We’ve recently had some time to mess around in the Multiversus closed alpha test, the upcoming two versus two platform fighter from Player First Games and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. In it, players pick one of several iconic characters from the vast and colourful WB vault and team up for some good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs.
So what do we think of this game from our time with this super early version of the title? Well, we like it. Quite a lot actually. For our detailed thoughts, we delve into each aspect of the game below, but you can also check out some footage of the game for yourself embedded below:
The first thing that struck us, even with this early version of Multiversus, is the quality of presentation. The game itself is slickly presented, but also not so serious as to separate itself from some of the more goofy aspects of its cast. Each character is presented wonderfully - making it hard for any of your excitement to be dampened as you find yourself in the colourful character select screen.
Once you actually get into a match, this quality continues to remain present in the various attacks and animations of every character. Shaggy and Velma from Scooby Doo each have various distinct moves that play directly into their character, fitting perfectly into pre-existing portrayals. Shaggy is a lanky, food-obsessed character who is able to power up (a reference to popular memes) for devastating attacks, while Velma is at her best searching for clues which provide powerful buffs to her attacks. It’s the sort of characterisation that you and your mates would ponder back in school, brought to life in this title. They nailed this aspect of it already.
There was a nagging worry in the back of my mind that they wouldn’t go all the way with it, that they would hold back some of the wackiness inherent with some of the properties present in the game, but that thankfully isn’t the case. It’s an impressive monument to the heroes and heroines it props up.
Engaging, fast-paced gameplay
There will be a significant portion of players out there who will look past all the visuals and great presentation and say “yeah, alright, but how’s it actually feel to play”. These folk will be happy to hear that the game feels smooth to play; it’s loose. Like any good platform fighter you always feel as though you have ample control over your character, with attacks that feel meaty, and powerful charged special moves you can gorge on.
Characters are split into distinct play styles. You’ve got a selection of basic and easy to handle options, as well as characters marked explicitly as challenging to use and more experimental. Trying these out, there are vast differences between each characters that are immediately noticeable. There are bruisers, supports, assassins and mages. Yes, Tom & Jerry are mages, and while that sounds strange, their playstyle reflects that.
I’d be hard pressed not to shout out Taz, who has their own seasoning metre which applies a special debuff to enemy players. This doesn’t do anything at first, but once you max it out, your opponent transforms into a beautifully roasted chicken for a limited time. If you eat them in this state, you heal. On the surface, it's a particularly funny sight to see Taz literally chasing a roasted chicken across the screen, but when you dive into the nitty gritty, you have a distinct character with a special game plan. This both sets them apart from the rest of the cast and leans into the source material. Brilliant fun.
Let's touch back on the two versus two format, something that clearly separates Multiversus from its peers. It isn’t a slapdash standard either, many like Wonderwoman and Reindog have dedicated moves that interact with their teammates in a positive way, pulling them back on stage or providing buffs. It’s built into the foundations, and while there is a one versus one and free-for-all mode, it’s not the game at its best. Admirable as it is to include it for those who demand it (and for prideful skill matches between two salty player), the team aspect is integral.
One thing that worries me in this early stage are the perks. These character modifiers provide individual buffs and even empowered attacks that can be attached to your character in the pre-game lobby. These are unlocked through levelling up your character - powering up your favourite picks as you use them. This is all fine, but it provides considerable advantages to players who have invested more time than others. While you can opt to not equip these, heading online with a new character feels a tad rough when you come up against xX_BatmanL0ver_Xx who hasn’t slept a wink since they got their hands on the caped crusader.
As it stands right now the store isn’t unlocked in the Multiversus alpha, which of course leaves a big cartoonish question mark up in the air about whether or not it’ll feature reasonable pricing. To give the game its due credit, the battle pass that exists seems fair enough with challenge based progression and your typical split between a free and paid pass. However, it’s an unknown variable, and one that could turn some away if it's revealed to be a tad sketchy.
There’s also the ranked system that isn’t in the game as of yet. As another major unknown, it’s hard to have any opinion either way, but I would like to see perks removed entirely from this mode and some decent rewards for hitting high ranks. As a two versus two game, there are hypothetical problems that could arise when it comes to fair skill based matchmaking, as the game does seem like the sort of title where one especially good player could carry a worse combatant skywards.
Although, as it stands, it’s an awesome early impression. Multiverse seems to have got the core gameplay figured out, and has created an engaging title that even in this early stage portrays the cast with the utmost respect. It’s one to keep an eye on for sure.
If you want to take a look at some gameplay for yourself, we’ve embedded some gameplay at the top of this article for you to take a look at. Multiverse has no set release date, but you can sign up to the upcoming beta here.