With a new update, I’ve had the opportunity to compile this Wands PSVR review to give my opinion on how the game fairs.
I was mildly sceptical of Wands. On the one hand, you have the creators of Down the Rabbit Hole – easily one of my favourite PSVR titles, but at the same time, it’s a one-on-one shooter with online players. Not something I actively seek out.
However, I always play through the available modes – whether I like them or not. When a game is built around this playstyle, it’s hard to avoid.
Wands PSVR review
Though Wands has been in circulation for some time, this was my first venture into this magical world.
The game has a simple goal of battling it out with other players to become the top dog, employing some devastating spells, offering variety and projecting a little flair in the process.
To begin, I used my DualShock controller as the Move controllers were charging. It was quite refreshing to see that there’s a red dot on-screen to focus your attention.
The lobby/base in the game is a steampunk (to my eye) aesthetic and has a lot of character. There are several things you can do, such as bond some spells to your wands and customise your character.
Spells are unlocked, quite quickly, through tokens that are awarded through progression. Additionally, the customisation of your character, whether it’s physical or a new wand, is though the in-game currency: dust.
Within the first 20 minutes or so, I had unlocked a new skin called the Widow and sporting a phoenix spell that acted as a heat-seeking projectile. That’s a play on words.
Magic doesn’t happen in the bedroom; it happens via jumping through a portal that takes you to a range of arenas to duke it out with fellow mages.
Before entering a battle, there’s a classic matchmaking screen where you can select where to fight and whether you want to go head-to-head with a real person or AI. In the early stages, I had to opt for the AI as the controls took some getting used to.
Wands was a little like Doom VFR in that you can’t move in the conventional sense. But rather than jump forward on-screen, you teleport. This seems more apt for the title, what with magic and all, and it’s a smooth transition as you zip across the screen like a magic pinball.
My dilemma was more to do with getting my bearings each time. As you shift forward, your character remains facing the same direction, so you’re effectively standing at one side of the arena then jump to the next in a heartbeat – very cool, but you find yourself facing a wall.
On the easier settings, you can use the left analogue stick to rotate the screen 90º and shoot your opponent in time. Anything above the standard difficulty or fighting again a human opponent will mean having cat-like reactions; turning around in time to face any attack.
Spells are effortless (as they should be!). You have four spells at one time, and they are activated with X, O, triangle and square. A fifth ‘unofficial’ spell is the teleport, which can be triggered with the R2 button when aiming at a suitable place.
You’re In A Room…
Matchmaking wasn’t balanced at first. I couldn’t see an option to change to a suitable opponent; instead, I was being pitted against veterans and season champions who might as well have one-hit-kill me.
That wasn’t particularly fun as I was already struggling to turnaround most of the time, even before I could move, I’d be sniped. On this basis, play the AI characters to get used to Wands.
It could be argued that AI movements are predictable and lacks erratic human behaviour, but I beg to differ. There are five difficulty levels, and from my perspective, the Unfair mode was appropriately labelled.
Each match has a limit of 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Whoever has the most energy wins, but I never experienced a game that lasted that long.
As spells are the focus, you don’t collect ammo as such but have a cooldown where you have to wait for mana to recharge for the next spell. You can try spamming an attack, but chances are you’ll be a spectator waiting to be killed by a more strategic opponent.
The greatest advantage is improving your spells before fighting fellow players. I suppose you could say that anyone you play online is going to be of a relatively high standard.
It’s A Kind Of Magic
There are several variations of the game that you can play, such as AI, against other players, including friendly matches and practice mode. You don’t need the latter as AI games are perfectly suited to learning the game.
Dual-wielding was one of the major updates in the game. There aren’t additional spells as they are split to two for each wand, but you can show up to a battle looking like a demented composer and makes the game even more interactive.
I think it’s admirable when a developer takes in feedback from its community and works on improving a game. Instead of releasing something new, Cortopia Studios repay the favour to loyal gamers by listening to their requests. Or should I say demands?
Gamers are hard to please, says the person reviewing the game…
Wands isn’t my type of game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. If you are into competitive online FPS-like games, it’s a winner. There are few VR multiplayers, but with a consistent flow of readily available mages to play against and numerous competition incentives to keep coming back, it’s a solid game in that respect.
The dual-wielding option is cool as you have something to do with both hands, but I’d have to say the ability to duck and dodge incoming spells is a highlight. I tried to sit and play the game, but instead was darting about like a maniac (and that part was a lot of fun!).
While there’s the option to play offline and on your own, there’s no story or campaign, and as the spells you need are easy to unlock, this isn’t something I would personally keep coming back to. Other than a story mode, I don’t see how else this can be improved further – it’s a very well made game overall, but it’s not for me, but worth it if you like duking it out against other players.