel is and how to play it at the most basic level. If you’re completely new to Yu-Gi-Oh!, you should honestly try this one out to avoid getting overwhelmed with the mechanics later on.
As you progress, you’ll start getting some cool backstories for the cards in visual novel fashion. For example, the “We the Merry Plunder Patrol” chapter tells the story of a group of trolls who formed a fun-loving pirate band. You’ll be guided by a cheery little troll as he introduces you to the members of the gang and what they do.
You’ll then be taught how to play the specific archetype in that scene. They’ll teach you the ins and outs of how to play it. It’s not super detailed though, which means you’d need some further training if you want to try these decks out online.
The pluses are the unique background music and beautiful art you get from the scenes.
Criticisms I have for this mode are that there are no voiceovers for the lines. These entire stories are also directly translated from Japanese, and it shows. There are a few grammatical errors and weird wordings here and there, but nothing too bad.
This mode is all just like a fun little side attraction. Once you complete solo mode for the rewards, you won’t be playing it a lot unless you’re trying out a new deck.
Gameplay – Fun, Addictive, and Bug-Free
Being a card game, Master Duel is all about the gameplay. It handles pretty well, and glitches are practically unheard of. Master Duel works exactly like how Yu-Gi-Oh! is supposed to work, which should be easy to do since there are already dozens of other Yu-Gi-Oh! games out there. If you’re wondering how the gameplay is compared to those other games, I would say it’s about on par with them. Not better, not worse.
It’s honestly pretty hard to nitpick issues with the gameplay. There used to be major issues with the time limit being too long, but that’s already patched up. There was another issue where the game got filled with bots, but that’s practically gone too.
There is a little bit of a problem with the deck builder though. Other games like YGOPro have a better deck builder that makes it way easier to search for cards. Master Duel‘s deck builder is a little stiff, and it might take some time to search for a vague card you don’t remember much about.
Is Master Duel Really Free-To-Play?
Lots of games out there advertise themselves as free-to-play, but once you start playing them, things start to get clearer. You soon hit a wall and find out that unless you actually pay for better items or abilities, you’ll have to farm for hundreds of hours to overcome that wall.
Fortunately, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a healthy free-to-play game. The initial gems they give you are enough to craft any deck you want, even a top-tier one. You can then use that deck to get yourself some gems to buy and craft your next deck. You can get gems by ranking up in Ranked Duels and performing daily objectives.
Online – Master Duel’s Bread and Butter
Online is where the meat of the game is. You’ll spend 99% of your time with this game in the multiplayer sections. The multiplayer aspect of the game is divided into 5 parts: Ranked Duel, Team Battle, Duel Room, Casual Match, and Event Duel.
Ranked is probably one of the best and worst game modes. You will get paired with a player on your rank and duel them. Beat them to climb up the ranks, or lose and go down. Simple yet effective. This is the most common way of farming for gems, the in-game currency you use to buy cards and accessories.
The main gripe I have is that Ranked and Event Duels are mostly the only ways to get rewards and gems without spending money. And Event Duels aren’t always present. Ranked Duels are filled with people who play top-tier meta decks. People with a more casual approach or who are new to the game are going to have a hard time here.
Team Battles are sadly a letdown. You probably read the name of the game mode and instantly thought of the awesome tag duels in the anime. Unfortunately, the Team Battles in Master Duel are just a bunch of individual duels where you and a teammate must win more duels than the enemy team to win. You can’t duel with a teammate.
Team Battles can still be kinda fun, but you’re honestly better off not touching this mode.
Duel Rooms can be a ton of fun. Not only does this game mode allow you to play with friends, but this is also very streamer friendly.
Streamers use this game mode to advertise their room number and duel with fans. I’ve personally used this mode for that purpose a couple of times now. I look for people streaming the game and then duel with them. It’s easy, fun, and not as sweaty as the Ranked Duels. You don’t get any rewards from this mode though.
Probably the most useless game mode. It was intended for more relaxed matches, but meta-players still frequent this game mode. What’s worse is that there are literally no rewards for playing in this mode. You can’t perform the daily goals here either. You can maybe test out new decks here, but you can do that in Solo and Duel Rooms too.
Event Duels occur now and then. As the name implies, these are special events, often with a unique ruleset or banlist to spice things up. For example, an XYZ event would have other summoning methods severely limited or outright banned to force players to run XYZ decks.
This might just be my favorite game mode since it actually makes people think and try out new ways to play instead of just copy-pasting a meta deck they found online.
Graphics and Audio – Stunning and Banging
Now, this might be a bit of a controversial take, but I think Master Duel is the prettiest Yu-Gi-Oh! game when it comes to graphics and audio.
Animations are constantly being added, and the most iconic cards like Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon have gorgeous summoning activation. Popular and useful cards like Lightning Storm and Ash Blossom also get an activation animation.
There are also some cosmetics in the shop and solo mode that give you cool fields, card sleeves, companions, and other aesthetic items.
The background music that plays is also incredibly pleasing and is an instant classic. It changes whenever a powerful monster is summoned, or one player is close to losing.
The solo mode chapters each have their own unique background tracks too.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel was reviewed on PC through Steam.