Multiversus makes its grand return with plenty of new content after long hiatus

Posted on May 23, 2024

Close to a year following Warner Bros.’ tantalising free-to-play mascot platform fighter Multiversus going offline, the game is finally back with plenty of new features to show off. With a new suite of PvE game modes, as well as a compelling roster of new fighters and stages on their way, developer Player First Games has clearly spent the game’s offline period revamping Multiversus into something far more content-rich. Whether giving players such a substantial taste of it last year only to take it down for so long will deal a crushing blow to the game’s momentum is yet to be seen. However, from the hands-on preview which I experienced, it seems like Multiversus’ latest incarnation is on strong footing.

Once you have logged into Multiversus, the first new option you will see is the Rifts mode. This is a new PvE mode which can be played solo, or cooperatively with a friend. It is sort of structured like the Classic modes of the old Super Smash Bros. games, where the player progresses through a linear series of combat encounters, minigames and occasional boss fights. Player First Games director Tony Huynh described the Rifts mode as a way for players learn the mechanics, test out new characters and hone their skills. I, for one, think that Rifts is an excellent inclusion which remedies a common problem in free-to-play multiplayer games, which is a lack of way for new players to get a feel for the controls and mechanics aside from playing against other, much more experienced players. Plus, not gating all of this content behind a paywall (looking at you, Overwatch 2) is certainly welcome.

Rifts mode can be played solo or online cooperatively, which is nice. There is a gems system exclusive to this mode which provides passive and active bonuses when equipped, such as letting you jump an additional time in the air, or conjuring a smoke bomb after dodge rolling. The catch is that each gem is themed, and will only work in a rift match of the same theme as it, making the gems’ utility a bit hard to rely on, and honestly was something I began to ignore after a while due to having to swap out gems before each match being a bit of a hassle. Making it easier to set specific gem loadouts for different Rift match types will probably streamline this issue if such a feature is implemented.

With a game engine switch to Unreal Engine 5, Multiversus also looks quite a bit nicer than I remember, with the revamped lighting doing the game’s cartoony cast wonders on the visual front. The handful of PvP matches I was able to join during the preview ran fairly well for the most part, but that obviously may be subject to change once the game becomes available to the wider public. New playable characters have been introduced, including a Banana Guard from Adventure Time, and the Joker from DC Comics (voiced by his most iconic voice actor Mark Hamill, making the game something of a Batman: Arkham Series reunion with the late Kevin Conroy’s voice acting as Batman remaining in the game). Upcoming fighters in future updates include Agent Smith from The Matrix and Jason Vorhees of the Friday the 13th franchise, demonstrating that WB is not afraid of dipping into its more adult franchises for this otherwise kid-friendly fighting game.

The new stages which have been implemented are a lot of fun, too. The most notable ones are Townsville from the Powerpuff Girls and the titular Dexter’s Laboratory. The Townsville stage features frequent invasions from series antagonist Mojo Jojo, who destroys part of the stage and attacks the fighters, and who also can be fought back against, making him a sort of recurring miniboss intruder. Dexter’s Laboratory, on the other hand, is a completely procedural stage which incorporates chaotic elements such as platforms and conveyor belts to keep players on their toes.

With the game having been out of players’ hands for nearly a year, Multiversus has a lot of momentum to rebuild. The Rifts mode certainly gives the game an appeal for solo players which most other free-to-play fighters lack, and the fact that there is no barrier to entry will likely ensure a decent amount of public interest early on. However, it will remain to be seen if the game’s daily challenges and login bonuses, as well as the prospect of new fighters and Rifts stages, will be sufficient to maintain interest in a game which saw substantial dips in its player count only months after the beta’s initial launch last time, at least according to SteamDB.

We will have to wait and see how it performs when Multiversus returns on May 28th 2024 on PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.