Peter Cornelius, Associate Producer at Paradox Interactive gives us the lowdown on Magicka 2.
Magicka 2 is the successor to 2011’s commercial hit Magicka. The action-adventure video game will be releasing as a console exclusive on the PlayStation 4 and also on PC platforms. The game was first announced at last year’s E3 and will be released later this year.
GamingBolt got in touch with the game’s Associate Producer Peter Cornelius to know how the game’s development is shaping up, reasons behind the PS4 exclusivity deal, gameplay mechanics and more. Check out Peter’s response below.
Rashid Sayed: To begin with, can you please introduce yourself and tell us how you got into the games business?
Peter Cornelius: Hello! I’m Peter Cornelius, Associate Producer on Paradox Interactive’s Magicka 2 team. I’ve always made games; simple mods, pen and paper role-playing scenarios, and then I learned some scripting and made even more. Unfortunately I had this idea that maybe working with games wasn’t a real job, and so I continued my psychology degree. During my studies I found a great job in localization-QA. I was just gonna do it for the summer… Some years of QA, design, and production later here I am at Paradox working with Magicka. I still haven’t finished my Psych degree.
Today I live in Stockholm, Sweden, where I make sure to celebrate National Cinnamon Bun Day (October 4th) each year and never leave home without a pen. Who knows when a good idea needs writing down?!
Rashid Sayed: Why is Magicka 2 a console exclusive to the PlayStation 4? Why is the game not coming to the Xbox One?
Peter Cornelius: We had a few meetings with Sony and realised we agree on a lot of things; what makes a good game, our attitude towards our fans, etc. It’s a great partnership, and we’re really excited to bring this game to PlayStation. Blowing up a friend with a homemade spell-salad is 16 times more fun when you’re within punching distance of said friend.
"Combine Fire and Water to make steam. Combine the Shield element with Lightning and Arcane to create a deadly barrier, or imbue your sword with Life and voila - you've got a healing sword to quickly heal a friend (and doing just a little damage - we call it acupuncture)."
Rashid Sayed: The original Magicka was developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and now the sequel is being developed by Pieces Interactive. So how do you plan to maintain the original vision of the series?
Peter Cornelius: Arrowhead laid a great foundation, creating a still unique spell system and defining competitive co-op. We’re proud to have developed Magicka with them, and wish them all the best on their new adventures. Pieces made several DLCs together with Arrowhead, and several more with Paradox afterward; Pieces have created some of our best Magicka memories. It was just logical to let them take the step from DLCs to making a full game. We have part of the original Magicka team at Paradox, though, guiding the vision. But honestly, we (Paradox and Pieces) have lived and breathed Magicka for such a long time now, we sometimes feel awkward in reality.
Rashid Sayed: Tell us from a top level, what kind of gameplay changes are you bringing to Magicka 2?
Peter Cornelius: Fans will feel right at home. There are still 8 elements. 5 elements at a time can be combined into a spell, and then cast in 4 different ways: Force cast, Self-cast, AoE, and weapon imbuing.
Combine Fire and Water to make steam. Combine the Shield element with Lightning and Arcane to create a deadly barrier, or imbue your sword with Life and voila – you’ve got a healing sword to quickly heal a friend (and doing just a little damage – we call it acupuncture). While the same foundation is still there, we have learned from several years of spell casting and are improving a few things.
The first new thing you’ll notice is that you can now move and cast spells at the same time. This makes Magicka 2 more fast paced, with more chaos and new challenges: Friends running into your beams, healing enemies, crossing beams – making them more powerful or creating an explosive anti-matter… Still you are always in control. When something goes wrong it’ll have been your own fault. Magicka is fair. Cranking up the speed simply enhanced everything we already loved about Magicka.
We’ve also worked hard to balance the spell system. For instance we put Lighting over Arcane in the spell hierarchy. This changes some spell combinations but made the whole system more balanced. We’re proud to say there is no one über spell combination. Different enemies are weak and strong against different elements, but also require different tactics. Magicka 2 will keep challanging you to find the best spell combo and tactics throughout the game. Not that there really is one.
How would you deal with fire demons? I’ve seen players ward themselves against Cold (so cold heals them) then go bananas with Cold AoE spells, destroying the demons and healing their friends all at once. Others put up barriers to slow the demons and combine Life, Cold, and Earth – knocking down the horned beasts with a comet loaded with their two nemesis elements. There are many ways to play Magicka 2. And that brings us to the third big thing you’ll notice…
Artifacts! Artifacts are powerful game mutators that are unlocked by playing the campaign and challenges. Artifacts let you tweak Magicka to enhance what you like most about it. Want the game to be harder? Double enemy HP, nerf healing, or remove it altogether. Why not crank up friendly fire damage 100% or 1000% while you’re at it? It’s quite a different game when friends can be one shot killed.
If hardcore isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to do the opposite by boosting wizard HP and damage. I personally like adding an extra layer of humour. I’ve talked all summer about the Sitcom artifact that adds a laugh track. Hearing “the audience” cheer you on, or boo you out, just cracks me up. We have loads of these mutators. I mean it when I say that one playthrough isn’t enough to see all that Magficka 2 can be.
We’ve also improved the whole multiplayer experience. We have working netcode. 😉 You can easily hot join a friend’s session at any time and leave just as easily. The game also scales to the number of players, making sure each encounter is what it should be.
Rashid Sayed: The story of the original was some of sort of let down. What can you tell us about Magicka 2’s storyline? How closely will it tie up with the gameplay?
Peter Cornelius: The story is quite a ride. Yes, it is a linear ride, but so are all the best rollercoasters.
Vlad is back. He is still not a vampire and still throws world saving quests the wizards’ way.
While we’ve put a lot of effort creating a memorable and meaningful narrative, we’ve put just as much effort into filling the world with life. The narrative doesn’t just happen in cut scenes. There are people to talk to, rune stones to read, and lots of secret areas, all of which add something to the lore and the story in its own way.
"You can do everything from summoning help wearing hockey helmets to responsibly filling the screen with dragon fire. That should give you a good idea of the flavor and range of the Magicks."
Rashid Sayed: And it won’t be a Magicka if there are no Magicks. What can you tell us about those?
Peter Cornelius: You can do everything from summoning help wearing hockey helmets to responsibly filling the screen with dragon fire. That should give you a good idea of the flavor and range of the Magicks. Magic casting will be quicker in Magicka 2, making them a lot more useful and a more viable tactical choice.
Rashid Sayed: The original Magicka had four player co-operative mode. How will this change in the sequel?
Peter Cornelius: Just as the original, Magicka 2 is a 1-4 player competitive co-op game where friendly fire is always on. That’s not changing, but it is improving. We’re making it easier to find multiplayer sessions, letting people from all over the internet play with each other. There are nearly plenty of upsides to this. Not only is it a way to find great people to play with when all your friends are away visiting their grandparents but it’s also a fun way to see and learn new tactics, spell combinations, and at least (temporarily) steal gear.
Of course, all game modes can be played by all parties whether you’re a party of one or a party of four.
Rashid Sayed: Are there any other modes you have been planning for Magicka 2?
Peter Cornelius: Apart from the Adventure mode (Campaign) there are Challenges and Trials. We’re currently looking into ways to create a never-ending flow of challenges…
Rashid Sayed: Can you tell us how did your partnership with PlayStation came about?
Peter Cornelius: How did chocolate ice cream come about? Some combinations are just meant to happen.
A note on the PlayStation version:
I know many think of Magicka as a mouse and keyboard game and it still is for those who want to play that way. I however have completely converted to the game pad.
The game pad works incredibly well. One stick is for moving around, the other for directing ones’ spells. It makes magic casting simple without making it easy. But the difficulty is in the game–the wave of long toothed beasts coming at you, making you stressed and accidentally trying to heal yourself with death magic. The game pad is your friend, not an extra obstacle.
I will personally not go back to mouse and keyboard.
Rashid Sayed: The original Magicka had awesome lighting effects. Having said that, how are you finding the PS4 GPU to handle some of the heavy graphical effects of Magicka 2?
Peter Cornelius: Every platform has its own challenges. I played an early PS4 version just the other day and it’s gorgeous.
Rashid Sayed: Are you targeting 1080p and 60fps on the PS4? Furthermore, do you think most games should running at that standard?
Peter Cornelius: Yup. Life starts at 1080p.
Rashid Sayed: As some who is also working on a PC version, what is your take on the PS4 as a whole? Is it safe to assume it as a gaming PC with potential for high end capabilities?
Peter Cornelius: That’s a pretty good way to put it.
Rashid Sayed: Are there going to be any differences between the PC and PS4 versions?
Peter Cornelius: Nope, we’re making one game for two platforms. All features will be available to all players.
Rashid Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Peter Cornelius: Thanks for the interview and you have a great site! Thanks for letting us share something we love, your excitement fuels us during our dark winter days.
And just to sum up:
Magicka 2 is a 1-4 player competitive co-op action game, where friendly fire is always on. It’s where you get to play as the most unpredictable, irresponsible and powerful wizards known to fantasy. Make your own spells by mixing up to five elements at one time out of eight available and then cast your spells in four different ways. Prepare for unforgiving hilarity!