It’s Time to LINK Into the VRAINS!

Note: This a written version of my original video review for Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, first published on my YouTube channel ItsBradazHD back in August 2019.

Back in July 2015, Konami released the original Yu-Gi-Oh Legacy of the Duelist on the PS4 and Xbox One, a game I put well over 500 hours into and spent upwards of $150 on in total. Now just over 4 years later the game has returned in an enhanced version exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. 4 years on, has Konami done enough to earn your $40 purchase?

At it’s heart Link Evolution is essentially the same game as the original Legacy of the Duelist. Same menu and field designs, same deck edit functionality (which is actually one of the strongest parts of the game by far) but a little more polished whilst still retaining the overall look and feel of the original release. Additionally, all the content from the original game including it’s over $100 worth of downloadable extras are included from the off-set which does make this package quite enticing. What this means is that you are getting all the story content from the original Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters, GX, 5D’S and Zexal campaigns that came in the original as well as for the first time a properly fleshed out campaign for Arc V with actual cut scenes as opposed to just straight duels from the original games DLC offerings, that covers the entire story line of the show with a few questionable omissions in terms of duels covered. This does mean however the newest anime Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS does see the exact same treatment as Arc V did from the original game; 3 story duels with no dialogue or visual novel style cut scenes is all us VRAINS fans are treated to at this moment in time.

Challenge Duels also make a return, with some decks staying identical to their base game counterparts and others seeing a reasonable upgrade, however none of these decks offer any real challenge compared to the ones found in previous Yu-Gi-Oh games such as Millenium Duels. For those looking for a guide to all the cards you can find in this mode; please check out our Challenge Mode Guide.

Where Link Evolution does differ though is with the introduction of Link Monsters and Master Rule 4, the newest game mechanics to hit the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG just under 2 years ago. For those who aren’t fully caught up, this means that Pendulum cards now share their spotlight with the back row spell and trap card zones and that any monster summoned from the extra deck must now be placed in a special extra monster zone. If you want to summon multiple extra deck monsters to the field then utilizing the new Link Monsters found in the game such as Borrelsword Dragon, Decode Talker and Linkuriboh are going to be essential to creating more zones to summon monsters in. And this new rule set does affect the entire game, including the previous generations of Yu-Gi-Oh story mode which does adversely affect the play-ability of the Konami crafted story decks in those modes especially in GX, 5D’s and Zexal.

There were multiple occasions, especially in the late Duel Monsters duels, where I just couldn’t play the deck the way it was intended because I could only have access to a single fusion monster on the field at a time. And while it would have been nice to see Master Rule 3 return for the seasons that actually used that rule set, it’s understandable that this would confuse some players who want to dive into Ranked PVP or play online with their friends.

Speaking of Ranked PVP, the game features the exact same options for online dueling as the original game. That is to say, there is no real “ranked ladder” especially if you are someone who is familiar with Duel Links’ system and are accustomed to playing through that for your monthly rewards. Link Evolution’s system is solely based on the number of wins you have acquired, and since the game shares a player base worldwide this means that from the second you turn on the game you already have players with thousands of wins at the top of the leader boards making your climb to become the king of games a lot more grind inducing than you may have first thought. With no rewards either for placing that high, not even an icon or alternative character pictures there isn’t much incentive to keep coming back other than to just win.

Ranked PVP matches are actually single elimination duels, there’s no actual “match” system in place unless you play in the “Player Duels” mode which is un-ranked and where you can match up with friends or random players, and play with custom rule sets such as number of life points and amount of time you are allowed in a turn. Setting the turn limit to 30 seconds creates a hectic battle that makes playing competitive Yu-Gi-Oh meta decks virtually impossible due to their long and intricate combo-based play styles.

Link Evolution also has the most cards available in a Yu-Gi-Oh video game, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since it’s the newest one – but don’t go in thinking you are going to be playing with all of the same cards you use in the TCG because, just like the original, the game is outdated by almost a full year in terms of card pool. In general, the game goes up to November 2018’s TCG release of Hidden Summoners, but it does not include any TCG or OCG exclusive cards so things like the Dangers and Valkyries from the TCG, or cards like Crystron Needlefiber in the OCG aren’t in this game. If you want to find out if a deck or cards you might like to play are or aren’t in the game, be sure to check out our Ultimate Card Shop Guide. To go along with the weird cardpool, the Forbidden and Limited List is equally as weird; taking a mixture of January 2019’s OCG and November 2018’s TCG lists and combining them together with the harshest hits being what makes the cut. This means things like Firewall Dragon are banned, but other widely considered problem cards such as Rhongomyniad or Topologic Gumblar Dragon are still at full power.

But how do you go about acquiring those cards? Well in the exact same way as the original game. With no micro transactions involved, using in-game currency that you obtain by defeating opponents in Story, Challenge Mode and PVP from the Card Shop. Here you find custom made packs based around characters from each era of the show containing around 400 unique cards in each (there’s a handy counter below the pack to tell you how many cards you have acquired, and how many out of a play set you have too). The cards available in each pack have been switched up and expanded upon since the base game, however everything is logically grouped. Want Blue-Eyes and Dragon themed cards? Head to Seto Kaiba. Want powerful Link Monsters? Playmaker’s pack is a good place to start. Additionally, each duel you play in Story and Challenge mode will drop cards from that specific opponents deck, which does make it a little easier to get certain cards but most of the high level competitive cards you will need to believe in RNG for because the RNG for rare cards (which you only get 1 per pack of) in this game is all over the place.

Draft mode, one of my personal favorite features of the game and something I have been advocating for them to bring over to Duel Links also makes a return and it is exactly the same as the offering from the original Legacy of the Duelist which isn’t ideal especially with Master Rule 4 in effect. In Draft Mode you have three different battle packs to choose from; Epic Dawn, War of the Giants and War of the Giants: Round 2 and can choose to either play with a deck automatically generated by the games AI or you can simulate opening the packs around a table with the AI like you would in a traditional drafting tournament in real life, with you picking one card from an ever shrinking pack, then passing it to the next AI and so forth until it goes back to you. You then have 5 duels to get as many wins as possible with your deck, either against an AI or online, and after you get to keep all the cards you acquired regardless of winning or losing. Now, this is one of the things I am most disappointed with, because Konami still didn’t add the final Battle Pack, Battle Pack 3: Monster League as a playable option for this game which seemingly wouldn’t have taken up much development resources since the only real difference is the card pool to choose from. Additionally, all the battle packs were released well into the Xyz era with Xyz summoning being a focus for these sets, meaning the mandatory inclusion of MR4 also stops these decks from playing as well and honestly, as fun as they used to.

If you purchase the physical version of the game, which I highly recommend, you also get three exclusive trading cards those being Progelo, Micro Coder and Cynet Codec which I believe at least two of are integral for Cyberse based strategies just adding to the overall value of the game package. Funnily enough, you can’t actually find those cards in-game which is to be expected, but a fun fact nonetheless.

So overall, what do I think of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution? Well, it’s a tough sell to certain people. If you really like Yu-Gi-Oh, or were a fan of the original Legacy of the Duelist then I think you will love this game regardless of what’s missing. If you played the original, and aren’t a fan of the latter series’ then this game doesn’t really do much new for those players. 

For me, the biggest draw to this game, aside from being a “definitive edition” of sorts is 100% the ability to play it on the go. With the original Legacy Of The Duelist I was super bummed out that we didn’t get a portable handheld entry, with Tag Force Special for the PSP and PS Vita being skipped entirely in the West and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Generation being the closest alternative at the time. This game definitely scratches that itch of wanting to play Yu-Gi-Oh! in bed, or on a commute and most recently on my flight to the World Championships in Berlin and is where I spend the majority of my time with the game. It definitely doesn’t require as much time and investment as say Duel Links does, which is why it’s the perfect companion game for someone that wants a little more TCG in their life without breaking the bank to play competitively in real life. 

Full Video Review: