Multiversus: Hands-on Preview – Bonkers Biffo

Multiversus: Hands-on Preview - Bonkers Biffo

When you think of odd ways to launch a game, none have been odder than Multiversus. The Warner Brothers cartoon brawler was unleashed upon the world in beta form and quickly became something of a hit. Players loved that there was a legitimate alternative to Smash Bros out there and the cast of characters was something we could all get behind. After all, who doesn’t want to see Shaggy beating the snot out of Superman? But as the beta wound on and the devs were working out what worked and what didn’t the excitement petered out and players drifted away. So in what was a very weird move, WB Games pulled the beta from virtual shelves, turned off the servers and said “we’ll be back.” That was about 12 months ago but WB are true to their word, because Multiversus is coming back and I have been playing it pre-release to gauge just how things are shaping up. 

For a bit of history, I played a bit of Multiversus during the initial beta period, but like many, I fell off. It was lacking a bit of content and well, life got in the road. That said, I enjoyed my time with it. I found the fighting surprisingly deep and the characters well-designed and balanced. None of that has changed as the game heads towards version 1.0 with the fighting still feeling great and the roster selection even larger than before. The game is kicking off with a villain-focused season with the Joker (voice by Mark Hamill himself), Jason Vorhees and Agent Smith all joining in the fun. During my time with the game, I got to play as Joker and Jason, both of whom felt like great additions to the roster. The Joker is all about tricks and traps, while Jason is about big hits and scares. Honestly, I think Jason’s move where he puts the opposition in a giant bag and then can swing them around as a weapon is my favourite move in the game. 


What excited me the most about my time in the preview is the new Rifts mode. This is the PvE section of the game, something that was noticeably missing during the original beta period. Here players can engage in a range of missions that can be tackled as a singleplayer or in co-op. Each Rift has its own (very light) story and the missions range from standard battles, to handicap situations that restrict player abilities to bonus games that include things like target shooting and platforming. The structure reminds me of the different worlds and towers that Netherealm offers in Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11 and it works really well here. There are some permanent Rifts to explore and some are seasonal. Within each Rift is a huge range of missions at three different difficulty levels so all levels of players are catered for. Rewards offered in the Rifts also count towards season passes and other unlockables which is fantastic as players don’t have to be competing against real humans to be rewarded. 


Speaking of season passes, what’s on offer certainly seems to be on the more innocent side of things. There are a host of ways to earn your way through the season pass so there is no feeling of needing to spend money to get anywhere. All of the rewards are cosmetic so there is no chance of pay-to-win becoming an issue and players can unlock fighters permanently by earning in-game currency so they can keep on playing as their favourite even when it isn’t in the rotation. As far as free-to-play systems go, Multiversus uses a very benign one that is hard to be angry with. Of course, that good will goes away if the season updates are less than enticing, but it looks very promising for now. 


As my preview time was pre-release, I didn’t get much of a chance to play in an online environment. From memory though, the netcode was pretty solid during the beta period, so I imagine that hasn’t changed. I did get to play some couch multiplayer and it is a blast as expected. The joy of a game like this is allowing casual players to pick up a controller and feel competitive against people who know what they are doing and Multiversus does this with ease. I can see this being a great backyard BBQ-type game where the whole family can get in on the action. Of course, Smash Bro’s achieved this years ago, but it is nice to finally have a legitimate option on other platforms. 


My main concern with Multiversus is that releasing the game after originally pulling the beta is going to make it too hard for the game to reclaim the momentum it once had, momentum that is so important for any live service title to be a success. If it can overcome that hurdle then there is no apparent reason that Multiversus won’t succeed. The gameplay is tight, enjoyable and approachable. The new PvE content gives players who don’t want to compete against others some great options and the cast of characters is both exciting and well-balanced. Multiversus is shaping up to be a whole lot of fun and you can expect to find me diving in for more of this particular brand of biffo when the game releases on the 29th of May. 

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