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MultiVersus First Impressions Are Looking Good

The release of Warner Bros. Games first cinematic trailer for its upcoming all-star slugfest "MultiVersus" debuted only days ago on YouTube, but has already attracted more than 1 million views. Critics and fans have agreed on the broad strokes: this game oozes potential.

Announced last November in an initial YouTube gameplay trailer that introduced the likes of "Scooby Doo's" Shaggy throwing hands, and pies, with Batman and "Game of Thrones" star Arya Stark, Warner Bros. Games promised a platform fighter that would collide worlds in a mash up of epic proportions. The cinematic trailer prompted a similarly enthusiastic reception to the quirky fun impression that has come to define the game before its 2022 release. Critics pointed out the similarities to "Super Smash Bros." at length, but with several gameplay twists that set "MultiVersus" apart from the Nintendo franchise, and even "Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl."

Twists discussed by critics extend to the game's free-to-play nature, multi-faceted level-up systems, and focus on team battles. Several have written that these differences appear poised to set "MultiVersus" apart from other fighting games, and in a great way.

Smashing past the Smash Bros. label

Critics generally agreed that "MultiVersus" borrows generously from the "Super Smash Bros." series and the style it defined: opponents attack one another to rack up damage points and, eventually, knock the other off-stage into the blast-zone. Andrew Webster of The Verge wrote that "there's very little that's original" regarding how the game plays, but believed it could become "a big hit" regardless. Other writers, like GameSpot's Jason Fanelli, similarly wrote that the game could "glimpse at the future of fighting games."

"MultiVersus's" free-to-play element has stood out thus far as a distinguishing aspect. Battling will be free while players can also buy in-game items like character skins and abilities with real-life or in-game money. VG247 writer Connor Makar reported feeling apprehension regarding the game's purchasable buffs, since it could lead to paying players having an unfair advantage over those who grind for upgrades. Other writers like Fanelli saw it differently, writing about how quickly they earned rewards during the game's private alpha test.

In Webster's experience, the game's "real advantage" over "Smash Bros." was in the F2P model and how the game will feature complete cross-play functionality. "This doesn't mean that "MultiVersus" is the better game, of course, but it does have the opportunity to hit a big audience," Webster said, comparing its potential success to that of "Fortnite."

However, all three writers focused on another unique element of the game that appears to differentiate "MultiVersus" even more from fighting games like "Super Smash Bros:" the two-on-two battle mode.

Teaming with promise

Makar reported on the game's emphasis on team building, with each character having a unique ability to buff their teammates attack, defense and other capabilities. The writer concluded that, "while there is a one versus one and free-for-all mode, it's not the game at its best" compared to the innovative team battle setup. Webster and Finelli agreed that this mode, more than others, may stand out the most.

"The combinations and character synergies to discover are plentiful even here in a closed alpha test with only 15 characters," Fanelli wrote. "I am excited to see how deep this system goes once the full version releases."

"It isn't a slapdash standard either," Makar said. "Any [characters] like Wonderwoman and Reindog have dedicated moves that interact with their teammates in a positive way, pulling them back on stage or providing buffs."

"MultiVersus" will launch at some point this year for PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. Heavily noted similarities to "Super Smash Bros." aside, the developers appeared to push for a unique experience overall, especially with a dedicated team mode unlike any fighting games before it. In contrast to a clash of video game icons or a contest between childhood-defining Nickelodeon characters (ala Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl), "MultiVersus" promises to run the gamut of superhero comic books, cartoon shows, and even "Game of Thrones," making it a fun experiment by itself.