by Joseph Leray
Paradox Interactive took advantage of the first day of the Game Developer's Conference to announced "Magicka: Wizard Wars," a player-vs.-player multiplayer game based on the series' emergent spell-casting system. While the original "Magicka" offered a single-player and co-op campaign in addition to arena combat modes, "Wizard Wars" is purely competitive: two teams of four will go head-to-head burning, soaking, shocking, and crushing friends and opponents alike with abandon.
If you haven't played "Magicka" (and you should -- it's pretty fun), here's what makes "Wizard Wars" such a neat prospect: "Magicka" features a dynamic spell system that's unpredictable at best and catastrophic at worst.
Instead of pre-loaded spells, players are free to mix and match defensive and offensive magic from a long list of elements, and each combination produces unique results: a healing spell with a ground element might create a shield for your and your teammates, but a spell that combines rock and ground will produce a flaming boulder with which to smush your foes. If that weren't enough, each team member's spells interact in weird ways, and friendly fire is always on.
The co-op campaign on its own was hectic enough in the original "Magicka," and "Wizard Wars" doubles the number of spells being slung.
"Wizard Wars" is the game by the newly-minted Paradox North studio headed up by John Hargelid, who spent time at DICE as a producer for "Battlefield: Bad Company 2." "“Magicka has always allowed for some unique gameplay and, with Wizard Wars, we’ve really captured the true experience of PvP wizardry,” he said in a statement.
"When you put the team-focused, hardcore competition of online games together with characters whose attacks are fluid and dynamic – and then give teammates the ability to implode, freeze, and fling each other by accident – it’s really something special to watch, and to play, and to yell at your friends about afterwards.”
According to Joystiq, other members of the Stockholm-based studio include other DICE veterans, as well as artists who cut their teeth on Avalanche Studios' "Just Cause 2." The studio currently employs ten people, but parent company Paradox Interactive has plans to expand soon.
The developers of the original "Magicka," Arrowhead Game Studios, developed the recently-released "Showdown Effect," which was also published by Paradox. The success of "Magicka" allowed Paradox to survive a lean year and implement more exacting quality assurance measures, CEO Frederik Wester explained last month.
There's no release for "Magicka: Wizard Wars" yet, but "Wizards of the Tablet," a "Magicka"-themed, sidescrolling spin-off is "coming soon." If you need an introduction to the series' spell-casting system, that might be a low-cost option for you.