MultiVersus raised plenty of eyebrows upon its first announcement, quickly followed by amusing speculation as to who could join its fledgling roster of fighters. This crossover title has a rich well of media properties to dive into, even more so now that Warner Bros. has merged with Discovery.
Its initial lineup is pretty safe, featuring iconic characters who boast decades of history from years before video games even existed. However, what really matters here is how these legends are thrown together into frenetic bouts of combat, whether it’s Shaggy headshotting Superman with a comically-sized sandwich or Arya Stark falling prey to Tom & Jerry’s slapstick traps.
There’s another legend to which MultiVersus pays homage, though. The comparisons to Super Smash Bros. are inescapable, but the simple truth is that Nintendo’s flagship fighting game has spawned its own subgenre with a growing number of worthy competitors. From Rivals of Aether and Brawlout to Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, many share the same unabashed approach of lifting their gameplay design directly from Nintendo.
MultiVersus is no less guilty, having you tenderise your opponents with various attacks and special moves before catapulting them off-screen with a mighty blow. What sets this game apart is its familiar cast of characters and being free-to-play. Not only that, developer Player First Games has a clear passion for the genre – beneath a veneer of cartoon violence there’s a surprisingly complex fighting game to be found, and one that has already caught the attention of the competitive scene.
While fighters may overlap when it comes to a few basic attacks, each also has access to their own unique moves. These are inspired by the characters themselves – for instance, Batman lobbing a batarang or Bugs Bunny dropping a giant safe from out of the sky. Each move has its own purpose and collectively these help define the several fighter archetypes on offer, including Bruisers, Tanks, Supports, Assassins, and Mages.
As for the battles themselves, you can duel another player one-on-one, dive into a four-way free-for-all, or pit two dynamic duos against each other. The latter 2v2 comes recommended by MultiVersus and it’s easy to see why. It sets itself apart from Smash Bros. thanks to the synergy you can create between two players on a team using special moves. For example, Wonder Woman’s lasso can reel in an ally who is about to be ringed out, or Reindog can tether himself to a teammate, teleporting them to safety at the press of a button. Then you have less overt team support actions like triggering shield buffs or dropping health pick-ups.
MultiVersus is also fully cross-platform straight out of the gate – another arrow in its quiver. This, combined with being free-to-play is sure to get players in through the door with a meaty battle pass acting as a glitzy carrot at the end of a rather enticing stick for those who gel with fun fighting gameplay. In summary, this is shaping up to be a Smash alternative with real stopping power thanks to an instantly recognisable cast and modern design sensibilities you wouldn’t expect from Nintendo’s fighting game franchise.
MultiVersus is slated to launch later this year on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. A Nintendo Switch version has yet to be announced.