Question Mid-Week Question: What game has the best magic?

I am partial to Outward, which makes magic a lot more complex than simply learning a spell and pressing a button. There are physical components and rituals required to make your spells powerful, and even just gaining the ability to use magic requires a tough journey. You also have to sacrifice some of your physical durability to gain magical abilities. It's a great system that gives the magic a lot of weight.

What say you? What game does magic really well (or just has some really cool spells)?

Let me know by Wednesday and we'll publish your answers along with those from the PC Gamer staff.
I usually steer clear of magic-using characters in games for some reason. Or rather, I'll use magic in passing, but it's rarely my main thing. Having said that, I always really liked the story elements of the magic system in the Dragon Age series. (It's also the one game where I started out with a Mage.) I don't know that it's necessarily the best magic "system", but I really liked the mythos with the blood magic, The Fade, and how it all relates with Templars, Priests, dwarven Enchanters and the Tranquil.


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At first Baldur's Gate series came to my mind. But that's not a good example. BG is based on D&D and there are other games which use a similar magic system. One of the most innovative magic system you can find in Arx Fatalis. Pushing a key or two is not sufficient to cast a spell in this game. You have to do proper mouse gestures based on collected runes. So no spell spamming. The player needs some commitment and effort to become a proficient caster in Arx Fatalis. The mouse gestures make this system one of the best that I've seen in a computer game. It's demanding, but very rewarding and fun!
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A few games come to mind:

Magicka: creating different effects by using different combinations of elements is a genius idea and one that worked exceptionally well. Especially with the possibility of casting so called "magicks" by using specific combinations for unique spells.

Two Worlds II uses a card system that allowed you to create your own spells by combining elements and modifiers. The game had its problems, but I absolutely loved the magic system.

Path of Exile also let's you use modifiers to add or change effects and uses this for all skills, not just magic.

Black & White is completely different, but has a lot of fun miracles you can cast, most of them having upgraded versions. The game also includes a lot of fun details, like using gestures as shortcuts to select miracles and being able to find one shot miracles by paying attention to the fireflies at sunrise.
But most importantly, you can teach all the miracles to your loyal creature to use against anyone standing in your way.


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City of Heroes/Villains. Each power set had a nice selection but what really made it fun was the ability to modify each power with enhancers, which let you make the power cheaper to use, more likely to hit, do more damage, recycle faster, affect enemies for longer, heal more damage and so on. That let you customize your powers so that one blaster's electric bolt wouldn't necessarily play like another's. Also, you got to set the colors the particle effects used in your powers. It sounds so simple but being able to change colors to work well with your characters' color schemes really does help a lot.

(OK, so it's actually a "power" system, but if you picked the magic origin then they were spells! I submit to the Council of the Coconut Magi that it qualifies!)
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Sometimes you don't need a complex system to appreciate excellent magic. Sure you could throw a boring old fireball or blink away from danger. But why do that when you can summon a pack of kamikaze zombie bears to maul your enemies, or call a deadly school of rabid piranhas to gnaw away their feet?

The Witch Doctor of Diablo 3 has my vote for the best magic of any game. Hex the hordes, harvest their souls, and throw a jar of spiders at them. Is a jar of spiders magic? It is if you have an infinite amount of them.

Diablo 3 throws lords of hell at you and Witch Doctor says, "I'm going to kill you with these frogs." Now THATS magic.
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Divinity: Original Sin 2

You can do things like make someone bleed, freeze the blood on the ground so they slip on it, melt it with fire, and then use it to conduct electricity and give them a shock. There's all kinds of clever spells you can play off each other making every encounter a chess match with your foes.

Plus you can turn people into chickens.
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Apr 21, 2020
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Ultima Series!

I ended up in a Software etc. store in the 80's on accident and being an Atari and CollecoVision kid, I never saw what a game with magic was until I saw a demo of Ultima III running. Was the first time I saw a game with real magic with so many options. I was hooked on how you had to make your spells from ingredients and they were finite! You needed more magic missles, then go find some SA(sulfurous Ash) and BP(Black Pearls).
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