E3 2011 – Magicka PvP Hands-On Preview

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Magicka, a four player co-op action game with high levels of nerdy humor and intricate action, has been building a strong fan base since its release back in January. To reward these fans and all future supporters, Arrowhead and Paradox are releasing a free Player versus Player (PvP) expansion on June 21st.

Magicka is based around a simple to use but incredibly intricate spell system. There are 10 elements in all that a player may choose to combine. While a few, like fire and cold cancel out, others, such as fire and water, create another element (steam). But those that do not create a new element will coalesce their attributes into a spell that can either be fired as a projectile, used in an immediate area of effect attack, imbued to a weapon, or cast on the self. With room to include up to five elements in any spell the number of possible combinations is staggering.

But while playing through the game in cooperation with up to three friends is fun, the team at Arrowhead found that a lot of players enjoyed taking advantage of the friendly-fire system. So much, in fact, that some community members took to modding the game (something the developers hadn’t openly designed the game for) to include competitive arenas. Though the team had already been at work developing an official PvP expansion, they looked to the board for many suggestions regarding spell balancing and modes. One of these modes was even adopted for the expansion.

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Magicka’s PvP offers three customizable arena modes. The first is Deathmatch. As you’d expect, players compete to reach a certain kill count first or race for the most points in a specified time limit. New spells and weapons randomly appear inside aggressive chests for wizards to obtain. The second mode, Brawl, takes a cue from Super Smash Bros and Counter Strike in its details. Players compete in four rounds with limited lives each round. Whoever survives the most wins. The final mode is the one pulled straight from the community. Named after the original modder, Kreator’s Tourney ditches the random items for precise spell and weapon drops through a series of escalating rounds.

Every arena mode can also be tweaked to your liking. Don’t want the guns of the Vietnam expansion in your fantasy fight? No problem, just deselect the loadout from the revamped menu.

All in all Magicka is a fast paced, yet thoughtful game made even better by a free expansion. For PC users with friends, it’s $10 worth spending.

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