I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of Smash Bros. It seems a weird statement to make, but I feel it’s an important thing to state with this type of game. It’s an easy comparison to pull out, granted, but as you see some of the footage from these previews, it’s clear to see why it’s being made by so many people.
Multiversus is, for all intents and purposes, Warner Bros’ answer to Smash Bros. Drawing from a huge array of IP, the game sees characters from the DC Universe, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes and more battling against each other in a frantic free-to-play brawler.
We had a sit down with a few of the dev team earlier this week, where they outlined the vision for the game, and some of the work that’s gone into it, including getting the likes of Matthew Willard, Maisie Williams and Kevin Conroy in to voice their iconic roles. There’s a lot to be said about the art styles, when you have the dark comic universe of Batman meshing with the zany antics of Bugs Bunny, but on the whole it works. There is a degree of chaos in the gameplay, particularly during the standard 2v2 battles, but that’s to be expected.
When you can focus on an individual though, it’s easy to see the attention to detail that’s been put into the game. Special moves have been tailored to individuals, with Bugs jumping on a giant Acme rocket and flying into people, Taz spinning round in a whirlwind, and Batman launching a batarang out to hit people.
Even in this early stage, the game feels approachable enough for new players to jump in and have fun, and will cater to experienced players by linking abilities together from support classes, giving teammates buffs, restoring health and applying debuffs to enemies. It definitely adds a layer of depth to things, and will only help in the long run as players figure out the best combinations of characters to use. Of course, the question of balance will arise, but even with around 10 hours or so played, I’ve yet to come across a single or pair of characters that feel like they’re overpowered. There are additional perks that you can apply to your character as you level them up to give you an advantage, but even playing against some higher level players, I didn’t feel that they were unfair.
Back to the inevitable comparisons, though, and our resident Smash Bro Andy reliably informs me that the movement in Multiversus feels a bit tighter, without the “slippiness” of Nintendo’s brawler. The stages are also smaller, with no items available to gain power-ups. My early take on this is that the character abilities will replace the need for power-ups, allowing teams to give themselves the extra abilities rather than relying on the RNG of these drops.
Naturally, with this being a free to play title, the monetisation issue will come up. With this being a closed alpha test, there are no paid elements in there yet, but there is a Battle Pass (with a premium option), and I would presume the option to buy the “gold” currency is going to be in there somewhere. However, in its current state, the rewards for playing and winning rounds feel fair, and the cost of characters doesn’t increase after you buy one, which allows you to pick and choose which ones you want to unlock in a reasonable order.
Talking of Characters, there were 15 available to us in the Open Beta, with a few of them locked behind progression walls. There’s a decent choice from the start though, with a couple of them marked as “recommended” so you can get your eye in for those early fights. With the suite of IP available to them, though, it’s easy to imagine the breadth of characters that will be available when the game officially launches. The title card mentions Rick and Morty, but if you cast your mind back to Lego Dimensions, I can’t see it being long before the likes of Harry Potter, even more Looney Tunes characters and maybe even Gizmo from Gremlins making an appearance.
Finally, a word on the online play. Multiversus is going to be free to play across multiple consoles and PC, with full cross-play available. I’ve been playing on the Xbox Series X, and connected fine against players on PC and PlayStation platforms, with no noticeable lag or networking issues. They are using rollback netcode, which should appease the more discernible fans, and everything felt nice and responsive throughout.
The Closed Alpha for Multiversus starts today, and runs until the 27th, with an Open Beta coming in July. With things looking as polished as they are at this stage, it may well be one to keep an eye on when it eventually releases later this year.