Wizards of all ages rejoiced when Magicka 2 was announced at E3 2014. The magical co-op sequel comes four years after the original release and is set for PC and PS4 — new territory as the the original never launched on consoles. I went hands on with the PS4 version to see if the magic transferred from PC to PS4.
Magicka 2 takes place long after an event called the “Wizard Wars.” Nearly all the wizards in Midgard have been wiped up and the few survivors have grown mad and hostile. As a wizard, you will travel with your faithful companion Vlad in an attempt to set Midgard right. Along the way, team up with up to three friends as you all take on the roles of the most over-powered and hilarious wizards in fantasy history.
Very little about what made the original such a hit has been toned down for the PS4. This is the same four player co-op experience fans love. In fact, the entire game was built to support four players. Levels are large and accommodating for a full party. Best of all is the friendly fire, which promotes plenty of humor as friends accidentally kill friends. There are some hilarious ways to die, yet friendly fire adds strategic depth. Sure, you can kill your friends, but then you’re all alone against the monsters, and they aren’t very nice. Players will need to play carefully if they want to survive.
Magicka 2 makes its transition to the PS4 successfully, playing like a twin-stick shooter with the left stick used to move and right stick to aim. There are a total of eight elements, with four-mapped to the face buttons at a time, and holding down R2 cycles to the other four spells. Though not as ideal as a mouse and keyboard, the DualShock 4 layout works well enough and those accustomed to controllers won’t have any problem jumping in.
There’s a surprising amount of depth to Magicka 2’s combat system. Wizards come equipped with a variety of melee weapons for close-quarters combat, but it’s their magic that makes them awesome. Players can combine up to five elements at a time to create some crazy combinations. Combine wind and fire to create a fire tornado, or ice and arcane for an ice beam. The system encourages experimentation and, even if you manage to accidentally kill your friends, is always rewarding.
Magicka 2 will ship with plenty of replay value thanks to Artifacts. Artifacts act as different switches for players to customize their gameplay experience. Basic Artifacts include health, damage and defense handicaps. The crazier ones literally change the game. Big head mode enlarges the wizard’s and the enemy’s heads, while flower mode causes a meadow of flowers to grow wherever you die. There’s also a challenge mode that puts teamwork to the test; twenty waves of enemies combined with friendly fire equals a tense, yet rewarding, experience.
If there’s one thing I took away from Magicka 2 is that this game is hard. Pieces Interactive have created a product not for the faint of heart. The friendly-fire and difficult enemies could be potential turn-offs, but it was never so difficult that I felt like throwing the controller down. With a team of good players willing to experiment with magic, Magicka 2 will be a highly entertaining title.
My time with the PS4 version of Magicka 2 can be summed up like this: I died a lot, but each death was hilarious. My corpse either turned into a meadow of flowers or my body exploded. This isn’t a game I would want to play with myself, but I can see this being a great time for four friends. The best part is you won’t have to wait much longer; Magicka 2 is out May 26 on PS4 and PC.