Available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Played on: PlayStation 5

MultiVersus has an uneven history: with a cautiously optimistic early access beta from 2022 to 2023, only to surprisingly shut down for nearly an entire year before the 1.0 relaunch this year. Despite all this time, the launch has been a mixed bag for the free-to-play, crossover fighting game, with solid gameplay undermined by server woes and grindy microtransactions.

Read on for our review of MultiVersus!

Super Warner Bros.

MultiVersus is an arena fighting game (or “platform fighter”) a la Super Smash Bros. Dealing damage increases an opponents percentage, making them increasingly easier to knock back. Getting knocked out of the screen results in a KO, with most matches ending when a team scores three KOs.

However, MultiVersus is a much more stripped down, competitive game than Smash. Whereas Smash Bros. is as much about the chaotic levels and crazy powerups as the fighting itself, MultiVersus is like playing Smash tournament style, with single-screen areas and zero power-ups. Just classic 1v1 and 2v2 brawl ’em up.

Fighting game purists will relish the chance to show off their skills at blocking, dodging, juggling, and zoning. With almost no random chaos, player skill becomes the critical factor. Players who enjoy the wilder aspects of Smash may be bored and frustrated, however.

Fighting games live and die by their roster, and MultiVersus’ is certainly unique. The Warner Bros. franchise umbrella is an eclectic group that ranges from kid-friendly DC Comics and Loony Tunes, to definitely not kid-friendly stuff like Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th, Arya from Game of Thrones, or characters from the nearly forgotten Gremlins series.

Each fighter falls into a different category, such as Tank, Mage, or Assassin, giving players an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Jason is a lumbering Tank, but very satisfying in close-quarters, while Tom & Jerry specialize in long-distance attacks, with Tom able to throw Jerry and attack from multiple angles. Many have interesting passive traits, such as Arya dealing more damage from behind, and even RPG-like cooldowns for powerful projectiles, preventing unwanted spamming.

I enjoyed Harley Quinn’s fast attacks and superior air-juggling, while Wonder Woman is just a fantastic overall fighter, with a mix of defensive and offensive moves. In fact, the DC superheroes and villains tend to outshine everyone else in design and implementation, almost to the point that I wish Player First Games had just made a DC fighting game.

Rifts & Grinds

The other big difference between Super Smash Bros. and MultiVersus is the free-to-play model.

MultiVersus is supported by in-game microtransactions, including an optional battle pass. Players earn four types of currencies: Gleamium, Fighter Currency, Perk Currency, and Prestige Currency (with the latter only available by purchasing cosmetics in the shop).

Gleamium is the premium currency, mostly acquired by spending real money, but trickles of it can be earned through play. It’s used to purchase fancy cosmetics (and fighters) in the store, as well as unlock the premium tiers of the seasonal battle pass.

Fighter Currency is critical for new players — it’s how you acquire new fighters!

After launching the game, you’re given only a single fighter: the incredibly boring Shaggy from Scooby Doo (though he does have some fabulous cosmetics if you pay up). By logging in for at least two days, you can also earn Banana Guard from Adventure Time, a jokey character whom I begrudgingly found surprisingly powerful.

Beyond that we’re left with the free rotation, a selection of five free fighters that changes each week.

It’s a depressing hole to climb out of, made worse by the agonizingly slow pace of acquiring Fighter Currency. And for some reason, MultiVersus doesn’t have a range of prices between characters. Everyone has the same 3,000 cost, except brand-new characters who cost twice as much.

After playing casually for over a week, I could only afford to purchase a single character. MultiVersus needs to take a page from successful MOBAs and give players an easier on-ramp to unlocking some characters far earlier.

Perk Currency is annoying. Each fighter has its own level progression that earns Perk Currency, which players can use to unlock different perks, which slightly tweak abilities or provide passive buffs. It’s a lame attempt at throwing something at the players to earn frequently, even though it really doesn’t mean all that much. Simply earning Fighter Currency and using that to also unlock perks on most-played heroes would’ve been a better fit.

Rifts are where MultiVersus truly shines, especially for casual players like me who frequently bounce off competitive fighting games when the going gets tough.

Rifts offer sets of purely PvE scenarios, offering a wide range of matchups and parameters. Sometimes I’m tasked with defeating a pair of themed fighters wearing the same skin, while others include target-smashing or side-scrolling minigames, many of which should be familiar to Smash veterans.

Rifts also feature multiple difficulty levels, and their own reward and equipment system. It’s possible to make a lot of progression and complete many daily tasks just through rifts, and new rifts are added at regular intervals.

The Rating

MultiVersus is rated T for Teen with Fantasy Violence and Language. Thanks in part to characters like Jason, Arya, and Stripe, many attack animations are quite violent, with brutal sword stabs, claw rakes, and even a chainsaw. It’s a degree above the average Loony Tunes-level violence, though the art style is very cartoony, and the action is entirely bloodless (much to Jason’s dismay).

The Takeaway

When it comes to platform fighters, I prefer Smash Bros.’ chaotic zaniness to MultiVersus’ tighter gameplay. Despite its lengthy stint in early access, MultiVersus doesn’t quite have a good handle on free-to-play progression, and connection issues were just common enough to hamper my enjoyment.

On the other hand, PvE rifts are a welcome addition and a worthy mode to keep me coming back. The underlying gameplay is fun and the roster features a huge variety of playstyles.

MultiVersus is on a cliff’s edge, either plunging into the realm of forgotten mediocrity like so many free live service games before it, or rising above to stand alongside the timeless Smash Bros. series.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.