MultiVersus preview – Oh, how I’ve missed you


MultiVersus is officially set to return on 28 May 2024.

Seeing MultiVersus relaunch is a bit like watching a child come back from college, fully educated and ready to take on the world. Granted, I’ve never had a kid in college, but I assume it’s all about pride. And I am proud of MultiVersus.

After a year of beta access, the game had a surprise shut-down in mid-2023. Developer Player First Games promised a total revamp on return and having now spent a few hours with the “new” MultiVersus, it’s fair to say Player First has delivered exactly that.

Launching the game for the first time was a strange experience. I enjoyed MultiVersus immensely when it debuted in 2022 and was hooked on every new character release. There was barely any familiarity on reacquainting myself with the game. Where before, the game was defined by simplicity, and only a handful of gameplay modes, the full version of MultiVersus is jam-packed with fresh modes and menus.

You can still hop in for 1v1 and 2v2 multiplayer sessions online, but now there’s a plethora of other options – Rifts, which contain story-based campaigns, and timed Events themed around new characters and special skins.

Events that will debut with the MultiVersus relaunch include ‘The Joker’s Rise’ which comprises a loose story of the Joker causing mayhem, and The Age of Smith, which introduces the world of The Matrix.

Image: Player First Games

While the assortment of modes is overwhelming at first – and it’s difficult to differentiate between what’s an Event, what’s a Rift, and what’s a Mission – these additions all serve a singular, worthy purpose: to provide a reason to come back for more.

MultiVersus, in its original form, was a very fun Smash Bros.-like fighter with very little reason to invest your time and energy. I loved it, to be clear, but it lacked a real sense of purpose in its fights. They were fun, but it was easy to lose interest.

In revamped form, MultiVersus has now wrapped these fights around more compelling stories, while also enhancing that all-important corporate synergy. Having all these fighters mucking around together in winding, universe-crossing stories is great. Formerly, the main roster never really interacted. They were largely pawns to send into battle, usually with funny costumes on.

But in new MultiVersus, you get actual story and plot. You get mini cutscenes and dialogue that ties the whole package together, and makes clear that each characters in the game’s roster has been sucked into a strange new world, and perhaps not everything is “right” in this realm.

Here’s how the Rift missions are laid out. 

Batman shares banter with Velma, and hunts for Gremlins villain, Spike. The Joker plays havoc on the universal fabric, and recruits Steven Universe‘s Garnet into his squad of Joker goons. He even recruits the Mad Love version of Harley Quinn to join his cause.

While dialogue is a minor feature that threads the challenges in the Rift, it’s a wonderful touch that makes MultiVersus far more coherent. In little cutscenes, you learn more about each character, their motivation, and how they got pulled into the multiverse.

This is the core hook of crossovers like MultiVersus: to have characters interact in fun, silly segments. Leaning more into this feature makes the entire experience much more delightful. Where else can you see Harley Quinn of The Suicide Squad taking a giant hammer to LeBron James?

Screenshot: GamesHub

Cynically, you can lament the pool of content that MultiVersus represents, as major companies sweep up the world’s Intellectual Property for audience-popping crossovers – but MultiVersus just does it so well. The cast of characters is just kooky enough to work well, and now with new story modes, MultiVersus presents even more crowd-pleasing reasons to hop in.

The Matrix: Resurrections has widely been interpreted as an anti-capitalist, anti-brand synergy tale about exploitation, and the pursuit of endless growth. In MultiVersus, the film’s Agent Smith is a hyper-powered fighter whose Event missions unlock a techno skin for The Iron Giant.

The irony is palpable, but MultiVersus revels in it, injecting layers of silliness and good humour into its tale. Maybe it is a melting pot of popular IP, squeezing worth out of beloved stories, but with an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek approach, it certainly does a great job of making you forget it.

You’ll even want to forget it, as MultiVersus presents you with an endless string of new emotes, stickers, and skins for characters that are incredibly moreish. You can unlock the classic animated version of Harley Quinn here, or Wonder Woman in her cool Bloodlines outfit.

Jason Voorhees is a playable character now, who wields a knife, axe, and a snapping bed. One of his skins is inspired by Jason X, a film so critically derided that it’s scarcely mentioned in 2024. And that’s where all the fun is. MultiVersus is defined by its irreverence, and it will only grow from here.

Why shouldn’t LeBron James have to face off against Jason Vorhees? Why shouldn’t the Joker get prodded by the Banana Guard from Adventure Time? And shouldn’t Arya Stark get a break from Game of Thrones, to spend time with Wonder Woman? They’d certainly get along.

In MultiVersus, anything goes – and in doubling down on that sense of carefree, breezy fun, Player First Games has elevated the game immensely. On relaunch, whether you played the beta or not, it’s absolutely worth the multiversal trip.

MultiVersus relaunches for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on 28 May 2024.

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By Leah J. Williams 23 May 2024


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