MultiVersus Open Beta Early Access Hands-On – Time to Feel Shaggy’s Rage

MultiVersus

A couple of months back, some lucky players were treated to the very first taste of MultiVersus, an upcoming platform fighter in development by Player First Game that brings together characters from Warner Bros. properties for one of the wildest crossovers ever seen in video games. Despite some issues, I rather enjoyed my time with the game, thanks to the great and extremely diverse character roster and the bigger focus on team play, compared to similar titles like Super Smash. Bros Ultimate.

Almost two months have passed since the end of the game's closed alpha, and MultiVersus is now ready to be played by users all over the world with the open beta, which also gives us a better idea of how the monetization system will work and how much it can impact the experience. And while the game does feel a little better to play, I am not convinced the free-to-play model will do MultiVersus too much good.

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For those who have never seen MultiVersus in action, the game developed by Player First Games is a platform fighter in the vein of the Smash series and Brawhalla, where the player's goal is to knock the opponents off the screen, and the higher the damage value, the more a character will be launched by the opponent's attacks. The control scheme is extremely simple, with regular and special moves, both in the air and on the ground, assigned to a single button and a direction. This makes the game extremely simple to pick up and play, but the differences between characters make it much harder to master.

Despite not looking that different from the closed beta build, the MultiVersus open beta build has a good number of differences. A new character, Iron Giant, is available, and general gameplay tweaks and balance changes are introduced. Batman is among the characters that have been buffed the most, but generally, the changes seem to be on point, although some characters still have a clear edge over the others, like Finn with his incredible movement speed. The game, however, seems to be in a decent spot already, and the additional changes that should be coming in time for the official release are likely to improve general balance even more.

Outside of the system-wide and character-specific changes, MultiVersus hasn't changed much over the closed alpha. I feel the game is a little snappier now, but this could be related to the fact that I have played the open beta on PC with V-Sync off, as opposed to the closed alpha that was played on PlayStation 5. The general floatiness which put me a little off in the previous version is still here, so it's clear, at this point, that this is a design choice meant to keep characters in the air for longer.

Online play is obviously a big part of the MultiVersus experience, and the open beta confirmed how good the rollback netcode used by Player First Games is. 1 versus 1 matches have been smooth for the most part, while matches with four players have been more hit and miss, likely due to some players using Wi-Fi connections. Everything seems to be holding out great, but the open beta is still not available publicly, so the experience may be different once more players join in.

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As already mentioned, the MultiVersus open beta also marks the official debut of the game's monetization system. At the start of the game, only fourth characters are available, and all the others need to be unlocked using either free currency, Coins, or premium currency, Gleamium, except for Wonder Woman, who is unlocked after completing the tutorial. Coins are handed out fairly quickly, and with daily missions and free Pass rewards, it doesn't take long to unlock more characters. Still, unlocking all of them with free currency will take a long time, and if one wanted to purchase them all with Gleamium, they would have to spend around $70, which is more than the price of a regular AAA release, at least on PC. This figure is also set to increase in the future, as MultiVersus will get more characters down the line, so I expect it will be even more difficult to unlock all characters just by playing the game. For those who do not want to grind,  Warner Bros is. offering three different Founder's Packs that include Character Tokens and the Gleamium premium currency, among other bonuses, and the priciest one, the Premium Founder's Pack, should give access to all planned characters, as it includes 30 Character Tokens.  While players who just want to unlock all characters at least do have the option of grinding to do so, things are much worse for those who want to collect cosmetics, as many are only available in exchange for Gleamium, and, as it stands, it takes around $250 to purchase everything available in the beta, without taking Premium Battle Pass exclusive items into account. This is not a good start at all.

MultiVersus has the potential to become one of the most popular platform fighters ever made, thanks to its solid gameplay and great roster, but the game's monetization scheme could have an impact on its popularity in the future, even though the content that matters most, characters can be unlocked for free with some effort. As the game is still in beta, Warner Bros. and Player First Game still have the chance to tweak and improve the system, and I sincerely hope they will. I want to play a fighting game for hundreds of hours to improve my skills, not to unlock more content that should be readily available.

PC version tested. Early access code provided by the publisher.

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