Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel represents something of a departure from its usual formula. Instead of the traditional 1v1 card game, Cross Duel is a 4-player lane-based game, with a variety of different game modes.
In some respects, it is much more accessible to players who perhaps haven’t encountered the series before. But purists may feel a little disappointed by how different it feels.
What Is Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel?
Players are set up opposite another player, with one to their left, and one to their right, in a cross shape. They have three lanes in front of them. One can be used to attack the player on the left, one to attack the player on the right, and one for attacking the player opposite.
You are introduced to the mechanics of the game with a rapid tutorial delivered by Seto Kaiba, a man with an impossible hairline who delivers every line with considerable dramatic emphasis. And if you’re new to Yu-Gi-Oh! you’ll want to pay attention.
Everyone takes turns at the same time. Which means you need to be thoughtful about how to play. Do you, for instance, play all your best cards in one death-or-glory move? Or choose to keep something in reserve for later on in the match? You also have access to spell cards and trap cards. These can strengthen your monsters, or weaken those of your opponent.
Players play 8 rounds per match, and you only have a limited time to decide which moves to make.
There are a variety of game modes as well. Tag Duel is a single-player mode, where you team up with an AI player to take another duo. Raid Duels is a 4-player co-op mode, where you all team up to take on a supremely powerful AI Raid Boss. And then standard Room matches and Ranked Matches, where you play against other human players.
It’s fair to say that this isn’t a typical Yu-Gi-Oh game. But the variety of different game types means that players will almost certainly find a mode that they particularly enjoy. It also offers the ability to customise your deck, and unlock skills to boost your cards. So over time, you can develop a hand that suits your preferred stratagem.
It probably doesn’t have the tactical depth of other Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, but that does help with accessibility, and for new players to get to grips with what’s happening.
Graphically, it’s as well-polished as you’d probably expect. Every monster gets its own animations and attack. Animations are smooth, characters have typically stylised looks, and there were no issues with lag or buffering while we played.
For fans of the series, Cross Duel also serves as something of a nostalgic trip down memory lane, introducing characters from all seven series, as well as iconic monsters making a return.
Gacha, Because Of Course It is
While the game is free-to-play, there is undeniably a strong gacha element, encouraging you to pay for additional gems that can then be used to get further cards.
While it isn’t definitively pay-to-win, anyone who buys thousands of extra gems can obviously stack their deck in a way that others cannot. This offers them an enormous advantage in many respects.
On the other hand, a dedicated player can potentially earn enough gems over time to make themselves competitive. So as this game matures, this may become less of an issue.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel is probably going to alienate almost as many people as it attracts. For some, the gacha mechanic will be off-putting. For others, it may be the fact that Cross Duel offers a different way of playing.
But if you’re able to look past all of that, there is a fun card game that plays smoothly. It’s accessible enough for novices to feel like they can pick it up, but there’s also enough depth and variety for more experienced players to feel like it’s worth hanging around for.
Perhaps not for the purists. But there's fun to be had with Cross Duel.