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Richard Garfield’s auto battler Chaos Agents enters pre-alpha testing

The game was shown off on-stream ahead of the pre-alpha’s launch
Richard Garfield’s auto battler Chaos Agents enters pre-alpha testing
  • The new studio Popularium was announced in April 2023.
  • Chaos Agents is the debut project from Popularium.

In April, Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield announced the formation of a genre-bending games studio named Popularium, led by himself and fellow co-founders Skaff Elias, Arka Ray and Jon Bankard.

Their first game, Chaos Agents, was announced at the same time with a big emphasis on players’ unique character ownership. Now, the debut title has entered its pre-alpha testing phase, which kicked off with a Twitch stream by the Popularium team together with Wizards of the Coast founder Peter Adkison.

Getting automatic

Auto battlers have been growing wildly in popularity in recent years, and Chaos Agents intends to tap into that growing fanbase. The new game aims to stand apart with its MOBA-like battle royale elements infused with strategic decision-making. Players need to come up with unique plans of action based on the character they’re given, each with its own abilities and skills; players must choose which to equip their character with each round to give them the best advantage.

In true auto battler form, characters fight automatically based on the players' instructions and can be further upgraded at certain intervals. They’re then issued their next orders - either fighting or gathering resources - until the next time players can give a command.

"Each player has a unique character, and they participate in a grand melee event. It’s done in auto battle form so you’ll have some opportunities to improve your character, then watch a little resolution and guide your character a little more. Thus the game unfolds," said Garfield.

Chaos Broker Trainees have already been selected from thousands of applicants to playtest the game, but eager fans are able to sign up for a chance to play as soon as there’s a greater capacity for additional testers.

"It’s a different experience and a different feeling," said Elias, discussing with Garfield how Magic: The Gathering moved away from the limitless possibilities of constructing a deck and became more competitive - cards changed from treasures to commodities. He went on: "Magic went in this other direction - which is great - but [Chaos Agents] is an opportunity to come back and focus on that one part of Magic that has been out of the spotlight."

Garfield has a decades-long track record of creating commercially successful games, and last year marked his first entry into Web3. We interviewed him about the move to bring PvP to WAX's Blockchain Brawlers despite a "resistance" to blockchain gaming.