Sometimes you hear a rumour that’s so ridiculous it has to be true.
Mario and Sonic teaming up for the first time ever to take part in the Olympic Games? Square Enix making an RPG that crosses Final Fantasy characters with Disney? Mortal Kombat fighting the Justice League?
All of them sounded like the bizarre fantasies of a fan-fiction site gone berserk, and yet all resulted in legitimate, popular releases. One of the key reasons for both the surprise and the success was that everyone loves a crossover: there’s nothing like seeing when characters from different franchises come together for the perfect combination of familiar faces in unfamiliar circumstances.
If crossovers are a sure-fire way of gathering hype, then Warner Bros’ MultiVersus is off to a flyer already. When we initially heard the rumours of a Smash Bros clone featuring a variety of Warner Bros characters including Shaggy from Scooby-Doo and Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, the initial claims that it was legitimately a thing were so absurd that we immediately took note.
Sure enough, Warner Bros made it official a few weeks later: MultiVersus is indeed a thing, and it’s a thing planned for next year at some point.
MultiVersus - First Look reveal
MultiVersus characters | MultiVersus tier list | MultiVersus Guide | MultiVersus unlockables guide | Finn MultiVersus guide | Garnet MultiVersus guide | Iron Giant MultiVersus guide | LeBron James MultiVersus guide | Reindog MultiVersus guide | Superman MultiVersus guide| MultiVersus Gizmo guide
According to the publisher, the game will look and play similar to the Super Smash Bros series, but the main focus will be on 2v2 team battles rather than free-for-all four-player fights. For those who prefer to work alone the game will still offer free-for-all and one-on-one options, so while teamwork is the preferred option it’s absolutely not necessary to make the dream work in this instance.
As for playable characters – which, let’s face it, is the main draw of MultiVersus – so far Warner Bros has confirmed that seven different franchises will be included, with a total of 12 characters representing them, though this will almost certainly grow before launch.
Players will be able to take control of the aforementioned Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Shaggy Rogers from Scooby-Doo, as well as the likes of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry (who’ll be fighting together like the Ice Climbers do in Smash Bros), Steven and Garnet from Steven Universe and a selection of DC characters, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn.
MultiVersus isn’t the only game that’s been trying to muscle in on Smash Bros’ territory. Earlier this year the entertaining Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl delighted fans of Hey Arnold, SpongeBob, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy and the Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles by jamming their representatives into a Smash Bros clone along with a bunch of other Nickelodeon characters.
“So far Warner Bros has confirmed that seven different franchises will be included, with a total of 12 characters representing them, though this will almost certainly grow before launch.”
One key area in which Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was a huge disappointment, however, was in the voice acting (or the lack thereof). To have no fighter voiceovers at all, especially when you’re dealing with cartoon characters, is tantamount to removing half of their personality, and as such the game wasn’t quite as charming as it could have been.
MultiVersus appears to have this box ticked, with a frankly intimidating cast of voice actors. And not just any old soundalikes: most characters are voiced by the actual people who previously portrayed them.
One of the key benefits of a game being a Warner Bros production appears to be the studio’s access to talent, meaning when you’re playing as Arya Stark she’s actually voiced by Maisie Williams, while Batman’s voice is provided by Kevin Conroy, who voiced him in the ‘90s Batman The Animated Series show.
Meanwhile, Estelle returns to play Garnet from Steven Universe. Matthew Lillard is here as Shaggy, Finn and Jake will be reprised by Jeremy Shada and John DiMaggio, while Harley Quinn will be voiced by Tara Strong, who’s played her numerous times before (and will do so in Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game).
What gives us hope that this will all be handled well is the fact that this isn’t Warner Bros’ first attempt at building a large crossover universe. The grossly underrated Lego Dimensions did exactly the same thing with Traveller’s Tales’ Lego series, allowing players to team up more than 100 characters from 30 different franchises (and not just Warner Bros ones).
The result was, in our opinion, one of the greatest crossovers ever created, but the game sadly died before its full plans were complete, perhaps because of the waning popularity of the toys-to-life fad (incidentally, maybe it’s time for a digital-only re-release, Warner Bros?)
What’s potentially exciting about MultiVersus is that, as a digital-only title instead of a toys-to-life experience, as long as it remains popular it has the scope to expand even further with no need to worry about keeping retailers happy with physical stock that may not sell.
Warner Bros has said MultiVersus will be a free-to-play game, and while that may understandably raise a few eyebrows, one positive of this method could be that the game may continue to grow over time, with no need to draw a line under it to prepare for any sort of sequel.
This includes the potential to increase the roster way beyond what’s available at launch. You only need to watch Space Jam: A New Legacy (well, maybe) and see the countless Warner Bros cameo appearances in that to get a rough idea of the direction this game could go over time.
A few years down the line we could very well be looking at a game with an enormous roster of characters from every corner of the Warner Bros universe, or even beyond – after all, Lego Dimensions showed Warner Bros isn’t afraid to approach other studios for further crossovers, and it’s not like the game is specifically called Warner Bros MultiVersus.
“You only need to watch Space Jam: A New Legacy (well, maybe) and see the countless Warner Bros cameo appearances in that to get a rough idea of the direction this game could go over time.”
Of course, that’s not to say that the main roster has even been confirmed yet. We already know of the 12 we listed above, as well as an original character called Reindog that, let’s face it, nobody’s going to play as. But there’ll likely be more to be announced before the game is released.
The previous leaks, which correctly revealed not only the game but also its title and some of the characters already confirmed, also namechecked Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty as playable characters. Neither has been confirmed yet, but smart money would be on Warner Bros announcing them before launch.
This all boils down to a potentially exciting game, especially for fans of the Smash Bros series who are disappointed that there are no more guest characters planned for Ultimate and who want a different outlet to focus their “who do I want to be announced next” energy on.
With Sakurai drawing a line under Ultimate and seemingly no plans for a new Smash Bros any time soon, MultiVersus could be the new contender to take over the surprise announcement routine. If Warner Bros had any marketing sense, it would already be preparing reveal trailers for each upcoming character, similar to the way Nintendo did.
If it’s going to do that, though, it may want to try to keep its upcoming character reveals a little more watertight going forwards, or the surprise might get ruined again.