MultiVersus Actually Has A Fighting Chance At Joining The Big Leagues
Fighting games have often been the party fallback. If you're not playing Mario Kart or Wii Party at gatherings with your pals, you're probably clobbering the hell out of your mates in Super Smash Bros huddled around the TV. It's plain to see why - the game features an incredible wealth of recognisable characters even known to those outside of the uber-dedicated gamer spheres, and with an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master combat system that makes for some truly even matches.
The fighting game genre has changed a lot, but mostly, it has turned in Smash's favour simply as a result of all of the games trying to replicate its brilliantly unorthodox formula. From PlayStation All-Stars Royale flubbing it out of the gate with bizarre mechanics that didn't make any sense, to the many control-based issues in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, though, it has been proven time and time again that the formula that Smash created truly lies in the Nintendo vaults, never to be genuinely replicated.
But there's a new kid on the block that could actually make it work.
MultiVersus Could Be Massive - And It's Not Just Because Of Batman
MultiVersus is, for all intents and purposes, a Smash clone with a character roster to rival it in absurdity. Boasting Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy, a Super-Saiyan Shaggy Rogers to capitalise on the character's meme rebirth voiced by iconic actor Matthew Lillard and a whole host of characters from Looney Tunes, Game of Thrones and beyond, the game seems to be mocking the very IP-laden landscape it's gearing up to join. There's truly nothing serious about it, and it's embracing this right down to the way it is designed.
Naturally, a lot of fighting clones (much like the very similar karting and party game genres) rely on their IPs nowadays, but it's become clear in recent years that it simply doesn't work anymore. We're post-Smash now, and audiences are tired of games simply smashing characters together for the sake of it. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl missed the memo that brand recognisability just doesn't cut it for AAA games anymore, and though pointing at characters and saying "I know them!" works for the movies, video games are a different beast. And despite the massive IP smattering that MultiVersus has managed to sweep up, it looks like it knows this.
The game isn't just a way to promote the most bizarre characters under the Warner Bros umbrella (even though kicking the snot out of Velma Dinkley as Arya Stark sounds like a lot of fun), but it rather seems like it's coming for the party-fighter crown without trying to step on the heavily technical reputation of Smash either. And one particular point of note is likely to be the thing that makes it happen.
MultiVersus Being Free-To-Play Could Make It A Giant
Making MultiVersus both free-to-play and cross-play could be the very best choice that the dev team could have made, because it plays directly into the hands of the idea that it could become the brand-new party fighter heavyweight. A lot of the reasons that people simply don't play such bonkers ensemble titles regardless of genre, is that there's always a franchise that is known to be so mechanically sound that it'll outlast the initial novelty of playing as such silly character combos.
The very fact that players aren't going to be charged for entry to a game that on the surface has every right to crash and burn could be the exact reason that it doesn't - as in a genre that hasn't had any notable free-to-play entries before, it could become an outlier in the best way. MultiVersus' accessibility combined with its irresistible oddities could spell the next big thing in fighting games - and lord knows it's been some time since we've had one of those. The industry takeover of Super Saiyan Shaggy could yet be possible by sheer fact that it seems so impossible, but chances are, being able to access a mere fraction of his power for a tidy sum of £0 could be the kicker.
The Era Of MultiVersus Could Be Here
Maybe it's just wishful thinking for a subgenre that's never really had a genuine competitor to its flagship title, but the Smash-like could well be in for a hell of a ride with MultiVersus. As long as it can stick the landing mechanically, and it doesn't end up rubbing players entirely the wrong way with microtransactions and loot boxes, there's every chance that the daft fighter could become the next household fighter that anyone can pick up and play.
We're not trying to suggest that Mario Kart's name as the king of the party has finally been scratched from the chalkboard - but there's a genuine, glistening chance for Shaggy Rogers to take the belt and claim ultimate victory over fighting games at large. IPs have the pulling power alone to make games work - but make it free, and its chances double. The era of MultiVersus may well be here.