Windows Central Verdict
While the comparisons to Super Smash Bros. are impossible to ignore, the team at Player First Games has quickly established MultiVersus as a platform fighter that's a force to be reckoned with in the competitive community. The title’s focus on gripping 2v2 matchmaking that rewards careful collaboration elevates MultiVersus above nearly every other sub-genre contender.
+ Fast, fluid combat
+ Imaginative character design
+ Celebrates source material
+ Embraces competitive ideals
Very content-light (at the moment)
Battle Pass is a grind
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Countless contenders have entered the arena in hopes of dethroning the undisputed king of platform fighters, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and I've played most of them. From recent efforts like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to established games-as-a-service offerings like Brawlhalla, if a developer has attempted to compete in the space, I’ve been there to evaluate how they stack up.
So when Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment unveiled MultiVersus, its free-to-play foray into platform fighting, I was skeptical of its potential. Despite an impressive catalog of characters and licenses, other mascot-centric fighting games like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale failed to capture the essence of what makes Super Smash Bros. so beloved. Sure, I chuckled at the bonkers premise of Ultra Instinct Shaggy scrapping with Batman and Bugs Bunny but would it be enough?
My concerns dissolved the second I got my hands on MultiVersus. Player First Games has convincingly demonstrated its love of genre contemporaries by crafting one of the best-playing fighting games in recent history. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve sunk nearly 50 hours into this platform fighter and find myself compelled to engage in matches every single day. MultiVersus meaningfully embraces the competitive fundamentals established by its obvious inspiration to deliver an excellent brawler with tight, engrossing gameplay and thoroughly creative characters.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible in part by a beta code provided by Warner Bros. Games. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
MultiVersus: What’s good
Akin to other platform fighters, your main objective in MultiVersus is to rack up damage against opponents in hopes of smashing them off the stage. The more wounded a fighter is, the further they’ll launch when hit with knockback attacks. This twist on the traditional fighting formula substitutes static HP for elaborate environmental mind games. The player must pressure enemies into ringouts while also managing and maintaining their position in the arena. This delicate dance is why platform fighters are such a beloved sub-genre.
MultiVersus empowers these dynamics through fast, fluid combat and by offering a sense of speed and urgency. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, characters are granted two jumps, one air dodge, and one special recovery ability before touching the ground. MultiVersus doubles this, enabling two air dodges and two air recovery attacks. These enhanced maneuvers provide a greater sense of agency when battling opponents off-stage and demand more aggressive strategies to KO combatants. Any character can easily return to safety if given adequate breathing room.
|Developer||Player First Games|
|Publisher||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Platforms||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC|
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
Characters in rival platform fighters are frequently likened to archetypes popularized in Super Smash Bros. You'll hear community members draw parallels between varying movesets by making statements like "oh, so he's a Captain Falcon clone" or "this character is basically Link." One of the most impressive elements of MultiVersus is how it circumvents these stereotypes to introduce an impressive roster of imaginatively designed characters. These quirky brawlers not only sport their own signature kits of attacks but many present abilities unlike anything in Super Smash Bros.
LeBron James from Space Jam, and to a lesser extent the NBA, ricochets basketballs with GOAT-like authority. Arya Stark from Game of Thrones uses her deceptive training to steal her opponents' faces, granting her a selection of their powers. Jake from Adventure Time utilizes his uncanny transformation prowess to noodle and shapeshift his way around the battlefield. Every character in MultiVersus brings something unique to the experience, and deducing their nuances supplies endless opportunities to evolve and adapt as a player.
As a semi-professional Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player swimming in piles of singles I won at local tournaments, competitive mechanics in platform fighters are critically important. (No items, three stock, Final Destination, all day, baby.) Unlike Nintendo with Super Smash Bros., MultiVersus fosters competitive play with a suite of brilliantly designed gameplay systems. Perks, 2v2 matchmaking, and defined character classes blend to produce an exhilarating platform fighter that demands fierce competition and gets even casual players digging into their subtleties.
Uncovering how a tank like Wonder Woman can complement a bruiser like Garnet to gain devastating environmental control is both challenging and rewarding. Perks also introduce worthwhile character progression that can unlock buffs for you and your allies. If your favorite character has notoriously lengthy ability cooldowns, you and a partner can offset that by equipping perks that reduce cooldown time. The varying matchups and perk loadouts ensure no two matches in MultiVersus will play out in the same way.
Another commendable component of MultiVersus is how the title celebrates its characters' legacies. From hiring legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy to reprise his role as Batman to Tom and Jerry's arsenal of deep-cut cartoon weaponry, it's obvious how much the team adores these properties. The pool of launch content available in MultiVersus beautifully showcases the history and scope of Warner Bros.' staggering library of IP.
MultiVersus: What's not as good
While MultiVersus generally feels fantastic to play, there are certain areas where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate confidently supersedes it. This fledgling platform fighter's frantic, fast-paced combat is stifled by questionable hurt and hitboxes. The frequently criticized and potently obnoxious connection range of Bugs Bunny's grand slam aerial bat attack has been altered since early access, but this is only one example among dozens that make gameplay in MultiVersus frustratingly inconsistent.
Any excellent fighting game should give the player predictable feedback when landing an attack. As someone fixated on competitive mechanics, I want to ensure I can accurately anticipate where my opponent will launch when blasting them with a side smash or neutral air. In my dozens of hours of testing, MultiVersus doesn't always deliver in this department. Player First Games is currently undergoing a significant overhaul of the game's hit/hurt box systems, but for the time being, I've had to accept that Finn will occasionally spike me with a basic three-hit combo.
Despite the recent launch of version 1.0 and Season One, MultiVersus is still feature-light. The first batch of seasonal content promises to bring an Arcade-like mode, additional fighters, extra stages, and more, but the current package is objectively on the trimmer side. Even expected hallmarks like an in-game shop aren't available. The characters, modes, and content in MultiVersus are genuinely compelling, but I do wonder if less dedicated players might find the lack of variety less stimulating.
As it stands, there are no pay-to-win options in MultiVersus. The premium currency, Gleamium, can only be used to purchase cosmetics, the seasonal Battle Pass, or character unlock tickets. In terms of the latter, you can unlock characters with gold or by purchasing the optional Founder's Pack (there is also a free rotation of characters). This is standard fare in the current free-to-play landscape.
Unfortunately, the focus on hyper-specific limited daily challenges makes progressing through the Battle Pass a bit of a slog. MultiVersus does provide per-match experience, which is tremendously appreciated for a free-to-play title, but the amount is so minuscule that unless you're playing hundreds of matches per week, it won't make a notable difference.
MultiVersus: Should you play?
Whether you're a sweaty, competitive player or a casual one looking to bully your friends as Superman, MultiVersus is undeniably one of the most fascinating fighting games of the last several years. Much like its inspiration Super Smash Bros., this spectacularly designed platform fighter is easy to pick up and play but tough to master. The rich moment-to-moment gameplay is amplified by cleverly constructed characters, dynamic-shifting perks, and amazing 2v2 matchmaking.
MultiVersus has an undoubtedly exciting future, but the limited content offered will likely disappoint players hoping for more than just online skirmishes. Thankfully, the free-to-play model makes the barrier to entry outstandingly low.
If you have an Xbox, PlayStation, or PC, MultiVersus and its chaotic mashup of absurd Warner Bros. mascots are only a download away. And, if the lack of representation for your favorite character keeps you from diving in, the upcoming roadmap of potential candidates will certainly provide compelling reasons to keep your eyes on this platform fighter.
MultiVersus empowers players to duke it out as their favorite Warner Bros. characters in this fast and fluid platform fighter. With robust gameplay mechanics, there's a lot for competitive players to sink their teeth into. The optional Founder's Pack delivers a solid amount character unlock tickets.
Buy from: Xbox (opens in new tab)
Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.
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