By Ronald Gordon and Isaac Espinosa
Despite my love of video game combat, when it comes to fighting games I find myself lacking in a lot of areas. As a Solo-Player for a majority of my gaming career, I find myself lacking a lot of the reaction speed or thought processes behind what it takes to really get into fighting games. There is a case for one recently-released game that’s a lot more open to newcomers in the fighting game scene.
MultiVersus is a Platform Fighting game developed by Player First Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game takes place across multiple maps, featuring characters from all sorts of Warner Bros. properties. Batman and Wonder Woman, Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, even Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil are playable characters. The sheer number of characters makes for a lot of potential match-ups, be they 1v1’s or team battles between players. Yet there’s still even more planned for future updates. It’s massive and because of that hugeness, it’s a little unsettling. Knowing what I was about to get into, I chose not to go alone and instead invited Isaac to aid me in my new adventure.
The combat was fairly simple to get behind. You have your normal combo string, special moves that change depending on the character, and mechanics that make juggling and air combos vital to gameplay. While I may be quick to learn a combo or two in a game with good combat, I found myself spamming the same moves with MultiVersus. While it may be the fact that I’m not well adjusted to platform fighters and blending new moves together, I also don’t fault MultiVersus for having such ease of use. Stacked on top of the fact that there’s Attack Decay, meaning the same attack done a number of times deals less damage, you’re forced to get a stable ground and focus yourself if you’re in it to win it.
The moves you use are only one part of the combat, with most battles you have involving a bunch of hidden aspects. Take one of my main characters, Batman, for example. His moves are consist of the batarang, the grappling hook, and the smoke bomb, with several other heavy hitting moves. A simple combo is the smoke bomb, which weakens enemies so that they take more and do less damage, into a charged batarang and then a grappling hook to knock them off. This simple combo may use all the tools in Batman’s arsenal but it blends together well in a way that leaves your opponent without any openings to counter.
But there’s a question of balance, too. When Batman is compared to someone like Lebron James, the basketball hero who starred in Space Jam and can combo you with one move and a wall, it shows that not every character is built with the same ideals in mind.
Combat aside, I think the game looks great considering it has so many characters from various Pop Culture worlds. Each character and their animations feel authentic to the source material, and their witty voice lines make them feel a lot more real than they should. The music is upbeat and heroic sounding, although it does tend to blend and sound the same as you play the game. The stages are creative as well, based around familiar background scenes from the various shows that characters come from. Some of them even have their own interactive parts and breakable segments to make the field more dangerous, or put your enemy on the backfoot.
So far there are already a lot of characters, unlockable via in-game currency, that you can play as with much more planned to release in further updates. Considering it’s free, I think anyone who wants a fresh experience in platform fighters should try it out, and it might help define someone’s fighting game career entirely. I may not be the type to pick up and play a fighting game on my off time, but in terms of MultiVersus it feels a lot more accessible to my style of game. It encourages me to expand my horizons just a little bit and set my foot outside my comfort zone, without requiring too much to really get into it. That’s a big thing considering most fighting games are littered with people who have been playing since forever, so having a game that anyone can pick up and play means a lot more diversity in the Fighting Game community.
These are just the positive thoughts of someone who hasn’t been playing Smash for over 6+ years. I’m really just an amateur when it comes to Fighters like these. My best friend and fellow Senior Intern Isaac on the other hand, is anything but an amateur.
By Isaac Espinosa
When Ronald approached me with the prospect of playing Multiversus together, I was skeptical to say the least. That’s not to say I didn’t want to play with him, of course. Multiversus just seemed to be very different from the platform fighters I’ve played in the past. Coming from my fighting game background, I grew up on playing Smash Bros and recently have picked up competitive Rivals of Aether. And so, Multiversus was a far cry from the experiences I’ve had with those two titles – in a good way, and an awkward one.
Overall, the game provides a solid experience. I found myself using Steven Universe and Wonder Woman, and I had an awesome time playing together with Ronald. In that sense, the game gave me a lot of enjoyment.
But on my own, it was a different experience. First, the good. There were many mechanics that helped to bring a competitive air to Multiversus. One such mechanic includes “Attack Decay.” As Ronald mentioned earlier, this mechanic helps to emphasize the use of combos and exploring all of a character’s kit and abilities. Which is pretty easy to do, since a lot of the time it feels like combos are consistent and even the lower tier characters have moves that connect for true damage. Moves feel good as they connect in Multiversus, and the sound design helps a lot to make them feel impactful. That way, it makes you feel like each strong attack you land really does hit its mark. This, combined with how the game has a wonderful tutorial system that gives you a proper understanding of the game’s other mechanics, like strong attacks and recovering, makes the game super newcomer friendly, which is important when making any kind of fighting game.
However, it feels like there’s one big thing that’s preventing the game from meshing with me on the level of Smash and Rivals. Multiversus feels very…floaty. Whenever I moved with members of the cast, it felt as if they were filled with helium, and they had no real weight outside of how far moves sent them. Perhaps that’s because the game allows you to come back to the stage very easily. Every character has a normal double jump, but jumping from a wall gives you that back, meaning that you can pretty much recover from any distance, especially if you’re at the bottom. At times, it feels like you can last up to 200% without dying, which can make games feel very slow. In comparison, Smash Bros. and especially Rivals, pride themselves on fast movement and gameplay elements that help to create an experience that is both fun for casuals and for competitors. Going from a game like Smash Bros. Ultimate to Multiversus definitely makes the differences more apparent.
The most comparable experience I can relate it back to is Super Smash Bros Brawl, for the Wii. Despite being from the Smash Bros series, Brawl was different in that it was floaty, slow, and combos were almost non-existent. This was a way to make the game less competitive overall. With its emphasis on aerial movement and consistently being able to come back to the stage, Multiversus feels a lot like Brawl to me.
And while I didn’t find Brawl fun as a competitor, that doesn’t mean that Multiversus is bad, far from it. A lot of the aspects I’ve pointed out are most visible when you’re playing the game in the typical 1v1 setting. However, Multiversus is most commonly advertised as a 2v2 fighter, in which the game is at its best. With four people on the screen at once, the game feels much more natural, and it helps to mitigate the issue of feeling like you won’t die, since you’ll have to fight off two people at once sometimes. Playing this game with Ronald brought us both an immense amount of joy, and even though we were both at different experience levels, we both managed to get wins on each other and some other opponents. It was a ton of fun, and I’d absolutely learn the game more if it meant that I could find a fighting game to play with Ronald.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle senior intern. He was the first of our writers – or any intern anywhere – to complete an internship at Rockstar Games.
Bronx native Isaac Espinosa is a senior intern at the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Alongside being named the Circle’s first assistant mentor, Isaac also published his first story in The Verge.