Xbox Series X

Published on June 11th, 2024 | by Andrew Haverty

Multiversus Review (XSX)

Multiversus Review (XSX) Andrew Haverty

Summary: The potential for Multiversus is incredible. Fix some technical hiccups and you have one of the most exciting games of 2024.


Fun but Flawed

The concept of Multiversus is spectacular. Take characters from Warner Bros. owned franchises, like DC Comics, Looney Toons, and more, and pit them against each other in a Super Smash Bros. style beat-em-up fighting game. Make it free-to-play and now we have a multiplayer brawler that’s accessible to literally everyone who owns a modern Xbox, PlayStation, or PC. My first couple of weeks with Multiversus on Xbox Series X have made two things very clear: One, this game is a blast to play. Two, this game has several technical problems that needs some serious fixing.

Let’s start with the good. Multiversus has a super diverse and unique roster of characters that all look fantastic in their own cartoony way. Featuring 25 playable characters at the time of this review, players can fight with DC superheroes such as Superman and Batman, cartoon icons like Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry, and even characters you never thought would be included like the Space Jam version of Lebron James or Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. Developer Player First Games even made the Season 1 battlepass free to all, meaning players will be able to unlock Jason Voorhees right out the gate (as long as you login and claim it before July 16th). The potential for future fighters only increases when you come to realize Warner Bros. has access to some of the most successful franchises in history including Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings just to name a couple. Let’s not forget WB also owns the rights to Mortal Kombat as well. So yeah, the possibilities are insanely exciting.

Without an intuitive combat system, this colorful cast of characters is basically useless. I’m happy to say that Player First Games has implemented a combat system not unlike other games of the genre, making Multiversus easy to pick up and play but requires lots of practice to assert domination onto your foes. In combat you have access to basic attacks and special attacks, all of which change depending on the direction you use them in and whether or not your figher is airborne. Basic attacks are very straightforward as most fighters will have a strong neutral basic attack transitioning to an easy-to-use combo while attacking in forward motion. Special attacks change drastically from fighter to fighter and this is where each character truly shine in their own ways. For example, Lebron James’ special attacks are all about retaining the basketball he dribbles across each stage. You can throw the basketball towards your opponents, slam dunk on their heads, and take a jump shot to land some damage while your opponents are airborne. Lose the basketball and you’ll need to either wait for a cooldown to get it back or decide to get up close and personal with your opponent and swipe a basic attack, getting your basketball back like you’ve just stolen the ball on defense. Without your basketball you can still fight, but with limited range, weaker attacks, and without those signature pass and dunk moves. Each fighter in Multiversus brings this sort of personality to the arena, whether it’s Bugs Bunny cartoonishly dropping a safe from the sky or Batman using his grappling gun to close in on opponents. It’s clear that the developers have taken the time to make sure every character feels true to themselves and that no one fighter plays like the other. (Note: The game actually consists of 26 fighters but Iron Giant had to be temporarily removed because of some game-breaking bugs. The developers have assured that he’ll be returning soon.)

The core gameplay consists of 1v1 or 2v2 PvP matches, with 2v2 being the recommended mode. You can either go in with a friend or get assigned a random partner to duke it out with other players on one of the 10 major arenas, featuring recognizable environments like the Batcave or the Throne Room from Game of Thrones. The goal is to ring out your opponents by beating them up so much that eventually a light breeze knocks them for miles off-screen. You can mix your attacks any which way you’d like while utilizing the game’s dodge mechanic to avoid any unwanted damage. Each attack increases your opponent’s damage taken number: the higher the number, the more knockback received when hit. All of this should feel familiar to fans of the genre and, even if this is your first party brawler, it’s very simple to learn.

Online my friend and I encountered all kinds of skill levels. At first we were rolling over our opponents, going on something like a 15 win streak to start our Multiversus careers (the first ten or so may have been bot matches for all I know). After that, we were severely humbled. We would win a couple and lose a couple. When we lost, it almost always felt like we were getting outplayed with the exception of a few balancing issues my buddy and I thought needed some tweaking. So I’m happy to report that, for the most part, the better team will win. After losing a string of matches, I took to the training mode the next day to learn a bit more about how some of the moves work for my favorite characters. To my surprise, I wasn’t even close to using my fighters to the best of their abilities. It’s up to the player to find out just how each move works so I couldn’t recommend spending some time in the training room if you happen to come across some serious adversity like I did.

There is a PvE mode called “Rifts” for those that don’t care for competition or just want to take a break from it. In the Rifts mode you take on a series of themed challenges attempting to vaguely string together some kind of story. Each Rift you enter starts with a cutscene to set the mood and contains some dialog before each challenge but honestly, it’s all so vague and boring that it all seemed to be skippable without missing out on anything. The challenges themselves are fun, most consisting of traditional 1v1 or 2v2 matches while others will have you doing things like hitting targets around an arena or shooting down drones in a tank. It’s all mildly entertaining and a great way to play characters you usually don’t play, and the best part is it’s all completely playable with a friend.

While Multiversus is a ton of fun to play, it isn’t without its current technical issues threatening the fun in just about every aspect of gameplay. I wish I was exaggerating here but, in just about every match of Multiversus I’ve played so far, there are either lag issues or straight up stuttering. For example, in the most recent PvP match I played, I decided to count the amount of times the game seemed to simply freeze for half a second. The answer: five. Over the course of a two or three minute match, this can be extremely frustrating especially when the game’s dodging mechanic seems to require split second timing. Even in in the PvE Rifts mode, there are constant minor framerate fluctuations and the similar frame stuttering that plagues the PvP. Combine that with the few times the game closed on me mid-match and you have a really fun and exciting game plagued by too many technical issues. I’m playing on Xbox Series X, but my friend playing on PC experienced the same issues and even a PC specific issue players are dealing with where the game constantly snaps between monitors on a multi-monitor setup. I’m sure many casual fighting fans will be able to overlook some of these issues, but surely more hardcore fighting gamers will find the slowdowns and stutters to be unforgivable. If Multiversus wants all kinds of gamers to thrive in the same space, these issues need to be fixed asap.

Ending on a more positive note, I’m a big fan of how the currency and rewards system work in Multiversus. The game features two main forms of currency, Gleamium and Fighter Currency. Gleamium is the premium currency (get it?) used to purchase things like fighters, battlepasses, and various cosmetics from the in-game store. Fighter Currency is just what it sounds like: currency used to purchase fighters without using real money. Outside of purchasing with real currency, Gleamium is obtainable by grinding through the battlepass, completing rotating event challenges, or reaching the maximum level of 15 with a fighter. Fighter currency is obtainable through the battlepass, reaching levels 5, 10, and 14 with a fighter, completing objectives in Rift mode, and through the rotating event challenges. It’s safe to say that there are multiple ways to earn these forms of currency through playing the game, making for a much less greedy free-to-play experience than some other games on the market. Though the Season 1 battlepass is free for all, a battlepass in the future will cost $10 worth of Gleamium to purchase. Purchasing a battlepass will instantly unlock the season’s featured fighter, and completing the battlepasss will net enough Gleamium to get your money’s worth back and also enough Fighter Currency to unlock any fighter on the roster with some left over. With the battlepass already containing some great cosmetic rewards, it’s fair to say that the battlepass is a solid value. And with the game throwing so many challenges at you, it seems like you’re constantly earning rewards without heavy grinding. It feels like a solid system and one that I hope they don’t decide to change anytime soon.

While I’m currently conflicted about Multiversus, I’m also optimistic about the future. It’s too fun to completely dismiss but it isn’t clean enough not to warn players about its current state. There’s too much to love about the game already and, if it weren’t for its technical issues, it would be one of the easiest recommendations of the year. All I can hope is that these issues are corrected soon and that the player base sticks with it and continues to grow. Though I wish I could speak for everyone, I’ll certainly be one of those players staying patient and looking forward to brighter days with this ambitious game.

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