What Super Smash Bros. Can Learn from MultiVersus

It’s only spent a short while in open beta, but the potential of MultiVersus cannot be denied. Players have estimated, based on third-party Steam numbers, that MultiVersus may have the highest concurrent player count across all platforms ever in the fighting game genre. There is no way of confirming this, but the game seems to be a rousing success. Despite there being plenty of balancing and content left to go, many people are enjoying their time with this Warner Bros. mascot platform fighter.

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In the midst of this praise, it’s hard not to imagine that MultiVersus will become a trendsetter in its space. Being the second major success in free-to-play platform fighters, its highly-marketed launch will likely draw more attention than the former indie title Brawlhalla did It’s too soon to say if MultiVersus will usurp Brawlhalla, or if the isolated but well-funded scene will continue as it always has. Still, if it continues to impress, MultiVersus may be able to draw some players away from Super Smash Bros. itself. It has a number of advantages over the Nintendo series that inspired it, and Nintendo should take notice of these when it next makes use of the Smash Bros. IP.


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MultiVersus Makes Itself As Accessible As Possible

There are a few things fighting game players really hate, and one is having to wait for a match. This can be clearly seen in strict rules for timeliness at tournaments, but also applies to online matchmaking and how a game handles preparing for a match. Preferably, players would like to go from opening the game to playing in training mode, online, or against a local opponent as quickly as possible. This means accessing character selection or gameplay quickly, as well as online matchmaking being optimized and largely devoid of fluff. A cult classic series called Akatsuki Blitzkampf even has a feature where players can instantly rematch as soon as the final blow of a match is dealt.


Platform fighter fans are no exception. MultiVersus doesn’t do anything fancy in this regard, but got it right regardless. The “Play” button is clearly visible on the main menu as the default option. Super Smash Bros. is like this as well, although in its case the offline Smash mode is what’s highlighted first. More importantly, MultiVersus makes the process of loading into a match quick and smooth. Aside from other players idling or some bad rollback issues, players can start fighting online within a couple of minutes of booting the game, and can smoothly jump to other matches from there. Smash‘s online is frustratingly poor, and its player base is all too eager to embrace MultiVersus‘easier and cheaper experience. Even when crossplay is involved, nothing breaks MultiVersus‘ stride, and the next Super Smash Bros. should consider this to be an imperative goal.


MultiVersus Gives Players Reasons to Keep Playing

Past that, there doesn’t appear to be much that Super Smash Bros. can take from MultiVersus. Both are high-quality titles, with Super Smash Bros. erring on the side of being a premium product focused on free-for-all fights while MultiVersus is a free-to-play title emphasizing doubles matches. However, to support its free-to-play nature, MultiVersus must give players reasons to keep coming back, especially as it lacks Smash‘s extra singleplayer modes. To that end, a progression system has been implemented to measure character levels and reward players for engagement. Super Smash Bros. could easily institute a similar level-based perk system framed as Spirits or Stickers, and could even make it easier to unlock Super Smash Bros. 4‘s custom special moves.


On top of that, MultiVersus has daily challenges tied to gaining free currency that can be used to buy characters and cosmetics. As Smash will likely remain a premium product, it would have to approach this carefully. However, fans have been calling for more cosmetic options Smash for years, and the underutilized Echo Fighters in Smash Ultimate made these cries louder. MultiVersus also borrows the NetherRealm Studios approach of giving certain costumes entirely different names and voice sets. Super Smash Bros. should capitalize on its potential accessories, extra palettes, and Echo Fighters in a new entry, making them unlockables instead of most of the characters. that way Smash can keep the unlock-heavy singleplayer gameplay loop it has always had, while not limiting players from jumping in right away and using their favorite characters.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.

MORE: The Next Super Smash Bros. Should Learn From Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl and MultiVersus’ Wacky Rosters

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