MultiVersus Developer Talks About Bringing Fantastical Playground Arguments to Life
"Taz is a good boy," says Harley Quinn as Tom & Jerry fight in the background.
Today, the open beta for MultiVersus begins, and it still feels like a fighting game that my child self came up with on a dare. Fans who are familiar with Smash Bros. will recognize the look and feel of the game, only now we have a world of Warner Bros. characters throwing around perfectly good sandwiches and pies. I got the chance to chat with Daniel Kraft, the principal developer for MultiVersus, and we discussed the wacky nature of the game and why team-ups between the likes of Superman and The Iron Giant were the way to go.
How did they even come up with this?
The more characters that get announced for MultiVersus the more absurd the whole thing feels (I say with love and affection in my heart). Recently, Rick and Morty were announced as upcoming characters along with… LeBron James??? I suppose, back in the day, the thought of Mario, Kirby, Samus, and Link fighting to the death was also seen as being odd, but MultiVersus has some serious bonkers characters in their roster that make Tekken’s Kazuya Mishima throwing Kirby off a cliff look like a normal Tuesday. “A lot of us have been in the industry for a while and we really wanted to make a platform fighter that was free-to-play, no barrier for entry, anybody could jump in and play with their friends,” says Kraft. “We wanted to bring a bunch of iconic characters together, so Batman, Bugs Bunny, Shaggy? All of them are just great, iconic characters, and seeing them come together is a dream.”
It really does sound like a dream – both literally and figuratively. I brought this up to Kraft and how the whole thing feels like a playground scenario you come up with as a kid. There’s no rhyme or reason, you just swear to your bestie that Shaggy could beat Superman in a fight because you’re in your Scooby Doo phase. “All those playground arguments? Let’s play it! Let’s find out,” says Kraft, who goes on to say that you would, most definitely, play these kinds of matches at the playground for an entire Lunchable. He also says that Shaggy would win since food is at stake in this made-up scenario we came up with.
What makes a good starting lineup?
One thing that Kraft brought up is just how many characters they had at their disposable when working with a property as big as Warner Bros. While this included staples you’d expect to see in a fighting game (ie: DC characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman), Kraft says that the team really wanted variety. “We want this to be a fighting game that has a wide breadth of characters from WB’s roster. We wanted to showcase some Hannah Barbara, some Cartoon Network… we really wanted to make sure there was representation from all these different areas of the WB catalog.”
When I think of WB I definitely think of DC and, frankly, all of the characters in movies like Space Jam. It never really occurred to me that Steven Universe, for example, was also part of the company’s history. There really is an ongoing list of characters the team can use, and this is something that Kraft feels will help the game in the long run. “A lot of it comes down to game health as well. With the gameplay, if there’s a hole – like we need another ranged character – it’s important that we find a character that fills that hole so the game stays healthy and fun to play.”
In picking which characters would be available in the roster, Kraft also talked about how the team really wanted each character to feel the way you’d expect them to in a fight. “When you jump in and play as Superman you should feel like, ‘oh yeah, this is how I imagine Superman would play. This is how I expect Tom & Jerry to play and interact.'” When I played the game I picked Harley Quinn, as I tend to go for those kinds of characters in a fighting game. She absolutely felt the way I’d expect (fast-paced, full of random weapons and quips and combos) and she became one of my mains.
Why the focus on 2 v 2?
While you don’t have to play in team matches and can choose to go it alone, there is an emphasis on playing as a unit. Admittedly, this is the part I wasn’t sure I’d be a fan of, as I tend to play games like this in free-for-all battles where everyone’s in it for themselves. However, I found myself being really protective of my partner (it was Finn from Adventure Time with my Harley Quinn) and the two of us ended up working really well together. “It’s more fun to play video games with friends,” says Kraft. “We wanted to kinda emphasize that and embrace that, hey, this can be a social experience. Let’s get you playing with other people. It makes the game more fun, it makes every aspect of it more enjoyable.” To Kraft, the fighting game community is the perfect space to bring people together. “Fighting games, in general, have always had great communities and we think that MultiVersus will have a great community as well. I think it will thrive more if you’re able to sit there and play with friends.”
It’s not just the kneejerk reaction to have your partner’s back that was effective when playing the game, characters actually have moves that will help their teammate. “Wonder Woman can do the down special and dash to her ally and shield them. Jake (Adventure Time) can become a house and people can bounce off of him. We really wanted to push that cooperative gameplay throughout.”
You can now check out the game for free or purchase a Founder’s Pack to get extra goodies in the game. I highly recommend giving 2 v 2 a shot as you’re thoroughly entertained with the banter the characters have back and forth with each other.
(Featured image: Warner Bros. Games/Player First Games)
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