MultiVersus review in progress: what happened?

MultiVersus' full launch is here after a year of being offline, and it's worse now.
Warner Bros.

It feels weird to be reviewing this game in 2024, after having my fill in 2022. Warner Bros’ MultiVersus basically had a full launch already – a full suite of purchasable characters and cosmetics, decent online play, and a small but reasonably excitable community. New characters and stages were being announced and launched regularly! And then it all just stopped as MultiVersus was taken offline entirely, leaving players with nothing, until now.

After being taken offline for just shy of a year and having the engine switched from Unreal 4 to 5, MultiVersus is back and nobody is quite sure why it is worse. There’s no question about it, the game is visibly slower and far less responsive. While you could adjust the input buffer you desire in the beta version of the game, now you’re stuck with a 30-frame input buffer – I repeat, the game will execute any button input you press for a full half second. Double-tapped that attack button in excitement? You’re gonna be executing two attacks, whether you like it or not. Same for jumping, or moving, or dodging, or…

In most fighting games, and indeed platform fighters, players utilize the input buffer to execute frame-perfect strings; here it feels more like you’re attacking phantoms that were present half a second ago. It’s too late, the moment’s over, but you’re still swinging and missing. Sure, it adds to the chaos, but instead of feeling like I’ve won a hard-fought victory or had the rug swept from under me, I always feel like it was a coin toss. Everyone jumped in and pressed buttons, whatever happened from that point is a mystery.

Everyone is here.
Everyone is here. / Warner Bros.

But, a point in MultiVersus’ favor, is that it includes 26 genuinely recognizable characters – PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale wishes it could be this – from Batman and Superman to Tom and Jerry, Jason, LeBron James, Arya Stark, and more. Like, a lot more. Other than the original character of Reindog, this is an all-star lineup, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see at least one character you like. Sure, you hate both Rick and Morty, but do you hate Bugs Bunny? I know you love Taz.

The stages even take from franchises beyond the characters included in the main roster, with one stage having you battle atop The Powerpuff Girls’ Townsville Town Hall as Mojo Jojo attacks. It’s pure “I remember that!” fuel, and when it comes to a big crossover fighter like this, that’s the goal. 

I think it would all work out, too, if the core gameplay didn’t feel broken right now. Maybe it was just part of the struggle of moving the game to a new engine, or maybe these changes are being implemented because of feedback – either way, it feels bad. The slow speed of the animations and movement, combined with the massive input buffer make MultiVersus feel like the floatiest and least precise platform fighter I’ve ever played, and it wasn’t this way during the beta.

The characters are cool, but the gameplay? Um...
The characters are cool, but the gameplay? Um... / Warner Bros.

I don’t know what made Warner Bros. take MultiVersus off the market and throw it back into the oven, but it doesn’t seem to have meaningfully improved anything. Players argue that it’s now more difficult to earn new characters, with never-ending progression paths. 

It’s a game that looks nice visually, and you can get matchmade with opponents incredibly fast, but that can’t save it from feeling like a tedious grind: if you don’t want to play online, you’ll be playing in Rifts, which are long strings of fights against AI opponents – more fights than the game has characters, in every available Rift. You can unlock The Matrix’s Agent Smith early by completing Rifts, but even that couldn’t convince to invest the hours into repetitive AI combat.

This doesn’t feel like a game you can reasonably “get good” at anymore, it just feels like a mess. Win, lose, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps younger gamers can forgive the gameplay quirks in exchange for seeing characters they love duke it out, but that alone is not what made Super Smash Bros. a sensation. MultiVersus’ online net code is great, which should be a massive selling point, but why would you want to play this game? Over all of the other platform fighters or even the fighting game genre at large, why choose MultiVersus? 

The character skins are a highlight.
The character skins are a highlight. / Warner Bros.

For now, I’m leaving this as a review in progress, as I have some hope that the outcries from fans on Twitter, YouTube, and Steam forums will have Player First Games issue some much-needed fixes in the upcoming weeks and months, but if this really is the game MultiVersus is supposed to be, it’s dead on arrival.

Platform tested: PS5

Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.