Warner Bros. has given new studio Player First Games some of its most popular characters to take a place in the Smash Bros.-dominated IP-crossover-fighter genre. The multiverse succeeds where others have failed, but there is still something to grow.
Although LeBron James gives thanks for his starring role in the roster Space Jam: A New Legacy, the WB roster in MultiVersus doesn’t sound as icky as that movie’s roster. Each character is treated with respect, creating a world where you ultimately don’t keep track of the fact that Arya Stark game of Thrones Bugs is stabbing the bunny.
Tight, smash-like controls cleverly communicate the mighty and heavy Iron Giant as well as the fast and silly Finn adventure Time, Just when I thought I had found my main, I introduced another character and was always amazed at how unique and interesting they were to learn.
While 1v1 and 4-player free-for-all are included, everything is built around 2v2 gameplay. Character classes show traits at a glance and indicate how the team can gel. For example, Velma can hang back and cover with projectiles and buffs/debuffs, while Superman charges everyone to pound. You can add characters that add strength and cover weaknesses, or just go all-in with two Rushdown characters; All options are practical in the right hands.
The perks system plays directly into this. Character leveling unlocks increased speed, dodging, jumps, and more. It’s smart to match perks with your partner’s for a stacking bonus. For example, Superman and Velma both have ice attacks, so you can combo that up to increase the sparring. Unique signature benefits also play into character strengths. Even at this early stage, the team/perk combos are staggering and keep me using it constantly.
Despite the strength of the existing basic modes, the lack of diversity needs to be addressed (and apparently will soon be with an arcade and ranked mode). A limited number of maps cover the standard size and layout requirements, but none of them make for a good Smash Bros. Doesn’t match the level of creativity and detail. It’s nice to ward off enemies from the Batmobile in the Batcave, but stages like a normal, empty coliseum and stock meadows with waterfalls made me want more.
Online play is great thanks to the rollback netcode and a huge cross-platform player base. I never had to wait for matches or struggle with lag. Raindog – a new character created for the game – went invisible a couple of times, but that’s about the extent of my technical problems.
Multiverse is free-to-play on almost every console and PC, making it easy to access. However, it also triggers micro-transactional concerns. Thankfully, the fair economy offers a lot for players who don’t want to pay. Wonder Woman is free with a rotating roster of four characters. The initial influx of gold pays off for another character, so you can set up 6 of the 17 in the roster in short order. The rest of the grind is very slow, but not too hard. And all characters are playable in a practice area. Paid content is mostly limited to the premium tier of cosmetics, instant character unlocks, and Battle Passes.
The current free and paid mini battle passes and daily quests kept me busy throughout my time with the Multiverse. While I enjoyed unlocking content, the need to grind out repetitive bot matches to hit certain numbers in a reasonable amount of time can be a slog. Accomplished seasonal goals angrily weren’t clear to me so I had to dig into menus and retrace a page of grayed-out items to constantly check my progress.
Living Games has the potential to go in disappointing directions, but the multiverse has a strong foundation. If it can meaningfully roll out the material and smooth out its rough edges, it could become a new crossover obsession for years to come.