The Average Gamer

Magicka: Wizard Wars Hands-On (PC)

Magicka Wizard Wars - Meteor Strike
Magicka: Wizard Wars pitches teams of wizards against each other in a player versus player (MOBA PvP) fight to the death. It’s free-to-play too and set within the Magicka universe which is packed full of Norse mythology.

If killing things with lots of cool looking spells is your thing, then you should take a look. Killing your opposing wizards involves a lot of spell-casting. You can either go for the full-on frontal assault option with all the offensive spells you can muster or take a more tactical approach and capture their spawn points. As without spawn points your opponents can’t rejoin the fight and once they are dead, they stay dead. Of course, you could always run around the level randomly shooting sheep and other animals with lightning and dancing instead. Yes, behold the wizardy dancing, complete with much flailing of robes.

Wizard Wars really isn’t a story driven game or something that takes itself too seriously. The focus is very much on larking around with powerful and cool looking magical spells, which I’m completely okay with.

Fans of the original Magicka action-adventure game will notice a few changes to the core Magicka gameplay. You can now cast spells while moving but can’t heal yourself unless stationary (you can heal other players too). Elements, which are the building blocks of your spells, are now limited to combinations of (up to) three. These element combinations can be both offensive and defensive.

For example, the basic shield element can be modified by combining it with things like fire and ice. With fire the shield grants 50% protection from the flamey stuff where as adding an additional fire element bumps you up to being fully immune. Or you can swap out one of the fires and add death imbuing you both fire and protection from death (the spell, not actual character death) but only at 50%. It’s all very dynamic and you can change element combos at any point during each battle. It has to be really, as your opponents have the same flexibility to cast all sorts of fire, ice, rocks and electricity based damage your way.

Even with a limit on three elements there’s around 140 different combinations to choose from. John Hargelid, Executive VP, Paradox North told me that they felt that “3 [elements] catered more of the fast-paced action and the pace we wanted in our game.”

You are also restricted to 4 main spells types which have to be selected before each round starts. In my case these were haste, revive, spawn death and meteor shower. These were all quickly selectable in my hot bar at the bottom of the screen.

Before I could use any of the really powerful spells I had to build up my magicka meter by attacking other players and/or capturing spawn points. This is to stop players dishing out constant area of affect spells. Friendly fire is always on so you can take out your entire team with a misplaced meteor shower spell.

My favourite spell of the bunch turned out to be spawn death, as watching a targeted player desperately trying to out run the Grim Reaper was amusing. It’s not usually an insta-kill as it deals 80% damage but it’s funny to see people’s reaction to quite literally staring death in the face. A more skillful player could cast haste and outrun the Reaper so having a good range of counter spells at your fingertips is a must for survival.

You can sign up to take part in the upcoming closed alpha at WizardWars.com with its handful of robes, weapons and staffs across one level and one game mode (4 vs 4). There are additional rewards available like additional alpha keys and weapons. There’s even a copy of Magicka for each signup that’s still to be unlocked.

Magicka: Wizard Wars will be released in 2014 for PC.