MultiVersus is more than just a Smash Bros. copy | Hands-on preview

by on May 19, 2022

As soon as MultiVersus was announced, I instantly thought that it looked like Smash Bros. The character base was vastly different, but the combat and stage layouts looked rather familiar. After taking part in a pre-closed alpha test, I’m here to tell you that it definitely feels similar, however, there’s still enough to make it feel separate from Nintendo’s special fighting series. Did anyone watch Space Jam: A New Legacy? No? Why not? OK, so it might not have been anything special, but it did provide a glimpse into what Warner Bros were keen to do with all of their properties.

Harry Potter, The Matrix, Gremlins, Mad Max…if you had a sharp eye, you’d have noticed countless characters from across the company’s vast array of properties. While MultiVersus might not have Neo, Hermione Granger, or Max Rockatansky on its roster (yet), there’re still plenty of cool characters to play as at present, and they are all different enough to make each fight feel varied. As mentioned, there’re many similarities between this and Smash Bros. For example, you fight in a stage where you must knock the opponents off to reign victorious.

MultiVersus: Familiar territory

Also, the more damage you do to an opponent, the higher the probability is to knock them flying off screen for a victory point. You can jump and dash in the air, use character-specific attacks and specials, and utilise the stage to gain an upper hand. It all screams Smash Bros., but the two-player dynamic is fresh, whereby different characters can synergise attacks or abilities to work together and hand out one hell of a beating. You can also use support characters like Player First’s own Reindog to save a friend who falls off the stage. There’re a lot of combinations, and while it took me a long time to get familiar with how two-player combos worked, it was a lot of fun.

Each character on the roster has certain abilities that relate to their personas from the show or movie they feature in. Arya Stark uses Needle for her attacks, and can eat a pie (poor Walder Frey) for certain buffs. Bugs Bunny can ride on an ACME rocket, Batman uses his Batarang, Superman fires red beams from his eyes, and Harley Quinn hammers opponents with her mallet. There’re tons of attacks and opportunities to do damage, making each fighter unique in their own way.

Nuanced combat

To keep things feeling fresh, players do less damage if they keep using the same attack. It forces players to mix up their offence, while at the same time offers opponents a brief reprieve. If an opponent is dodging and jumping back onto the platform, you can hammer them from above to potentially knock them into the abyss. You can break the shields of opponents, equip unlockable buffs that help both you and your partner, and more. It’s surprisingly intricate yet simple enough to begin with to find your footing early on. The different classes also help you to find the playstyle you prefer.

Batman, for example, is a Bruiser, utilising strong attacks to do high damage. Tom and Jerry use their fishing rod to attack from range, making them perfect opponents against bruisers. There’re assassins (Harley Quinn and Finn), as well as Support characters Steven Universe and Jake the Dog) who aid their allies in a multitude of ways. Finding the right balance is all part of the fun, making 2v2 matches the best way to play MultiVersus.

I’ve still got a long way to go to become familiar with all the different combinations and characters, but so far, MultiVersus offers a pleasant alternative to Smash Bros. There’s no denying they look almost identical from the outside, but once you start to notice the nuances and the whole two-player attacks and move sets, it becomes a much different fighter. I can’t wait to get my hands on the Iron Giant, and hopefully down the line they’ll introduce a ton of different characters from across their most popular franchises.