Magicka: Wizard Wars is Paradox North’s upcoming free to play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) title. The game is currently in closed alpha with purchasable tiers that will allow early access to the game amongst other in game bonuses. Magicka: Wizard Wars takes Magicka’s friendly fire enabled spell casting system and focuses it into a highly competitive PVP experience.
Magicka is a highly regarded indie action co-op title. Players went on a humorous adventure that left nothing safe from parody. The game introduced an incredibly fun spell system that allowed players to create spells by mixing up to five different spell effects. Co-op was made even more challenging as friendly fire is permanently on. Although there were several PVP arena maps in the original Magicka, the title’s main focus was on the co-op gameplay.
Sadly, most of the humour is gone in Magicka: Wizard Wars. The announcer does crack a few jokes about the player at the beginning and the end of the game, but that is it. I do hope that it will return in some greater form as the game progresses.
The biggest change in Magicka: Wizard Wars is the simplification of the spell casting system. Although players still have access to all eight spell elements, the player is limited to creating combinations of three versus the original five. To cast a spell, players mix and match three spell elements. The first element dictates the style of attack, while the next two modifies the type of damage dealt. For example, the spell combination lightning, lightning, and fire will cast a bolt of fiery lightning that will jump from player to player while dealing electric and fire damage. Wet players will take extra damage from the skill and dry players will be left with a burning damage over time effect. As players rack up kills, they can unleash one of four powerful skills called Magicks. These abilities can change the tide of battle when used. The four abilities currently cycle every few days.
Spells can be chained together to create interesting synergistic effects. For example, players wet from a water spell take extra damage from lightning and frozen players are vulnerable to rock based missile effects. Mixed with friendly fire, Magicka: Wizard Wars allows a well-coordinated team to steamroll the opposition.
Currently, there is only one map available in Magicka: Wizard Wars. Players are provided with three spawn points arranged in an upside down triangle on the map. Two teams of four are provided with 100 respawn tickets. To win, one team must cut off the other team’s ability to respawn, whether by forcing the other team to consume all 100 tickets or by controlling all three spawn points. To help defend spawn points, the controlling team will have two imps that will attack enemy players. The imps are rather squishy, so the best they can do is buy the defending team a little bit of time to rush to the defense of their spawn point.
Matches tend to be short, lasting 15 to 20 minutes usually. The shorter length helps diffuse one of the most frustrating elements of the MOBA genre, which is being stuck with a losing team for 30-40 minutes. Whether this will actually curb the infamous MOBA rage and poor player behaviour has yet to be seen as friendly fire is a big part of the Magicka series.
Magicka: Wizard Wars’ graphics are a significant improvement over the original Magicka title. The models, particles, and textures are visibly sharper. There were no graphical glitches or slowdowns in my experience with the alpha, which is a good sign for the future.
The current state of the alpha is true to form. The main gameplay elements have been implemented and work well. The game is surprisingly polished in its current state. The spells are well balanced. However, the team at Paradox North are currently struggling with connection issues in the game that need to be ironed out. As a free to play title, Paradox is relying on microtransaction to make a profit on Magicka: Wizard Wars. Currently, the store has yet to be implemented, so the only equipment available are the bonus items. Players can sign up for free for access to the open alpha at the official Magicka: Wizard Wars website. Codes will be given out as more slots open up in the alpha. For immediate access, players can purchase one of three tiers ranging from $12.99 to $49.99. It is highly recommended to pick up the $19.99 tier as it comes with a free copy of Crusader Kings II which is valued at $39.99.
Magicka: Wizard Wars is shaping up to be an excellent MOBA title that may entice those spurned by the long matches to give the genre another try. The game is in an excellent state of polish considering its alpha status. It is definitely worth a look for fans original Magicka and MOBA fans.