If you’ve ever played Paradox’s Magicka, you’ll know it’s absurd. Absolutely raving bonkers. A wizard-focused action RPG where spells fly faster than bullets. Now take that insanity, and try to apply it in your mind to multiplayer. Magicka: Wizard Wars is that game. Sizzling fireballs and searing beams slicing through friend and foe alike.
The game has been in Early Access for a while, but today it goes full release. The update comes with a new Soul Harvest game mode that encourages a little more team play in its PvP madness. Aside from blasting apart opponents and trying to not hit your friends, you’ll also need to hunt down trolls and other AI monsters, making the mode feel a little closer to its PvE brother.
Soul Harvest is a hunting-based 4v4 mode. Each team has an effigy protected by a magical shield, and only the gathering of souls can bring the barrier down. Souls can be harvested from a variety of monsters that roam the map; trolls, orcs, goblins and the like. Killing them causes orb-like souls to roll out from their exploded corpses, and picking them up will start to chip away at the enemy shield. Grab enough souls to remove the shield, destroy the effigy, and it’s game over. Of course, during this harvesting of souls, four enemy players are trying to blast you apart, and your own team members are likely to accidentally cast a blizzard on your rather than a heal spell. It’s chaos in the best possible form.
Should the chaos begin to escalate beyond what you can manage with your traditional magicks, Wizard Wars has its own answer to hurling nuclear bombs at the enemy. Huge spells like thunderstorms can decimate the enemy team, but need to be earnt, and are too powerful to be simply cast using the type-in system. Instead, they come from Focus. It’s a short-term currency that builds during matches, growing up to 100 points. Scoring kills and playing well will help increase the meter. At each 25 point increments, a spell can be cast. Spells at 25 points may offer a buff like haste, or lay down simple traps. Save your points and wait for the tier two spells at 50 points, and you can summon in tornados or drop a toilet on someone’s head. Wait patiently to hit 100 Focus, and you can revive players from the dead or cast absurdly powerful damage-dealing AoE spells. But remember: casts are single-time deals only, and reset your meter. You’ll need to build that Focus up again to re-cast.
Both the spells you can cast with Focus and your standard combat essentials are unlocked from Wizard Wars’ Mastery web. It’s a tech tree for your character, and lets you specialise in specific schools of magic, or gain a thin-but-broad knowledge of it all. It’s all interestingly balanced: to prevent anyone from having an advantage, specialising in areas will start to make you weaker against other elements. Equipping a skill from the fire-based magicks on the Mastery web will apply a de-buff to you, making you vulnerable to cold and water-based attacks. The more you specialise, the weaker you become against your opposite element. The idea is to make sure the playing field is level for everyone, emphasising player skill over grinding out more powerful unlocks. Unlocks make you different, not better.
Magicka Wizard Wars launches in full today, and is free to everyone. Alongside Soul Harvest and its single map (more will come as time goes on) are the more traditional 4v4 battles and 1v1 duel game modes, which have gone down an elemental storm with the game’s beta testers.