MultiVersus Preview: "Potentially The Next Big Thing"
Developing a Smash Bros clone is tricky work. We've seen games make passes at the subgenre of fighting games, with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl failing to live up to its hype, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale absolutely stacking it on every front. It has seemed for a long time that it's a formula that Nintendo has developed and won't share. There's something so infectious and delicious about the chaotic scramble in Smash Bros that has seemingly been roped in by a selection of players dedicated to learning everything about it.
There have been a number of failures in terms of trying to match the titan, but the greatest competitor since Smash Bros itself reared its head could finally be here. And for all we know, Shaggy Rogers could be the one to punt Mario into the sun.
There are a lot of characters that have been requested to join Smash, but at least most of them have already appeared in video games of their own. Suddenly, that rulebook doesn't exist anymore.
MultiVersus is a chaotic, surprisingly team-based fighter, with a roster brought to life by a host of characters under the Warner Bros banner - a banner so wide and overarching that you'd never expect to see its characters come together in such a way. Arya Stark, Tom & Jerry, Finn the Human, Bugs Bunny, Batman - they're all here, and they're all surprisingly well fleshed out.
Every character has their own set of standard and special moves that keep with their design and respective franchises, presented with some incredibly tight controls and the classic easy-to-learn, hard-to-master design that makes its leading competitor so compelling. What's new here, though, is the addition of a perk system, classes, and a more team-focused model.
Though pop culture nowadays has become a blur of throwing recognisable faces at the player and expecting them to reply with glee because they simply recognise the characters on screen, the joys of MultiVersus come from the sheer absurdity of these characters appearing together in the first place. There's something so endlessly charming about hearing Arya Stark, voiced by Maisie Williams herself, threaten Jake the "stretchy dog" with death, and with more characters to come, there's no doubt it's going to get even sillier. There's a childlike charm to the game that doesn't cease, and it seems to justify the bizarre game's entire existence.
The Adventure Time Of Your Life
Each character has their own strengths, defined by their class (assassin, brawler, tank, support, mage) and whether they prosper in horizontal or vertical combat. It's a fascinating approach to a game like this, but it helps new players to understand exactly who they're attempting to master - but this becomes a little muddier with the perk system.
Players have the option to add perks to their characters, giving them small buffs to unlock that boost their effectiveness in battle, which is amplified if their teammate chooses the same perk alongside them. Though this might seem as though it gives more skilled or better-practised players a dramatic advantage, thankfully the perks' effects don't seem too potent, meaning that if their settings remain the same on the way through the closed Alpha, it may not make a difference to the final gameplay.
Perhaps the biggest diversion from the Smash Bros model is a focus on teamwork, with many characters possessing moves that help out their friends, like Wonder Woman's shields or Reindog's ability to rope in teammates when they look as though they're about to fly off the stage. It's a nice touch that promotes the game's interconnectivity - which is probably the leading way that MultiVersus could take over the fighting game world.
Bat's All, Folks!
Perhaps the best draw of MultiVersus is just how ridiculously accessible it's set to be. Cross-platform with cross-progression, free-to-play and coming to Xbox, PlayStation and PC, it's clear that this could be the most readily-available fighting game that we've ever had, and this fact alone is going to get fans through the door. The novelty of kicking the snot out of Superman as Taz the Tasmanian Devil is too good to resist, and when you won't have to pay a penny to do it, there's seemingly no reason not to get involved.
As a result of the game's free-to-play status, the game has a battle pass for cosmetics like skins, ring-out animations, emotes and player backgrounds. The battle pass itself seems relatively inessential, but this can only be a good thing - after all, it means that players can widely ignore the costly options for the game unless they're particularly engrossed. There's absolutely no pressure to pay up as of right now, and it could mean that MultiVersus is on track to be the least oppressive free-to-play title with its cosmetic additions. Of course, the game's shop isn't available yet which could change everything - but for now, it looks as though the belligerent skin sales aren't on their way just yet.
Ringing Out The Competition
Though the Smash competitor has been dragged through the mud in concept alone, and it was thought that nothing could stand up to the Nintendo giant - MultiVersus has a genuine chance of making it. Pair the game's accessibility with a charming presentation and genuinely fun gameplay loop, the game (despite remaining in Alpha right now) has shown the potential of being the next big thing.
It won't topple Fortnite when it comes to earth-shattering popularity, but as the only big-name fighter in the free-to-play space, it won't need to. It could create a whole new category of its own. And for a game with the big selling point of an Ultra Instinct Shaggy Rogers voiced by Matthew Lillard, that's certainly nothing to sniff at.