Magicka 2 includes everything you love about the first Magicka: spells, waves of snarling enemies, and hilarious hijinks brought on by missteps and unforeseen foes. Nearly four years after the release of Magicka, the four-player mayhem is back. Like its predecessor, Magicka 2 will send you through various fantasy environments populated by nasties you can beat down with spells. As a tiny robed wizard, eight spells are available to you, but some can be combined for more creative combinations--for example, mixing a fire spell and a water spell will make steam.
According to publisher Paradox Interactive associate producer Peter Cornelius, the team refers to Magicka 2 as a "competitive co-op game." Multiplayer is definitely where Magicka 2 shines. Friendly fire is present, adding one more thing for you to think about as you face off against waves of enemies. These enemies will become more numerous and a tad more difficult with more players out on the battlefield, so as not to punish those who play alone. But again, having someone there to play with you on the couch or via online matchmaking encourages you to press on. It is competitive in the sense that you want to stay alive and maintain a high score, but at the same time you all need each other to survive.
You have a direct line of sight on a giant cave crab, but your friend is in the way. What do you do: shoot through him and kill him in the process, or wait for a clear shot? Sometimes you've got to go with the former, and it's entirely up to your teammates whether or not they'll grief you for the remainder of the game, pushing you off cliffs and smacking you with explosives out of nowhere. Conversely, you can wait for your friend to get out of the way and work together to find a way to take the crab down. One of you can distract him with spells while another sprays a nearby water wheel, which as it turns lowers a gate that will allow you both to make a getaway.
Magicka 2 feels at home on PlayStation 4, as the way controls have been mapped to the DualShock 4 feels natural. Switching between sets of spells with a trigger press allows for fluid wielding, while using the d-pad to resurrect friends and blast enemies with air is just a quick press away. It all feels very familiar to longtime Magicka fans, and yet the updated look of the game--the shiny new graphics certainly help--makes this sequel feel fresh.