MultiVersus Preview – Cartoon alumni party brawler

Multiversus Preview

Multiversus is an upcoming multiplayer-focused party brawler from Player First Games, developed in collaboration with Warner Bros and DC. By jumping on the recent trend of multiverse-themed stories, the central concept of this game seems to be a crossover fight between classic and modern cartoon characters, with several superheroes and oddballs joining the roster.

I got the chance to participate in the closed alpha here’s everything I have to say about the game so far. When I started Multiversus for the first time, I sighed as the Easy Anti-Cheat logo popped up onscreen. After the numerous exploits found in Elden Ring, I have no idea how anyone could trust this service; it seems about as effective as an ultra-thin condom.

Then, I noticed that Multiversus requires you to create a separate account with WB Games before you can play, as well as have a constant online connection. This is pretty annoying, but I suppose it can be partially excused due to the fact that this game is planned as a free to play title. When compared to things like lootboxes and NFTs, adopting a SaaS business model is surprisingly one of the less scummy moves the AAA gaming industry has recently adopted.

Once I jumped through all the requisite hoops and gave away my personal information, I was thrown into a tutorial as Shaggy. After getting the chance to feel the movement and combat, I can safely say that this is a blatant impersonation of the Super Smash Bros formula. If you’ve played either of the two recent additions to the Smash Bros series, you shouldn’t have any difficulty adjusting to Multiversus. However, there were some minor tweaks that enabled Player First Games to put their own spin on this established formula.

From my experience, this feels like a very aerial combat-focused fighter. 2 air dodges per jump gives you a quad jump, and adding your up special to the chain can provide yet another jump. I wasn’t able to shorthop, which makes wavedashing difficult; however, some players seem to have found a workaround according to YouTube. Jumps also carry momentum after letting go of the stick, which requires you to move it in the opposite direction to halt momentum in the air. You also have the ability to tweak air movement when hit through Directional Input (DI).

There were a few nagging issues I experienced that could be attributed to the fact that this game was still in alpha. Ledge grabs felt superfluous when characters can easily cling to the side of the stage multiple times. This even reset all my jumps and dodges, which makes me wonder if ledge guarding is possible or even viable.

Additionally, characters’ hitboxes felt weird. Using Shaggy’s charge attacks while touching Wonder Woman wouldn’t register a hit. Then I realized it was because I could basically walk right through her model without interruptions, which caused me to presumably clip through the hitbox. Needless to say, this felt really bad and needs to be fixed.

multiversus multiplayer

Fortunately, one aspect that had no problems whatsoever was the netcode. During my online 1v1 matches, I experienced no lag, no freezes, and no delayed inputs. This was great for the alpha, but who knows if that uptime can stay once a larger crowd is introduced to this title later in the summer?

Some attacks have temporary status effects, like Batman’s smoke bomb, which are reminiscent of items in a typical Smash game. I also noticed an attack decay effect when using Shaggy’s smash attacks, although this may be a consequence for spamming the same move over and over. Some character special moves have huge cooldown timers; when combined with an emphasis on support, it introduces elements reminiscent of MOBAs or hero shooters.

Something else that feels ripped from a MOBA are the character stats, which can be improved through progression. This seems like a big negative to me since it offers a greater advantage to players who spend more time grinding in-game, and removes the even playing field that’s typically expected from fighting games.

I would prefer if progression only unlocked cosmetics and in-game currency, even though I am disgusted to see in-game currency included at all. Thankfully, this game is planned as a free to play release, although I predict it will eventually become pay to win based on the introduction of a Battle Pass system.

By far the strongest aspect of Multiversus is its presentation. Characters’ in-game dialogue are dynamic and changes to match their opponent, kind of like the other DC crossover series Injustice. I heard Velma say “take a shower, Shaggy!” when she hit him. In another fight, Batman yelled “This is for you, Shaggy!” when he hit him with a batarang. This is a huge improvement from Nickelodeon’s attempt at a party brawler, and I suspect this game will have a much more engaged fanbase upon release as a result of this feature.

Multiversus Characters

multiversus characters

Currently, the Multiversus character roster includes these characters:

  • Shaggy from Scooby-Doo has the Captain Falcon knee as his side air, as well as a special move that gives him a Super Saiyan charge. This is presumably a reference to what is now a very dated meme; oh well, I guess that’s canon now. Other than that, he feels like a combination of Mario and Luigi with Peach’s turnip throw move.
  • Wonder Woman from DC is a support character meant to be effective in 2v2 matches. She feels like a clone of sheik. I don’t have much to say about this character; she felt pretty boring and derivative to me.
  • Reindog is an original character made by the game developers. He looks like something out of Skylanders or Candy Crush, but he feels like Mewtwo with his tail air attacks and projectiles. He’s also a support character with a leash that allows his teammate to fight far away from the ledge safely.
  • Jake from Adventure Time is a “bruiser” class character, and he was my favorite character to play. He has big crunchy attacks and plays well on the ground in a neutral style, but he also has super long reach in the air with Dhalsim-esque stretchy arm punches. The closest approximation I can make is Ike.
  • Steven Universe is a support character that feels fast, almost like Falco or Fox. He has a shield that can be placed at set locations, Mario’s uppercut up tilt, he can spawn a bumper, and can create a clone of himself that fights alongside him. This is one of the more unique characters that doesn’t feel like a direct ripoff of a Smash character. The long cooldowns for his attacks are frustrating, but they feel necessary to prevent him from being OP.
  • Superman is a tank hybrid class, and he moves and punches like a mix of Bowser and Ganondorf. I really like his down special heat vision, even if it’s just Bowser’s fire breath. Same goes for his ice breath.
  • Garnet from Steven Universe is a bruiser and her moves feel like a mix of Little Mac and Mega Man. I don’t have much else to say other than she’s built like Dexter’s mom (IYKYK).
  • Batman feels similar to Superman and sounds great, thanks to Kevin Conroy of the animated series and Arkham games reprising the role. His floating jump looks sick. He’s got some Mega Man moves like his batarang, which has an annoying cooldown, but he also has a grapple hook that closes the distance like Scorpion.
  • Harley Quinn is a projectile-heavy “assassin” character, with movement like Zero Suit Samus; she also carries a laser gun that feels similar in combat. Other than that, she takes several moves from Solid Snake such as his detonator special and the air kicks.
  • Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes is a mage class, which seems to mean projectile heavy. Another neutral friendly character who can throw pies, drop safes, and spawn random items out of ACME boxes. The closest approximation I can make to his playstyle is Villager.
  • Arya from Game of Thrones is like a mix of Kirby and Metaknight who has the ability to steal opponents’ faces. She also has a projectile teleport move and a “teleports behind you” counter.
  • Tom & Jerry bear some aesthetic resemblance to Duck Hunt, which is probably just a coincidence. In practice, they play like Rosalina and Luma. The two can be separated in order to deal damage from opposite sides of the stage, and one special attaches Jerry to a firecracker that can be navigated like Ness’ PK thunder or Snake’s Nikita missiles. Their side special feels like Lucas’ rope snake with more reach.
  • Finn from Adventure Time is Link, just straight up Link. He spins his backpack instead of his sword, but other moves feel pretty much the exact same. He collects coins from enemies after hits, probably gives him some kind of boost but I didn’t play as him long enough to figure that out.
  • Velma from Scooby-Doo is experimental, and didn’t feel blatantly inspired by any existing Smash character. She can tag an enemy to shoot homing insults. There are lots of cute references to the classic character, like losing her glasses as down air and a side smash of her saying “Jinkies.” She has Mario’s fireball and can carry opponents.
  • Taz from Looney Tunes is an “experimental” bruiser character. I’m not sure why they call him experimental when he’s just Mr. Game & Watch, complete with a sandwich instead of a key for down air and a cauldron (soup pot?) instead of the water pail.

Many of the Cartoon Network and Looney Tunes characters look like their original depictions, but the DC characters, Reindog, and Arya have a stylized look similar to Disney Infinity.

Rick and Morty is listed in the credits and Mr. Meeseeks appears in the tutorial, so they’re likely to be included in the full release. Also likely to be included later is the Iron Giant based on his appearance in the cinematic trailer; I was surprised that I didn’t see him in the alpha.

One of the greatest strengths of Multiversus as a concept are the huge pool of characters they can conceivably include. Personally, I would love to see some more classic cartoon characters like Dexter, the Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, and maybe Ed, Edd, & Eddy. If Rick and Morty lead the way to more Adult Swim characters, why not add the Venture Bros., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Charles Ofdensen from Metalocalypse, Coach McGuirk from Home Movies, Space Ghost, or Harvey Birdman/Birdgirl?

However, the most interesting inclusion from my perspective is Arya from Game of Thrones. If a character from an adult-oriented live action HBO show is in the game, does that mean other live action characters can be included? Why not get Tony Soprano, Rust Cohle, McNulty, The Flight of the Conchords, or any of those doped out zoomers from Euphoria? Okay, those are a little silly, but you could at least add Spawn.

Here’s my final opinion after trying the Multiversus closed alpha: it’s very derivative and does little to hide its inspirations. However, copying the characters and mechanics of a game that’s been popular for decades results in a game that feels fun to play without requiring you to learn a whole new combat system. Additionally, the presentation and potential for new character crossovers is interesting enough to justify paying the zero dollars to give this game a shot. Hopefully when it comes to beta this July some of the more annoying issues are taken care of.

MultiVersus will be free-to-play and launches sometime in 2022 on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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Michael Valverde is a freelance writer and editor. His favorite video game is Half-Life.

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