Magicka 2

Magicka is a good game. And so is Magicka 2.

So I got the chance to play through Magicka 2 through as well and it quite enjoyable. At the start I was skeptical about some of the changes, for example the magicks now having a small cooldown for all of them—as in, you can’t chain cast magicks as fast as you can tap them in. It is slightly alleviated by the new hotkey system, where you can bind four magicks to just a single key which then have their own cooldown and a smaller shared cooldown.

But with that, there were also several changes I found good. Among them, shield now lasting a lot longer but only working for spells not physical damage as well as mobs now clearly showing when they were resisting or weak to a certain element. This made the usage of different elements feel much less random and more considered. The mages also can stand a bit more damage and aren’t quite as squishy as in the first game, which also made it much more enjoyable to play along with much faster feeling combat in general. Animations also got an update and are much nicer in the sequel.

All of this added up to really nice and surprisingly different yet familiar game experience. But I think for me, just getting to play more Magicka with slightly nicer graphics would’ve been enough to think it was a good game so them managing to actually change some things that ended up being for the better—for I was sceptical of some of the changes, namely Magicks having a cooldown, at the start—I find rather impressive.

There were also some less interesting changes implemented though I think they might make a potential second playthrough more enjoyable—namely, the artifacts. These change some rules of the game, for example: either increasing or decreasing the damage of certain elements; changing the graphics style of the game; or simply adding more humor—haven’t tested that one yet, but it seems interesting. They do have one unfortunate property though, namely that they—along with alternative robes and the like—need to be collected through playing the game and finding secrets. While they certainly are optional and only there to add flair to the game, it feels a bit unfortunate that they need to be unlocked first since I really after the first playthrough couldn’t see any obviously interesting combination to do. I think increasing the damage of some elements would be the most interesting thing to do, since that would increase the chaos factor of playing with others but that remains to be tested since I can’t do it for all elements yet—though that might not be possible at all, since I believe there are fewer artifact slots than there are elements (5 and 8 respectively).

In conclusion, Magicka 2 is a good game, would recommend playing it through though the last boss is a bit frustrating.


As an interesting sidenote, I ended up playing some more Magicka (the original) again since another friend of mine had gotten the game and it actually gave me a greater appreciation for Magicka 2 strangely enough—as in, I started to appreciate some of the changes Magicka 2 had made more after playing the original again since the second one just feels a bit better to play than the original. I’m not sure if this is mostly down to just the updated graphics or if there is something else to it as well, but playing the second one just feels a bit smoother somehow.

So if that isn’t an endorsement for the second part I don’t know what is.

Gaming

Personal Loot

In the recent Q&A, there was some talk of Blizzard considering removing the option for (Guild) Master Loot in current content raids with the release of Battle for Azeroth. And I’m still somewhat undecided on the matter though leaning towards it being a negative change.

On one hand, I can kind of see and agree with the argument being made—Master Loot was primarily used to allow people to complete their tier sets—but on the other hand Master Loot was used for more than just that. It also enables the guild to distribute gear according to need, based on for example secondary stats or usefulness of certain procs, these things being especially important for trinkets, rings and necklaces the moment.

Additionally, even with sets being gone, there will still be the Azerite bonuses on armor that will probably mean that different pieces are better for certain classes. To be fair, the Azerite pieces specifically will be a smaller problem since they can’t titanforge, but especially early on in the raid it might be still frustrating to see pieces that are an item level upgrade go to classes that might not choose to wear them due to the bonuses.

I also to a degree fail to see the benefit this change is supposed to bring. One might argue that on average it will be more fair, since everyone has an equal chance for loot but at the same time maybe that loot isn’t an upgrade and one still can’t give it away due to item level and that is simply frustrating as it’s the same as the boss having simply dropped gold. Maybe it reduces the administrative burden of leading raids a bit and the time required for loot, and even then I feel more time has generally gone to trading loot acquired through personal loot than has been neede for Master Loot.

So the whole situation at the moment just kind of feels like either an unecessary simplification or trying to reduce split runs which is only a concern for a very small number of guilds and then directly harms others.

I am hoping time proves me wrong on this one and it won’t be the end of the world even if not, but it still just feels kind of bad at the moment.

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Magicka

As mentioned I’ve been playing some Magicka recently and we finished the main campaign and one of the DLC campaigns: The Stars are Left.

Now it has been a really fun time and I’ll have to look into getting some of the other DLC campaigns, I believe there are still two or three to play along with Magicka 2 it seems, I wasn’t even aware that there was a second installment of the game out so now I’m looking forward to getting the chance to play that and see what it’s all about and what they’ve changed.

It has also been really fun to be playing in coop this time around, as I have had a few bashes at the Stars are Left DLC alone but those had ended mostly in frustration since I was so unused to playing the game again as my original playthrough was around the time the game came out I think, which is around 7 years ago now.

But what is Magicka?

Magicka—as the name might imply—is a spellcasting game where you play as a mage with eight base elements at your disposal, these being: Water, Life, Shield, Frost, Lightning, Arcane, Earth and Fire. You can activate one of these elements by pressing a hotkey and combine up to five of them and either throw them at the enemy—or yourself—as is or if the combination is a magick you know then you can cast that, usually casting the magick is the right move as they tend to be more powerfull but sometimes just throwing a big rock at the enemy is more effective. You also can’t use all magicks everywhere, for example you can’t conjure a lightning bolt indoors which limits its usability somewhat.

Some of the base elements also combine into other elements, water and frost combining into ice and fire and water combining into steam for example.

This basic system is really the beauty of the game, since there are so many combinations you can do and you’re encouraged to use many of them since enemies have different weaknesses. This is especially apparent later on in the game where actually using the wrong element against some enemies will heal them instead of damage them—the obvious example being undead being healed by arcane and damaged by life, which does make undead somewhat easy to deal with in this game.

For those looking for a challenge, the game is also rather hard when played alone as the monsters can kill you really quickly and you only have one extra life between checkpoints, this encourages a rather careful style of play.

Alternatively, play in coop with 1-3 other people and start getting hit by their errant spells as well, though luckily you do get the Revive magick from the start and it is rather easy to cast—don’t try it while wet though, trying to cast magick involving lightning while wet will just lead to you hurting yourself.

That does lead nicely into another aspect about the game though, namely status effects. Now these are also rather obvious, cast water on someone and they’ll be wet and be weakened against lightning and unable to use lightning in their spellcasting if they are a caster. Fire removes the wet status though it does cause some damage even then. Frost similarily slows one down or freezes even if one was already wet. Fire also removes the slow from frost. There is also a magick that removes all status effects from everything on the screen which can be useful at times—especially if one has thrown down a few too many mines.

Right, mines. As in the explody type, not the diggy type. They are made by combining either life or arcane with shield along with any other elements one wants and tend to be very useful when playing along as they knock back enemies which makes them easier to control. Shield and earth is another good way to control enemies as this creates walls, which while destroyable at least prevent the enemies from squishing you instantly. You can also create a wall with shield alone and at times that is necessary, but the stone walls tend to last a bit longer but are slower to cast. You can also combine the stone walls with fire or frost to burn or slow your enemies, making them even more useful.

Should I play Magicka?

If you like either hard games (single player) or very fun coop games (multiplayer) and spellcasting, then yes. Magicka is just simply a fun game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just allows you to have tons of fun with spellcasting. It can be frustratingly hard at times but coop with its revives alleviates that a lot and the silly teamkills that can happen are consequently more funny than frustrating—as long as one isn’t playing with a griefer, but I suppose that wouldn’t be fun in any game.

Magicka even seems to be -70% at the moment on Steam until the end of the week, so I suppose it would be a decent time to buy as well. It seems to be slightly cheaper on the Paradox website if one wants to buy the game along with all the DLC though, so that might be worth checking out as well.

Oh, there are also actually arena PVP and challenge modes in the game, but I’ve focused on the campaign/adventure mode since that’s what interests me and what I’ve played and is probably where one should start with the game anyway.

Gaming

Quiet

Sometimes there are quiet times, like the past week. Not much has really been going on apart from the usual raids and some mythic+. And while that has been slightly disappointing at times—mostly because I keep wanting to do more mythic+ and do better there—it’s actually gone as one should have expected. The affixes aren’t exactly conducive to doing higher keys, especially within the constraints of our setup since we don’t really have any classes that excel at dealing with orbs.

In good news however, some of the disappointment has also come from increased interest and consequently participation of a few guildies in the runs. They have indicated a more regular interest in doing higher keys, which would allow for a team that plays better together instead of the constant reliance on random people that are hard to evaluate before the run begins. Now I did mention disappointment, and that has partially come from some level of inexperience showed by them at times, but inexperience is quite simply fixed by experience so that will come with time. Setup wise, I actually think we should be decently off for most affixes even if it is very unconventional. Though Hyrja might pose some problems, but when doesn’t she?

This is actually making me a bit more excited for the coming weeks—well, not the next, the affixes are even worse and I don’t think there will be any higher keys done then—since we get to refine the team and I actually get to know some more people from the guild better.

Quiet times however, are also perfect for taking a poke at some other games and me and a guildie did that yesterday with Magicka. I have played the game through before, but it remains really fun even though it was a particularily deadly time yesterday for some reason—as in, I kept dying. There did seem to be a surprising amount of lag at times, as in enemies walking through my mines and the mines just despawning without doing damage which might have contributed to some of my deaths—though luckily in coop you have a resurrection spell that is rather easy to cast.

The game really is meant for the chaos of multiplayer and not the slow methodical play of single player. Maybe I’ll end up doing a similar retrospective on Magicka as I did on Terraria, though I feel Magicka requires less explaining than Terraria—the fun is a bit more obvious: crazy, destructive magical coop. Fair warning though, it’s really important who one plays with. If one likes constantly goofing around and killing their teammates and that frustrates the other player, it probably won’t be a fun experience.

It is really fun in single player as well, though the game is much harder when played alone for two reasons:

  1. In single player, you are the target of all enemy abilities making you that much more likely to die
  2. As mentioned, in multiplayer other players can ressurect you. In single player, you have a spirit that will ressurect you once between save points, otherwise you get sent back to the save point.

In single player you do avoid your coop partners accidentally killing you though, which does make it slightly easier to stay alive but is in no way a compensation for the benefits having other players there brings. The two modes quite simply require very different playstyles, single player more focused on shields and walls and in multiplayer one can have a bit more fun as well as more time to cast things.

All in all, I was already about to ask if we could continue playing, but the guildie isn’t online yet so I guess that will have to wait a bit… Well, good things are worth waiting for. And there seem to be many good things to wait for, there was a Q&A announced for Thursday, Magicka as noted, hopefully more successful mythic+ with a more regular group of cool people—from what I can tell my guildies are pretty cool—and finally Battle for Azeroth a bit further into the future. No confirmed release date yet, wonder if we get one on Thursday? Would seem a bit early but one never knows.

Gaming

Time flies

They say time flies when you’re having fun and the last few weeks have gone by rather quickly. As mentioned briefly, Argus is down. Now this is a few weeks ago and I have my kill by now as well along with my trial being over in the guild apparently. That was a bit of a surprise, since I just kind of ended up being promoted without any feedback or discussion or the like but nice nonetheless.

The Argus fight in itself was fairly trivial at this point though I did do a few silly mistakes. There’s only really one difficult part in the last phase if one gets the wrong debuff, aside from that it seems to be basically: stay with the group unless you have bomb/debuff in which case out of the group. Sure there is a bit more nuance than that and Argus isn’t an easy boss, but it still felt fairly straightforward—which gives me much better understanding for some of the people in the guild who are kind of done with the boss since I’m guessing they were rather tired of wiping on other people’s mistakes. Though that is something that happens with every difficult boss and we actually managed the kill with relatively few wipes, 225 or so.

Now I’m just curious to see how they continue with the setups, since I believe only three healers need anything from Argus if they decide to keep taking four healers along or go with three from now on for farm as well.

When it comes to downing bosses, there has obviously been some other “progress” for me as well since the last boss I mentioned progressing on was Kin’garoth. So far the Coven of Shivarra still stands for me, but Kin’garoth, Varimathras and Aggramar have been downed—along with Argus as mentioned. The Kin’garoth fight was about as straightforward as it felt in progress, it’s still error prone with the bombs but other than that straightforward.

Varimathras is almost the same as heroic, just that one has an escort when one goes out with the Necrotic Embrace and there’s a need for keeping proper distances due to this. Also there’s an add that needs to be focused quickly. The fight remains a pure mechanics check, similar to the Maiden in Tomb of Sargeras.

Aggramar, well, just felt like more damage. Sure the big cleave needs to be soaked as two camps as it applies a debuff increasing the damage taken from it, and there spawn some more adds. But the intermissions remain the only difficult phase healerwise and beyond that it’s just add control. Which is fragile yes, and takes time to learn but doesn’t apply to me as a healer much. Though I did get to help a bit with kicking the adds back, which was fun.

Aside from raids, I have also gotten into doing some mythic+ a bit more regularily again which has been really nice. It feels good to be pushing for higher keys again and being challenged—though this week hasn’t gone quite according to plan with more depletions than I’d have thought. But no matter, it has been too much fun anyway to care too much about that. I think I’m slowly managing to get rid of the stress to perform I have been feeling at times which has prevented me from enjoying aspects of the game I tend to enjoy the most.

With that said, I’m actually hoping I manage to play the key I have still, though time is quickly running out and finding decent people for a key this late might be a challenge. But should still be manageable, if not then not the end of the world either.

Overall, good times at the moment. I’m really looking forward to actually participating in progress when Battle for Azeroth comes out, hopefully there will be many opportunities for that.

World of Warcraft