Fight or Kite: I had a MultiVersus hole in my heart all this time and never knew it


I honestly can’t get enough of MultiVersus. It’s completely consumed my nightly game time, almost in its entirety. Maybe it’s just been too long since I had a good PvP game come along that fits so nicely in my grouchy temperament. Or maybe it really is that good. I can’t say for certain, but one thing that I do know is that I need more hours to fit this game into.

A few weeks ago, MOP’s Colin provided an excellent assessment of MultiVersus complete with comparisons to the brawling king, Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. In my last piece, I gave you a whole spoonful of thoughts to help the gameplay go down. But as it turns out, I have a whole lot more to say – so open up!

Deeper into the combat weeds we go

I discussed some of the missteps I found in the game’s combat in my previous piece – namely, characters with spammable grabs, poor hitboxes, and some bugs relating to attack directions. This time around, let’s talk about where combat gets more interesting with combos and effects.

In MultiVersus, there are several kinds of status effects. In some cases, they are generic types like shocking, igniting, or chilling an opponent. In others, they might be hero-specific such as Steven’s bubbling ability, which traps opponents in a bubble briefly after 10 hits. You can also utilize these statuses to even greater effect by creating combos. The game refers to them as simply elemental attacks, and one of the tutorials even explains the interactions briefly. It gives a defensive example using Superman’s ice breath to put out a fire left on the ground. Then follows it up by showing how you could ignite a projectile through that same fire instead to empower it.

While the interactions of these moves is pretty cool, I do wish Player First Games would take it one step further. A glossary of descriptions for most of these effects is available from the left side menu, but some hover text would go a long way. Also, while the tutorial shows off a couple of combo examples, I’d like to see the others listed out in the glossary as well. Not all players have the time to test out and find each combo themselves, so let’s get rid of the secrets and just put the details out there for everyone to see.

Another interesting effect some characters have access to is armor – basically a boon for ignoring huge knockbacks. It seems like a good ability that should allow the developers a means of balancing out different characters. For instance, many of the assassins (DPS classes) tend to be much squishier than others but also tend to get more use out of their dodges. But should it play out that the assassins are too squishy, there are opportunities to balance them by putting armor on one of their longer cooldown skills.

MultiVersus also classifies the heroes based on their core abilities with trinity comparable styles. While these classes provide a general idea to the hero’s focus, I’d actually prefer it if Player First Games pushed them a bit further. I’m sure the studio intentionally toned down some of the healing and guarding abilities, but I’d like to see them more impactful. Currently, when you see Steven or the Reindog, you have an idea they’ll do some support work. I think it’d be more fun if they were like classes in MMOs, where the tank is tough as nails and the healer is going to be keeping the tank up, so your team needs to focus on the healer. As it is, though, it doesn’t make that big a difference to your combat strategy.

Current set of game modes is a good start

We’ve got legitimately only three game modes: duels, 2v2, and a free for all (FFA). There are some local co-op and bot matches you can mix in there as well, but it really boils down to these three. I appreciate the tutorial and practice modes as well. The tutorial lasts a hair too long, but it helped me get started, and you aren’t required to complete each of the sections. The practice mode is nice because it gives you a chance to test all the heroes different moves in a safe space while also reading up on them. These moves, in a lot of cases, are completely unique. An example is Steven’s healing spit, which Colin mentioned (and is totally a real thing, and it’s fantastic it was included).

Now I mentioned all these different heroes and their character specific attacks, and one thing that I love is just how unique each character is. In many cases, they have totally different move sets with each themed just right for the hero. I am seriously impressed by how well the heroes are made… which is why it’s important to have a decent practice arena. Sure, learning one hero in and out will give you the basic skills needed to play the others, but you’ll really want to read up on each one’s move set if you plan on being proficient.

What we’ve been offered in terms of available modes is good, but hopefully we get some expanded ones as I think there is more that can be done. The FFA mode uses a scoring method that feels real odd at times. Basically the match plays for a time limit, and the player with the most points wins. Points are scored through delivering the shot that knocks someone out (while I think there’s negative points for dying). Sounds simple enough, but when you’re in the thick of things and the match ends, you really may be surprised at the winner.

A better method would be a simple number of lives. I’d rather each player had two or four lives. It just feels bad to play a round, get a few knock outs and only die once yourself, to then see that you lost the match.

Another odd choice Player First Games made was the ability to change heroes between fights. You aren’t forced into a best-of-three match, but after each round, players can choose to rematch or call it quits. I would assume when a ranked mode arrives players will be locked into their one hero. From what I’ve seen, players like to queue up for one match with a low-level hero, then switch to their maxed one. I don’t think there’s really any strategy in changing heroes; it’s just annoying and wastes time, plus it further disadvantages new players.

I do like that we aren’t forced to rematch, but MultiVersus would do better to encourage rematches instead. The gold awarded from individual matches is pitiful, so at least players should be rewarded extra for the affirmative rematch. I’d much rather see some bonus for the players who choose to accept the next match even if someone else turns it down.

Character advancement is interesting

The last thing I want to mention is the character advancements, which includes leveling and perks. Colin mentions that players tend to shy away from features that encourage further power advantages to players who’ve been playing longer. I can definitely agree with that. But I do like the concept that you can level up your hero and gain certain perks for them which allow you to slightly customize your hero. Basically, as you level you unlock a few hero specific ones, as well as some general ones – although not every hero unlocks every general perk. The general ones you do unlock tend to be suited for your hero, but there are others you can get lots of use out of too and may actually prefer.

MultiVersus designed a perk training system to learn those perks that your hero doesn’t gain through leveling. The downside it that it isn’t really a training system in anything more than name; you simply buy perks with the in game currency. It’d be a lot cooler if you could slot perks into a training mode, and then if you leveled up while one’s in “training,” you could then permanently unlock it. That’s something you could do in Absolver, and I always thought was a great feature.

Regardless, MultiVersus has me so hooked that I think I can finally take a break from my search for a new regular PvP game. My interest is piqued now, and I just can’t get enough of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more matches to queue up for.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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