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Magicka: Vietnam

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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You may not have guessed it, from how many Arcane Novas and Steam Lightning Storms were cast in the direction of other players, but wacky action-RPG Magicka was originally a co-op game. PvP arenas were added free DLC to formalise the wizard-on-wizard violence, and the next game goes even further. Announced today by publisher Paradox, Magicka: Wizard Wars is a purely PvP affair, boasting 4v4 magic man action.

Magicka, if you were unfortunate or foolish enough to miss the original, has the most wonderful and chaotic spellcasting system. You combine up to five of the eight elements--from Earth and Life to Fire and Shield--into a single spell. This can be cast on yourself, on your weapon to imbue it with power, or tossed around in a number of ways. With so many combinations, you can get cast unusual things like a Chilly Exploding Electric Ice Wall or Healing Mines. Which deal as much damage or healing to friends as to enemies. Things go wrong, quickly, often, and unexpectedly.

This zany system will of course remain in Wizard Wars, which Paradox says will result in "short rounds and unpredictable strategies." More importantly, you'll have a persistent customizable wizard, with hundreds of items to choose from. No word yet on when it'll launch.

Magicka creator Arrowhead is not making Wizard Wars, but rather Paradox's own Paradox North studio. Arrowhead's most recent work was multiplayer side-on shooter The Showdown Effect.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Paradox Interactive announced its line-up for the Game Developers Conference in March, and among the games listed is a new multiplayer combat game from Arrowhead Game Studios. The project from the Magicka team is code-named Project JFK, but is otherwise being kept mostly under wraps for the time being.

The teaser announcement promises "breakneck-paced multiplayer combat with a focus on killing your friends and looking cool doing it." Whatever Project JFK is, it's being developed alongside further expansions to Magicka, so Arrowhead must be busy.

Paradox also teased two other unannounced projects. Project Revenge from Critical Studio is described as "death trap for heroes and children." Lovely. And Project Silverado from Zeal Game Studio combines elements from RTS, shooters, tabletop war-games, in a sci-fi setting. Paradox will also showcase the previously announced games, A Game of Dwarves and War of the Roses.

GDC 2012 will take place March 5-9 in San Francisco.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Arrowhead Game Studios' Magicka has lampooned Vietnam and Cthulu without receiving the wrath of the elder gods or EA lawyers. Today Paradox Interactive announced another expansion, The Other Side of the Coin, which gives a firm ribbing to fantasy cliches.

You'll be put in the shoes of Alucard the Vampire and his necromancer followers as they disrupt Vlad's proposed peace between humans, dwarves, and elves. The Other Side of the Coin (or TOSOTC for short) uses the same objective-based progression as Vietnam, and adds a new challenge map for the necromancers. The necromancer can also be used in PvP, and the announcement promises a new environment with distinctive Elven architecture.

It will only cost $3.99, but you'll have to wait a while. The expansion isn't due until late autumn.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Magicka has cast a mighty spell, summoning not only an update with heaps of tech improvements and fixes, but also a new trailer for its eerie upcoming Lovecraftian downloadable expansion 'The Stars Are Left.'

The patch, already out through Steam, brings checkpoints remembered between play sessions, a fancier particle system, stuttering fixes, server browser improvements, and heaps more.

Steam has the full changelog, but here are the highlights:

  • Fairy familiar added, revives characters after death occurs in solo campaign

  • Checkpoints now save progress even if game is quit

  • Chapter select added to replay previously played chapters

  • Several improvements to the server browser

  • Physics and collision detection improved - less falling through the floor

  • Frame rate stuttering - should be less noticeable for some users

  • Extended particle system with particle lights

  • Improved light performance

  • Several minor bug fixes, game balance, and tweaks

And now, witness the unspeakable horrors of The Stars Are Left. It'll rise from the depths of the space, time, and madness this winter, with new enemies, levels, magicka, items, and more. As with the Vietnam expansion, only the player hosting will need to have bought it.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Eldritch horrors from beyond the stars are to invade the cheery world of Magicka in 'The Stars Are Left,' a downloadable content campaign inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, announced today by publisher Paradox.

The multi-level adventure will bring seven Lovecraftian enemies to smash, two new bosses to conquer, extra spells to zap them all with, two challenge maps, and new items and robes to murder your co-op partners over. "Also, we make fun of Minecraft this time," Paradox notes.

Magicka: The Stars Are Left is due to launch this winter. There's no word on how much it'll cost but, as with previous Magicka DLC, only the game host will need to own it for everyone to play.

While the horrors developer Arrowhead intends to unleash upon us are doubtless unspeakable, you can get a peek at them in the first screenshots and announcement trailer:

And as the saying goes, if you can remember it without jerking erect and screeching "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!" in an unearthly voice, then you weren't really there.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Paradox Interactive, publisher of games like Magicka and Mount and Blade, says it no longer needs retail support. "Retail sales are like a bonus for now," Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox told PC Gamer, revealing that 90% of the company's revenue now comes through digital distribution sales. "We don’t really need retailers any more."

Obviously, digital distribution bypasses many of the hurdles that retail releases require: there are no discs to print, no boxes to ship, and having to fight for coveted shelf space. However, Wester suggests that digital distribution affords game creators greater creative freedom. "People complain to publishers that there are only sequels on the market, but that’s because retailers want to see sequels, because they can do their chart diagrams for how things sell and things like that," he added. "So one of the things preventing more creative gaming has been the retail challenge."

It's unlikely that a game like Magicka, a quirky co-op adventure game, would have found success in a market largely determined by retail. It has gone on to sell more than 600,000 copies since release. It later received a tongue-in-cheek expansion pack, "Vietnam."

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

As if Magicka didn't already suffer enough magical 'friendly fire' incidents, developer Arrowhead and publisher Paradox have announced that wizard-on-wizard violence will be formalised on June 21 when the PvP mode launches for free.

The Trek-tastic Vulcanus DLC arena

Along with classic Deathmatch, which players are apparently quite capable of emulating for themselves at the moment anyway, there'll be another two modes for duelling wizards. Brawl will give players or teams a limited number of lives for them to fritter away until there's only one survivor. Kreitor mode, inspired by an eponymous fan, will see new Magicks unlocking at intervals, so the match changes over time as wizards get new toys to play with.

Launching alongside the free PvP mode will be paid downloadable content with new combat arenas and robes. If you've ever wondered what would have happened if Captain Kirk and Spock were wizards when they duelled in the Star Trek episode 'Amok Time,' you'll want to snap up the 'Vulcanus' map, which bears more than a passing similarity to that famous arena.

Pricing has not yet been announced for the paid DLC, but for reference the last Magicka map pack cost $1.99 and item packs have cost 99¢.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Magicka 'Nippon' DLC

A new cheap piece of downloadable content for Magicka is available on Steam. The $1 "Nippon" DLC grants you a Kimono robe, a Katana that can cut through armor, and a Bamboo Staff that adds resistance to all elements.

Until June 5, fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the Japan Relief Support program. On top of that, buying the DLC before the deadline date will also net you a spiffy new hat for Team Fortress 2: the Demoman's Conjurer's Cowl.

If you're looking for other ways to contribute to Japanese relief efforts, check out Play for Japan. The organization recently hit over $120,000 raised, and is currently getting ready to release a charity album.

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Arrowhead Studios is bringing two Challenge Maps to Magicka, and letting fans vote on which of the two will be available for free. The losing map will be offered for $2.
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