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MultiVersus Looks To Return With A Bang After Risky Hiatus

The Warner Bros. platform fighter is hoping its absence makes players' hearts grow fonder.


Back in May 2022, MultiVersus--a platform fighter in the vein of Super Smash Bros. featuring characters from across the Warner Bros. portfolio--burst onto the scene in open beta. Shaggy from Scooby-Doo could duke it out with Batman, Bugs Bunny could be seen throwing pies at Arya Stark, and the list of fever dream matchups only grew from there.

After over a year in beta with multiple seasons of additional content, Player First Games and WB decided to pull the game from digital shelves, with the promise that the game would return better than ever. Those who spent money on the game's content demanded refunds but did not receive them, instead they were also promised that all of that content would be intact when the game returned.

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Now Playing: MultiVersus Looks To Return With A Bang After Risky Hiatus

Now, in May 2024, the self-imposed hiatus is over: MultiVersus is coming back. We got to check out the new PvE Rifts mode, as well as run a few matches with three of the four new characters coming to the roster. We also spoke with game director Tony Huynh about the hiatus, and he believes both of those aforementioned promises are set to come true.

Lessons learned

Huynh tells GameSpot that the information gathered during the open-beta session was invaluable, and it gave the team a clear path to its May 28 launch. The team has grown since MultiVersus was pulled from stores, according to Huynh, and it's allowed them to expand content pipelines, make necessary adjustments, and undertake one particular Herculean task: fixing the netcode.

"We learned a lot during open beta," Huynh says, "and what we learned required us to do things like rebuild our netcode, which requires us to touch every asset in the game; there's nothing in the game that hasn't been updated to support the netcode." Huynh now calls the MultiVersus netcode "world-class" and says playing with anyone, even across the country, feels "amazing, like you're on the couch together."

The expanded team size at Player First has also helped in not only overhauling the entire game, but creating clear content pipelines--which include "new characters, new maps, new cosmetics, and new game modes" according to Huynh--for the foreseeable future.

Putting on the Rifts

A key addition to the MultiVersus experience is Rifts, the new PvE mode where players can challenge multiple routes based on the current events in the game. During our preview session, we had two events available: Multiversal Mayhem, where Joker recruits characters from other dimensions who just so happen to support him; and Rift Detectives, a story revolving around Batman and Velma trying to prove they're the better detective.

These story elements aren't a major influence on the gameplay, however; they mostly serve to frame the dialogue you'll read between each challenge in your selected path. However, they do add a bit of extra flavor to what is otherwise just a rundown of continuous challenges, one after another, with some forks in the road once in a while.

These challenges aren't limited to matches against CPU characters, however. MultiVersus borrows from other platform fighters and throws a few minigames into the mix. During our preview, we played MultiVersus's version of Break The Targets from Smash Bros., we shot cannons at Joker balloons a la an arcade shooting gallery, and we raced to outrun an evil force coming at us from the left side of the screen.

While this mode isn't reinventing the wheel, Rifts does offer a welcome respite from the constant grind of online matches whenever we need it.

Bolstering the roster

The first season of the new MultiVersus--which, according to Huynh, will last two months--focuses on villain characters, which were missing from the roster previously. Three new characters--DC Comics' The Joker, Friday The 13th's Jason Voorhees, and The Matrix's Agent Smith--highlight this first season, with Joker available on day one, Agent Smith coming later in the season, and Jason Voorhees included in the battle pass.

We got to test out Joker and Jason, as well as another new addition, Banana Guard, during our preview session, and each one adds a unique twist to the roster.

Joker is a wily Mage, which means he'll be using all manner of tricks to take down his enemies--which is perfect for the Clown Prince of Crime. He can shock opponents with a hand buzzer, throw projectile playing cards from a distance, and produce a cannon from behind a curtain before shooting it at a foe. Joker is not the kind of character who should be diving head-first into a battle, he's better suited on the outside throwing projectiles and generally annoying the opponents into making a mistake.

Jason Voorhees, meanwhile, is a brutish Tank character who is much better suited to being in an opponent's face. His moveset is made up of iconic moments from his movies; he can fold a bed in half to launch opponents into the air, he can grab opponents in a sleeping bag and bash them on the floor before throwing them away, and he can teleport from one side of the arena to the other using fog. As a tank, Jason soaks up a lot of damage normally, but he can also give himself temporary shield points to make him even more of a sponge.

Banana Guard, the final playable character, is probably the most straightforward of the trio. As a bruiser, Banana Guard uses strong strikes to knock his opponents back, with most of them coming thanks to his trusty spear. His side special charge attack gives him a dangerous approach option, while his upward normal can attack multiple times and force an opponent into the top boundary quickly.

The old guard

While the new characters will get the majority of the attention, the existing roster has seen a ton of changes as well. According to Huynh, every character in the game has gone through some sort of change, though some will be more apparent than others.

"All of the characters are different now, because the core combat engine is different," Huynh says. "It's familiar, the combat is fluid and feels great, but it definitely feels different than before." Every character now has some new moves in their arsenals, along with new combo routes, and that also comes from the overhauled combat system. "We had to touch everything, everything has been altered in some way."

One notable example, per Huynh, is also his current main: Arya Stark. "A lot of her kit now revolves around Face Steal," Huynh says, "where she borrows moves from the rest of the cast. Before, it wasn't a core part of her kit, it was just an offshoot, but now it is key to her combo routes." He also says that while before, Arya excelled more in aerial combat, now she's more of a ground-based fighter. "She can still do aerial things," Huynh clarifies, "but she's really strong on the ground now."

Extending an olive branch

MultiVersus is adding a ton of new content to its popular platform fighting formula; however, the game does face one significant challenge: Some of the players it left behind might not be willing to greet the game back with open arms. However, Huynh and his team have a nice "welcome back" package for anyone who decides to give them another chance.

Huynh definitively states that "all characters and cosmetics purchased before May 28 will still be there when they come back to the game." However, the team is planning some "make good" perks as well: For example, "just by logging in, you get Banana Guard and a skin for free." Also, any returning players who log into the game in the first two weeks of launch--from May 28 to June 11--will receive the first battle pass for free. This will, in turn, unlock Jason Voorhees, as he is the level 1 reward for the battle pass.

Essentially, anyone who played the game in open beta and unlocked the entire roster will only have to unlock one new character, Joker, when they log into this new version for the first time. "We understand how players would feel," Huynh said, "and we're trying to make good on that."

The new and improved MultiVersus will launch May 28 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.

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