Grab The Games: Magicka: Wizard Wars
Wizard Wars is the upcoming new installment in the Magicka series. It is following an amazingly successful game by Paradox with countless expansions and even a tablet version. This time it is all about Multiplayer. The game currently is in early access and is leaving alpha state and proceeding into beta. While far from finish it does give a taste of things to come. But I think in order to get what is happening with Wizard Wars it is good to look at what is Magicka and its history.
Demonstrating fire spells the basics
At its Magicka is an incredibly creative game. Instead of giving you spells it gives you spell components and allows to casts them at the enemies and yourself. The elements themselves works as simple spells, but only when combined with others do they get really interesting. Let's look at fire. By itself it works like a flamethrower (which is both cool and useful at times). Combine it with earth and you will get a fireball, with life and you will get a fire beam, with lightning and you will get burning electricity, with a shield you get protection from fire, with water you get a jet of steam... This not a complete list, and this is just one element! You can get the same results with all the other ones. Add to this Magicks (special combinations giving unique effects) and extra rules (wet enemies take extra damage from lightning, frozen extra damage from earth projectiles, you can't combine opposite elements) and you get a really complicated system, allowing you to use different tactics. Honestly the sheer number of possible attacks is overwhelming. Now, I guess there are players that are always in control, but what appeared to be the main fun in Magicka was doing things accidentally, blowing yourself up when you wanted to heal yourself...
and a more advanced fire :)
Wizard Wars seem to be a little less goofy in this respect. Aside from training mode you have Wizard Warfare two teams of 4 players each fighting each other and Duel mode, so 1 on 1 fight. Unless you are playing with good friends the game is much more competitive than original Magicka, more about winning than just about creating crazy spells and seeing what happens. This can be good or bad, depending on what you want, personally I'd prefer Wizard Wars to be a little more akin to its roots here. On the other hand I can't say how many play modes the final version will have.
at the moment the number of game modes is rather limited
Anther thing that can be said about the first Magicka is that on day one it had more bugs than a medieval prison mattress. After countless patches it seems to be in a good condition now, but still Wizard Wars engine is an improvement in many ways. The game just looks better and doesn't seem to be so picky in its GPU support as the original Magicka. Still there are hiccups with connections, servers etc. but at least this time they are taking it slow going through the early access.
It is really hard to give a clear recommendation for Magicka Wizard Wars. With a game like this the community will have a tremendous impact on how it is perceived. So far it is rather friendly (and generally matches are done quickly, not much waiting for 8 players to gather). But what will happen when the game reaches its final version? Competitive multiplayer games can be pretty unforgiving to noobs and in Magicka it is so, so easy to do not exactly what you wanted to, to create a spell that is not the perfect choice in the circumstances... Will the players just try to have fun with the mistakes (which is what Magicka should be about) or will they get frustrated? I do hope for the former, and if it happens this can be a wonderful alternative to the Moba genre.