There have been a handful of studios that have attempted to put their own spin on the Smash Bros formula, but Multiversus is on course to be the most successful yet. The colorful, free-to-play platform fighter kicked off, with an excellent roster of characters from a myriad of IP Warnor Bros. While the massive amount of characters that can be pulled from the Time Warner Vault rivals any previous Smash clone offering, is it enough to rival Smash Bros Ultimate? And how else does Multiversus compare to Nintendo’s dominant Smash Bros series? Let’s find out.
Players can immediately see how much thought has gone into combat compared to other smash clones. The variety of basic and special moves provide plenty of ways to approach situations, as well as certain character builds for certain situations. For example, Wonder Woman is a great raw damage output character, but she lacks the more diverse moveset to handle certain situations like aerial attacks as a result of that.
The biggest distinguishing feature of MultiVersus so far has been its focus on 2v2 matches. While Smash Bros. has always focused on its 1v1 battles, the emphasis on 2v2 sets MultiVersus apart from all other games in the genre.
Every fighter in Multiversus is listed in a subclass: Bruiser, Tank, Assassin, and Mage. Bruisers are your most ground-based fighters with unique mechanics to help them counter their lack of range. In this case Batman has a number of gadgets and Jake the Dog has long range attacks. Tanks like Wonder Woman are harder to ring and have moves that focus on setting up hits and controlling terrain easier than others. Assassins like Harley Quinn focus on delivering raw damage, which comes at the expense of taking more damage themselves. And finally, there’s the much rarer (so far) mage build. This class relies on tools and area denial with characters like Bugs Bunny, who became the definitive favorite of the metagame in the pre-launch period.
Then there’s the whole character subclass dedicated to supporting that exact type of game that shows just how serious WB Interactive is about it. While support characters like Velma are designed more for 2v2 battles, they can also offer wildly different playstyles in a 1v1 that many don’t expect. With Multiversus focused on 2v2 battles, character synergy and strategy is far more important than in Smash Bros. The amount of possible permutations that can be done with each character and their strengths and weaknesses should make for an interesting competitive scene, as well as a chaotic and enjoyable laid back experience as well.
Multiversus also has a lack of focus on combos. Its emphasis on dodging completely replaces the shield mechanic in Smash Bros. While Smash Bros lets you slightly change your position in a 1v1 using the shield, MultiVersus encourages you to use the dodge button generously and keep the action going. This lack of control in these situations leads to awkward encounters of players trying to switch positions, but it also sets up a fun, fast pace.
Multiversus uses traditional fighting game systems like perks, which allow players to slightly alter how a character is played. If players are okay with a particular character’s weakness, they can continue to lose some of their stats in that regard to continue building up their strength. The same is true on the other end, where perks can balance out some of a fighter’s weaknesses if they’re too glaring.
One of Multiversus’ biggest mechanical changes from the Smash formula is the drastic decrease in grabs. While grapples are tied to a specific button in each Smash Bros game, they are only held by certain characters in MultiVersus. Having such a major gameplay feature locked for certain characters could drastically change gameplay, but the decision so far feels like a significant bonus for more themed characters like Superman.
As in Smash Bros, the majority of characters (with a few omissions like The Iron Giant) are able to double jump. The ability to dodge twice in the also allows more freedom for aerial combat. Both of these movement mechanics are also related to the game’s wall jumping. By running along a wall outside the stage, players can reset their jump or dodge counter and return to the stage. The ability to drop down faster using the fast-falling mechanic allows players to hit the ground faster, which also encourages this style of play. players should approach the edge as carefully as possible to avoid being hit again and losing a stock. MultiVersus’ focus on movement means that the majority of ringtones will be caused by big hits, not the tedious gameplay that titles like Smash Bros. Melee became known.
Nintendo’s much stricter policies on who can and cannot be in a Smash Bros game don’t apply to Warner. While there may be certain characters that cannot be included in Smash for copyright or design reasons, or simply the decision to reduce a character to a Mii costume or assist trophy, this often leads to disgruntled fans. For better or worse, Warner won’t have the same beliefs when it comes to roster additions. The inclusion of someone like Lebron James is a clear sign that their policy is moving forward. At the same time, I could foresee a situation like with Fortnite, where other IP owners will go out of their way to advertise their properties by including their own characters (part of the F2P method). In other words, expect a lot more Lebron-esque inclusions in Multiversus compared to Smash Bros.
The Free to Play model of the game is interesting. Some things are optionally paid for with microtransactions, ranging from major things like full characters, to optional skins and the like. Currently, every character in the game can be unlocked simply by playing over time. Time will tell if this is true in the future. It’s worth pointing out that many fighting games, including Smash, will charge for additional characters created as DLC after release. Given that, it wouldn’t be the most ridiculous thing for WB Interactive to change this policy at a later date.
The player count for Multiversus has been huge so far, with WB Interactive boasting over 5 million players downloading the game across all platforms. Nick All-Star Brawl also saw strong numbers early on, before Steam player counts plummeted to single digits in recent weeks. The F2P nature of Multiversus will ensure that they never reach this point in a worst case scenario. I anticipate that gaming will not only be a successful long-term venture, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Multiversus set the economic standard – F2P – for the genre in the future.