The Multiversus beta opens to everyone on July 26 and it already feels like one of the best fighting games on PC, but the reasonable marketplace puts more aggressive free-to-play games like Diablo Immortal in the shade. Whisper it – maybe the Multiversus microtransactions aren’t that bad?
Warner Bros kindly granted PCGamesN access to both the early Multiversus beta release and previous alpha, so I’ve played a lot of the platform fighting game – and I’m impressed. It’s certainly the best game like Smash Bros on PC, and it’s got plenty of its own tricks too.
There are four main modes in Multiversus: 2v2 teams, 1v1, four-player free-for-all, and a two-player team versus AI bots. There are bot versions of all of these if you don’t want to face human players, with varying levels of difficulty.
You can check out our Multiversus tier list for details on the current roster. Wonder Woman may be only a mid-level character but she’s my personal favourite, with quick, powerful moves and a handy team-focused shield ability. If you’ve played a Smash Bros-style game the gameplay will be familiar – players have to do a certain amount of damage to opponents before smacking them off the stage – but with a number of tweaks, too.
I am a big fan of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series and I have never got on with any imitators, like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. Either they copy Smash too closely, veer too far away from it, or just don’t feel right. Multiversus is honestly the first platform fighter that doesn’t make me run screaming back to my Switch. There are a few little differences – there aren’t any items, and there’s a dodge but no shield – but it feels and controls just right, and that’s a very hard thing to perfect. Those differences simplify the gameplay a little but don’t negate the strategy.
What makes things even more impressive is that Multiversus is a free game. Now, thanks to the likes of Diablo Immortal and various mobile gatcha games, F2P gaming gets a really bad rap, with most pushing microtransactions and advertisements in players’ faces from the main menu onwards – to say nothing of pay-to-win mechanics, loot boxes, and locking cosmetics.
Multiversus, I’m relieved to say, doesn’t do this. The main menu screen has a small, scrolling ad for new content, but that’s it. There’s a premium currency called Gleamium, but right now you actually have to look hard for things to pay for with it – there isn’t even a store screen, although that’ll arrive later. Only certain skins, emotes, and fun ring-out animations can be bought with Gleamium – all characters, perks, and stages are free to unlock, and there are skins and emotes available for free or as part of the battle pass.
Even the battle pass is completely optional. You do not need to buy a single thing to play and enjoy Multiversus, and I really mean that. To play devil’s advocate, though, it’s not all good news – some of the paid items are grossly overpriced. VFX ringout animations for 1200 Gleamium (around $12/£10) seem a bit much, but $20/£16 for the Batman: The Animated Series Legendary skin (above) is definitely too much. 800 Gleamium for the Wonder Woman Bloodlines skin in the top image seemed more reasonable, which I why I actually bought it.
There’s some adjustment required, certainly, and hopefully developer Player First Games is listening to feedback regarding pricing before it rolls out the proper Multiversus marketplace. Nevertheless, I was very happy not to be assaulted with ads or pushy microtransactions while playing, and that genuinely makes me more likely to spend money.
Multiversus is just at the start of its journey right now – it’s not even officially out in open beta, as I write this – but other than the limited number of stages, it’s remarkably complete. The fighters are generally balanced (apart from Taz), the controls are spot-on, and the gameplay feels just right. And it’s free, of course. You’ll be able to join in for yourself on July 26, and I expect I’ll be playing it for a long time.
Now… don’t mess it up by cramming ads in there, okay?