MultiVersus Review in Progress

Almost two years after my open beta review and about a year since it was put on hiatus and taken offline, MultiVersus is finally coming back. Last week, I was given early access to this new and improved version for a handful of days, which included cool new fighters, interesting new stages, and even a brand-new single-player mode. Those additions are mostly great, but some changes to the pace of matches and some prevalent network troubles did make my return to Warner Bros. Games’ free-to-play fighter a little bittersweet. My minimal time with it means I’ll need to play lots more after its full release next week before I can make a final judgment, but so far MultiVersus is still a fun time with deep combat for those who want to work through its many progression systems.

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed: MultiVersus remains a platform fighter with a general focus on 2v2 team battles, filling out its roster with characters from the Warner Bros. portfolio, be that Bugs Bunny or Batman. True to the genre, dealing damage to your opponents increases the knockback they’ll suffer from big hits, and you score kills by knocking a character off the edge of the stage rather than reducing a health bar to zero. That familiar base was very well executed in MultiVersus’ first outing, and it’s still just as much fun here.

MultiVersus Characters

Each character takes on the role of either Bruiser, Mage, Assassin, Tank, or Support, which acts as a suitable guideline when choosing your fighter. Bruisers like Scooby Doo’s best friend Shaggy are typically more straightforward to play as, while Mages such as The Joker or Assassins like Stripe from Gremlins tend to have more tricks up their sleeve. Team-centric moves are still a cool wrinkle to consider as well, like Wonder Woman’s partner shield buff or Bugs Bunny’s ability to dig a quick-traveling tunnel. However, I couldn’t immediately determine the cooperative capabilities of new characters like Banana Guard, a newbie-friendly spear-wielder, or Jason Voorhees, a teleporting and grappling terror – granted, a majority of my online matches so far have been 1v1. When MultiVersus goes live properly, I’ll be interested to see whether team battles are actually still its priority, or if they’re just a cute remnant of the past.

The roster has gotten a visual overhaul that looks great.

For its re-debut, developer Player First Games has given the MultiVersus roster a visual overhaul, providing each character with extra detail to their models and animations that look great. Characters are now physically larger, too, and combat has been slowed down overall compared to the blistering pace of the beta. Getting across the map takes noticeably longer, attacks are slower to execute, and jumps feel floatier. It’s all to make the action more readable, and while I was a fan of the previous speed of MultiVersus, it’s a change I appreciate for some fighters. Speedy Assassin characters like Arya Stark have been toned down a smidge but can still appropriately run circles around the rest of the cast, while burly Tanks such as Iron Giant are expected to be lumbering and slow, so the change isn’t even quite as noticeable. However, my issue with this new battle tempo lies with the average-sized bruisers like Shaggy, who had me checking my network connection for abnormalities because it felt like I was struggling to move through a vat of molasses. I didn’t get a chance to play as the entire cast yet, so maybe it’s not a blanket problem for the mid-size brawlers, but I’ll be keeping a keen eye on it going forward.

One of my concerns with MultiVersus during its beta period was a severe lack of activities outside of its bare-bones online matches – the focus was solely on competition rather than goofy fights with wacky conditions that are present in other games in the genre. Luckily, a new PvE mode called Rifts is a step in the right direction, even if my initial impression wasn’t entirely glowing. Rifts let you take on a series of fights and other challenges that often add fun Mutators to the match. One granted infinite jumps, letting me soar through the stage unfettered, while others will have you avoiding explosives raining from the sky. Rifts also throw you into other activities like makeshift shooting galleries and target-breaking challenges. These new mission types aren’t always enjoyable and feel chintzy at times, but they manage to break up the monotony of regular battles enough that I’m looking forward to seeing more in the future.

The long-term fun of Rifts will rely on the potential of its wild scenarios.

Taking down each event in a Rift rewards you with random cosmetics and a new type of item called Gems. Not to be confused with the character perks you earn and equip in online PvP matches, Gems are exclusive to Rifts and, when equipped, provide balance-breaking abilities that would only fly in this PvE mode. Some early Gems I encountered granted a chance to auto-dodge attacks while giving a significant boost to defense, made my character electrified when a condition is met paired with increased attack power, or allowed a character to have a third jump for extra mobility. My hope is these enhancements will have increasingly cool effects that aim to break the game in more fun and playstyle-changing ways. I enjoyed what I’ve seen of Rifts so far, but its long-term fun will rely on the potential of the wild scenarios Mutators create and how you’re able to mitigate their challenge with Gems.

While the early look I got of MultiVersus wasn’t entirely the full experience we’ll get at launch, some concerns did arise during my time with it. For much of one day, the servers were in duress, causing outages in gameplay, lag in games, and errors when attempting to find matches online. What’s worse, I was struggling to get into Rifts, which, while playable solo, very much relies on a network connection. Will MultiVersus be completely unplayable if your network drops out or WB Games’ servers are down? That seems like the case, and that’s an awful feeling when trying to practice or grind through a PvE mode.

That said, my connection in many matches felt great outside of that handful of network hiccups, almost as if I were playing in the same room as my opponent. Of course, I still need to play a lot more and on live servers to determine whether the online netcode will ultimately hold up in this newest iteration.

There’s still a ton for me to check out when MultiVersus launches next week. What does the grind for purchasing new characters look like? How much is there to do on a given day to complete the various battle passes, events, and character-specific progression paths? What does the free-to-play economy look like two years later? As a fan of the beta, this brief window has left me optimistic, so I’m stoked to check out more of MultiVersus when it’s freed from the Warner Bros. Water Tower for good – and I’ll have a final scored review shortly after I do.

Related Articles

Back to top button