Magicka: Wizard Wars Preview – Early Access Impressions

When Magicka was first launched as a single-player/cooperative action/adventure title – among other things – many gamers downright loved its humorous approach – not only to wizards and their day-to-day labours (including going on adventures) – but also to the entire gaming scene (e.g.: making fun of other games). Now, in trying to take the franchise one step above, developer Paradox Interactive has introduced player versus player combat (PvP), in the form of Magicka: Wizard Wars.

NOTE The following impressions come from the first Alpha version of Steam’s Early Access, so many things are subject to change, including – but not limited to – adding new maps, modes, items, fixing the servers etc.

As mentioned above, one of Magicka’s popular features consists of its humorous story-telling. Sadly, due to Wizard Wars’ PvP nature, that key element has been drastically reduced here. There aren’t any ironic comments coming from characters, nor any funny moments which would generally bring a smile on your face. The narrator is still here, though besides a few lines of dialogue, the overall tone is fairly standard. For newcomers, this shouldn’t even be a problem, but veterans of the franchise will definitely notice.

Magicka: Wizard Wars plays fairly similar to any M.O.B.A. game available on the market. After a one-minute-or-so tutorial, the game automatically throws you into a 4v4 match. The objective of every match is to drain all of your opponents’ tokens (a.k.a. spawn-tickets) by constantly killing them and capturing as many spawn-points as possible, in order to not give your enemies the possibility of coming back. Holding these spawn-points will also generate you imps, though they’re nothing more than cannon fodder.

Every match quickly turns into total chaos (in the good sense) as all kinds of spells start flying around the battlefield, the moment the barriers are down. Be warned, though: in Wizard Wars, getting killed happens really fast, so team-work is a must. Additionally, take care to not kill your own allies, as the “friendly fire” is always on. If you can’t stand random players, you can always choose to form a party of up to four people, which is generally best in these types of games.

Your wizard gear consists of three categories: robes, staffs, and the good old swords. Choosing robes shouldn’t be too hard, as they only offer cosmetic changes. Staffs, on the other hand, affect your health, speed, and some of your spells (e.g.: some give you additional health, but make you slower, while others increase your death ray, but at the cost of the fire spell being less effective). Finally, swords have two specifications: damage, and its corresponding speed (e.g.: some are deadlier but slower, while others deal less damage but are faster). The customisation options aren’t huge, though they serve their purposes well.

Magicka: Wizard Wars also features a level-up system, though it doesn’t seem to do anything for now. By levelling-up, you gain crowns (a.k.a. money), but there isn’t anything to purchase yet.

What separates Magicka from other games out there are the spells, and the crazy combinations you can perform between them. In total, there are eight such spells, in addition to four special ones.

First things first: in Magicka, you can combine up to three spells. Mashing the same spell three times will make it more powerful, while combining different ones will result in unique attack options. For example: you can combine fire with earth, and you’ll create a boulder on fire. Another example would be combining the shield spell with any other magic, giving you different kinds of walls of protection: fire walls, water walls, earth walls, and so on. Not everything can be combined, though. For example: the obvious fire and water spells will do nothing, as they are completely opposite forces. All spells can also be directed to you, so when you find yourself on fire, quickly cast water to extinguish yourself.

As mentioned above, you also have access to four, more special spells. Killing opponents will fill your magic meter, giving you access to these spells, ranging from giving you a boost in speed, to summoning Death which will one-hit kill anyone on the map.

All in all – at the moment – Magicka: Wizard Wars feels a bit bare bones. You only get one map, one mode, and a few types of robes, staffs, and swords. Levelling-up doesn’t do anything, and I also encountered quite a few time-out crashes, making the game unplayable for even a few hours. That said, this is still a very early version, so adding content and fixing the servers should happen in the coming days/weeks/months until the game’s release date.

You can purchase Magicka: Wizard Wars on Steam.