Shaggy, Superman, Arya Stark and LeBron James have all been thrown into the same fighting game and we have some thoughts on it.
If you'd asked me a few years ago what the chances were that we'd see a fighting game with Bugs Bunny and Arya Stark in it, I'd have laughed at it with flared nostrils. But now it's certainly a reality and we've been beating each other up properly as all sorts of lovable characters from all over Warner Bros. umbrella of products and IP. Somewhat surprisingly, MultiVersus is also an excellent game, developed by Player First Games.
Just looking at MultiVersus brings Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to mind, and it's definitely no small shoe to fill, considering we handed out the highest possible rating when we reviewed it ourselves. Nintendo, despite several attempts, have remained unchallenged in the party-fighting genre. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale quickly fell into obscurity and it quickly became clear that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was an incredibly mediocre title that was nowhere near Nintendo's brilliant fighting effort. Expectations for MultiVersus were therefore not particularly high, but nevertheless the game comes with some novelties that we haven't seen before - and which also deliver.
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Simply put, MultiVersus is all about pounding on other players, where by dealing more damage you make it easier to push them out of the arena and thus lose a life. Whoever reaches the predetermined number of knockouts first wins. The concept should be nothing new to anyone who has played similar video games before. In MultiVersus, however, there is a greater focus on cooperation in a couple of different ways. For starters, you can customise different characters with various abilities that, among other things, make your attacks stronger, allow you to dodge punches faster, or jump higher. There are several different options to choose from and if your teammate applies the same abilities, they are added to the team's abilities and make them even more impactful. Another important aspect is the characters themselves. While Superman acts like a tank and can take a lot of damage, Velma can increase your teammate's speed and even heal them. Each character has their own unique abilities and can be combined to suit any style of play.
One pleasing aspect of MultiVersus is that it's completely free to start playing. There are a few different editions of the game that cost money, but if you want to, you don't have to spend a single penny to enjoy it. If you choose not to spend any money, however, some of the content will be more time-consuming to unlock. Only about a third of the characters will be available to choose from, but the more you play, the more money will be added to your bank, which you can then spend to unlock new fighters. In addition to this money, there's another currency: Gleamium. This can be bought for real money to later purchase characters without having to spend dozens of hours unlocking them. In addition to buying new characters, these different currencies can also be used to buy alternate skins, or other cosmetics. Unfortunately, some of these things are locked to Gleamium and with that said, it's not possible to unlock everything if you want to play completely for free, which I find somewhat odd. Some prices also feel strange as a profile icon, for example, can cost 50,000 regular coins while a character costs no more than 3000 coins at most.
Something that struck me immediately in MultiVersus was the already excellent character selection. This gallery really consists of all sorts of characters. Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, Wonder Woman, Steven Universe, Bugs Bunny and the Iron Giant from Brad Bird's wonderful movie are all playable. Eventually, the character gallery is said to be expanding and even as the game transitions from open beta to official launch, basketball pro LeBron James has been released as a featured character from Space Jam: A New Legacy. We know that both Rick and Morty are on their way, and in the long run we can expect to see many, many more characters joining from Warner Bros. It's not just the fighters that are familiar, however, but the arenas are likely to feel familiar to many as well. Including Wonder Woman's home Themyscira, a haunted house from Scooby-Doo and the Batcave. For now, the number of locations is quite few, which feels a bit sad, so I hope this number is also expanded quickly.
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Unlike Super Smash Bros., which has often been synonymous with various items that appear and can be used in battles, there are no such items in MultiVersus. Since the arenas are relatively small and things can get quite chaotic regardless, it feels right to skip this. Personally, these items have often sabotaged matches and it's not uncommon for me to choose to turn items off when playing Nintendo's alternative. Being able to customise abilities in MultiVersus may at first seem unfair, but it's not really as unfair as you might think. Rather, I'd argue that the abilities are balanced and once the ranked play mode launches, we can expect abilities to be blocked and become more appealing to those who don't like the setup.
As for the game modes, they are relatively few, unfortunately. It must be said that while Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was a monumental disappointment, it consisted of several different modes to play where, for example, football could be played. There it was even possible to play an arcade mode that I really would have liked to see in MultiVersus, because if you're playing by yourself, there's a good chance you'll want to play something other than 1v1, 2v2 or free-for-all (four players). Personally, I would have liked to see a little story for each character and a small prize upon completion of the arcade mode to make it a little more fun to discover the different characters. At the moment, you are rather forced to test them in regular matches, local or online, or in the training mode against bots. A single-player mode would have been really great and stands out as perhaps the thing I miss most in MultiVersus.
One thing that is clear about MultiVersus is that you are rewarded continuously by playing it. Each season will bring a new season pass where you earn XP by completing various challenges and simply playing matches. In doing so, you unlock a variety of things such as money, cosmetics and shortcuts to climb in character level. Good behaviour can also earn you extra cash after completing a match, and playing in the same party as someone else will earn you a whopping 30% extra XP and cash. In other words, Player First Games encourages players to have fun together and it's really needed.
In conclusion, MultiVersus is a game you really, really shouldn't miss out on. Whether you choose to spend money on it or choose not to give Player First Games a single penny. The fighting is absolutely superb and in the long run we have reason to believe that the game will only get better and better. More characters are on the way, more game modes are also incoming, and we can only assume that much more will be released for the fighting title eventually. So stop waiting and start pounding on your friends (or strangers) in this great fighting game.