The month the first few alpha codes went out for WB’s new platform fighter game, Multiversus, and here’s the thing… it is a fever dream. Shaggy vs Batman vs Bugs Bunny vs Arya Stark? I genuinely never saw this sort of team up coming. But honestly, the weird possibilities of Max Mad fighting against Godzilla fighting against Neo from the Matrix aside, this game has a bunch of really good ideas that are probably going to revolutionize the platform fighter genre. Why? Let’s take a look.
It’s free to play
This is absolutely the biggest thing in Multiversus’s favor. The free-to-play model may be the only way that fighting games can survive and WB games know this.
Well, one of the biggest problems with fighting games is barriers to entry. The fighting game community is filled with killers who have been playing for ages, so more casual players are very hesitant to step up and challenge them if they are just going to lose.
The thing is, this is true with a lot of other genres too. FPS games were struggling with this just a little while ago. Games like Call of Duty were a lot to ask of casuals. A $60 price tag on top of a matchmaking system that almost guaranteed losses if you were just jumping in.
The FPS solution? The free-to-play model, specifically the free-to-play Battle Royale. Look at Fortnite. What do you have to commit to jump into Fortnite? Nothing. Not a single thing. You can download it right now and start playing for zero dollars. You might lose. In fact, it’s 99 other players fighting against you, so you very likely will lose. But people keep coming back because they HAVE nothing to lose. They invested zero money. All they are losing is time.
And that’s what fighting games have always needed, people willing to say “screw it” and take a chance on a game that, frankly, they are going to get stomped in and bounce off of. But for every ten people that bounce off, one is going to stick around, and those numbers add up, and fighting games can only prosper with numbers.
It’s 2v2 focused
Another reason why people bounce off fighting games is, well, they make you hold your losses. When you go up against someone and lose you only have yourself to blame. Meanwhile, team games, like FPSes or MOBAs allow you to point at your teammate and go “It’s Steve’s fault!” No one likes Steve.
Well, Multiversus very cleverly adds that plausible deniability into the fighting game formula. It is built for 2v2 games, and even when you match up with randos online, you also team up with randos. This means if you lose a match, you can always blame Steve again. STOP GETTING HIT STEVE!
But on top of that, Multiversus very cleverly makes all of its moves pull double duty. For example, Taz’s whirlwind is very similar to Metaknight’s Mach Tornado in Smash. But if you pass through a teammate you give your teammate a speed buff.
In fact, that’s one of the most interesting things Multiversus does with the team format. In 2v2 Smash there has always been a debate on whether friendly fire should be on or off. Sure, friendly fire is frustrating, but without it, players can use their invincibility and intangibility to their teammate’s attacks to set up some cheesy strategies.
Multiversus solves this problem by always enabling friendly fire but making your abilities do helpful things to your teammate and harmful things to your opponent. So you can’t stand behind your opponent and spam projectiles, using them as a human shield, for example. Your opponent will have to get out of the way, just like they have to in Smash doubles. However, if they don’t get out of the way they won’t get harmed by your projectile, they will get buffed by it! So you are always doing something helpful.
It has complete controller remapping
Frankly… this is a no-brainer. Smash’s controller mapping is kind of restrictive, still forcing you to play the game that Nintendo wants you to play. In fact, almost every fighting game has some kind of button restriction. Not so in Multiversus. Not only are your controls fully remappable but it’s supposedly going to be compatible with a wide variety of different controllers, including controllers designed for people with motor challenges, like the Xbox Adaptive controller.
There’s really not much more to say than that. I don’t know why basic controller functions are still a major plus in the year 2022, but they are, and I applaud Multiversus for having them.
It simplifies its gameplay
What’s this? Simpler than Smash? You betcha.
Multiversus goes full Rivals of Aether and just removes the block button entirely. No more wibbling around with frame data. No more up+b-ing out of shield. No more shield breaks and stuns.
Because there are no shields, there is also no throwing. No more chain grabs, pummeling, throw setups. The only thing you can do to evade is dodge and after each successive dodge, your dodge gets slower and more vulnerable. This makes Multiversus a very offensive game, focusing on hit and run pokes rather than pressure and defense. Since casual gamers are going to mash their controls anyway, this means that they are more likely to land stray lucky hits, making them feel as if they are getting a grasp of the game.
In addition, Multiversus, gives you a ton of mobility in the air, giving you the ability to do multiple dodges, jumps, and special moves before you end up helpless. You can even wall jump infinitely, giving you a ton of opportunities to come back to a stage as long as you have gotten close. This makes it very hard to die from having a “bad recovery” or “burning your jump.” Instead, you will almost always die from actively being killed, which feels better in the long run. This has the double feature of expanding Multiversus’ air game. Aerial confrontations feel so intense they might as well be straight out of an anime.
It also expands its gameplay
While the accessibility of Multiversus is through the roof, the design team did not shy from adding characters that have very many interesting mechanics. Tom and Jerry are puppet characters. Wonder Woman has a tether that can be used to save her teammates. Steven Universe is primarily a supporting character, granting shields, platforms, and healing to his teammates. In fact, the team aspect allows for this new type of support-oriented character to even exist.
And every character has some way to create stage interactive mechanics, something you saw more in Rivals of Aether than in Smash. Whether that’s creating platforms in mid-air, creating walls that block characters’ paths, creating portals that your teammate can fall through, or more, many characters in Multiversus can change the stage terrain to suit their playing style.
All of these together make Multiversus a game that is easy to jump into, but hard to master, with no barrier to entry or monetary commitment. The last fighting game we saw that did that was Brawlhalla and unlike a lot of other mainstream titles, it is still going strong today, topping the gameplay charts on Steam several years after its release. Frankly, that’s probably more than enough to make Multiversus the next big fighting game hit.