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Multiversus Review – A New Smash King?

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Back in November of 2021, another Smash-type game was announced from Player First Games and published by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, and it was no other than Multiversus. It's worth noting that Player First Games is a brand new developer, and Multiversus is their first title, which I considered when reviewing the game. As you all know, Warner Bros has a ton of characters, including all of the ones from DC comics such as Wonder Woman and Superman, Looney Tunes, the Scooby Doo cast, and plenty of other characters from well-known TV shows and cartoons. We've spent a few days with the game and have plenty to say about it. The elephant in the room is obviously Super Smash Bros Ultimate. What does Multiversus do differently to compete with a game of such stature and popularity? That's an excellent question, and we are glad you asked. Welcome to our review of Multiversus.

No King Rules Forever

With Super Smash Bros Ultimate going out with a bang, it was inevitable that a new game in the genre would take its place sooner or later. No king rules forever, as they say. Many have tried to replicate the success of Smash, but most failed due to poor fighting mechanics, lack of high-quality production value, or just budget in general. It's hard to compete with Nintendo, especially when they have so much money and years of experience developing sequels to a franchise dating back to 1999. Super Smash Bros 64 was everyone's favorite fighting game, and it didn't matter if you were competitive or not because the game nailed the most crucial thing - fun. With every new entry in the franchise, Nintendo would always find ways to improve the game not just visually but also mechanically. The devs over at Nintendo would craft new stages and modes while finding ways to include new and old returning characters with every release. Not too long ago, Super Smash Bros Ultimate finally added its last character - Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Hell, they even added Banjo Kazooie, a former Nintendo mascot on the N64, but then Microsoft bought Rare on September 24th, 2004, and took all of the beloved Rare characters, including Banjo Kazooie. The gaming industry can be a crazy world of twists and turns. Many Smash clones started coming out of the woodwork, hoping to capitalize on the success of Super Smash Bros Ultimate, such as Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, which drew criticism for having a complete lack of voice acting and being a low-budget cash-in. While the game wasn't horrible, it didn't grab everyone's attention and ended up with a deflated hype from the get-go. If you do not capture the gamer's attention from the start, it is difficult to win them back. The video game market does not mess around, and gamers are always hungry and picky with how and what titles they spend their time on these days. Then came along Multiversus, another Smash-like game from a developer no one has heard of. Player First Games decided to take on the massive challenge of attempting to dethrone Smash Bros or at least fill in the void. At this point, with how amazing Super Smash Bros Ultimate and how huge the game was, there is no physical way Nintendo would ever be able to top their last release. The amount of characters, stages, and just content, in general, is impossible to improve upon, hence why it has the word "ultimate" in the title. But alas, someone has to take the throne sooner or later. https://youtu.be/9m0cXeWnijk

They Key Differences

The key differences between Multiversus and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl are its high-quality production values, free-to-play system, which means zero barriers to entry, and original voice acting, at least from those who are still alive today. Right now, Multiversus has a total of 19 confirmed characters, including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Harley Quinn, Arya Stark (Game of Thrones), Bugs Bunny, Taz, Vilma, Shaggy, Finn The Human, Garnet, Steven Universe, Tom & Jerry, Lebron, Reindog (original character for the game), Iron Giant and two recently announced characters: Rick and Morty. The open beta currently features everything listed in this video except Rick and Morty. Those two will most likely be for the full official launch as open beta being treated more as a soft launch and not as a fully finished code. Despite this being an open beta, we have decided to treat this as a product that's polished enough for a full-on review. It's not missing any core features or functionalities, just not a full release roster yet, and that's completely fine. We can't talk about the iconic roster of Multiversus without mentioning some of the most talented and well-known voice actors, such as Kevin Conroy, who's voicing Batman, and Matthew Lillard, who's been the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Do for two decades at this point. Arya Stark, of course, is no other than herself, Maisie Williams, a well-known icon in the world of Game of Thrones. So why is voice acting so important? Because people who also grew up with the old time cartoons and TV shows will instantly recognize the voices, and get hit in the head with nostalgia. That is a huge deal and a selling point for many fans.

The Gameplay and Mechanics

Now let's discuss what's arguably the most significant aspect of any video game, the gameplay, and mechanics. With how beloved and well-designed Smash brothers is, it's challenging to design something completely different, and, to be honest, there is no real need for it. As the saying goes: "if it's not broken, don't fix it," and that is what the team at Player First Games has decided to do. In my book, this was a wise choice. Why change something already liked by millions of people? Instead, you could throw a twist on top of what's already there. Multiversus mainly focuses on 2v2 gameplay as opposed to 1v1 or any other format. Currently, the game lets you play 1v1, 2v2, or a 4-player free for all. However, the 2v2 being the core gameplay mode is quite an interesting take. Player First Games gave characters special team abilities that can benefit each other. For example, Wonder Woman can use her Lasso to save a falling teammate who's about to get ringed out, or it can get your teammate out of a position so they do not get hurt by the enemy team. Super Smash Bros Ultimate or any of the previous games in the series do not have such mechanics. Every character in Smash is treated as their own and cannot help other teammates except for maybe throwing some helpful items in their direction. So which one is better if we were to compare the two? The truth is, neither is better or worse, but rather just different, and that's a good thing. Multiversus Then there is the perk system where players can choose up to four different perk slots that give their characters passive bonuses. Every character has a Signature perk exclusive to them and then three additional perk slots reserved for the regular perks that every character has. During our review session, I was enjoying and playing Wonder Woman, so her signature perk is related to shield or lasso abilities which fits her fantasy and gameplay style. The clever design adds uniqueness to every character. As for the other three perk slots, they offer you a variety of passive bonuses such as cooldown reduction or the amount of damage you can deal. But what's also interesting is that if you pair the exact same perks in the same slots with your teammates, you will get a double percent increase for that perk. For example, the "Back to Back" perk reduces damage taken by 6 percent when you are next to your ally. However, if your teammate also equips that perk on the same perk slot, then both of you will get a 12% damage reduction when near each other. Overall, the gameplay in Multiversus is familiar enough to Super Smash Bros series but at the same time feels fresh and, most importantly, fun to play. The main reasons why it's fun to play are because the characters are well designed, the mechanics work well together, the animations are fluid, and the visual art style fits the characters perfectly. It's just a well-made game, especially for a game that's being made by a completely new studio that has never released a game before, so kudos to Player First Games. With the gameplay out of the way, let's discuss the monetization model of Multiversus.

The Monetization

Just like with any free-to-play game, it's always scary to find some hidden mechanic that slows your progress unless you pay money, or something may completely lock you out of earning a character or being able to play on an even playing field. Thankfully, I am happy to report that Multiversus does not have any of these issues when it comes to monetization. Everything in the game is earnable by just having fun and playing the game at whatever pace you like. The only thing that players may not have access to is stuff like the premium battle pass. Recently, many live service games have implemented a model where there are two versions of the battle pass, a free one that includes a bunch of free rewards as you play, and a paid one that includes additional rewards. It's a system that's similar to Halo Infinite's Battle Pass. Right now, Multiversus is in Pre-season Battle Pass, so if you jump in and spend money, you'll be getting the pre-season stuff instead. The majority of the rewards in both free and premium Battle Passes include things like profile icons, taunts for different characters, ringouts that give you different visual effects, and stuff like that. The keyword here is that everything that you unlock when it comes to spending money is purely cosmetic, and that is the way it should be in free-to-play games. Multiversus Characters can be purchased via gold that's earned simply by playing the game. If you win, you get more gold, and gold is the free in-game currency. Then there is also Gleamium, which is a paid currency not earnable in the game by any means and can only be bought with real-world money. Buying Gleamium will enable you to purchase characters quicker if you are looking for a shortcut and just do not want to wait. Every week is a new free character rotation, so even if you do not own one of the characters, then you might have a chance to try them out the following week before you make a purchase using your hard-earned gold or Gleamium. I've only played a few days and have already considered spending some bucks on cosmetics just because this game is quite enjoyable, and I believe that Player First Games deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. Here at Gaming Instincts, we are strongly against greedy monetization models or any kind of purchasable player power, thankfully Multiversus has not made the mistake of committing such greed and has kept the monetization purely on a cosmetic level, so huge props to them.

Final Verdict

When this game was announced, and I heard it was free-to-play, I was extremely skeptical. Once I got my hands on the game earlier this week, I was pleasantly surprised at how good this game was. Multiversus feels like a breath of fresh air. It's exciting to see something new in this genre after so many years of Super Smash Bros. Don't get me wrong, I love Smash Bros, but there comes a time when you want something brand new in the same space. As previously mentioned, the game is beautiful, runs, and performs well. It's a ton of fun to play, thanks to its mechanics, fluid animations, and great net code. I've never felt any lag or a disconnect whatsoever. I think it's also worth admitting that I prefer 1v1 in most games, but the way Multiversus designed its 2v2 made me like it more than I thought I would. My only gripes with the game are that I wish it had more characters at the start. The launch will have 19 characters total, and right now, in the open beta, there are 17. There are also only five playable stages, including Sky Arena, Batcave, Trophy's Edge, Tree Fort, and Scooby's Haunted Mansion, which is my favorite. Either way, despite the game being a bit light on content, what's already here is great. Multiversus Overall, Multiversus is a game that has surpassed my expectations. I just wish it had a bit more characters at the start because the game is so good. The future of Multiversus is very bright, and I am excited about what's to come. Multiversus will be getting an Editor's Choice rating of 9 out of 10. Now, if you excuse me, I shall purchase my premium Battle Pass and unlock all of the pre-season goodies. What are you still doing here? Go download the game and play it already! Stay tuned at Gaming Instincts via TwitterYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook for more gaming news.
FUN FACTOR
An absolute blast to play, clever mechanics and easy to understand but hard to master as it should be.
VISUALS
Attractive visuals that fit the cartoon asthetics, pleasing to the eye, smooth and performs well.
AUDIO
Good soundtrack and doesn't feel out of place, great audio effects and fantastic voice acting by the original cast (those who are still alive of course)
REPLAYABILITY
Characters to unlock, battle passes to conquer both free and premium with cool cosmetics, addicting and free to play without any pay-to-win mechanics.
Masterpiece
9.0