Since 1999, Nintendo has been the pioneer of 2D platform fighting games with the legendary Super Smash Bros series. Many other franchises have attempted to make their own crossover game using the same gameplay style, such as PlayStation, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and more, but none have come close to the success of the game that started it all. Brawlhalla would be the only exception, but it still hasn’t matched the dedicated communities and huge presence at Esports events that have been going strong for over 20 years. This time, Warner Bros. throws their hat in the ring, bringing together their massive library of iconic characters in MultiVersus, now available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
At first glance, MultiVersus may seem like another Smash Bros clone, but it surprisingly feels unique, different, and most importantly, fun. It’s clear to see the efforts the hard-working team at Player First Games is putting in to develop a fun and competitive multiplayer game by taking on feedback from players around the world, which has certainly paid off.
MultiVersus is still currently in its Open Beta stage but looks like the plan is to soon merge into its final build while carrying over players’ progress, and add more content over time, but there is still so much to appreciate and quite a lot has been added and fixed since the closed Alpha Test back in May. The first thing that players will notice is the varied cast of colourful characters representing DC Comics, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Game of Thrones, and more.
To help bring these fan favourite brawlers to life, many of their iconic voice actors reprise their roles including Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Jeremy Shada as Finn the Human, John DiMaggio as Jake the Dog, and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark from the Game of Thrones TV series. Hearing these iconic voice actors certainly brings a lot of nostalgia and personality to MultiVersus as the mayhem unfolds on screen.
Of course, along with the style, it needs substance, and MultiVersus has exactly that. It’s beginner-friendly and great for casual play, with the Tutorial Mode teaching everything that players need to know about the game’s mechanics. Smash Bros players will easily adjust, but will also find it’s a very different game at the same time. Much like Smash Bros, the key to victory is to build up the opponent’s damage percentage and knock them off the stage, but the gameplay style of MultiVersus is what sets it apart, giving it its own identity.
Each character’s move set accurately represents them by highlighting their unique skills, tricks, powers, and abilities, from Batman’s many gadgets, Superman’s various powers, Bugs Bunny using ACME products, or Tom and Jerry hilariously trying to kill each other while everyone else ends up as casualties. Even the famous internet meme ‘Ultra Instinct Shaggy’ has finally become a playable character with some subtle references to Dragon Ball Z.
The controls keep things simple but have a lot of versatility, allowing players to strategise and keep their opponents guessing. There isn’t a block or grab button, but instead, a dodge button for all characters. Certain characters, like Wonder Woman, can block, which can also lead to attacks, and other characters can grab and throw, like Taz or Jake the Dog by consuming their opponents, chewing and spitting them out. A lot of love and attention to detail was given to every character, showcasing everything they have to offer, like the taunts and little things, like Bugs Bunny’s crouch animation of him searching through an ACME box, or Velma crawling to find her glasses.
The Iron Giant and NBA Superstar, LeBron James, have since been added as playable characters and add so much to the already diverse roster. Iron Giant pays homage to his favourite superhero with the S symbol on his chest as referenced in the movie, and his attacks utilise his weaponry or just him beating up a car. LeBron comes equipped in his Space Jam animated form from the 2021 movie, which fits in perfectly with the game’s art style. Instead of just being a brawler, all his moves make great use of his world-class basketball skills. He is actually voiced by John Eric Bentley instead of himself, which is odd. Iron Giant is scaled down from his original size, though still incredibly huge, while LeBron is actually smaller than he should be, despite standing at 6’9 in real life. It’s odd seeing him be almost the same height as other human characters, especially Arya Stark, whose actress is 5’1, but there isn’t much of a height difference standing next to LeBron in-game. Regardless, both new additions are a lot of fun to watch and play.
Rick and Morty have also been confirmed and should be included very soon, which already has fans excited for their arrival. The anticipation of what characters and stages from the Warner Bros. library will be added in the months/years ahead will keep things interesting and exciting.
The stages currently available have a fair few fun designs and interactive features for players to utilise and gain the advantage, but overall, it doesn’t feel like there’s much to them other than just being a stage for the characters to battle on. Smash Bros stages offer a ton of variety in design and interactivity, whereas, in MutliVersus, they feel like just a few basic platforms with fancy backgrounds. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and it does help keep things even between all players, but I feel the developers could’ve done a little more.
Another thing that sets MultiVersus apart from other games is its emphasis on teamwork. Players can do more than just fight alongside each other; they can also save each other from falling, shield them, or boost their attacks. This will take some practice, but it’s so worth it adding to the excitement and intensity. Of course, communication is key to function as a team, but if two players are paired up online and aren’t able to communicate, there are still ways to prompt their partners to perform team moves which are really great to see.
In the Closed Alpha Test, there were a few negatives with the gameplay, such as charging up a big attack right in front of the opponent, completely miss, and ending up on the other side. Thankfully this seems to have been fixed and is now much easier to land big attacks, plus certain moves have also received minor upgrades. The damage percentage is still displayed below each character and follows them instead of being positioned at the top or bottom. This can make it difficult to read the number while it’s moving all over the screen, and there still isn’t an option to change this, but hopefully will be added in a patch update.
There are various collectibles to be found by completing certain conditions or spending in-game currency, including different skins, taunts, icons, announcer voices, and more characters. Perks can also be earned, which gives characters different boosts to their attacks, speed, and defence. I was curious to see if this would negatively affect the game’s balance, much like the Gem System did in Street Fighter X Tekken. Thankfully, so far there don’t seem to be any noticeable balance issues with the Perks, instead, they’re just minor buffs that players can choose depending on their individual playstyle. The in-game currency is either Gold, which is easy to earn by competing in online matches, or Gleamium, which at the moment, can only be purchased with real money. This of course may change later on. Most importantly, there is no Pay-To-Win, helping to keep things even between all players.
The Rollback Netcode provides excellent and smooth online matches and is cross-platform too, creating an even bigger network of opponents to battle. Whether it’s 1v1, 2v2, or Free For All, MultiVersus will definitely bring a lot of fun, intense, and hilarious moments, both online and offline. It is also Free to Play, which has become a hot topic recently with fighting games deciding whether or not they should all follow suit. 2021‘s Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown was the first major game to try this and has proven to be highly successful. MultiVersus also doesn’t require a paid subscription to Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus to play online, instead, players just need to create a WB Games account, which is a quick and easy process, and then you can battle it out online. While the game is severely lacking in single-player content, its focus on smooth and competitive online play is more than a worthy substitute.
What was first seen as another Smash Bros clone has become something unique and isn’t afraid to try something different, which has been received very positively. Will it dethrone the legendary Nintendo game as the premiere 2D platform fighter? Probably not, but it doesn’t need to. Instead, it stands out on its own, with its various iconic characters that date back almost a century to the exciting, intense, and fun fast-paced teamwork gameplay with smooth online and cross-platform experience. MultiVersus packs a punch and is here to stay.
- Diverse cast of characters from the Warner Bros. library
- Fun, exciting and intense gamepla
- Moves, taunts and animations accurately representing each character
- Iconic voice actors reprising their famous roles
- Innovative teamwork mechanics
- Smooth online experience with rollback netcode
- Lots to collect
- Free to Play
- No Pay-To-Win
- Ultra Instinct Shaggy
- Damage percentage can be hard to read while moving all over the screen with the character
- Lacking in single player content