Magicka Impressions - First Look

We take a look at this upcoming action adventure game going into GDC 2010.

Get information on Magicka in our preview here and watch an exclusive video demonstration of the game on Saturday's episode of Today on the Spot.

While the hack-and-slash action of role-playing games like Diablo can be addictive and fun, Arrowhead Games feels that the old way of sitting next to the people you're playing with while hollering and yelling directly at them is better. Especially if you're playing the kind of game where you can "accidentally" vaporize your buddies and take all their stuff. That's the idea in Magicka, which is an upcoming hack-and-slash action adventure game that looks like Diablo but owes more of its roots to such games as Castle Crashers on Xbox Live and the classic arcade game Gauntlet.

In Magicka, you play as a fledgling wizard in what Arrowhead describes as "a fantasy world that's fairly generic," and must zap your way through hordes of oncoming enemies using magic spells and an equipped melee weapon. Your job is to save the world from the encroachment of some kind of dark lord, or something, by fighting your way to him and defeating him in a compact campaign that Arrowhead estimates will be four to six hours long. While that may not seem like an epic odyssey, the studio feels that the game will offer replay value in the form of its branching campaign, its items (such as new magic staves and weapons that will not be permanent loot but will act more as power-up items that can be dropped if you die), and its cooperative online play--but more on that in a bit.

The spells in Magicka include plenty of things that make you go "boom."

Magic spells are performed by combining one of eight "elements," such as life, shield, fire, cold, or lightning, using a radial pop-up menu (Arrowhead feels that the game works best on a USB plug-in controller rather than a mouse and keyboard). By inputting various combinations of elements, you can formulate new spells on the fly, such as combining a fire and an earth element to create a simple fireball spell. Over time, you'll come to memorize your favorite spells as controller-plus-button combinations, similar to the complicated maneuvers of a fighting game. And you can actually combine larger groups of elements to create bigger, more devastating spells to prepare for boss encounters. Interestingly, you'll start a new game of Magicka with all eight elements in your wizard's possession but no real experience progression or skill trees or anything like that. This means that your skill and dexterity will determine how quickly you can come up with the best spell for the current situation and fire it off.

Interestingly, while the game will offer multiplayer for up to four players and have full online options, Arrowhead feels strongly that the game will best be played by people in the same room, which is why the game will not only support LAN play but also hotseat play for up to four players on the same computer. (The studio also suggests that it plans to bring the games to other platforms in the near future.) And as it turns out, while some of Magicka's most powerful magic spells create spectacular explosions that can fill up the screen, all damaging magic spells can hurt any and all other players nearby. That's right, friendly fire is always on, and the studio currently has no plans to add an option to turn it off.

This cooperative hack-and-slash game will be available later this year.

While this may sound like a potentially counterproductive aspect of the game, Arrowhead prefers to call it "hilarious," and cites numerous internal play sessions where players disintegrated their buddies accidentally-on-purpose in the heat of battle. So although the game will use the overhead isometric perspective and the constant stream of monsters from Diablo, it'll be something of a party game as well. In fact, on each of the game's maps, you'll find the exit to the north. This is a facet of the game inspired by the arcade classic Gauntlet--another four-player action game that had decent hack-and-slash action but was a lot more interesting with four players and the potential for comical misunderstandings.

Magicka is currently confirmed only for the PC and scheduled to ship on that platform later this year.

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Discussion

50 comments
AntAstrophY
AntAstrophY

@asian_pride69 likewise with the control scheme but never the less thanks but no thanks Arrowhead Games.

asian_pride69
asian_pride69

"a fantasy world that's fairly generic." Lol well I guess they're not afraid of admitting it. Not that generic is all bad. Well it seems pretty fun to play, especially in co-op mode. Since friendly fire is always on, this is the perfect game for people who like to do bad things (in other words, being a jerk and killing all your friends for fun). :P

Decardcain
Decardcain

it would be an artifact if this game includes loot skill tree and doll inventory system it would be a nice diablo clone but with only action in isometric way ...

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

Golden Axe + Gauntlet = Win Confused about the following though: -"...favorite spells as controller-plus-button combinations..." -"...confirmed only for the PC..." Controller?

pizzamaster
pizzamaster

Co-op sounds fun, there aren`t a lot of games today that have this type of multiplayer mode.

Vengeancekael
Vengeancekael

looks alot of fun, i think i'll get it when it's out : D

jibarocampesino
jibarocampesino

this looks like a game that could be brought to Playstation 2, Gamecube & Xbox.. and, in that way, earning more profits.

katanajut
katanajut

Just from watching the video, the game reminds me of Diablo 2, Nox and Rage Of Mages.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Obviously this won't be everyone's cup of tea.

TheVGamer
TheVGamer

PC-only sweet looking game? Last time that was back in 2007 with Crysis. Reminds me of a Bioshock 2 though that magic and combining.

LorDofGod
LorDofGod

LOL, this game really looks sweet.

XenoLair
XenoLair

This game looks so sweet!

madd_hatter
madd_hatter

If it plays better with a gamepad, why wouldn't they just make it DLC on a console?

rkrause
rkrause

Looks like the guy's from Loom got a new gig :)

ChristianKiss
ChristianKiss

I didn't get the hate. It even seems that this game will deliver much more than Trine ever did, and we're talking about a great action game. The fun on playing games in PC is that you can always stop playing that hardcore stuff (MMOs, for instance) and relax a bit with simple games like Magicka. Do not bash this kind of game, otherwise we will end up with one of the most appealing activities on the PC: the casual gaming.

Rivenearth
Rivenearth

For those saying "poor quality" and crying about not turning off FF do yourself a favor and grow a pair. Diablo had a story but guess what, it's story was and still is ignored and the only reason any of the players I know read the story was the first time around to make sure they knew where to go. So one of the most popular games of its time was little more than click and kill fodder. Yup, that thar is real high quality.

32605250
32605250

i cant see the fun on this, i would prefer playing some mario party game (and i really hate nintendo stuff)

Abberon
Abberon

This looks retarded. I thought it was a joke at first....

Sameo
Sameo

there are hundreds of gamepads for the pc

FiFa_kirikiki
FiFa_kirikiki

@ClayMeow Yeah but that's not the point I'm trying to make you see. Developers need money, developers get the games into stores and people bring the money to the store; if people say, key/mouse controls suck by these days, we want more comfy gaming, well that's gonna happen, doesn't matter if this title will be pc game only. I think pc industry should make some kind of controller for games, something like a pad or whatever, that has only the necessary keys and idk...something that works as the mouse, something innovative; 'cause you have and never will use the entire keyboard keys for a game, is better for internet. I bet there are many many gamers that like pc games but hate the controls, this could be for them, the ones that like key/mouse controls are, by time, less and less people. You know that, everyone realize that, is not something people can really discuss and defend this days. Plus they never said, this game won't have key/mouse option, is just that you will have a better experience by using a controller. :)

dexl
dexl

Seems pretty cool

dannis27
dannis27

this looks like a very good game for a console. they recommend using a controller? then it's not a pc game...

Tigii
Tigii

looks old school in a good way .. wanna try it out .

Avaliability
Avaliability

Very Nice, looks old rpg with HD graphics, I'm thinking buy soon, its a mmorpg?

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

very old-school... but I like it... :) :D :) :D

2point5RSman
2point5RSman

only for pc, but works best on a controller. hmm, looks like theyre trying to decide on XBL or PSN.

thestrateger
thestrateger

It seems to be a lot of fun, yet childish.

woonsa
woonsa

looks good. I'll be tracking this game!

ClayMeow
ClayMeow

@FiFa_kirikiki Most people that would say that are console gamers, and this is a PC game. That's why it feels like they're already preparing for the console porting of the game and looking to satisfy those gamers. Several games suffer from "consolitis", but that usually results from sub-par porting...it's not something that usually happens when a game is developed directly for the PC.

CosmoS73
CosmoS73

Reminds me of Nox... and a little of Diablo. I like it.

FiFa_kirikiki
FiFa_kirikiki

@ClayMeow You know, you got a point there, they ain't optimizing on key/mouse controls, but you see, I've heard people saying they don't like key/mouse controls because it's less comfy than controllers/joystick; maybe the developers are listening these guys. From my point of view, I personally suggests developers companies to enthusiasm controls on both ways.

kerwinramos
kerwinramos

a PC RPG game optimized for controllers instead of keyboard? this just shows their dedication (or lack of it) to the game. thinking ahead to porting the game to consoles instead of optimizing for PC.

pudgexd
pudgexd

Probably getting this before Diablo 3 is out.

ClayMeow
ClayMeow

Sounds like some interesting new concepts to an existing genre. I don't like how they're saying it'll play best with a USB controller though (despite me owning one), as to me that just means they're not optimizing it for mouse/keyboard use and are instead already preparing the porting to consoles.

Evilnator
Evilnator

This looks like a lot of fun,

rauklith
rauklith

I liked the idea of non-skill tree but the level system depending on speed a bit confusing.... but it seems good at first sight... the best option is I think wait and learn...

Shardz7
Shardz7

I really love casual games like Torchlight and the Fate series and this looks like it fits in that mold much more than something like Diablo. It should be interesting to see how this one pans out, but I don't think it will de-throne Guild Wars or anything. :)