In recent times, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre has really risen, both in terms of popularity among gamers and also in terms of available titles. League of Legends and DotA 2 still lead the way in terms of player base, but other titles such as upcoming Heroes of the Storm among others are growing little by little and earning a reputation of their own. The Magicka series on the other hand is quite famous for its own merits, and with its latest iteration tries to break through this MOBA genre.
Magicka: Wizard Wars is a game which struggles to fit within its own genre. This confusion is created because of the assumption of what a MOBA is; we are now led to believe that a MOBA is a five-on-five battle with characters each having a skillset of four abilities trying to destroy the enemy’s base. While most MOBA titles fit comfortably within this description, the likes of DotA and Heroes of Newerth being two of the first to stabilize these rules, there can be much more brawling and battling action within this type of title. This is one of the things which Wizard Wars does right – it redefines the game types contained within the game to give birth to something new, and while Paradox Interactive, the game’s publishers, gets some things right, it doesn’t necessarily hit all the requirements to make this game beat the likes of League of Legends.
First things first, the game is totally free, so anyone willing to try this out should just download it from steam. It will not cost anything at all, so I do recommend to anyone reading this to try the game for themselves. Creating an account is as easy as finding the game on steam, and once you are done you can already get a taste of the action with a handy tutorial which appears when you confirm your log in details and decide what you will name your wizard. I named mine JD`z, in honour of my dormant, if not extinct, Heroes of Newerth username. Once set up, you can complete the tutorial and head in straight for the action. Staying true to the Magicka formula, you attack by combining a series of elements, or just spamming one element altogether. Elements comprise fire, water and ground among others, and can be combined relatively easily. Elements can cancel each other while being queued, as one would expect, so forget about combining opposites as these will disappear from the queue. Spell combinations are a little complicated to learn by heart, but can honestly become incredibly rewarding. There is nothing better than nailing a perfect mine field to land the killing blow on an enemy, or timing a healing barrier to help a teammate on the brink of death. Other than combining spells, you only need to click where you want to move your wizard or where you want to attack. Contrarily to other MOBA titles, movement is with the left click while offense uses the right click. It is a bit confusing at first, but getting the hang of the mechanic takes literally minutes.
The game modes of Wizard Wars are quite a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual MOBAs, but while two are incredibly fun, the other is a little stale. Since I prefer the bad news first, I will start with the less fun game mode. The mode in question is called Soul Harvest, and is the most “usual” game mode of the three. This mode features two teams of four who will do their utmost to farm souls, which are earned by killing neutral creeps. Once a certain number of souls is collected by the robed spellcasters of one team, they may then proceed to attack the Effigy, which translates to the main base in DotA or LoL. Conversely to the latter two though, respawn timers do not scale with time or deaths, and since there is no levelling, they practically remain constant. What this adds in time spent playing is detracted from viability of the game in the final segments. Once you start attacking the effigy, you will end up not wanting to fight enemies since these will ultimately respawn right at the effigy and screw up your plans to destroy it. This can result in a game which takes quite its time to collect the souls, but may become more frustrating once enemies spawn in your face after defeating them.
The second game mode is a one-on-one Wizard Duel, where wizards can prove themselves in an arena, and in most cases it is the most skilled who wins. The variety of offensive and defensive magicks are definitely the game changer here, since one can base his defense on offense or turtle his way slowly and chip at an opponent’s health while being extra careful to not let his own decrease. It is a game mode which can be tackled in a variety of ways, which is a notable and appreciated addition from Paradox.
The best game mode of the game is Wizard Warfare. This is basically an all-out brawl between two teams of four, full of magicks and confusion and laughter. The basic objective of the mode is to kill your opponent so many times that they cannot respawn. Not due to fatigue or boredom but due to depleting their respawn token, which sits comfortably on the screen and with every downward tick drags you one step closer to defeat. The best part is probably when both teams are close to, if not already, at zero respawns. This will result in extra careful gameplay, with heavy defence and that rare attack which will stop the hearts of whoever is on the receiving end. Obviously, for screamers like me, this game will be such a good time that losing will not be that big of a deal, even though winning is always nice.
With its entry into the MOBA genre, Magicka proves its point of being a non-conventional yet fun game, which requires both technical and simplistic gameplay and quite a fun time in the process. The game may not appeal to those looking for a DotA style game due to the lack of strategy in Soul Harvest and the all-out warfare in the other modes, but to anyone willing to try this, there is nothing preventing prospective adopters. Not even a price.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.