MultiVersus is back, but is it bigger and better?

MultiVersus 2024 header Bugs Bunny

It was an odd and almost unheard of situation when Warner Bros. Games closed off free-to-play platform fighter MultiVersus last year. What was a seemingly live and active online fighting game with two seasons of content released was taken away from players less than a year after its initial release. Sure, it was technically branded as an “open beta” thoughout, but it was baffling to see it go offline with a promised relaunch for 2024. Why shut the game down for that long? It didn’t seem to be in crisis, since there was an active playerbase and even plans for community tournaments. Fans of the mashup brawler weren’t sure what big revamps or additions necessitated the year of complete lack of access to the game. After spending some time with the new version of MultiVersus that’s set to launch on 28th May, I’m still not sure I understand the logic behind this.

If you’re a returning player from the initial version of the game, everything that was there is back – all 23 playable characters, every stage, and even any cosmetics or items you unlocked and purchased. Of course there’s also new additions, with a Mark Hamill voiced Joker, Agent Smith from The Matrix, a hockey masked Jason, and more naturally on the way.

Back when MultiVersus was first online, it featured a loaded cash shop, and multiple premium battle passes stuffed with cosmetics and currency, and none of this has changed in the new version of MultiVersus – well, they’ve rejigged the currency names and what they do a bit. If you’re a fan of collecting daily rewards, multiple currencies, and hundreds of tiered Battle Pass unlocks, the system at play here won’t bother you one bit. If you’re someone who’s a little exhausted by every game being turned into a job, though, it feels weird to boot up this big new relaunch of MultiVersus after a year and be greeted by the same slightly overwhelming seasonal objectives and mission lists that were there last time.

MultiVersus Black Adam Combat

Some aspects of the experience are harder for me to directly compare to the open beta version of MultiVersus – a year out from the shut down of that version, and I don’t really remember the nuances of how combat felt or how the netcode performed, nor do I have any way to quickly revisit that version of the game for reference. Here’s what I came away from this new version of MultiVersus with, though: this game is now slow.

Combat, according to developer blog posts, has been reworked significantly to take the focus away from a constant flow of attack inputs and make everything much more deliberate, readable and possible to react to. The result is a platform fighter with next to no momentum. Every attack animation has a slow, winding start that completely cancels out the visual momentum of the move that came before it. Instead of stringing together a combo of basic and special attacks as Wonder Woman, I’m waiting and watching her perform a neutral attack, then waiting and watching her perform a neutral side attack, and then waiting some more as she busts out the Up Special I feel like I input hours ago.

MultiVersus bored Wonder Woman weightlifting

This shift in speed and stilted animation momentum don’t necessarily make the game easier, but rather a lot less exciting. On harder difficulties and in full 2v2 matches against AI, I still found myself sweating to dodge projectiles and maintain control over the platform edges, but I wasn’t having fun anymore. I remember MultiVersus originally being entertaining to pick up and play with friends for the simple yet consistently breezy chaos of each match. That feeling hasn’t returned with this reworked version of the game.

One big change that adds a bit of depth to the game is a new PvE Rift mode. Instead of queuing up for standard battles, you’re given thematic Chapters with webs of individual encounters to dive into, each with their own unique modifiers, hazards, and more. It’s a lot like the Spirit mode of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, giving you dozens of uniquely modified parameters under which to fight the various characters. Some battles have minor yet entertaining changes, like equipping you with infinite-jump Angel Wings or rendering the entire screen in Matrix-style green and black wireframe. Other stages throw entirely unique minigames at you, like getting in a jumprope competition or fending off a giant boss mech.

MultiVersus 2024 PvE Rift Mode

It’s paired with a new Gem system – beat Nodes in this mode to unlock and upgrade Gems of different categories that grant you a variety of minor combat buffs or ability changes. Some are basic boosts like a chance at receiving a 10% attack damage buff before battle, while others let you customize your character kit a bit by activating the powers of other characters. Early on I found a gem that triggered Black Adam’s lightning whenever I dodged with a full meter, adding some interesting new utility to that move. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t a mode available to take your Gem-equipped character into battle against other players – but even with this locked away in a singleplayer mode, it’s a pretty solid way to spend time with the game and get some experience with the systems and characters before you try to head online.

While the new singleplayer mode is a pretty significant addition for the game, MultiVersus ultimately doesn’t feel much better off from where it was just over a year ago. In some ways it actually feels worse – with combat feeling far more sluggish and lethargic than I ever remembered it being in the open beta version of the game. Hopefully these combat reworks aren’t set in stone, and the team can take on board feedback and readjust when this new and not-entirely-improved version of MultiVersus goes live on 28th May.

Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.

Leave a Reply