Four little wizards in colorful robes run around a map, waving their staffs and casting spells. They almost look like they know what they're doing. The giveaway that they don't (at least, not always), is that they keep accidentally zapping each other and, occasionally, themselves.
Magicka's wizards have always been goofy, self-aware and dangerous to both others and themselves. The latest installment, Magicka 2, which is coming to PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, is not changing any of that.
"We like to think of our wizards as the most unpredictable and most unprofessional wizards in fantasy," said producer Peter Cornelius. "We're not changing that."
The game is the third in the Magicka series, following the original Magicka, which had a single-player and player-versus-player mode; and Magicka: Wizard Wars, which was a purely player-versus-player experience. Magicka 2 will focus on single-player and co-op, allowing up to four players at the same time.
A few other elements of the game have remained the same. Friendly fire is always on. Players have access to eight different magical elements that they can combine to produce hundreds of spell combinations. Mix the earth element with fire element to create fire balls. Mix earth with frost to get frost balls. Mix the shield element with fire to create a fire wall. Mix the shield with electricity element to get an electricity wall. And there are spells and effects that even the developers are discovering for the first time while playing.
"Just the other day my character got wet and I didn't know, and I loaded up the frost element to shoot enemy. But since I was wet, I froze myself," Cornelius said.
The game also introduces some changes. Players can now run and heal at the same time, whereas previously they had to stop to heal themselves. Performing the heal ability on shields now gives them more staying power, and the game scales to give players more or fewer enemies depending on how many people they're playing with.
The developers have also introduced artifacts - items scattered around the game world that can alter the game cosmetically or strategically. One artifact, for example, increases the HP of all enemies. Another increases the player's own HP. Some, like the sitcom artifact, add a laugh track to the game, and another, which originated as a bug in the game, makes all the wizards bloated balloon people.
"You can combine several artifacts at a time, too," Cornelius said. "It sounds trivial, but you really have to change your battle tactics when even the smallest guys become tough."
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