by Jonathan Fortin
previewed on PC
An Accessible MOBA?
If you're interested in trying out the increasingly popular MOBA genre but feel intimidated by the hardcore communities League of Legends and Dota 2 are known for, then you may want to keep an eye on Magicka: Wizard Wars.
Currently in its alpha stage, Wizard Wars is available on Steam Early Access. You have to pay to play this unfinished version, but when the full game is released it will be Free to Play with the optional microtransactions.
What separates Wizard Wars from other MOBAs is how easy it is to pick up and play. The system is simple, accessible and very addicting. The game is centered around two teams of four battling for control over the map's spawn points. A team wins by capturing all three spawn points and then wiping out the enemy team, who can spawn no longer.
This can lead to some very tense moments: if you're dead and your team has no spawn points left, you're unable to fight alongside your remaining team members. You must watch as they are slaughtered, unless they are able to recapture a spawn point before they die. If one team is very quick to capture all the spawn points, a match can only last a few minutes.
To prevent matches from taking too long, each team has a certain number of spawn tokens per match. When these run out, things get really crazy, with the surviving players putting their all into a messy final skirmish.
Never trust magick spelled with a K
Remember the epic duel between Gandalf and Saruman in Fellowship of the Ring? Magicka is like that, but at a much more crazy and colorful scale. This is a game where wizards toss fire, lightning, and meteor showers at one another, sometimes all three at once.
Wizard Wars retains the first Magicka game's unique spell mixing system. (Don't worry, you don't have to play Magicka to enjoy Wizard Wars.) The game gives you eight elements—fire, water, stone, life, death, lightning, shield, and frost—up to three of which can be mixed together to form a new spell on the fly. So you can mix together flame, death, and shield to make explosive land mines, or imbue a death beam with fire to set your enemies ablaze from a long range. There aren't as many different results as you'd think, but it's still fun to experiment with different combinations.
Aside from these eight basic elements, there are more powerful mega-spells that take time to power up, and can only be used on rare occasions. One mega-spell summons the Grim Reaper, who kills the closest nearby enemy with a single slash of his scythe. Take it from me: when you see the Grim Reaper coming for you, it's terrifying. Another mega-spell triggers a meteor shower that can injure your enemies, your allies, and you.
Friendly fire is always on, which is something to keep in mind when you're aiming for an enemy and an ally is in the way. It's easy to sabotage your own team by clicking carelessly. Indeed, the combat gets so crazy that it can sometime become difficult to keep track of what's going on. It can also become hard to heal yourself, especially while you are moving. However, none of this hurts the game. Some would argue that it adds to the challenge.