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MultiVersus (PC)

MultiVersus (PC) - Review

by Mark Nielsen , posted on 31 May 2024 / 1,932 Views

When you first boot up MultiVersus you're met with a high quality cut scene featuring exquisite animation and voice-acting, successfully presenting you with a wide breadth of characters and the wacky nature of the game... after which you're immediately thrown into a stale tutorial in generic boxed-in areas, with no voice-acting and lifeless character portraits. This contrast between high and low quality is a very fitting first impression for what MultiVersus itself has to offer.


Everybody moderately familiar with the world of video games can tell from a glance what title MultiVersus is trying to replicate, from its cross-over concept to the mechanics of its gameplay, and it’s hard to blame it when Super Smash Bros. is such a successful franchise - one with fairly few rivals that scratch that same itch. MultiVersus isn't shy about this similarity and the core gameplay is essentially the same: players will try to damage each other to increase how much knockback they receive, until they can knock eachother off the screen and score a “ring-out”. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it a tried and tested formula, so the question is just how well MultiVersus can execute it in practice.

The answer is a mixed one. The most immediate flaw of MultiVersus, at least for those used to the flow of Smash Bros., is the pacing of its gameplay, where most moves executed end with several still frames where your character is locked in place (and the opponent too, if it connects) before it's able to take input again. This, of course, slows down the gameplay, but more problematically can give it an almost choppy feel, particularly when simply testing out your character's moves. In the heat of battle, it becomes a little less noticeable, but still prevents MultiVersus from ever feeling truly smooth to play. What’s most tragic about this core issue is that it’s actually a newly-introduced one with the relaunch of the gameplay; comparing beta and current game footage you’d almost think the game is dropping frames, when that’s actually just the way it plays now.
 
While the pacing problem puts a serious damper on the feel of the game, it’s not (necessarily) a complete dealbreaker by itself and there are other gameplay elements to address. A noteworthy thing about MultiVersus is that many of its wide array of characters have some fairly unique moves available to them, far beyond your typical punches and kicks, often incorporating the source material in fun ways. It’s nice to see the developers getting creative, but in some cases it can also become a double-edged sword. Unique moves with special mechanics are interesting, but since MultiVersus fighters have fairly limited movesets (directional attacks, directional special moves, and a few unique aerials), each of those moves also takes more away from your regular attack options. It's perhaps mostly the somewhat limited movesets (compared to Smash) that are to blame here; it’s hard not to miss just a few more options which would also add variety from match to match.

It's fairly obvious that a large part of the appeal of MultiVersus comes from its roster of beloved and mismatched characters, so of course that also deserves to be addressed. In a game that was quite literally conceived due to the infamous Ultra Instinct Shaggy meme, one would expect a certain level of wackiness and boldness. MultiVersus mostly delivers those goods. The roster covers a lot of ground, from Game of Thrones to Tom & Jerry, but it arguably falls into the trap of getting a bit stuck on a few specific franchises while there are still so many others left unexplored. For example, it features three fighters from Adventure Time and two from Steven Universe, while CN Network’s many other original series are nowhere to be found. We also have a massive six fighters from DC and two from Gremlins of all things, and when characters like the Iron Giant show just how deep the Warner Bros. rabbit hole goes, it’s a little disappointing that the developers haven’t gone digging a little bit more. The more pressing issue is perhaps how little of this roster is available to a new player booting up the game.


MultiVersus is a free-to-play title and it doesn’t skimp out on all the classic trappings that come with that. Far be it for this reviewer to pretend to have an overview of it all, but we’ve got everything from battle passes, to multiple currencies, to daily log-in rewards that Marvin Martian notes are just the sort of thing us Earthling types go wild for (points for self-awareness if nothing else), with all of this of course being intended to keep players coming back and spending money. While there are skins, icons, and assorted cosmetics, the biggest incentive used for you to get out your wallet is in order to unlock new characters and fill in your mostly greyed-out roster. Shaggy appropriately takes the role as the default starting character everybody owns, but other than him and the characters on weekly rotation, that’s all you get at first.

Of course, the game doesn’t hold back from showering new players in rewards to get them hooked (including a full character as a day two log-in bonus! How generous!), but once you get past the welcoming party the rate at which you earn the currency that matters slows down to a crawl. Another problem here is that you can’t test out a new character in training mode before unlocking them, which is another brilliant change made between the beta and the full release.


A list of characters and movesets doesn’t make a game alone, not without game modes to use them in, and on this front MultiVersus offers two main ones: Rifts for single player and Online Matches for multiplayer. Rifts are a series of individual challenges undertaken from left or right with a few branching options along the way, and a thin story in the form of dialogue before each challenge.

There are a few positive things to be said about this mode: it’s nice to have at least some single player content with story flavor available; it seems like more rifts will be added continuously over time; and they feature a number of mini-games to spice things up along the way, from an off-brand Target Smash, to a shooting gallery, to plain old jump rope. But there are also the negatives: the boss fights aren’t particularly satisfying; the CPU matches get tedious pretty quickly, whether that’s due to the AI or the general feel of the game; and the whole thing has quantity over quality written all over it.


The online experience on the other hand is probably where MultiVersus is at its best, despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity. One simply chooses between 1v1 or 2v2 and then queues up and get placed into a match. You play until three ring outs and when the match is finished players can opt for a rematch or to drop out and queue again. As mentioned before, the core gameplay has its issues, and these of course persist online, but if nothing else they're a little less noticeable in chaotic matches with other players than when you fight against the AI. Still, with those issues and the very limited number of characters available to people who don’t pay up, the repetitive nature of these matches will set in sooner or later, even though there is some fun to be had on the MultiVersus stage.

MultiVersus is by no means irredeemable; there’s potential here for a competent Smash-like fighter and real effort to be found in elements like the characters and stages, but this is its second shot at living up to that potential and it seems to have actually taken more steps backward than forward. If you feel a great need to try out the cross-over madness for yourself then there’s some fun to be had dicking around for a few hours, but it’s hard to recommend it as a title for anyone to invest actual amounts of time in, much less money.


VGChartz Verdict


5
Acceptable

This review is based on a digital copy of MultiVersus for the PC

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1 Comments
hellobion2 (on 01 June 2024)

game looks a lot like smash brothers.

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