View So Far #1
Welcome to our first edition of our new feature, View So Far, where we try to give a different take on games we’re playing at the moment. As this is The Casual Gamer’s View, these write ups will try to give you the main details that you need; short summaries, how much time you’ll need to invest, is the game value for money and ultimately, a verdict on whether you should buy it.
Our first write up is about MultiVersus. I managed to take part in the closed alpha, testing out the PS5 and Steam versions. This write up is solely based on my impressions of playing the game, but if you want news on the more recent leaks, check this summary out.
As a a huge, but admittedly casual, Smash Bros. fan I had my reservations about MultiVersus. Mostly I was skeptical about the 2v2 format, but after spending some time with the game I came away pleasantly surprised. This title has huge potential, not least because it’s free to play, but mainly because it’s stupidly fun. Maybe it won’t be for the hardcore, tech-loving Melee fans, but I had a blast playing it. I eagerly await the next play test and full release, with a hope that micro transactions don’t spoil the party.
There’s one thing we need to make clear: MultiVersus is not Smash Bros. In fact, it would probably even be unfair to label it a Smash clone, that kind of title goes to games that explicitly copy the series’ competitive formula like Nick Brawl, Brawl Out and Rivals of Aether. Instead, I’d prefer to call it a Smashlike; there’s no doubt that the game is absolutely inspired by the king of platform fighters, but there’s some gameplay choices that make MultiVersus stand out on it’s own.
Whilst the game allows for 1v1 and free for all modes (1v1v1v1), it’s quite clear that the developers want us to play in the recommended 2v2 mode. Playing doubles on any Smash could be fun at times, but it was obviously a secondary thought, but it is the reverse for this game. I wasn’t sure how this would work out, but I actually really enjoyed teaming up with random players to beat another team. I also liked how online battles are set up in best of three sets, allowing you the opportunity to get revenge with a different choice of character.
Speaking of characters, there were a wide range of choices for a closed alpha, some of which needed to be unlocked with in-game currency, and there’s definitely going to be lots added in the future. I particularly loved playing as Finn the Human from adventure time, who kind of played like Young Link in Smash 4, but was still very much is own character. In fact, so did everyone that I managed to test out. Most of the movesets are made to be played in pairs, with characters split up into classes that indicate their play styles. Special attacks sometimes have cooldowns, which I initially found frustrating as it was hard to keep track of how long I had to wait to use that input again. Tom & Jerry, Buggs Bunny and Velma all seemed to play pretty well but suffered from this a little.
As you level up you gain perks. Perks give different low percentage buffs, such as 5% increase in fast fall speed or 10% extra damage on grounded normal attacks. These can be stacked if your partner chooses an identical perk, adding a bonus to these percentages. You get an opportunity to choose perks at the same time before a fight. Some seem unique to different classes, while others are standard, with 4 slots available for them. One of those slots is for a perk unique to each character. While it made battles interesting, they do have an impact on the game. I played against a team with a level 19 Jake the Dog full of perks, whilst I was a level 2 Batman with no perks. I don’t know if the guy was just quality and I’m being salty, but it really felt like he had a real advantage because of them. It’s also a concerning idea that better quality perks could be bought, nobody wants to play in a pay-to-win situation.
The biggest win here though, is the online play. For such an early build, I rarely ran into glitches and definitely didn't notice any significant lag. Smash 4 and Ultimate both suffered from a really poor online system, and this is where MultiVersus actually shines. There’s no bloat, the UI seems to be easy to navigate and matchmaking found fair matches quickly. This game is combining the platform fighter genre with the best online systems around.
Built into the game is a levelling up system that isn’t all about perks though, and it makes it fun to play as much of the roster as possible. It kind of feels similar to Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11; you level up individual characters as you play matches online. Gaining levels doesn't increase base stats, but allows you to unlock perks and goodies for that individual character. As you do so, you also earn the in game currency “Gold” as you play, as well as advancing your level in the battle pass. Both of these systems are ripe for exploitation in terms of micro transactions though Fingers crossed the damage from this will be minimal.
How much game time does it have?
As an online competitive game, there is of course no limit to the amount of game time you could put into this, but how much time will you want to actually spend on it? Mastering characters and advancing through the battle pass looks like it could take some time. Completionists will be kept very busy, especially as more characters and cosmetics are released. Having played a few hours on both PC and PS5, I didn’t manage to level any character above level 8, although that was across two different accounts. I also played multiple characters to check them out, so it might take less time to master your main if you’re one of those fighting game fans who picks one or two people to play as and sticks with them.
Value for money?
It’s free-to-play, so obviously that’s an easy way to justify giving this a go on any platform. But, what will the microtransactions look like? There’s already the battle pass that will no doubt cost a fixed rate per season, and there’s also potentially a lot of content that can be monetised, from toast (an award you can give to team mates or opponents) to ringout animations, profile banners, emotes and and avatars. Hopefully the in game currency prices will be kind, and it doesn’t seem like there are loot boxes which is always a bonus, so fingers crossed we won’t feel the need to have to pay for things with real money to win. Personally, I always prefer feeling like I have a choice to buy extras like cosmetics, and I’ll always put a bit of money into a free game that I have put some time into.
We are quietly excited about this one, as it has real potential. Honestly the online was one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had with matchmaking in a long time. Fighting games often fall behind if they have awful online environments like the lobbies in Guilty Gear Strive and DBFZ, or having really bad netcode like, well countless fighting games. I can’t express this enough though, please WB Games, don’t ruin this with awful microtransactions!
That’s all, folks!
(I bet no one has used that pun yet).
We hope you liked our summary of MultiVersus. If you’ve managed to play it, or just want to get involved in our discussion, why not comment on this article? Better yet, you could even join our Discord server!