While its launch may have been plagued with bugs, Magicka has continued to expand since its January release with numerous patches and packs of downloadable content like the Vietnam expansion. Developer Paradox Interactive has worked diligently to respond to the feedback of the community, ensuring that every aspect of the game is to their liking and above all, provides an entertaining gaming experience.

A Magicka sequel was promised by developers in the future, but one of the things that the community has been collectively asking for since launch is the implementation of player vs. player combat. While Magicka already has cooperative gameplay, one of the keystones of the game, it was only a matter of time before Paradox began working on it.

Offered to owners of Magicka for free, the PvP update will not only add player vs. player combat into the game, but it will also make slight changes to the existing pre-game lobby system as well as offer minor tweaks to the gameplay and spell casting. In doing this, they will be able to balance out the more powerful spells, making them more difficult to execute, and make the system a viable option for play in all of the game’s modes.

Turning to the game and its upcoming update, Arrowhead Game Studios producer Robin Cederholm was on hand to walk through the set-up of a match while also playing through a few rounds of combat.

Upon opening up Magicka’s PvP lobby, gamers are presented with three different modes to choose from: Deathmatch, Brawl, and Krietor’s tourney. In deathmatch, players will battle it out for a specified amount of time with the player who has racked up the most kills being crowned winner. Brawl on the other hand takes inspiration from Super Smash Bros, giving players a set amount of lives. Upon losing all of these lives, they are eliminated from the match. Finally, Krietor’s tourney allows players to set up tournament play.

Magicka Hands-On E3 2011

Beyond these gameplay modes, players are able to choose the outfit that their mage will wear, choosing from different attire available in the game and DLC. They are also given the option of choosing which weapon sets they would like to include in the chosen match, Vietnam DLC weapons included. This goes a long way in allowing the player control over what style of play the match will be, allowing for more ranged weapons or more melee weapons.

Jumping into the game from here, players are dropped into one of four different battlefields with more being released in the future as DLC. It is immediately apparent how small the current battlefield, Watchtower, is. Upon getting used to the Xbox 360 controllers that we were both using in lieu of the traditional mouse and keyboard controls, the small battlefield size began to make sense.

While the characters themselves are not able to move very fast, the rate at which they fire off all manner of hazardous spells is much higher. As such, this smaller battlefield effectively highlights the chaos created as spells of every size and type fly across the screen. There is no place to hide, so players are forced to think on their toes, reacting to their opponent’s attacks in the heat of the moment.

This is what makes the gameplay of Magicka so incredibly fun. While there is more thinking involved than in many other action games, everything happens so quickly that twitch decisions are constantly being made as protective barriers are placed in order to funnel an enemy into a given area, or lightening is used to capitalize on a mage who has just covered themselves in water accidentally.

Spells are cast in the same way as before by choosing a sequence of elements which combine to create one of an incredibly large number of possible outcomes. There are so many possibly spell combinations in the game that Robin Cederholm was unable to give a definite number. With this many options open to the player, completely ignoring the various melee and ranged weapons that appear on the battlefield when a living chest is defeated, players who have a knowledge of the different spells will be well equipped to effectively deal with any possible situation.

Magicka Hands-On E3 2011

One of the key features of the map on display was the fact that there are no walls to protect players from attacks or deadly falls. With a simple, well-placed gust of wind, you could easily find yourself falling into the abyss below. This meant that like the selection of which spells to use, character placement and knowledge of the surrounding environment is a key factor in a player’s victory.

As the attacks become larger and more complex though, the player’s mage does not go unhindered. Once a more complex spell has been inputted, the mage in question will walk at an extremely slow pace until they release the power of their spell.This adds a new level of strategy to engagements forcing players to actively mix their playing style up with simple spells as well.

While at first, Magicka’s gameplay may look as if it does not afford the strategy that players want out of it, a short time with the game exposes a completely different truth.

Not only does the player need to constantly be aware of their surroundings and how they may affect them, they are also forced to think on their toes as they work to counter incoming spells while also unleashing their own deadly spells at their enemy. Even though advanced gamers will be able to benefit from a larger pool of knowledge regarding the different spells, the game is still accessible enough for new players to pick it up and understand its key components almost immediately.

Regardless of skill level, there are spells to fit just about every play-style imaginable. As a free upgrade to the core game, there’s no reason not to check out Magicka’s PvP and the incredibly frantic action that ensues.

Have you been eagerly anticipating the release of the official PvP update for Magicka? Which element or element combination is your favorite?

Magicka is available now for the PC and the free PvP update will be released on June 21.

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