In an article about the game "MultiVersus", a screenshot of gameplay with characters.

The Success of MultiVersus Proves That Smash Bros. Has Competition

The newest title from Warner Bros. is making waves, and it’s just getting started.
August 13, 2022
8 mins read

On July 26, Player First Games launched the open beta for their debut title, MultiVersus. It combined platform fighter gameplay with the vast library of Warner Bros. and proved that Super Smash Bros. has competition in the industry. Rather than copying what Smash has done for years, MultiVersus iterates on its ideas in a fun and fresh way. With its massive popularity even in a beta state, the sky seems limitless for MultiVersus. If Player First Games can keep up their pace, MultiVersus could go down in history as one of the biggest and best fighting games ever seen.

MultiVersus brings together the vast fictional universes owned by Warner Bros., from the comics of DC and cartoons like “Rick and Morty” to live-actions television and films like “Game of Thrones” and “The Iron Giant.” The game has a beautiful 3D art style that combines these different characters without clashing. It’s an impressive feat to have Finn from “Adventure Time” stand next to Arya Stark of “Game of Thrones” and have neither character seem out of place. Even real-life figures aren’t ruled out, as NBA superstar LeBron James joined the roster with the launch of the open beta.

MultiVersus doesn’t just boast iconic characters, though; it also features gameplay inspired by the Super Smash Bros. series without being derivative. All characters have four attacks and special moves, both in the air and on the ground, which they use to rack up damage and knock opponents outside of the ring on the map. Rather than Smash’s shield and grab mechanics, MultiVersus uses a universal dodge mechanic, allowing players to pass right through attacks with good timing. The game feels faster than Smash, but the chaotic mayhem it creates feels right for cartoon icons like Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry.

Rather than the hectic free-for-all mode Smash boasts, MultiVersus places a large emphasis on team play. The primary mode is two versus two, with teams battling it out to knock each other outside the ring and claim victory. Characters are designed with team play in mind; Steven Universe can put a damage-deflecting shield on himself and a comrade, while Wonder Woman can lasso an ally back to safety. This creates a very different feel from Smash, where characters are designed to act independently.

This unique character design is MultiVersus’s biggest strength. Every character feels distinct, without being so complex that they can’t be picked up easily. LeBron James’s entire move set is based around a basketball, passing between himself, enemies, and allies, and having to pick up a new one if he loses it. Shaggy from “Scooby-Doo” draws direct inspiration from his “Ultra Instinct” meme, powering up to unleash devastating special attacks. MultiVersus isn’t afraid to give its players unique and fun mechanics, which will definitely appeal to fans of these characters.

MultiVersus also doesn’t skimp out on the aesthetics. Beyond the graphical styling, the game features a number of wonderfully modeled stages based off of the various properties. Characters can battle in the Batcave or on top of Finn and Jake’s tree fort. The music, while understated, brings some of the leitmotifs fans will love, like a beautiful orchestral remix of the “Steven Universe” theme song. Characters also have skins based on iconic outfits and alternate versions, like the animated series version of Batman. Some even replace the character’s model and voice entirely, such as a skin for Jake that turns him into his female counterpart, Cake.

Voice acting is one of MultiVersus’s greatest strengths. Most characters are voiced by their most iconic voice actor, such as Kevin Conroy lending his iconic voice to Batman. While some characters only use soundalikes, like Steven and the Iron Giant, they’re so close that you can hardly tell the difference. Characters also have unique interactions and banter amongst themselves, whether they be allied or enemies. Superman will joke about needing a sandwich if fighting Shaggy, while LeBron and Bugs will acknowledge their prior team-up in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”

MultiVersus isn’t without flaws, however, with the biggest being its monetization model. While the game itself is free, players can purchase skins, emotes, and other customizability options with an in-game currency called Gleamium. The Gleamium cost to purchase most items is so expensive, though, that many players will likely be deterred from spending money at all. For example, to purchase the animated series skin for Batman, players would need to pay at least $20. Many items are also priced at 500 Gleamium, just above the 450 you get for buying the $5 bundle.

MultiVersus’s future is also somewhat unknown in the face of the Discovery-Warner merger. Many up-and-coming Warner projects, such as the “Batgirl” film, were canceled in the wake of the merger. On top of this, MultiVersus developers abruptly announced that the release of the game’s first season has been delayed indefinitely. This has left the future of the game in an uncertain state, though director Tony Huynh has reassured players that the merger does not affect them. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen.

Despite the flaws of its pricing and an uncertain future so soon after launch, the numbers for MultiVersus don’t lie. The game had the largest launch of any game Warner Bros. has ever published, with over 144,000 concurrent players at one time on Steam. Player counts on consoles and other platforms is unknown, but they surely propel that number even further. MultiVersus had a particularly incredible launch on PC, which almost never sees such numbers for fighting games.

If MultiVersus proved one thing, it’s that Super Smash Bros. finally has legitimate competition in the platform fighter sphere. While other titles have achieved success, none have reached quite the level MultiVersus has, and it’s only just getting started. If the team at Player First Games can keep up their momentum, they may have one of the biggest and greatest fighting game phenomena in recent memory on their hands. With its easy-to-learn, hard-to-master mechanic, roster of diverse and iconic characters, and wonderful aesthetics, the future is bright for MultiVersus.


Christian Simon, Kutztown University

Writer Profile

Christian Simon

Kutztown University
Professional Writing

Professional writer, born and raised Philadelphian, recovering ex-League of Legends player, and all-around chill guy.

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