By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
When I first heard of this game, I was surprised to say the least. I myself had played the first Magicka, a game made by eight Swedish students that formed an independent studio, and enjoyed it thoroughly. But I never imagined it would work as a game that was more focused on killing players than actual missions and monsters. The thought of it taking the route of a multiplayer online battle arena seemed even more absurd. Luckily I received a key during the early alpha stages to hop on and see this spectacle for myself. And so can you if you’re willing to buy one of the available early access packs.
For anyone not familiar with Magicka, the first game gave you control of a wizard responsible for completing an epic quest requiring use of the various elemental powers at your disposal. The game itself was built like an RPG and you were given many abilities to play around with as well as elemental combination spells and heals. This new game has taken the exact same concept, but this time you will not be facing a horde of monsters but rather the hordes of the Internet. And believe me the Internet hordes leave you with a lot less room for error than their AI counterparts. And if that’s not enough to worry about, the gloves are off (figuratively, what wizard doesn’t wear gloves?!) and friendly fire is on.
You as a wizard are given eight different spells: water, life, fire, shield, cold, lightning, arcane, earth and fire. You can combine these different elements to create a huge variety of spell combinations then unleash it on your foes to see the results. Any combination you try has a different effect and the sheer effort put in by the developers is clear. Some shoot as a projectile, a laser or as a spray, and each has a counter you can learn through trial in error, whether it be an elemental spell or just moving out of the way. I myself am a big fan of the projectiles; hurling an enchanted boulder at someone to see them fly off in a barrage of exploding rocks is always a pleasant sight to see.
The game is clearly still in an early alpha stage so I only was offered the chance to test out one map. I have no idea if there will be more in the future, but knowing the team behind Magicka there will be, since they like diversity in all things. The map itself reminds me of League of Legends’ domination in format, but is different in that it offers three spawning points throughout the map that can be captured. The concept is really simple, and you can literally win games in a couple of minutes. Capture all three points and you win by default since your enemies can’t respawn. That is assuming the surviving wizards are unable to group together and recapture a point before being systematically hunted down. I have seen many games ending only after a minute of playing because of either good teamwork, or a lack of teamwork.
While leveling up and playing games, you will earn a currency called the Crown. Unfortunately there isn’t anything in the game yet that you can spend these crowns on, but I reckon there will be a shop of some sort soon. Just like in the original Magicka, you always were able to find different weapons, and I reckon they will either add something like this, or a game shop to spend your crowns on. Since people in the alpha, whether they paid money to be there or not, are given a few different items I reckon it will probably be a shop where you can spend your in game, and real money on.
Besides the many elements you get to play around with, you can also unlock four different spells. These spells work with some sort of an energy system. Basically by using spells you will load up energy; the more energy you get the more spells that unlock. These four different spells are a walking speed boost, ally revive, grim reaper and a mortar attack. And I can already tell you that these spells can be an entire problem on their own. Well the speed boost and ally revive aren’t that big of a deal. It’s the grim reaper and mortar that are game changers. If placed well they will mess you up. The grim reaper is able to kill people in one hit, so if it is chasing an ally, you might want to help him. Just don’t stand next to him or you’ll be next to be taken to hell. The Mortar Strike is just made to mess up your day. Find yourself close to any of the impact areas and get ready to respawn. It’s a great skill for ending stalemates at capture points when the enemy team is fully barricaded. Just watch out as your allies are in just as much danger from it as your enemies. Games can be won and lost based on your timing.
Alpha State: Great
Magicka: Wizard Wars is a different game than the first Magicka itself. You will not face monsters besides the occasional minion wave or respawn defender that I personally see no use for, but actual players that force you to think fast and furious. When fighting actual enemies instead of fooling around with your friends and the friendly fire, you will notice that one little mistake can cost you your life, and thus you will have to be ready for anything in a real-time version of Pokemon elemental countering. Not only do you need to know the diversity of combinations that you can use, you also need to know what they do, and when the enemy is powering up what you can expect to be fired at you. Magicka Wizard Wars takes skill and memory and is brutally punishing for those not fully focused on the gameplay. Games can and will be lost in only a minute if you do not pay attention carefully. I personally have had a lot of fun with this game, and I can’t wait to see more of it. For now the alpha has surprised me plenty, and I can only see more goodness being patched into the game.