The market for free-to-play video games is soaring at the moment. There are countless video games available nowadays, such as Apex Legends, Final Fantasy 14, Fortnite, Destiny 2, Warframe, and countless others. But leading the pack is challenging, as the number of competitors is always growing. What was once the playground for risk-taking newcomers is now the arena where AAA studios settle scores. While it is still possible for independent developers to earn a reputation for themselves, it is more difficult to do so in the face of competition from industry heavyweights like Epic Games, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Bungie.
This brings us to the newest participant in this metaphorical swarming frenzy: Video Game Studio From Warner Bros. has taken a significant step into the free-to-play market with MultiVersus, a free-to-play crossover fighting game that uses characters from across the expansive Warner Bros. Discovery catalogue and is developed in collaboration with relatively unknown studio Player First Games (seriously, the outfit doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page at the time of writing). If you’re unfamiliar with it, imagine Super Smash Bros. Except that it isn’t.
Just like in Smash, you can choose a player character from a wide variety of settings. The roster is hand-picked, however, from licenced properties owned by Warner Bros., DC Comics, HBO, Turner Entertainment, and Cartoon Network rather than Nintendo. That’s why Scooby-Doo villains can rib Steven Universe and Harley Quinn can smack a character from Game of Thrones upside the head. Reindog, a hybrid of a reindeer and a dog, is another unique playable character in the game. Don’t let on though.
With characters being able to equip perks and establish synergies that are vital to winning, there is a greater emphasis on team play than in Smash. To succeed, you’ll need to learn to work with your teammate, who’s got your back and to use your moves and your ally’s moves in tandem. Already about 15 hours in, I think, this adds to the intrigue; facing off against an Iron Giant and Finn the Human who is savvy internet users is very different from facing off against two randoms who spam Batman. Working in a group forces you to think on your feet.
Even though it’s still in its infancy, MultiVersus already has everything it takes to be the undisputed king of the free-to-play mountain, towering over the many imitators that have come before it. There are several explanations for this.
The first issue is making money. True, there are in-game purchases available because of the game’s freemium model. However, they are not intrusive; for example, if you want Wonder Woman with more skin on display (pervert), you may purchase her for Glemium, which is the premium currency. However, she is a playable character that can be unlocked without spending real money.
The time it takes to save up for a new character is little. If you plan on consistently maining one character and don’t mind the lack of a counter switch option between matches, you can play this game for free forever. Sweet! However, there are several cosmetic additions (skins, ring-out effects, announcer voices, etc.) that can be purchased for real money but aren’t required for gameplay or enjoyment but will set you back about $255. Unless, of course, you believe that the version of Batman with a larger chin is the only one you can portray convincingly.
If you’re interested in trying out more heroes (my favourite, Garnet, is now accessible), you’ll get the opportunity to do so for free as part of a weekly character rotation. It’s a great method to keep free players interested, encourage hybrid players to try new things, and encourage premium players to become familiar with all of the characters’ special moves. I don’t notice any negative aspects of this game in comparison to other fighting games.
Killer Instinct, which was released for the Xbox One in 2013, proved the viability of this business model by amassing a player base and community of over 10 million people four years after its initial release by allowing them to “try before they purchase.” What is MultiVersus’s lifespan? Given the wealth of material available, it seems plausible.
Speaking of which, thus far Player First Games has done a great job of responding to player feedback and fixing issues with Multiversus, even if the game is still in beta. After being one of the free characters in early access and having teams plop themselves off the edge of the battlefield while facing two Taz in a match, Taz has been severely nerfed. That was no pleasure at all. Furthermore, it was resolved in less than a week. There’s a lot of optimism if that’s the studio’s reaction as we continue forward into Season 1.
Everything thus far feels like a statement of intent from both Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Player First Games, but we’ll see if things seem this promising when the game proceeds from its open beta phase into its full launch phase. The developer will no doubt be encouraged by the game’s 60,000-plus pre-launch signups.
You can tell that this game plans to be around for a while because it is making use of so many different licences at once; I expect to still be playing it next year. As some Mortal Kombat characters watch in bewilderment, I can picture Neo from The Matrix performing a bullet-time dodge from Marvin the Martian’s cartoon bullets.
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