MultiVersus, as its name implies, is a game in which characters from disparate worlds come together to duke it out. To what end, we're not sure, but it makes for a wildly entertaining platform fighter nonetheless. If you grew up watching Tom & Jerry, for example, hearing the cat's iconic scream as he's flung from the arena is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Playing the closed alpha test for the last few evenings, there are so many fan-pleasing touches like this that give this free-to-play title some heart.
Really, the main hook of the game is its cast of playable characters, and Warner Bros. clearly isn't skimping on that front. The aforementioned cat and mouse duo is just the start; they're joined by Looney Tunes Bugs and Taz, Shaggy and Velma of Scooby-Doo fame, and a range of DC heroes and villains including Superman, Batman, and Harley Quinn. While players of a certain age will love some of these older faces, more modern characters fill out the alpha test's lineup: Finn and Jake of Adventure Time, Steven Universe and Garnet, and Game of Thrones' Arya Stark make the roster. When you look at the fighters together, it's an impressive, varied range, even if there's little cohesion among them.
Fortunately, any questions about context fall by the wayside once you get into a match. The core mode is 2v2, with the game built first and foremost with some level of co-op in mind. Characters have one or two moves that will also benefit their teammate, the idea being that you maximise your chances of winning by coordinating these abilities. It's a neat twist on this sub-genre of fighting games, but in practice, it's not clear precisely how these moves work together. From our experience, everyone has taken to playing this like it's Super Smash Bros., which is fine, but the co-op angle is so easily lost amid the mayhem.
It's a shame, as there are some cool ideas in the mix. Shaggy can essentially go Super Saiyan, and when he does, he drops Scooby Snacks, which heal whomever picks them up. Wonder Woman has a shield dash move that blocks projectiles, and if she passes an ally with the shield raised, they receive armour. Tom can lay down a mouse trap, and this can be made more powerful if an ally has picked up Jerry and then runs over the trap. There are lots of ways you and a teammate can help each other, but without meticulously studying the move lists, it feels a little too complicated.
Luckily, characters also work perfectly fine on their own, and the action is fast, engaging, and surprisingly technical. Characters each have access to various regular and special moves, and the best part is that everyone feels distinct. Fighters fall into various classes, but their movesets are unique and fun to explore. Importantly, each character's personality comes through — for example, many of Taz's attacks make the enemy "tasty", a debuff that will eventually turn them into a roast chicken, temporarily incapable of attacking. Some fighters are quite unusual, such as Velma's reliance on her intelligence rather than traditional offence.
A good balance has been struck between deep combat and simple fun, resulting in a game that feels satisfying to play — there's definitely a skill ceiling to strive towards, but even casual players will enjoy the novelty of launching Batman off the stage with Bugs Bunny's mallet. Alternate modes we got to play include Free For All and 1v1, and they're all enjoyable variants. We should also mention that the online experience has been smooth as butter for us. That rollback netcode seems to be doing the trick wonderfully, as we've not encountered a single issue with latency.
This being a free-to-play game, it's of course built upon the idea of keeping you locked into the experience. Through playing matches, you're rewarded with in-game currency, XP, and goodies from the Battle Pass. In the alpha, coins can be used to unlock more fighters, while completing daily and seasonal missions will progress the Battle Pass. You'll earn XP on a per-character basis, with their Mastery Level increasing as you use them, unlocking even more items. Some of these have gameplay implications; Perks can be applied to your fighter, granting various passive buffs to you and your teammate. As an economy, it all hangs together well enough, although the various menus can be a little confusing. There are no microtransactions in the alpha, though they'll of course appear in the full game, so it remains to be seen whether they'll have any impact on the core experience.
On a basic level, then, MultiVersus seems to have it where it counts. From what we've played so far, characters have been handled well with fun, unique moves and polished presentation (voice lines, what a luxury!). The combat itself is engaging, fast-paced stuff, and matches are over fairly quickly, making it pretty addictive, too. We're still a little way off from the finished product, but the potential is clearly here for Warner Bros. to create a compelling, ever-expanding brawler with enormous mass appeal.
For more details on the MultiVersus closed alpha test, click through the link. Will you be checking out this early look at the game? Choose your fighter in the comments section below.