Thursday, May 30, 2024

MultiVersus Preview: a multiverse of brawler shenanigans

The moment MultiVersus was announced, I knew that I’d found my own answer to Super Smash Bro’s – and now that I’ve had the chance to preview the brawler myself? I can safely say that I was right.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself with Smash and have fond memories of playing it with my friends. But I’ll be honest: I only bought it for one character: Fire Emblem’s Byleth. The reason is that, growing up, I didn’t really have the chance to play any Nintendo games. My first console was the PlayStation 2 and, outside of the occasional Pokemon game, my experience with Nintendo was fairly non-existent. Because of this, a lot of the characters that have no doubt drawn fans to the Super Smash Bros games, often don’t appeal to me. I didn’t grow up with them.

But I did grow up with Warner Bros cartoons and the animated series involved, and I’m deeply invested in everything DC. So yes, while Smash had my curiosity, MultiVersus has my attention.

Much like many brawlers out there, the aim is to beat your opponents (whether that be in a 1v1 or 2v2 battle, or a 4v4 free for all) into the next universe. Guess that’s why it’s called a multiverse, baby.

It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But there’s more to just pressing a button so many times and winning, it’s all about technique and with over 10 different characters to get your head around, there are plenty of abilities, secondaries and moves for you to learn. It’s a lot, but before you can even access the majority of the game, MultiVersus offers you a simple tutorial that tells you the basics and lets you unlock a character (Wonder Woman) for your troubles. Even with that added incentive to do the tutorial though, if you’re into brawlers then you won’t find anything about the characters and their objectives particularly new or difficult – which isn’t a negative. Why fix what ain’t broke?

MultiVersus preview
Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman teaming up to beat up a dog and a kid.

Despite being pretty similar to most brawlers around, my time with MultiVersus did let me preview what makes it different too. The first is that these characters talk – and I mean a lot. At the start of each match you’ll hear a quick quip, and you’ll continue to hear these as the battle goes on, as well as at the end of the match. This isn’t anything groundbreaking by itself, but from what I gathered during my time with the game, it seems each character has unique quips depending on who they go up against. While it doesn’t add much, the addition was a nice touch and did actively encourage me to try out characters to see what they’d say.

Another difference is that the characters in MultiVersus don’t just work as standalone, lone wolves within the game – there’s a bit more nuance to it. Because each character has their own uses and types, some characters will be there to dish out the pain (bruisers, for example) and others are there to heal and support you by either lessening or restoring the damage you take, buffing your abilities, or making sure you don’t fall of the map and giving your opponents an extra point. This is useful for 2v2 battles, where you really need to focus working as a team, rather than just being the one to deck out damage and hope for the best. You certainly can play it like that of course, but teamwork in these modes often end up being what gets you Victory.

Bruiser and Support characters are fairly simple to pick up and play with, but the hybrid characters are a whole other story and often come with an additional component to make them more difficult to play, but with a more powerful and rewarding result. One character in particular, Velma from Scooby-Doo, can deal a range of damage and support, but also has the added job of having to collect clues to fill up her Snoop meter. Once that’s done, she can phone the police and it’ll escort your enemy away off the map… If you’re lucky. A heavy risk, but the prize sure is worth it.

Regardless of classes and abilities however, the range of selection even in the closed beta has me excited for the future of MultiVersus and the various IPs that reside under Warner Brothers. There’s seemingly a bit of everything, from Steven Universe to old classics like Looney Tunes – leaving more than enough room for anything and everything (regardless of art style or setting) to have its place in the MultiVersus universe. There is, of course, new characters too. Reindog for instance is a new character, is incredibly cute, and is a useful support with abilities that’ll help you in a pinch.

Dynamic character interactions and combat? Sign me up for more

Even with so many positive things going for MultiVersus, one of the things the game lacks is an explanation of its battle pass or character levelling system. While I’ve grown used to battle passes and the ridiculous amount of tiers you’re expected to grind away at, MultiVersus‘ seems particularly unforgiving. Despite playing hours on end, I barely reached the third tier of the battle pass before getting fed up and choosing to ignore the system altogether. While that’s fine for a casual player like myself, I can’t imagine how frustrating this battle pass system will be for those wanting to get everything. Let’s hope that gets changed up before release and the team don’t instead try to tempt you with some ticket that’ll let you speed ahead. While microtransactions are a given for a free-to-play game like this one, it would feel even more predatory considering the target audience.

As for the character levelling system, unless you go digging for more information, MultiVersus doesn’t even begin to explain what that’s about or the perks that come with it. The tutorials you’re given teach you the combat and different moves you can do, but beyond that? You’re pretty much on your own in trying to understand your perks, and why your character level is important.

Levels and battle passes aside though, MultiVersus has enough positives that I’m excited to see where the game will go in the future.

There is no specific release date for MultiVersus, but open beta for PC, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 will be held in July, 2022.

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