Many have tried to capture the magic, and popularity, of the Super Smash Bros. Series, but few have succeeded.
But where PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl failed, Player First Games’ MultiVersus hopes to succeed. And thanks to its range of Warner Bros. owned characters, it has a solid chance. It helps that it’s multiformat, too. And free-to-play. Although we also have some concerns on that front.
Anyone that has played Super Smash Bros. or any of its clones over the years will be familiar with the format of MultiVersus. A multiplayer brawler, players compete to pound their opponents until their defences are weakened to powerful knock-back attacks. That is, to score the points you need to succeed, you need to hit your opponent out of bounds.
A range of match types are available, including 1v1, 2v2 and four-player free-for-alls. You also have the option of playing with or against real players or bots. And no matter which you choose, you’re generally in for a fun time. It all depends on what characters what character you’re playing as, and who you find yourself up against.
15 characters have been revealed so far, hand-picked from a number of Warner Bros. franchises. On the DC front there’s Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. From Scooby Doo there’s Shaggy and Velma. Taz, Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny represent Looney Tunes. And there are more from the likes of Steven Universe, Adventure Time and even Game of Thrones.
Not all characters will appear to be available from the outset though. If the full game is like the alpha, some will need to be unlocked with coins that you earn via gameplay. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to take that long to earn the amount required to unlock your favourites, with plenty given for levelling up, completing challenges and making battle pass progress. Because of course MultiVersus has a battle pass.
Get into combat and you’ll find that things are kept relatively simple. You have a standard attack button and a special attack button, and the results of pressing each vary depending on which direction you press at the same time. Generally though, you’ll be using standard attacks to perform combos and build up damage on your opponents, before using special attacks to try and knock them off screen.
With each character falling into one of five classes, however, it’s not always so clear cut. While characters such as Taz truly are focused on directly doing damage and flinging characters far with their specials, others, like Player First’s original creation Reindog, are more suited to assisting teammates. By tethering himself to teammates with a cord, he can yank them back if it looks like they might go out if bounds.
You not only need to consider your abilities when playing MultiVersus, then, but also those of your opponents. If you’re playing against a team that includes Reindog, for example, it might be worth trying to keep him busy so he can’t help his teammate. But it also means that when playing 1v1 matches, it doesn’t feel like a fair fight.
So, like we said earlier, how much fun you get out of MultiVersus depends on what modes you play and who you choose to play as. At least at this early stage anyway. But once you’ve got used to a handful of characters’ movesets, there’s plenty of fun to be had. The visuals are bright and colourful, and the gameplay fast and frenetic. It truly is a blast, whether you win or lose.
It’s just the free-to-play nature of the MultiVersus that we’re not too sure about at the moment, honestly. It’s great that players will be able will be able to jump in for free, but it’s yet another game with a battle pass to fork out for. And will it become hard to unlock additional characters without spending additional real-world money? Call us old-fashioned, but we’d rather be able to just buy something that feels complete.
There’s also the matter of local multiplayer. It says MultiVersus supports local multiplayer on the game’s official website, but there’s no sign of it in the alpha. It seems something strange to lock out if it is there, given that you can play entirely on your own with bots if you wish.
Still, this early look at MultiVersus has won us over. Who wouldn’t want to pit their favourite Warner Bros. characters against one another? What’s more, it’s simply just good fun to play. Come launch, we imagine it’ll secure some place on our storage drives, allowing us to dip in now and again in-between playing other games. And we imagine that’s just what Player First Games’ and Warner Bros. wants.
MultiVersus is coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC later this year. An open beta will be available to everyone in July.