When it comes to mash-up arena brawlers one game rules them all… Super Smash Bros, and rightly so. Nintendo have crafted not only a love letter to its fans over the years, but also created a fighter that has some truly hidden depths to its systems. We have seen a few titles try and recreate the “Smash magic” with different franchises like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but they have never been able to really nail it. This is something that Warner Bros (WB) are hoping to overcome with their up-and-coming arena brawler MultiVersus. It’s a little way off still so has had a close alpha test recently, which we were lucky enough to get our hands on to see how things are shaping up.
Right off the bat this free-to-play fighter makes a strong opening, as it has a mixed and interesting cast of characters from across the WB licensed worlds – and most importantly – a fun fighting system at its heart. You’ll get to see what would happen if Superman squared off against Shaggy or Bugs Bunny, though it may strike you as a kid’s targeted game, there are a few curve balls in the mix like Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark to attract more “seasoned” players to the fight. Also worth noting is WB have worked some sort of magic (or more likely dropped a truck load of cash) and got a lot of the original or Hollywood voice talent linked to characters to return to voice the cast. The likes of Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Matthew Lillard, John DiMaggio, Maisie Williams and George Newbern are there, to name just a few. Each character has their own moves and specials which are fun to find out as they are often themed to that character. For example, Shaggy uses a huge sandwich as a special weapon, and Harley Quinn throws exploding Batman dolls.
When it comes to fighting, at first everything has a real Smash vibe from the look to how it controls. Dig a little deeper though and you’ll soon start to find MultiVersus is far from a straight copy. You can’t block attacks, instead you spot, roll and dodge to get out of the way, and the more you do it the less likely you are to actually avoid the attack… so don’t spam it. There is also a heavy weight put on air combat, as you have a tonne of jump and air dash moves to help take the action skyward. Another key element is that each character has a specific special team attack, which sees you getting a buff or power when you combo attacks with a teammate and that’s a big deal, as the game is at its best in 2v2 mode. If we are honest it feels like that is the core idea the game has been built around. You’ll spend a LOT of time seeing what each character does and which best fits your style. No two feels or controls the same and that’s before you even get to the team support moves.
Being a free-to-play title there is an undercurrent of microtransactions built into the game, like a Battle Pass system which has 2 tiers – a paid for one, as well as a free option. To unlock characters you need to spend coins you earn in-game, or will likely have to buy with the full game release. To be fair though, in the MultiVersus alpha coins were free flowing thanks to a number of challenges you can complete. It’s worth noting it has been said that it will only be cosmetics that you’ll have to buy with real money, as characters are obtainable in-game as well as with real cash, while moves are linked to the character and are unlocked by fighting with them and banking XP. This means the pay-to-win edge that could have killed the game dead before it got started has been removed, which is a huge plus given just how much fun you can have with what’s there out the traps.
MultiVersus is shaping up very well and has now found itself on our radar, as this could be a cracking free-to-play title that may pave the way for others. It has nailed the combat, cast and looks to have a real grip on the microtransactions too.
An invite to the MultiVersus alpha test was provided by WB’s PR team, and we’re waiting for more information on the release date.