I’ve tried on a few occasions to play battle arena style titles but none have ever clicked with me, for reasons I’m yet to fathom. For my latest attempt I’ve kindly been provided with a Steam Early Access copy of Magika Wizard Wars.
Wizard Wars is a PvP PC title which pits two teams in wizard on wizard action against each other. The aim of the game is to capture the three points throughout the map to stop the opposition being able to respawn, or alternatively reduce their respawn counter to zero. Matches are short and frantic, so far I’ve not had one last over 5 minutes.
For a game with such a seemingly complex attack system, the tutorial for Magika Wizard Wars is currently very poor. After four extremely brief lessons, one apiece for movement, basic attack, power attack and healing, you’re thrown straight into battle with other players.
Despite being told that I’ll be put into servers with other beginners I’ve had to come to one of two conclusions; either that was a lie and I’m playing against experts or, and I’m suspecting this is probably the issue, I’m genuinely awful at this game. Have you ever handed a controller to a someone and watched as they are physically unable to comprehend the logistics necessary to do something as simple as moving and firing? That’s me playing Magika Wizard Wars. I’m not going to fully repeat my stats but after several hours of playing I have no kills, an absolutely ridiculous number of deaths and, as you may not be surprised, absolutely no wins. Oh, and a broken mouse from when it was pitched across the room in utter frustration.
And this is why the bare bones tutorial is an issue. After being completely demoralised by constant defeats, it was only by Googling for a guide on ‘how to play Wizard Wars’ did I discover that it’s possible to chain together your magic to create different attacks. For example, in numerous games I’ve been thwarted by my opposition placing a stone wall to block my attacks, but until finding the guide I had no indication on how to do this. Was it a special, character specific ability? Something I needed to unlock by levelling up? No, it was just a specific combination of key presses, but this information wasn’t presented to me at any point.
In terms of presentation, the title fares averagely well. Character designs are simple and sufficient, but can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between your team and opponents, which becomes an issues during some of the more frantic moments because friendly fire is active at all times. The sole map we’re given in this early access preview is a nicely designed outdoors arena which, while doing nothing special, again is sufficient. One aspect I found slightly disappointing was the reusing of assets from a previous Paradox title I have reviewed, Impire. The minions that make up you workers in the previous titles are back again as the defensive units in Magika Wizard Wars. Considering the level of abuse levelled upon certain developers for copying assets across sequels in a series, I find it quite jarring to see characters copied across between two altogether separate titles.
The audio is much along the same lines. While nothing wrong with it, the constant repetition of certain phrases begins to grate over time. The incredulous “You lost to those guys?” from the voiceover artist after my first defeat raised a wry chuckle, but hearing that phrase after every single defeat frustrated me to the point of yelling “YES, AGAIN”, at the television, and earned me a telling off from the girlfriend. I’m hoping that these ‘commentary’ moments will be expanded over time, and add in some more of the Paradox humour from their other titles.
On a positive note I’ve been pleased to see how stable the game is, even in this early state. I’ve had no problems with getting into a match, with a wait of 2-3 minutes at most, and absolutely no crashes whatsoever. Having participated in some early access programs recently in which the game is barely able to run, this has been a relief to me and gives me more faith in developers using this as a method of funding and distribution.
So, is it me or the game that’s the problem? Despite the lack of content and shameful attempt at a tutorial, I’m going to have to say it’s me. Listening to others play Magika Wizard Wars it’s clear that people are having a whale of a time. If you’re a fan of battle arena titles you could probably do worse than check this out. It’s on Steam for a low price and it may make perfect sense to you. For me, I think it’s time for to admit that these just aren’t my thing.