MULTIVERSUS PREVIEW: WORLD OF WARNER WANTS A RUMBLE IN THE DIGITAL JUNGLE
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MULTIVERSUS PREVIEW: WORLD OF WARNER WANTS A RUMBLE IN THE DIGITAL JUNGLE

MULTIVERSUS PREVIEW: WORLD OF WARNER WANTS A RUMBLE IN THE DIGITAL JUNGLE

MULTIVERSE PREVIEW: WORLD OF WARNER WANTS A RUMBLE IN THE DIGITAL JUNGLE

It’s hard to believe that I could have ever said to my wife, “hang on, Superman, beat up Shaggy, Velma,” but here I am thanks to the latest media franchise-mashing venture Multiverses. This Smash Bros.-style brawler draws in a number of Warner Bros characters to help them out to become Daddy Warner’s favourite or something.

Warner isn’t the first to venture into cross-promotional gaming. A few years back, the under-appreciated Lego Dimensions set a new standard by allowing characters such as Sonic, Gandalf and Doctor Who to live in a game world that was interconnected with literal Lego sets. This slightly too complicated project was a failure. Multiversus seems like an easier way to go.

One might think that this game is just to keep the hype going about Multiversus. You never know what people will do to see Joe Friday from Dragnet joining Larry David and Damien Karras, both from The Exorcist. Multiversus should be fair. This only happens if the game’s quality is high enough and, crucially, if it is successful enough not to be folded like extreme origami. It may seem cynical, but I am swayed by the possibility of Larry David arguing Agent Smith to oblivion, so I am hoping it will work out.

Multiversus’ first smart move is to offer a free-to-play title. The second is to make it accessible on almost everything. These are great for casual players who spot the latest reveal and want to check it out.

It is important to create a game that is both easy to learn and challenging, regardless of your skill level. Multiversus is a good example of this. Multiversus can be played in a 2v2 fight (or 1v1) on a 2D plane. Your goal is to cause enough damage to your opponents to make them fly off the map. You win the round if you do this a certain number of times before your opponent. It’s often a best-of-three situation.

Multiverse’s team dynamic is where it puts some distance between itself, its apparent influence, and the players. Multiversus players can help one another in times of need and work together to defeat their opponents. This means that you can’t just look out for number 1. It’s not enough to just look out for number one. Or you will face an undeserved defeat.

These games are built on steady servers and quick Matchmaking. Multiversus might not have been as crowded when I played it but it was easy to find an online match.

The initial roster includes a dozen characters from TV, Film and Comics. Each character is given a consistent cartoon visual style that helps them feel connected to one another in the game world. Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, Adventure Time’s Jake, Finn, Scooby Doo’s Shaggy, and Velma join the Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Reindog is the only unknown character. It is a blue hybrid of a Reindeer, and a Dog. He is likely to serve as a mascot for this game beyond the celebrity parade.

It is remarkable how each character feels unique after spending some time with them. From taunts and combat animation, the little quirks that make each character unique shine through. Even in chaos and hurly-burly fighting, it is possible to identify individual characters by their movements. Multiversus conveys the speed and slowness of a character’s movements, even though they may have the same floaty weight.

One thing I would criticize about the characters is the lack of oomph in their attacks. This is often more like a fight between two deflated beach balls than a thumping dustup. It’s not my intention to make Superman punch Tom & Jerry in the face, but I do think you might be able to feel the power of heavier hits a bit more.

The full game will have more modes. Multiversus is an entertaining distraction, but it will need more as time goes by. There will be a Battle Pass incentive and challenge lists to complete, but I don’t know how much goodwill this vanilla package can generate before boredom sets in.

In the interim, it will be important to attract a strong and involved player base to launch the game. This will allow you to navigate the inevitable highs and lows of a live-service game’s life. Multiversus seems to be on the right track to make it to the front. Fear of what could have been being justified because one only has to look at the Space Jam film’s regurgitated ouroboros husk to see how bad this cross-media thing can get. Multiverses aren’t the gaming equivalent, but that’s the credit of the developer. It’s not by much.

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MULTIVERSUS PREVIEW: WORLD OF WARNER WANTS A RUMBLE IN THE DIGITAL JUNGLE
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