Multiversus - A New Kind Of Smash
So I want to start things out clearly here. This is not a review. Why? Well, that is simple. Despite releasing upon the wide world today, Multiversus is still technically in beta, and quite a few features are still missing. So this my friends, is simply some thoughts on how the game is shaping up and whether it is worth your time right now. Thankfully the short answer is yes.
For those that haven’t caught the press bombardment, Multiverses is a Smash Bros-like utilizing the wide variety of IP owned by Waner Brothers. That means you have the likes of Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, DC Comics and even Game of Thrones represented on the character select screen. To say this has produced a strange array of character choices is an understatement, with some truly oddball characters able to be picked, while at the same time, more obvious candidates are overlooked. For example, Velma is not the person from Scooby-Doo who I would associate with brawling, yet here she is. The roster does feature some obvious inclusions, Bugs, Taz, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all make sense given the game, but there are certainly some oddities. One, in particular, the Iron Giant, seems out of place. Not only is the character enormous compared to the rest of the roster, but the whole idea of the Iron Giant was that it didn’t want to be a weapon, that it didn’t want to fight.
That slightly off anomaly aside, it is a well-rounded roster that should give everyone a few characters that become fast favourites. For me, I am digging Taz, Finn the Dog and Shaggy as my current characters of choice, they seem to compliment my very technical bash-all-the-buttons playstyle nicely. In all, the mix between ranged, support, brawlers and trap-based characters is excellent and every entry in the roster seems to deserve its place. What’s more, there is only one sword-based character, so Smash fans won’t have anything to complain about there.
Where Multiversus diverges from Smash Bros is the fact that the main focus is on 2v2 battles. This means that teamwork becomes important to success in-game and choosing characters that suit each other can be the difference between a win or a loss. At the moment, it still feels like everyone is working out strategies and techniques but it is easy to see a future where highly ranked players have the perfect team of two for competitions and esports events. Teammates can be healed, tethered together (to prevent ring-outs) or boosted depending on which character is chosen and these skills can make all the difference. It really makes the game feel different from Smash, despite the obvious similarities.
Another thing that deserves special mention is the netcode, which is just bliss. I have played at least 70 matches at this point and in that there was not one instance of lag that was noticeable. That goes for both Xbox only matches (where I was playing) and crossplay matches. To say this was important to get right is an understatement, nothing upsets people more in a fighter than any kind of lag and the fact it feels non-existent here is such a boon. It does mean that everyone’s favourite excuse for a loss is off the table, but hey you can’t have it all right?
The free-to-play structure follows a similar pattern to titles like Brawlhalla, though it does feel more generous. Players can unlock all the characters through in-game play, by completing daily challenges and levelling up, or they can buy in-game currency to purchase them. I must say the founder’s packs are pretty good value and if you like the game after trying it out I strongly recommend you consider it. For less than the price of a full game, you get all the characters, a bunch of in-game currency, the premium season pass and a couple of other cool cosmetics. Speaking of cosmetics and season passes, both seem fair and balanced, with some very cool character costumes, banners, emotes and announcer voices up for grabs as players work their way through the season pass. Though it is only early days, it feels like the free-to-play balance between encouraging players to purchase and not punishing players who don’t has been managed well.
The biggest disappointment at this point is the fact that apart from some training modes there is no single-player content at all. It is understandable and perhaps it is coming as the game gets closer to full release, but it would have been nice to have an arcade mode like a traditional one-v-one fighter or some interesting missions, something for those that don’t feel like diving into the online chaos. These sorts of games are always going to be focused on those who enjoy multiplayer but there is no reason to completely forget those who just want to bash a bot’s head in for a few minutes.
So far things are looking great for Multiversus. The free-to-play elements are fair and balanced, the gameplay is tight and accssesable and the netcode is nigh on perfect. Throw in a bunch of everyone’s favourite Warner Bros’ characters and it is a winner in the making. It will be interesting to see how the balance is maintained as new characters are added, (Lebron James and Rick and Morty have already been announced) and if they decided to add any single-player content but as it stands there is not a single reason to put off giving this one a go. The price is right and the gameplay is top-notch. Multiverses is shaping up to be a genuine competitor to Smash Bros and that is, quite frankly, the biggest compliment I can pay it at this stage of its life.
A Multiversus Founder’s Pack was kindly provided by Koch Media Australia for the purposes of this coverage.