The upcoming platform fighting game, MultiVersus, features characters from various Warner Bros.-owned properties, including Looney Tunes, Game of Thrones, Hanna-Barbera, DC Comics, and more, duking it out. During the game’s development, the developer Player First Games has allowed players to get their hands on it and give feedback with two tech tests and a closed alpha. I have been fortunate enough to take part in each tech test and the closed alpha for MultiVersus. After playing it enough to truly get a feel for the gameplay, it’s time to discuss first impressions.
One of the most important elements of any platform fighter is the roster of characters. Not only are there already a wide variety of beloved characters to play as, from Shaggy from Scooby-Doo to Tom and Jerry, but every character plays extremely different from each other. There are no clones or characters with some moves similar to others. Even though plenty of more characters are said to be on the way, there’s already a character that matches anyone’s playstyle.
Best of all is that every character feels viable. There’s no character that feels outright better or worse than others. It all depends on the players’ preferences and skill level. That being said, while each character feels pretty balanced, there are some specific moves that could use tweaking. Superman is an incredibly fun character to play as and is as strong as one may suspect, but his ice breath attack could be improved upon as it takes a long time to be effective and wears off too quickly. Jake the Dog has a particularly strong attack that transforms him into a pony as he runs opponents over which could be seen as too good since he’s able to keep doing it and it takes priority over most attacks from other players.
What’s particularly intriguing about the roster of fighters in MultiVersus is that they belong to one of five classes. Characters with a focus on ranged attacks are in the Mage class, which includes Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. Characters who would rather use their fists to achieve victory, like Jake and Batman, are Bruisers. The Support Class consists of characters whose abilities focus on benefiting their teammate rather than scoring Ring Outs, like Steven Universe and Velma. Defensive characters like Wonder Woman (thanks to her shield) and Superman (thanks to his invulnerability) are considered Tanks. Characters who are skilled with swords or other similar weapons, like Arya Stark and Finn, fall under the Assassin category. As someone who considers themself a big fan of games like Team Fortress 2 and Apex Legends, it’s exciting to see class-based gameplay enter the world of platform fighters.
Voice acting is not nearly as important to a video game as the actual gameplay, but the vocal talent here is top notch. The characters are mostly voiced by the actors known for playing them, which is truly exciting. The especially fun part of the voice acting is that it allows for tremendous interactions. Batman having a conversation with Steven Universe is hilarious and entertaining.
There have only been a small handful of levels seen in MultiVersus so far, but the designs of the ones we have seen are genuinely very good. Some have moving platforms while others don’t. The platform placement is different enough in each one that each level has its own feel and personality. The weakest stage is the Scooby-Doo one due to it being inside of a mansion with walls and a ceiling, but it’s not nearly as rough to play on as some stages in other platform fighters that do more damage to the players than their opponents. The space is still open enough, the walls can break open, and there’s a gap in the ceiling that still allows for ring outs. The Lab that’s used for training is also a stage, but I suspect it’s a placeholder for other flat stages based on IPs that haven’t been revealed yet.
There are a few items that can be used during matches, and so far, they’re not the most diverse or interesting items to be seen in platform fighters. They’re either thrown at opponents or just spawn AI that charges forward. There’s no mix of melee weapons, ranged weapons, or objects that could shake up the platforming or gameplay. It’s safe to assume that more will be in the game when it’s released. The other thing worth noting is that items don’t seem to spawn on their own. Right now, they’re only spawnable by characters like when Bugs Bunny smashes open his safe. Will they spawn randomly in the future? Will there be a way to turn them off in the settings? Only time will tell, I suppose.
The gameplay in MultiVersus is extremely fluid, as fighting games should be. What makes it stand out the most is that it has a strong focus on 2v2 battles. 1v1 matches are still an option, as are 4-player free-for-alls, and are riveting and competitive as you’d expect from any fighting game out there. The 2v2 fights here, though, are something special. Each character has a move that interacts with their teammate differently than an opponent. For instance, Batman’s smoke bomb debuffs enemies who walk through it, but buffs his teammates. Wonder Woman can use her Lasso of Truth to pull enemies toward her to destroy, but can also use it to save teammates by pulling them to safety. She can also put a shield around herself and her teammate. These cooperative options in battle shake up the gameplay and the overall strategy a lot, and allows for some truly wacky plays. It’s also worth mentioning that four players being in a 2v2 match is chaotic and competitive at the same time. Nothing is lost for those who like to compete in tournaments.
The game’s perk system is rather interesting, as it allows players to play their own way without anything feeling unbalanced because of it. Someone could give their character a 5% increase on movement speed while someone else adds jump height to theirs. You could also opt out of using perks at all and keep up with those who do. A lot of choices are given to the players, which allows them to get what they want out of the experience. It’s quite nice.
Like many modern on-going games, MultiVersus features a battle pass and countless unlockables that include alternate skins, profile icons, player banners, taunts, ring out animations, and more. I personally am someone who gets sucked in trying to get certain costumes in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, so it’s a lot of fun to see the on-going battle pass approach used in a platform fighting game. It’s so satisfying that things are almost constantly being unlocked as you play.
The game is still in its alpha stage, so it’s not without some noticeable glitches. From characters getting stuck in floors and walls, to the Taz turning completely invisible, and even fighters being teleported all over the stage, the bugs certainly interrupt the gameplay. There are also times when the game briefly freezes just by selecting different menu screens. It’s a safe assumption that everything will be fixed by the time the game releases, but glitches can still be annoying.
Ultimately, MultiVersus is an exceptionally fun game with a “just one more match, I swear” feel to it. It completely finds its own identity outside of other platform fighters by using unique mechanics like the 2v2-specialized movesets and perk system, which is needed since the genre is only going to expand. It will certainly be exciting to see how Player First Games plans to add to it going forward. The MultiVersus Open Beta will be playable in July with the full release expected to come later this year.