Warner Bros. provided new studio Player First Games with some of their most popular characters to create space in Smash Bros.’s dominant IP crossover fighter genre. MultiVersus succeeds where others have failed, but it still has some work to do.
Although LeBron James appears on the list thanks to his starring role in Space Jam: New Legacy, the WB list in MultiVersus doesn’t feel as clunky as that movie’s listing. Each character is treated with reverence, creating a world where you won’t eventually notice the fact that Arya Stark is from Game of Thrones stabbing Bugs Bunny.
Tight, Smash-like controls deftly convey the powerful and heavy Iron Giant and the nimble and goofy Finn from Adventure Time. Just when I think I’ve found my main character, I start another character and am always amazed by how unique and fun they are to learn.
While 1v1 and 4-player Free are included, everything is built around 2v2 gameplay. Character classes indicate traits at a glance and hint at how teams might combine. For example, Velma can hang back and cover with projectiles and buffs/debuffs, while Superman rushes in to hit everyone. You can pair characters to enhance strengths and cover weaknesses, or simply combine them all with two dashing characters; all options are viable in the right hand.
The privilege system directly affects this. Character levels unlock abilities to increase speed, dodge, jump, and more. It’s smart to combine perks with your partner for cumulative rewards. For example, both Superman and Velma have ice attacks, so you can combine to increase that debuff. The unique signature perks also play up the character’s strengths. Even in this initial state, the teammate/skill combos are amazing and keep me experimenting constantly.
Despite the strength of the current base modes, the lack of variety needs to be addressed (and it looks like there will be arcade and ranked modes soon). The limited number of maps includes standard size and layout requirements, but none match the creativity and detail of a single level of Smash Bros. It’s neat to volley enemies off the Batmobile in the Batcave, but stages like a generic, empty arena and a grassy field with a waterfall leave me wanting more.
Playing online is amazing thanks to the restored netcode and huge cross-platform player base. I never had to wait for matches or deal with lags. Reindog – a new character created for the game – has been hidden a few times, but that’s about the extent of my technical problems.
MultiVersus is free to play on almost any console and PC, making it easy to access. However, this also raises concerns about microtransactions. Thankfully, the fair economy offers a lot to players who don’t want to pay. Wonder Woman is free with a rotating roster of four characters. An early influx of gold will pay another character, so you’ll have 6 out of 17 on the short-term ordered list. The remaining grind is much slower, but not too difficult. And all the characters are playable in a practice area. Paid content is mainly limited to cosmetics, instant character unlocks, and premium tiers of the Battle Pass.
Current free and paid mini Battle Passes and daily quests keep me busy during my time with MultiVersus. While I love unlocking content, the need to crush repetitive bot matches to hit some numbers in a reasonable amount of time can be a tagline. Frustratingly completed seasonal goals I couldn’t work through, so I had to go through menus and flip through a page of grayed-out items to constantly check my progress.
Live games are likely to go in nasty directions, but MultiVersus has a solid foundation. If it can meaningfully deploy content and smooth out its rough edges, this could become a new crossover obsession for years to come.