Fight or Kite: Multiversus relaunched is just as fun as ever

    
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I had been eagerly anticipating the return of Multiversus ever since it was suddenly and unceremoniously shut down last year. For those who don’t recall, the game was technically fully playable with open access to everyone, PC and console users alike. Sure, Player First Games said it was in an open beta period, but that term means so little these days. I never thought the studio would actually take the game down to retool it for a true release, so when that happened, it was a shockwave across the gaming industry.

Multiversus had the trappings of so many other eternal open beta or early access titles. It already had an in-game store for buying and unlocking all sorts of content. There were battle passes, new characters, even seasonal content. All the neon signs pointed to a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, “open beta” game. And yet, the team was serious; the game actually was in its beta stages and was taken offline.

Now, I hoped I was wrong, but I truly thought we’d seen the last of Multiversus. The number of different IPs in use – albeit all Warner Bros IPs, but still – led me to believe that someone higher up in the WB foodchain made a decision to axe the game before it ever really launched.

But a few months ago, we got word that Multiversus was not only alive and well but actually releasing – and with additional PvE content. I couldn’t be happier to have been wrong again.

So much has changed since the beta

The first question I had, and the one I suspect so many other gamers had as well, was this: What could Multiversus have changed for the better over its time offline? And the answer is both quite a lot and nothing too important.

First (and most obvious to anyone who played prior to the takedown) is the addition of a full PvE mode, which I’ll get into more later. It’s a pretty huge addition to the game, though, and it nearly overwhelms the original main PvP focus of the game.

What matters the most to me is all the things that have changed mechanically with the game. Now, when I say nothing too important changed, I’m basically talking about the heroes and how they play. Multiversus still slots heroes into different categories such as Brawler, Assassin, and Mage, which gives it a very MMO vibe despite those archetypes having very little bearing on the gameplay itself, at least to me.

So when I queued up with my main, Garnet, I immediately felt right back at home. This was what I loved from my previous playtime. Her move set still played just as I remembered. Of course, there may be some changes to effects and perhaps the speed of things a bit, but overall I didn’t notice any huge changes in her. I also gave Arya Stark and Wonder Woman a spin. They also played just as I remembered them.

Where Multiversus really changed things up is in its perk system and the addition of a gem system. The former existed in the beta, but it was a lot more freeform, and I recall players having more customizations available. Perks basically let you focus your stats a little bit. For instance, I recall one that gave your projectiles a damage increase. If you and your ally in a fight both chose this perk, then it’d be even stronger. So ideally you and your ally would try to match up on a few of your perks to optimize attacks.

However, now it appears that each hero has a prebuilt sets of perks, and you are allowed to choose which set you want to use. Of course, after you’ve leveled up enough with a specific hero, you’ll be able to build your own set for them. But in the beta, as a fight was beginning, you would go through and individually select the perks you want. Now you have to choose them as sets.

I’m not a huge fan of this style of character builds in most games. I’m basically always of the opinion that you should give people more options and let them do whatever it is they’d like. Don’t silo me off in one way or another. But Player First Games didn’t ask me!

The other system the team added is primarily for the PvE mode. As you complete achievements, you’ll earn gems that you can equip, along with attunements. If you equip a set that matches, you’ll gain various boons that are similar in nature to the perks. I tried to equip matching ones and some that would have different effects, but every time I exited the selection screen, it warned me that I was using incompatible sets, so I don’t know. I haven’t played a ton of the PvE mode, so I’m clearly missing something there.

Another addition to the game is a series of events and missions, basically time-limited achievements. Once you’ve completed everything, you’ll be rewarded with a hero unlock or something equally desirable. Something about it is reminiscent of gacha mechanics; I think it’s primarily the “do it now or miss out” vibe it gives off. My biggest issue with it is that it’s pushing my playtime away from PvP. I sort of just want to battle it out with other players, but I don’t really want to miss the free loot either. So it annoys me.

Finally, the devs changed the currency system. Previously, you had gold and a premium currency, and that was it. But now we have specific currency for unlocking each type of content. There’s the premium currency, Glemium, and also Prestige Points, which I think are earned through play, but it sort of looks like it’s required as an addition to the other currencies too. Then there’s also fighter currency and perk currency. It’s seems like extra layers just for the sake of adding layers. I don’t love it.

PvE and story mode gameplay give Multiversus a whole new vibe

PvE was always a pretty glaring omission in the beta version of the game. However, as it was a free-to-play title, I really wasn’t that surprised about it. I can’t imagine most people download and start playing Valorant or Apex Legends hoping to play against NPCs. Even games in the same fighting or brawler genre such as Brawlhalla don’t tend to put a lot of focus on their single-player content. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a bummer to not offer even a simple tournament mode.

Well, Player First Games kind of went all out for the relaunch and built up an extensive game mode called Rifts. It’s fully PvE, but it does enable players to invite a friend to join and help them with the challenges. It’s basically a light story mode for all intent and purposes. It begins as part of the tutorial but then naturally flows into the Rifts. It helps explain why there’s characters from all different WB properties getting mixed up together here.

But Multiversus takes it a step further and created a ton of challenges that accompany the strung together fights. As you begin a fight, it’ll list out the achievements for the battle. The ones I saw appear most involved using a specific type of fighter (like an assassin or a toon from a specific IP) or completing some number of charged attacks, that sort of thing. I queued up a few of them with the kids, and on easy mode, they were having fun.

That’s another key part of the Rifts: difficulty modes. Playing through the easy mode was just that. So when I had some time to play by myself, I upped the difficulty level, and holy cow it was challenging! It wasn’t just a little bit tougher but a whole lot. That was something unexpected but very welcome. Some of the challenges even took me several tries to complete.

Overall, I’m still very glad to see Multiversus return to the stage. I really enjoy the combat, and every battle keeps me on the edge of my seat ready for another round. However, the updates to the currency system are a pain to navigate, and hopefully unlocking additional characters isn’t too big a hassle going forward. I’m not sure how long it takes to unlock additional characters since I’m plenty happy with Garnet, but if it becomes a major pain point, I could see players peeling away to other games.

Still, it is free-to-play just about anywhere you game, so queue up and come at me.

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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