I Played the New MultiVersus Ahead of Launch and I'm Ready for More

New gameplay additions should make Warner Bros.' platform fighter feel better for both casual and competitive players at launch.

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Adam Benjamin
5 min read
Multiple playable characters from MultiVersus arranged side by side
WB Games

MultiVersus blends together characters like Batman, Jake the Dog, Lebron James and Rick Sanchez into a truly mind-boggling smoothie of a Warner Bros. platform fighter. We've known that since the Smash Bros.-like game was announced in 2021, and the open beta gave us more of a taste before it closed in June of last year, with the note that there was "still a lot of work to do."

For the past 11 months, we've been waiting to see what shape that work would take. 

A few weeks before the game's official launch, I spent three days playing a preview build of the game, including new game modes and characters. If you played the open beta and enjoyed the feel of things, you'll be happy to know the core gameplay feels intact. MultiVersus still has that slightly floaty, very "smacky" feeling, though it felt a little bit faster in this preview and the new parry mechanic adds a bit more depth for high-level play. 

The most noticeable changes are with the game structures. The stuff from the open beta is still there, but now there are more game modes, more missions and more masked mass-murderers. 

Securing double knockouts is as satisfying as ever.

WB Games/GIF by CNET

Rifts add story, single-player elements

The biggest difference between the open beta and the preview I played was Rifts: a new mode where you play through a series of matches against bots rather than online players, with a story unfolding as you progress through those contests. The Multiversal Mayhem Rift explained why characters from all these different properties are all in the same place.

Each rift is made up of various "nodes," most of which were 1v1 and 2v2 matches, though there were some mini games along the way (including a familiar "break the targets" node). The end of the rift was a boss battle, which I expected to be an extended 1v1 fight, but it turned out to be something totally different, incorporating mechanics from a few of the mini-game nodes. 

Screenshot of the Rifts mode

Some of the Rifts dialogue made me chuckle.

WB Games/Screenshot by CNET

Rifts offer various replayability settings, like multiple difficulty levels to challenge yourself with, along with modifiers in the form of gems, which give your fighter different bonuses. 

I'm not someone who craves story modes in fighting games, but I spent most of my time in the preview playing through Rifts, partly because they were the big new thing, but also because they were an easier way to engage with the game. They're a fun option for people (like me) who enjoy MultiVersus but don't want that whole experience to be getting wrecked in online matchmaking. You can also bring a friend with you to make Rifts a co-op experience.

Events and missions give you more rewards

Whether you're jumping into online matchmaking or exploring the story in Rifts, you'll earn progress for daily, weekly and event missions -- all of which offer rewards for playing the game. Events are groups of missions tied around specific themes, like "The Joker's Ruse." 

In the preview build I played, Events offered a few tiers of rewards for completing Event missions, usually culminating in a unique skin, like the Iron Giant's Matrix code skin. Some events also awarded Gleamium, which is the game's premium currency, used to unlock heroes or items from the store. 

Limited-time modes can feel hit-or-miss, depending on your interest in the specific rewards, but I liked having that additional avenue for earning stuff.

Screenshot of Events, including The Joker's Ruse

Earn variant skins and Gleamium by completing Events.

WB Games/Screenshot by CNET

New characters spice up an already bonkers roster

Pulling characters from DC Comics, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo and Cartoon Network, as well as live-action stuff like Gremlins and Game of Thrones, is already a wild ride in terms of roster construction. The new characters available at launch (and teased for the future) make things even weirder.

The Joker

Batman's archnemesis follows the Dark Knight, Black Adam, Harley Quinn, Superman and Wonder Woman from the pages of DC Comics into MultiVersus. The Joker is a new mage character like Rick and Bugs Bunny, able to zone and punish characters from a distance. He brings his iconic crowbar (sorry Jason Todd) and playing cards, and… is that a bazooka?

Jason Voorhees

Apparently, Jason had so much fun in Mortal Kombat, he wanted more. The iconic slasher joins the MultiVersus roster wielding an array of weapons -- machete, axe, sleeping bag, bed. I only played a few rounds with Jason, but found him an exceptionally heavy hitter. His enormous hitbox means he'll be taking lots of damage, but his ability to secure knockouts was (in my amateur hands) stronger than most. 

Screenshot of gameplay featuring Jason

Jason's moves include some references to iconic moments from his movie appearances.

WB Games/Screenshot by CNET

Banana Guard

If you had asked me which three Adventure Time characters would be the first to make it into MultiVersus, Banana Guard would not have been on my list. The spear gives them a bit of additional range over pure brawlers like Taz. Similar to Shaggy, Banana Guard's neutral special powers up their moves, leading to a surprisingly lethal dash attack. 

Agent Smith

The Matrix villain won't be playable at launch, but MultiVersus has confirmed that the character will join later in the season. My first guess would be Bruiser class, given all the hand-to-hand combat in those movies, but we'll have to wait to find out.

Closing thoughts

The literally bananas matchups MultiVersus offers players are the core of its fun. Scooby-Doo and DC superheroes are familiar friends, but Gizmo from Gremlins fighting alongside Lebron James against Finn the Human and Arya Stark captures the same kind of absurd magic that Nintendo first tapped in Smash Bros. a quarter of a century ago. 

What I wrote two years ago at the start of the open beta remains true: Despite my tendency to quickly put down fighting games, MultiVersus makes me want to invest more of my precious free time practicing combos and finding my main. 

Stringing together combos doesn't come naturally for me, but MultiVersus makes the learning process more inviting than other fighting games I've played.

WB Games/GIF by CNET

Some of that is my longtime love of these characters -- I watched Scooby-Doo and Batman: The Animated series growing up, and I've never really put those franchises down. The possibility of future favorites showing up also draws me in. But the game also does an uncommonly good job at finding that oft-chased sweet spot: easy to pick up, but leaves plenty of room for mastery. 

If you're interested in the characters, or you like fighting games that can feel a bit more like party games, try MultiVersus. The 2v2 game mode leans into that element more than other fighters, even ones that allow you to cycle through multiple characters in a single battle. 

Come for the chaos, stay for the satisfying complexity.

MultiVersus returns on May 28, and is free to play on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.