Preview MultiVersus: The ultimate challenger for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
The Smash Bros series dominates head and shoulders a genre that it introduced in 1999 before becoming its main representative. Competitors have succeeded over the years without ever managing to dethrone the Nintendo saga. In 2022, a new challenger presents itself with the main arguments being a Free to Play offer and Warner Bros licenses… DC, Looney Tunes, Game of Thrones, etc. Is MultiVersus able to overshadow Super Smash Bros.? Ultimate? Answer in the arena.
The Warner Video Game Multiverse
With the exception of NetherRealm studio productions (Mortal Kombat and Injustice), fighting games very rarely rely on their Story mode to stand out from the competition. In general, the studios prefer to focus on the game in what it has more noble to offer. Player First Games is of this caliber and has completely abandoned the narrative dimension. MultiVersus, as the name suggests, is a 100% multiplayer and versus-centric experience.
Here is a bit of context for lovers of “lore”. For some mysterious reason, some characters from different Warner Bros. are teleported to confront each other, and that’s about it. MultiVersus draws from the catalog of the North American company to compose a roster of colorful and eclectic fighters as possible. The cast is cross-generational, so to speak, and should speak to all gamers, though those born in the 80s and 90s should feel privileged. The arenas follow this same logic and take up cult places from the different licenses (the Batcave, the Haunted Scooby Manor, the TROPHY ROOM, the Lab, the House Tree, etc.).
A fighting game is also judged on the edge of its roster and on this point MultiVersus cannot yet compete with its model, even if its qualities should be recognized. The fighters announced, all different and drawn from very varied universes, are currently 16 in number. The holy trinity Batman – Superman – Wonder Woman – and Harley Quinn from DC rub shoulders with Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, and Taz from Looney Tunes, but also Arya Stark (Game of Thrones), Sammy and Vera (Scooby-Doo), Finn the Human and Jake the Dog (Adventure Time), Garnet and Steven (Steven Universe) and finally The Iron Giant. Player First Games even created an original character named Dog-Reindeer and promised new fighters.
Purists will be able to enjoy the official voices (English only) of part of the cast. Actress Maisie Williams returns to MultiVersus as Arya Stark, and so does Kevin Conroy, the actor who voiced Gotham’s vigilante in 1992’s Batman: The Animated Series. It is even possible to change the aesthetic appearance of the fighters via different variants to unlock. For example, the Dark Knight can wear samurai armor. The artists even manage to merge all these universes, however distant thematically and visually, thanks to a neat “3D cartoon” artistic direction which in no way distorts the icons of pop-culture present and even underlines their specificities.
A Super Smash Bros-like?
MultiVersus is heavily inspired by the Super Smash Bros. saga. and does not hide it in the least. Player First Games uses the mechanics of the genre, that of the Platform Fighter, reclaims them, but retains their essence. Several players compete in a closed 2D arena with the objective of ejecting the other fighters by inflicting damage on them. The higher the gauge, the easier the ejection. The main principles therefore remain unchanged, even if Warner’s game tries to stand out from the competition thanks to its cooperative dimension.
MultiVersus primarily emphasizes cooperation. Several attacks and other “moves” of the characters are thought to assist the teammate or even combine. Sammy can heal. Wonder Woman and Chien-Renne can bring someone back into the ring. Batman can hide himself and others under a smoke screen. Etc. For the rest, the regulars will be on familiar ground in the face of nervous and somewhat chaotic confrontations, and above all fun from the first moments. Simple and special attacks, combos, dodges, jumps and falls… the very essence of the Platform Fighter is respected.
This desire to place teamwork at the heart of the experience is reflected in the presence of modes 2v2 and Co-op vs AI to which are added the traditional 1v1the Every man for himselfthe custom parts and to finish the laboratory, a training area to perfect your technique. All this is of course playable alone against artificial intelligences. MultiVersus therefore does not offer any single player mode apart from clashes with bots. Another lack of size is worth noting, although this should be temporary. The title of Warner Bros. is currently (during the Private Alpha) devoid of local multiplayer modes. Nevertheless, MultiVersus is cross play and cross save, understand here that your progress is transferred from one platform to another.
Player First Games also incorporates several mechanics from role-playing games. Thus, the more you play with a fighter, the more his level of mastery increases which unlocks passive skills to equip (or not). These “Perks” confer different bonuses in the arena and should not be overlooked. A player with a high level of mastery on a character, the maximum being 15, therefore has a definite advantage without going overboard. This Light RPG dimension is found in the profile of the players who gain in XP, and therefore in level… with the aim of obtaining various often cosmetic items and GOLD.
A Free-to-Play experience
MultiVersus differs from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate above all by its economic model. In effect, this new fighting game is Free to Play which implies in-app purchases and a whole range of features, starting with in-game currency and a Battle Pass. GOLD, obtained in the arena and by carrying out daily missions, allows among other things to unlock new fighters as well as Assets and even XP boosts, just to unlock character mastery levels without fighting.
The Battle Pass, on the other hand, encourages players to complete a whole series of challenges called “seasonal levels” with the sole aim of going one by one through the multiple levels, of which there are 50. Each level is synonymous with rewards that vary depending on the type of Battle Pass in your possession… the free and the Premium. Of course, the second necessarily paying offers players much more interesting items and especially new skins for the characters. This economic model guarantees access to the greatest number of MultiVersus, but could become restrictive over time, and therefore put off some fans of the genre.
MultiVersus could well appeal to Platform Fighter fans without overshadowing the master of the genre from which it is strongly inspired… Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The colorful multiverse of Warner Bros. as well as the fun of the fights are all arguments in favor of the title developed by Player First Games. However, the low character roster, the (temporary?) absence of local multiplayer and the Free to Play dimension could prove to be a deterrent to fighting game enthusiasts.
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