Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Player First Games have made a new platform fighter called MultiVersus. Before the closed alpha started today, I was able to play the game early, and it’s looking pretty good so far.
This is how Warner Bros. takes games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Brawlhalla and makes them their own. It’s also a cross-over extravaganza, like SSBU and WB’s own Space Jam.
Characters from different WB, HBO, and DC franchises are put against each other in MultiVersus. So, Superman will fight Steven Universe, Harley Quinn will fight Velma from Scooby-Doo, and, perhaps most strangely, Tom and Jerry will not fight each other but instead work as a team controlled by one player.
The controls are mostly the same as in Smash, with attacks and special moves tied to a single button and the four directions. But I think it would be unfair to call MultiVersus a straight-up copy of Smash. It has its own flavour and is made up of many different parts.
The main mode is a two-on-two battle in which teams try to knock their opponents off the map four times. There are also 1v1 and free-for-all modes for up to four players. It’s clear that 2v2 is the main focus, especially when you look at how the skills of teammates work together.
Wonder Woman, for example, can lasso a friend who is in trouble and pull them away. By throwing a sandwich at a friend, Shaggy helps them get better (or damages an enemy in the same way). Reindog is the only original character in MultiVersus so far, and it curls up into a ball that its partner can throw to deal damage with projectiles.
I think there will be a bit of a learning curve as people figure out what each character can do and how they can work together. That’s not a big deal, though, because anyone who wants to be good at a competitive game will spend a lot of time learning how each fighter works.
I’m not a pro at fighting games by any stretch of the imagination. But the five or so hours I’ve spent with MultiVersus so far have been a lot of fun. I understand what Player First Games is trying to do, and I think they’ve done a good job so far.
With so much going on at once, matches can get a little crazy. I had trouble keeping up with them at times (especially during free-for-alls). Still, most of the time I had the most damage and printouts, so I must have been doing something right.
Button mashing. I pressed the buttons correctly.
I spent most of my time playing in the training mode (the lab) to try to learn each character’s moves. When I played against real people, I just mashed buttons and hoped for the best. It worked out for me most of the time.
Some of the most popular characters, like Superman and Batman, won’t be available at first, which is a bit of a bummer. To get to them, you’ll need money, which you can get by playing. At least you can train with locked characters in the lab, so you can get used to their move sets in case you run into one on the other team. (By the way, The Iron Giant wasn’t in the preview at all, which was a bummer.)
The first team is strong, with a good mix of well-known names and some less-expected characters. I played a few games with Taz, but I didn’t feel like I could make the most of his fun and unusual move set (he can turn enemies into a defenceless cooked chicken). I liked Velma’s detective-like set of moves, and even though Bugs Bunny can be annoying, he also has a ridiculous, ACME-heavy set.
I chose Harley Quinn most of the time in the end. She’s a good all-arounder with a good mix of close-up and far-away moves, and she’s also good in the air. Even though I didn’t get a chance to try her out properly, I’m also looking forward to learning how to play Arya Stark, who steals faces in a crazy way.
The developers can choose from a huge pool of IPs to fill out the roster. Rick and Morty seem like good choices for new characters, but I hope things get even stranger. We hope that characters like Beetlejuice, Ace Ventura, the Wicked Witch of the West, Gizmo, and Daenerys Targaryen will show up in the future.
Since MultiVersus is free to play, there are small purchases that can be made. There is both a free battle pass and a paid one. There will be a variety of cosmetic items you can put on the characters, as well as custom explosion effects when you knock an enemy off the screen. Characters can also be changed through a perk system and by leveling up.
Warner Bros. is already putting money into the esports scene of the game, which is a good sign. It is putting up $100,000 for an August 2v2 tournament at EVO.
Player First Games has done a great job laying the groundwork for what could become a top-tier platform fighter in the years to come. Even though I’m new to the scene, I’m already having fun. I want to know what the pros in the FGC think of it, especially since the server-based rollback net code seems to work well.
In the meantime, MultiVersus has gotten off to a great start, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
MultiVersus will be playable on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, and it will support cross-play with all of them. The closed alpha will last until May 27. In July, there will be an open beta.
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