Can mages ever kick ass?

Morrowind mages guild sign

It’s a genuine question. A forum post complaining about magic in Skyrim got me thinking: are purely magical video game characters always at a disadvantage? Being a sword-waving brute or a stealthy archer is much of a muchness when it comes to staying alive, but I’ve always regarded mage characters to be wimpy, whether I’m playing them or fighting them. Is it just my playing style, or are they inherently gimped? 

I can’t remember the last time I got my bottom whipped by a mage – it would have been either Morrowind or Guild Wars. Following that, I mostly remember facing off against Hircine’s Aspect of Guile in Tribunal and introducing him to my Aspect of Pointy Steel – it was simply a matter of pinning him into a corner and stabbing him repeatedly. The boss fight lasted about 20 seconds because if he couldn’t dodge or cast spells he was basically helpless.

Most games have generally fallen along those lines: magical characters need to concentrate to cast spells, so if you can interrupt them, they’re screwed. They’re not heavily armoured or particularly quick, so they’re completely defenceless. I’m therefore genuinely curious about which games have magic characters who can genuinely match the warrior classes. Granted, I’ve not even tried destruction magic in Skyrim, but I’ve yet to encounter a wizard who’s genuinely scared me.

Actually, I do recall one game where I got my ass (and my oxen) kicked by a mage: Might & Magic II, which I got for my mobile phone. Bugger stole all my health in one go. I gave up pretty quickly after that.

Beyond that, none springs to mind immediately. It does make me wonder, though – perhaps if the mages were as tough as all that, I might even be tempted to play one.

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3 comments on “Can mages ever kick ass?

  1. On Twitter, I was pointed in the direction of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which I still have yet to play. Then again, I haven’t even finished the Skyrim main quest yet, so I might be a little while with that one.

    @morrowindfan posted about Morrowind: “yes. I had a max level mage, purposely gimped by me, and I was virtually undefeatable (this was in mw). I find it a lot more fun to play as a glass cannon.”

  2. I like playing mage in Dragon Age. AoE spells are funnnn. I think it really depends on the game’s mechanics more than anything. If a mage can heal and shield to compensate for the cloth “armour” it probably balances out.

  3. Have you ever tried Dark Souls? It’s pretty brutal at the start, but if you’re willing to grind a bit, the mage characters seem like the only one’s capable of handling some of the nasty enemies thrown at you. it’s a great game if you’re a total masochist:)

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