Humble Jumbo Bundle. That's quite a mouthful, and if you say it ten times fast it will summon both Beetlejuice and Candyman and open a portal to the underworld. So, y'know, it's probably best to avoid that. However, it's also the name of the Humble Bundle's latest pay-what-you-want sale, which this time discounts Sanctum 2, Magicka with two bits of DLC, and Natural Selection 2. Beat the average and you'll also get Orcs Must Die 2, Garry's Mod and Serious Sam 3: BFE throw in too. If your bank account wasn't summarily emptied during the course of the Steam sale, it might be worth a look.
That average, at the time of writing, stands at $4.10, so you won't have to fork out much of your pay packet/poker winnings/pocket money to get your hands on those six games. The charities receiving some or all or none of your money this time are Watsi and Child's Play, and there will of course be more games added to the deal over time.
The Humble Jumbo Bundle ends in a little over 13 days.
Magicka Wizard Wars, the free-to-play game I once described as a game of Dota 2 in which everyone on both teams is playing Invoker, is now available on Steam Early Access. You can claim your spot as a founder in this arcane altercation with three different tiers, starting at $13. Jumping in at the $20 tier gets you a free copy of Crusader Kings II, which is half of that game's current Steam price.
Other founders rewards include unique robes and weapons, forum avatars, and at the highest tier, some in-game currency and the ability to name your personal imp minion. If you're a little light on cash, possibly because you kinda sorta accidentally lit a public institution on fire while practicing your wizarding last weekend, you can still sign up free for alpha access, and if selected, you'll get a cool staff and weapon for your trouble.
If you're on the fence about Wizard Wars, go back and check out what Tom Senior, Craig Owens, and I had to say about it
Aug 30, 2013
And so it was that August 30th, 2013 did come to be known as the Day of The Deals. Internet denizens bravely descended on their stores, dodging pay-what-you-want here, and 75% off there. Could any make it through this budgetary gauntlet with their wallets unharmed? That, dear reader, is for you to find out...
Look, basically what I'm saying is there are a lot of cheap games today. The first of which is a staggeringly good Humble Weekly Sale featuring entrées from the Paradox plate.
Here's what's inside:
War of the Roses: Kingmaker
Warlock: Master of the Arcane
The Showdown Effect
Europa Universalis III Complete
And, if you beat the average (currently at $5.80):
Crusader Kings II
Taken as a full bundle, it's an absurdly good deal. Of the games that I've spent much time with: Crusader Kings II is an excellent strategy centred on lineage and intrigue, Magicka is a satisfying and funny co-op wizard-'em-up, and Warlock is a quick 'n light action-focused 4X. All of the others have reviewed reasonably well, too.
Alternatively, you could get "The Big Kahuna", which costs a flat $125, but comes with 48 games - essentially, all of the publisher's games, with the exception of Europa Universalis IV. The downside of that deal is that you also get Gettysburg: Armored Warfare, but it's okay, you can just ignore it.
The sale runs for another six and a bit days.
Jul 25, 2013
Imagine a game of Dota 2 in which everyone on both teams is playing Invoker, set on League of Legends' Dominion map, and you'll have a rough idea of the general PvP insanity that is Magicka: Wizard Wars. Combining a handful of arcane elements in three-key invocations, the object is to work with your team to secure all three of the radially-placed control points on the map, preventing the enemy from respawning. I found myself thrust into the middle of it all, a simple country skull-basher with little in the way of magical education, to blast, soak, and zap my way through a 4v4 with a few other journalists and some of the game's developers. It took less than 10 minutes to become terminally on fire.
Wizard Wars eschews enough of the standard fare to dodge the "MOBA" label—minions don't play much of a role, and towers, in-game shops, and ability leveling are nonexistent. What it has in common with the Dota-likes, however, is the fact that I found myself calculating odds and planning ahead to the next potential team fight every time I wasn't actively engaged in freezing or burning an enemy conjurer's non-face off. As a matter of fact, Wizard Wars is probably one of the most cognitive games of its kind I've ever played.
Magicka's elements interact realistically with one another, allowing you to designate a team-mate as "Fire Extinguisher Guy."
Among the spells your wizard can cast is a shield that can give you 50 percent resistance to two different elements, or make you immune to one. I found that a large part of winning the game was anticipating what elements I was most likely to get hit with from which players, and tuning my shield accordingly before the first shot was fired. An enemy's active shield is displayed by colored rings around his feet, meaning that one-on-one fights often become a dance of juggling attack and defense elements until somebody's rock bashes up the other's scissors. Things get even more complicated when you factor in attacks using multiple elements, as well as special combos that can create area effects, impede movement, or block enemy projectiles altogether.
Outside of a match, you can customize your wizard's gear (Staff, Robes, Melee Weapon, and a trinket of some sort), as well as his roster of Magicks. Magicks are non-elemental special skills which can be used once you've built up a fighting game-esque super meter—the devs cited Street Fighter as a big inspiration for Wizard Wars' combat. Magicks become progressively more powerful as you fill more of the bar, culminating in being able to drop a meteor storm that can (and in one match, did) kill the entire enemy team in one shot. Or, you know, your entire team. This is Magicka, after all. Friendly fire is enabled in all of its rage-inducing glory, adding one more element you need to keep track of in big teamfights.
Holding these glowy circles depletes your enemies' respawn tickets. Holding them all prevents respawning entirely.
With all of its layers of complexity, Paradox North is taking a surprisingly simple framework and building a tactically complex and fairly unique PvP experience. More of your important decisions are moved out of the item shop and ability bar, and onto the battlefield, creating a meta that has more to do with intuition and mind games than optimization and spreadsheets. If you'd like to leap into the cloak-clothed fray yourself, sign-ups for the alpha have already begun. According to Paradox, the game will "probably" launch free-to-play, and a founder's program is under consideration.
Jul 22, 2013
After the hilarious, Game of Thrones-spoofing live action trailer this year and the screenshots that came a couple of months afterwards, the Video Game Marketing Formula dictates that the next stop on Magicka: Wizard Wars' press tour is a gameplay trailer, which you'll find neatly packaged behind the cut. Paradox is on a roll with these.
This—and the constant threat of getting scorched by friendly fire—is looking to be super fun. There's just something so delightful about the possibility of unleashing all those ground-shaking powers upon otherwise tranquil fantasy meadows dotted with asparagus farms and quaint wagons, you know? (And I fully expect the dance moves at 0:52 to have devastating effect upon one's foes.)
Though the 4v4 MOBA-inspired PvP game is not due for release till 2014, you can sign up for alpha-testing funtimes on the Magicka: Wizard Wars site now. Gosh, Billy. I swear the ice blast I just aimed squarely at your face was an accident!
Turns out those faceless dudes from the Game of Thrones-spoofing announcement trailer aren't any less creepy when pulled out of the realm of live-action. I was hoping the hollow blackness of the wizards' heads might be downplayed a little in Magicka: Wizard War's art, but I guess I can forgive them when that much fire and lightning is bursting from their limbs.
As we detailed back in March, this is a 4v4 MOBA-influenced take on the Magicka series, involving teamplay and the tussling over of spawn points in a melding of hardcore mechanics and "instantly approachable" chaotic gameplay. Friendly fire is in full effect, so, try not to aim at your friends' faces, no matter how pretty those spells look.
It's not a MOBA, the devs have made that much clear in interviews, but Magicka's 4v4 multiplayer spin-off looks a bit like one. Going by glimpses at GDC, it's a game of territorial control in which two teams tussle over spawn points - and you can even bring AI goblin minions along to help. In action though, it retains the same accessibly splashy and chaotic combo spellcraft that defined the original game, albeit with a few streamlining tweaks. We'll be bringing you a heartier preview soon, but here are the first few tidbits of info.
You still use the same stackable eight elemental spells to build up combos, but the modifiers that let you differentiate between area-of-effect, direct attacks and self-cast spells have been stripped out in favour of simply changing the spell type depending on whom you target. I'm not sure how this will change the way, say, beam spells are cast - since previously you didn't need to select a target, but could sweep your gleaming eldritch laser back and forth across the enemy.
Still, if it's being simplified in some respects, it's getting depth in others: staff sidegrades now boost your abilities with a certain element, but make you vulnerable against others, while the powerful spells learnt from scrolls now occupy one of several pre-equipped slots, and require lengthy cooldowns.
The game's some nine months into development at Paradox North, rather than at Arrowhead Studios, the original Magicka creators. No payment model has been confirmed yet, but though the abundance of unlockable hats point to F2P as an easy option, the developers have made positive noises about the paid-alpha model epitomised by the likes of Mojang. With a Wizard Wars alpha promised in the imminent future, we'll likely find out soon.
Mar 25, 2013
Earlier this month, we were teased that something new in the Magicka franchise was coming. We were told that it wasn't an expansion or new DLC. Today, this was revealed to be Magicka: Wizard Wars. Developed by a new studio, Paradox North, it's billed as a four-on-four, PvP-focused game. Check out the trailer above, and see if you can guess which landmark fantasy book series turned successful HBO show they might be spoofing. Challenge level: Targaryen.
We don't know much else about the game yet, but I'll be meeting with the Paradox team within their shrouded sanctum today during the kick off of GDC 2013 here in San Francisco. So stay tuned for more information.
Paradox Interactive has told PC Gamer that it will be announcing something new related to Magicka for the PC during GDC later this month. We've been told it's not a port, and it's not more DLC (which Magicka already has a huge amount of on Steam.) The stars seem to point to a potential Magicka 2, or perhaps some kind of spin-off in the same universe, with different gameplay.
I got a look at Wizards of the Square Tablet at PDX Con, which was quickly discarded from my mind into the nearest Icelandic memory recycling bin when I heard it wouldn't be coming out for PC. Since we know it isn't that, it has to be a brand new title. One of the only other things we know is that there are some ex-DICE guys working on it, but we shouldn't expect something FPS-ey, despite the Battlefield pedigree.
We'll be in the GDC trenches to bring you more details from Paradox as soon as we can get our Frost/Fire Tentacles of Journalism on them in just a few weeks. What would you guys like to see out of a potential Magicka 2?
In an interview with GameSpy, Paradox's CEO Frederik Wester has revealed that the publisher cancelled four games in the past year, in an attempt to ensure that consumers weren't paying for buggy or unfinished titles.
Wester's comments were in response to questioning about the much maligned alternate history Civil War RTS Gettysburg: Armoured Warfare. Wester said, "That was terrible. We did not do our homework. It was a one-man team with some backup... we learned a lot from that release. We've had many bad releases before that, as well, and we learned something every time."
"In 2012, we also closed four game projects. This happened after Gettysburg. We looked at them and said, 'These games are not up to the standards we're currently looking for at Paradox, so we're going to close these projects.' We're not going to have any more games that are unplayable at release."
Gettysburg wasn't the only Paradox title in recent history to launch in an unfinished state. Both Magicka and Sword of the Stars 2 were released with significant problems. Wester admits that previously, Paradox couldn't risk the financial hit of cancelling projects. "We needed to release the best product we could release at the time in order to get at least some of the cash we invested back."
The success of Magicka and Crusader Kings 2 has put Paradox in a position were they can afford to be more diligent. "An internal quality assurance team has been built over the past year," Wester says. "Previously, we didn't have an internal QA team. Now we have a team of eight dedicated people in-house. We have a dedicated QA team for the Paradox development studio, specifically for the Crusader and Europa games, and we also now work with a number of external QA studios to stress test our multiplayer games, compatibility testing so it runs on different hardware, etc."
Wester closes by saying, "That's what you'll see from Paradox – fewer and better titles. The quality improvement is the most important thing we're working on right now."