Getting to know Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's vault hunters

Flockers PC review

What I wish Destiny had learned from PC games

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
Flockers PC review

Flockers™

Flockers PC review

Getting to know Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's vault hunters

Getting to know Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's vault hunters

Notch on selling Minecraft to Microsoft: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity”

Notch on selling Minecraft to Microsoft: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity”

Mojang on Microsoft buyout: “Yes, the deal is real.” Notch and other founders to leave

Mojang on Microsoft buyout: “Yes, the deal is real.” Notch and other founders to leave

Skywind trailer shows the Slough of Tamriel

Skywind trailer shows the Slough of Tamriel

What I wish Destiny had learned from PC games

Destiny

What I wish Destiny had learned from PC games

Canon Pixma printer hacked to run Doom, proving security flaw

Canon Pixma printer hacked to run Doom, proving security flaw

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut team rebuilt gore from the organs up

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut team rebuilt gore from the organs up

Neverwinter: Siege of Neverwinter update sees you defend the city from dragon cultists

Neverwinter: Siege of Neverwinter update sees you defend the city from dragon cultists

Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell creative director Steve Jaros leaves for Valve

Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell creative director Steve Jaros leaves for Valve

Microsoft rumoured to announce $2.5 billion purchase of Mojang on Monday

Microsoft rumoured to announce $2.5 billion purchase of Mojang on Monday

How much of Microsoft's $2.5 billion will Notch actually receive?

Minecraft

How much of Microsoft's $2.5 billion will Notch actually receive?

ArcheAge head start is live, but a DDoS attack means it's not all smooth sailing

ArcheAge head start is live, but a DDoS attack means it's not all smooth sailing

Diablo 3's pets are getting buffed; to scale with players toughness

Diablo 3's pets are getting buffed; to scale with players toughness

Alien: Isolation - In space, a xenomorph can hear you shoot

Alien: Isolation - In space, a xenomorph can hear you shoot

Elite: Dangerous will cost less than a spaceship, and the beta, at launch

Elite: Dangerous will cost less than a spaceship, and the beta, at launch

Star Citizen's Arena Commander module gets a massive update and space racing

Star Citizen's Arena Commander module gets a massive update and space racing

ArcheAge review in progress

ArcheAge

ArcheAge review in progress

MOBA-ish shooter Minimum's bumpy journey to launch ends today

MOBA-ish shooter Minimum's bumpy journey to launch ends today

Warlords of Draenor's latest trailer tells the sad tale of Thrall's dad, Durotan

Warlords of Draenor's latest trailer tells the sad tale of Thrall's dad, Durotan

Magicka 2 karaoke trailer is terribly awkward and completely wonderful

Magicka 2 karaoke trailer is terribly awkward and completely wonderful

Assassin’s Creed: The Americas Collection PC version isn't coming out in the US

Assassin’s Creed: The Americas Collection PC version isn't coming out in the US

Elite: Dangerous’ budget was originally £8m. Kickstarter made up less than a quarter of that

Elite: Dangerous’ budget was originally £8m. Kickstarter made up less than a quarter of that