Completely real: Get a first look at an Unreal Tournament map concept

Gear Up hits beta: put guns on goo or make invisible spider tanks

Free zombies: Inject some unlife into your weekend with Dead Island: Epidemic on Steam

Magicka: Wizard Wars

Don't call Magicka: Wizard Wars a MOBA: "It's a NOBA"

It’s a curious sort of arithmetic you find in Magicka: Wizard Wars. It features less magick and spells, but looks like a lot more fun. Listening to Paradox North’s John Hargelid and David Nisshagen explain how they are taking Magicka’s untrammeled chaos and channeling it into the service of a competitive PvP game, Wizard Wars starts to sound like all of Magicka’s best ideas have been simplified and put into the service of something a bit more rewarding. The multiplayer battles are driven by team tactics and coordination, but when two wizards square off to do battle, Wizard Wars operates at the blistering speed of a Street Fighter tournament as spells, parries, and counterspells fly thick and fast.

But when I say it looks like a MOBA, I get a look from Hargelid like he wishes he could drop a meteor on my head.

“We’re actually more thinking of it as a NOBA,” Nisshagen quickly explains. “It’s not a MOBA.”

I understand the two DICE veterans’ hesitation to get saddled with that label. Wizard Wars is nothing like DOTA or LoL. It’s not a three-lane, class-driven team game. You won’t find any inhibitors on the battlefield, and the only cooldown on your “ult” level spells is how quickly you can chain together the combos. That might be tricky: while there are far fewer spells than in Magicka, you still have over 300 specific spells you can master with the combo system.

Teams of up to four players will fight over capture points that control spawn locations, working together to first lock-down the enemy’s ability to respawn, then eradicating the last survivors on the enemy team. There are also minions that spawn into the battle and follow players around and try to help out during combat. Given the average Magicka player’s penchant for friendly-arcane fire, it probably won’t end well for them, but it’s the thought that counts.

Nisshagen points out that one issue with Magicka was that most of the spells were redundant, and the game was easily completed once you learned a few nuke spells that could carry you through each battle. Wizard Wars is more skill driven, with far more opportunities for defense compared to Magicka’s purely offensive carnage.

 

Moreover, Magicka wizards will both choose special equipment or abilities before a match, giving them bonuses to particular types of spells or encouraging a specific play style, and then unlock further progress with in-match experience. 

These systems aren’t fleshed-out yet, like a lot of aspects of Wizard Wars. Paradox aren’t even sure how they’ll sell the game, be it free-to-play or standalone. Right now they’re calling it a “fun-to-play” game. With talk of custom outfits and gear, however, it seems like a good bet that it will be primarily microtransaction-driven. 

The bottom line is that that Wizard War addresses my main complaint with Magicka. I always thought it was terrific fun for a few minutes at a time, and then I would have my fill of mayhem and move on. Whatever Paradox want to call Wizard Wars, be it a fun-to-play NOBA or a MOBA or what have you, it looks like there’s a more engaging game happening behind all that arcane chaos. The best part of Magicka was always playing it with friends, and now you can play it as a team, and actually be rewarded for mastering the spellcasting system. And if you struggle with that, don’t worry. There is also a combination system that allows players to act in concert and increase their hitting power without having to go to wizard school.

Just be careful: “friendly-fire” was listed as a design pillar for Wizard War. So watch where you point that staff, Gandalf.

Login or Register
Alienware - Game VictoriousNvidia Shield - Titanfall
Cliff Harris on Gratuitous Space Battles 2: it's a

Gratuitous Space Battles 2

Cliff Harris on Gratuitous Space Battles 2: it's a "whole new world"

Completely real: Get a first look at an Unreal Tournament map concept thumnnail

Completely real: Get a first look at an Unreal Tournament map concept

Gear Up hits beta: put guns on goo or make invisible spider tanks  thumnnail

Gear Up hits beta: put guns on goo or make invisible spider tanks

Free zombies: Inject some unlife into your weekend with Dead Island: Epidemic on Steam thumnnail

Free zombies: Inject some unlife into your weekend with Dead Island: Epidemic on Steam

What to expect from The Elder Scrolls Online's daedra-controlled Imperial City thumnnail

What to expect from The Elder Scrolls Online's daedra-controlled Imperial City

The Often-Ending Story is a trope-addled choose your own adventure thumnnail

The Often-Ending Story is a trope-addled choose your own adventure

The Last Express: Jordan Mechner remembers a different sort of war game on the centenary of its departure thumbmail

The Last Express Gold Edition

The Last Express: Jordan Mechner remembers a different sort of war game on the centenary of its departure

Aerna creators claim it's the largest and most detailed Minecraft server thumnnail

Aerna creators claim it's the largest and most detailed Minecraft server

Come in from the cold: Linux compatible games are all the rage at GOG.com thumnnail

Come in from the cold: Linux compatible games are all the rage at GOG.com

A British MP asked for in-game theft to be treated like real-world theft thumnnail

A British MP asked for in-game theft to be treated like real-world theft

Obsidian hope Pillars of Eternity sales will fund its sequel without Kickstarter thumnnail

Obsidian hope Pillars of Eternity sales will fund its sequel without Kickstarter

Respawn to introduce in-game 'black market' currency to Titanfall in Game Update 5 thumnnail

Respawn to introduce in-game 'black market' currency to Titanfall in Game Update 5

Meet IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad —the high flying return of the PC's best combat flight-sim thumbmail

IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad

Meet IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad —the high flying return of the PC's best combat flight-sim

The Sims 2 is now free on Origin, swimming pools and 18 expansions included thumnnail

The Sims 2 is now free on Origin, swimming pools and 18 expansions included

Star Wars: The Old Republic preps for largest story expansion since Rise of the Hutt Cartel thumnnail

Star Wars: The Old Republic preps for largest story expansion since Rise of the Hutt Cartel

Chat restrictions increase win rates for a

Chat restrictions increase win rates for a "large number" of League of Legends players

Well-thumbed: the Steam Controller has grown an analog stick thumnnail

Well-thumbed: the Steam Controller has grown an analog stick

The nine best Kerbal Space Program mods  thumbmail

Kerbal Space Program

The nine best Kerbal Space Program mods

Cliff Bleszinski's Project BlueStreak snatches up AAA shooter designers and staff thumnnail

Cliff Bleszinski's Project BlueStreak snatches up AAA shooter designers and staff

Tim Schafer on Double Fine publishing and not being told what to do thumnnail

Tim Schafer on Double Fine publishing and not being told what to do

Get back in The Room when it comes to PC on July 28th thumnnail

Get back in The Room when it comes to PC on July 28th

The Humble Square Enix Bundle throws Hitman, Thief and even Anachronox at you thumnnail

The Humble Square Enix Bundle throws Hitman, Thief and even Anachronox at you

God Squad: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris due out in December thumnnail

God Squad: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris due out in December