MultiVersus is a game full of troll characters.
After spending a few hours on WB Games’ new self-referential brawler, what I have discovered is a game with a rich vein of troll energy. Though it attempts to please a broad audience with characters like Batman, the Iron Giant, and even Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark, they are not where the game’s most fearsome characters lie. Smash Bros grinders will gravitate toward Batman for the same reason they always pick Fox: he’s the technical pick and strong in every quadrant. I’m less interested in that hyper-optimised approach. This is why MultiVersus‘ roster of cartoon characters appeals to me: they feel purpose-built for driving the hardcore brawlers out of their minds.
Across successive matches, I bounced from Taz to Bugs Bunny, Jake from Adventure Time, and Velma from Scooby Doo. All of them are perfectly crafted, finely honed instruments of torture. Taz’s tornado move gives him the ability to move anywhere on the map at a moment’s notice. He can gobble people up, waddle around while they struggle in his gob, and spit them over the edge of the map like Kirby. Jake played quite similarly, using stretchy limbs and an ability to change his shape to disorient opponents from a distance.
Velma’s whole thing, as discussed by Kenneth from Kotaku US earlier today, is that she’s a support character. She’s great at healing teammates and uses her words to fight her battles. One of her core mechanics is that she collects ‘evidence’ on her opponents during the fight. Once she has enough evidence to support her case, she can use a super move to call the cops on them. This throws their arses in a squad car and promptly drives them off the edge of the level. In the right hands, she presents a maddening problem to deal with, using the fray to hide her movements. If you don’t get Velma players on the back foot right away, the snowball effect her moveset creates begins rolling quite quickly.
But it was, perhaps predictably, Bugs Bunny that proved to be my favourite troll character in the game. A bouncy, fleet-footed character, Bugs plays a bit like a backline hero in a MOBA. His swift movement allows him to dart in, deal harsh damage, and safely get out of dodge again. He also comes equipped with a ranged move that lets him hurl custard pies at his foes. This was the move that opened my third eye. Its stopping power is second to none: no matter what move your opponent is performing, the pie seems to cancel them out of it. I pelted one poor Batman main with so many pies that he simply logged off.
When Batman tried to create space between us, I used Bugs’ dig move to burrow under the level. I would reappear beside the Batman player, and the pie barrage would begin again. Without an answer to my machine gun of high-velocity confections, he simply left the match.
I confess I felt a little bad about it.
Ok but actually though
But in this way, it’s possible to see the similarities between Super Smash Bros and MultiVersus. Though MultiVersus takes the Smash Bros formula and adds layers of complexity, like Tank and Support character classes, it’s clear that a reliable spam move can be just as effective for new players as a solid team strat. I expect by the time I log on tonight, the Batman mains will have thoroughly dismantled my one-trick-pony Bugs meta.
I will be very interested in new characters the game adds beyond the Open Beta period and how they alter the power dynamics among characters. As Smash fans well know, all it takes is one new character to upend a delicate balance. Warners certainly has a long list of popular characters to draw from. If characters like Arya Stark (a cartoon version of a character from a decidedly adult program) are any indication, anyone could show up.
Like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, MultiVersus charges for newer, DLC characters. Unlike SSBU, its characters appear to be purchased individually rather than part of a seasonal pass. It remains to be seen how this monetisation will affect the game’s overall design. On initial inspection, however, I quite like what I see in MultiVersus. What does appear to be a shallow Smash Bros clone at the surface level is actually willing to work a bit harder than that under the hood. The beauty of Smash Bros is its simplicity: it’s easy to learn, and difficult to master. MultiVersus embraces that, but it also opens the formula up in a way that makes 2v2 team fights much more interesting.
I’m saying it’s quite good and you should give the open beta a try. It lets me throw so many pies at self-serious Batman mains that they show themselves out, and that on its own is enough to warrant the seal of approval.