At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Richard Pilot PlayStation 4 Paradox Interactive Pieces Interactive 2015

Magicka 2 preview

When I play with my friends, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I have a reputation for being a betrayer, a slayer of teammates. Whilst many games often prevent that from happening, there is one game that has this concept as part of its DNA and that’s Magicka. I have played countless matches of it with friends and random teammate carnage always seemed to follow. At Gamescom last week, I sat down with Peter Cornelius and was able to to get my hands on the sequel, which not only seems to be continuing the chaos of the original, but this time, thanks to a deal with Sony, it's coming to PS4.

Combining the powers has interesting effects

Combining the powers has interesting effects

Despite appearing only on the PC, the original game was originally designed to be played using a gamepad. This meant that the team already had a good leg up on how exactly they wanted the game to play on the DualShock 4. For those unfamiliar with Magicka, players control dueling wizards who are in command of eight elements. You can combine these together in a large number of ways to produce different effects. Soak someone with water, for example, and they become more susceptible to a lightning attack or can be frozen with frost. When using the keyboard these were mapped to different key inputs. On the controller, four elements are mapped to the four face buttons and holding down L1 will shift those buttons to the other four elements. Having played the PC version, I was worried that this would take some time to get used to, but when I played at the show it was surprisingly easy to pick up. Using these elements you can unleash them in several ways; a beam using the right analogue stick, apply them to yourself using R1 or combine them with a melee attack using R2. Combat becomes rather efficient as you quickly switch between powers, and the trick becomes about finding the right combo to use against the enemies that you meet; not all will be vulnerable to the same combination of elements. This wouldn't be Magicka without someone in your party getting knocked out by a stray fireball and much like the first game, death is still a consequence-free trip providing that someone is still alive to resurrect you. Of course, when you are trying to dodge the deadly forces coming your way, helping your teammates may not always be your top priority.

So Magicka 2 is still as fun as the original, and works quite well on console, but the team haven't been taking it easy. They wanted to add more or, in their words, "Find what players loved and do more of that". To that end they wanted to add more replayability to the game and they've added plenty of items to unlock; this goes beyond just the cosmetic robes and weapons but to a brand new artifact system. These function as mods that run on top of the game; some make the game easier, others make it harder, for example by increasing your base health by 50% or increasing that of your enemies by the same amount. This can make a regular playthrough really challenging and considering that the game already scales according to the number of players, there is a great amount of breadth in setting exactly how difficult players want their game to be. The series is not forgetting to keep the humour of the first game too, so there are also less serious artifacts. The sitcom artifact adds an audience to the game, with cheers and applause coming whenever you slay an enemy or boos when a party member falls. There's another that makes all characters large blobs which came about as a result of a defect that accidently found its way into the game which the team felt was too cool not to include. Players will be able to turn on as many artifacts as they want and the sheer number and variety of them mean that no playthrough is ever the same. There are other new additions too such as the increase of team familiars, creatures that accompany you which can help boost your power or heal you automatically.

I'm not sure this went to plan...

I'm not sure this went to plan...

Magicka 2 is set to continue the trend of chaotic wizard battles and elemental battles that made the first game great, and its smooth adaptation to console will mean a whole new set of players will be able to experience the magic, hopefully with as little friendly fire as possible.

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