Character Rotation Is MultiVersus’ One Big Mistake
MultiVersus launched in Early Access Open Beta on July 26. I wish I never had to write sentences like that, but this is video games now. For the first week, players had free access to five fighters – Wonder Woman, Taz, Jake, Harley Quinn, and Shaggy – while the rest could be unlocked with either earned currency (coins) or paid currency (gleamium). This starting line-up wasn’t entirely representative of the different classes and play styles in MultiVersus, but overall it gave players a solid roster of easy-to-use and balanced (except Taz) characters.
Open Beta started a week later with the introduction of LeBron, and suddenly there was a completely different set of free-to-play characters. The MultiVersus Twitter account announced that going forward the free-to-play characters would be on a two-week rotation, and that Superman, Reindog, Finn, and Garnet would be replacing Taz, Jake, Harley, and Shaggy.
For the Early Access Open Beta players (sorry again) the existence of a rotation was poorly communicated. Many, myself included, spent their hard-earned coins to unlock new characters without realizing their current characters would be locked the following week. Even today the implementation needs some attention. There’s currently no way to know which characters are on rotation, and you can’t unlock characters that are temporarily unlocked. If you fall in love with a rotation character this week, you better remember to save your coins so you can permanently unlock them when they go off rotation next week. In the most unfortunate scenario, players can buy a skin for a character that’s on rotation but not have the coins to unlock the character when they go off rotation. I expect those kinds of issues will get addressed throughout Open Beta, but it won’t change the fact that a character rotation is ultimately a bad fit for MultiVersus.
Character rotations are a mechanic borrowed from MOBAs like League of Legends, but unlike League, MultiVersus characters each have their own individual progression track. By grinding out wins with a character you’ll unlock rewards like cosmetic items and perks, which make them more powerful and versatile in battle. The rotation makes playing different characters feel less like a trial and more like a race to unlock their full progression track before they become locked again. Since unlocking traits with one character makes them cheaper to unlock with another character, you’re incentivized to raise each character’s level to 15, but the rotation puts that task on a stressful time crunch.
There are also better ways to try out characters in the game already. The full roster is unlocked in the training mode, called The Lab, and in local co-op matches. PC players can even use Steam’s Remote Play Together feature and enjoy two or four-player matches with the entire roster unlocked for everyone. The rotation doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose beyond confusing and frustrating players.
A stable starting roster of four, permanently unlocked characters would have been a better choice for MultiVersus. That way players could work on mastering the free characters and slowly unlock the other ones they’re interested in over time, without having to deal with their unlocked roster getting randomly shuffled every two weeks. It’s the one major issue I have with MultiVersus, and I don’t see it ever changing at this point. The only way to circumvent the rotation problem is to unlock every character so you don’t have to worry about it, which is either very expensive or very time consuming. As free-to-play games go, MultiVersus is on the less-predatory end of the spectrum, but the rotation feels like a mechanic designed to encourage spending, rather than enhance the experience of playing the game.
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