‘MultiVersus’ preview: no need to break the bank to enjoy this brawler

Responsive controls, dynamic characters and well-designed environments add to the joy that is 'MultiVersus', and that's before mentioning their refreshing implementation of microtransactions

Player First Games and Warner Brothers have teamed up to create MultiVersus, a free-to-play crossover fighting game with characters coming from DC Comics, HBO, Cartoon Network and more. With many across the internet calling it 2022’s answer to Super Smash Bros, we got our hands on the beta to see whether it could live up to those standards.

The platform fighter eases you in gently with a tutorial to help grasp the basics of the controls. A series of optional advanced tutorials are available but not necessary, although completing them will give you helpful information such as the almost-unlimited aerial combat possibilities, and the fact that attack decay is a thing. Attack decay in particular absolutely helps to minimise the desire to button mash your way to victory, with each repeated attack dealing less damage. This virtual hand-holding helps players to familiarise themselves with the controls and attack possibilities should they want to maximise their damage output.

Having said that, racking up the damage numbers isn’t the way to victory but it does help. A team scores a point by knocking their opponent outside the arena boundaries, and the more damage inflicted on a character, the further they fly when yeeted from a platform edge. In a primarily two versus two (2v2) format, you may well find yourself cursing the ineptitude of your randomly matchmade teammate, but in an environment where recovery is obscenely easy to achieve and you’re blessed with perks for levelling up a character, it really doesn’t take long to grasp the best methods of annihilating the opposition from an early point in the game.

Taz
MultiVersus. Credit: Player First Games

With eight characters available to everyone when the open beta launches on July 26, there’s someone for everyone no matter the play style. Taz has already been branded overpowered (OP) by players online and for good reason. He’s been nerfed already between the time I wrote this and the time an editor came in and added this aside, even. His Tornado special attack can lock the opponent in a whirlwind of chaos, dealing damage the entire time. Many an expletive was aimed at my monitor as I franticly attempted to dodge out of the whirlwind, and many more when those attempts were unsuccessful – definitely due to the fact Taz needs a rework, and absolutely not down to my shoddy gameplay.

Jake the Dog (of Adventure Time fame) is best put to work as a ranged attacker, as his reach is far superior to any other melee character in the game so far. Plus, he can eat his opponent before shooting them out like a projectile. I never expected Jake the Dog to be such a menace, but it’s happened, and the result is thoroughly hilarious.

Wonder Woman showcases quick, lethal moves with a team-focused shield for her special attack, which she can either use to defend, or use to propel herself through the air to send the opposition into oblivion. She’s definitely one of the more underrated characters in the game, only appearing on the opposition twice in the ten hours or so of gameplay I’ve got under my belt already, but one that I find myself opting for in the character selection screen over most others.

MultiVersus. Credit: Player First Games

Perks are awarded based on player style, and unlocked for spending more time with each character, levelling them up. Perks are optional to apply but also have a bonus effectiveness applied if your teammate chooses the same one. This attention to detail forces the player to actively learn the game and refine their tactics rather than reverting to the aforementioned button-mashing approach, which we’ve definitely all been guilty of in similar cartoon fighting games.

For those that aren’t wanting to play the 2v2 mode, the game also offers four-player free-for-all, 1v1 and two-player team versus bots as alternatives. The bots have varying levels of difficulty, so provide an effective way to sharpen up skills or get valuable practice time on a new character.

The concept is simple, the gameplay is fluid, controls are responsive and feel great, and the available characters are diverse and fun to play, but that’s not the main reason people should give this new arrival a fair chance.

The marketplace and in-game transactions are fair, balanced, and nothing you buy with “real” money will enhance your actual performance. All microtransactions are purely cosmetic, with everyone getting a fair shot at unlocking the characters they’ve got their hearts set on without parting with their cash, if they don’t want to.

LeBron James screenshot from his character reveal trailer for MultiVersus
‘MultiVersus’. CREDIT: Player First Games

Being a free game, it would be easy to have preconceived ideas regarding the microtransactions and their affordability, fairness and necessity, but a tentative look at MultiVersus’ marketplace from behind my eyes reveals reasonably priced transactions with currency that can be earned in-game. Nothing is pushed towards you as a hard sell, nothing is necessary to have full enjoyment of the entire game, and it’s actually quite difficult to find things to purchase with the game’s premium currency, Gleamium.

Only certain skins, emotes and ring-out animations will cost Gleamium, meaning that all characters, perks and stages are free to unlock and realistically attainable for any player. From those items that do cost Gleamium though, some are extortionate, with a Legendary skin for Batman setting you back a hefty 1200 Gleamium, roughly £16.

The options that MultiVersus sets forth for a paid “Founders Pack” are threefold, and similarly eye-wateringly expensive for what they are. The base Founders Pack will include 15 Character Tokens, enabling instant character unlocks, 300 Gleamium and an exclusive banner to decorate the player profile with, and sets you back £32.99. The Deluxe Edition boasts 20 Character Tokens, a Premium Battle Pass, two banners, one ring-out effect and 1,000 Gleamium at a cost of £49.99. The Premium Edition, finally, will give 30 Character Tokens, three Premium Battle Passes, three banners, one ring-out effect, one name plate and 2,500 Gleamium at a painful £79.99.

I was set up with a Premium Edition Founders Pack in order to be able to experience the current full MultiVersus offering, and although the gesture was appreciated and I had fun unlocking characters instantly with the Tokens, I categorically did not need the Premium Pack in order to fully immerse myself in and enjoy the game, and my experience was vastly similar to the experience of those who simply entered the beta without a Founder’s Pack at all. Whilst MultiVersus as a whole is indeed free-to-play, the price of purely-cosmetic additions via these Founders Packs is quite simply not worth it.

Despite this, the fact that not a single penny needs to be spent in order to genuinely play, enjoy and level up throughout the game and no garish advertising is thrust in your face upon launch is a credit to Player First Games and the development of MultiVersus. For an open beta the game is well-refined, has plenty of content and the gameplay feels balanced and fair, for the majority of the time. If the advertising stays away, rather ironically I am entirely sold.

MultiVersus is available to play now, on PlayStation, Xbox and PC

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