Multiversus, the platform fighter which pulls from the massive Warner Bros. IP vault, is now afflicted with Morty, one of the titular characters from your least favorite freshman philosophy major’s favorite TV show, Rick and Morty. And his kit makes no goddamn sense.
Multiversus breaks its characters into five distinct classes: high damage, low health Assassins; weighty, high knockback Bruisers; ranged, trap heavy Mages; bulky, slow Tanks; and helpful, space shaping Supports. Morty is technically listed as a bruiser, but plays more like a mage. His moveset is full of projectiles like lasers, grenades, and snakes. He has an ally-cleansing support ability. His grounded normals end in a bruiser-esque hammer spin. He can rip a hole in space-time to teleport, or he can rewind time to a set point, zipping around the map and dealing damage at his point of return. He has a lot going on.
In traditional fighting games, characters are broken into a variety of different archetypes. For example, Ryu from Street Fighter is considered a “shoto” character. Shoto characters are solid, all-rounders who have all the basic tools in a given game, but no real specialties. They are also, generally, the mascots for their given franchises. Ryu, Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear (kind of, Ky is a true shoto and Sol is a shoto-rushdown hybrid), and Shaggy, are all shotos. Other archetypes range from the appropriately titled, grab-heavy grapplers, to space dominating zoners. Morty does not easily fall into any of these categories.
One would look at his moveset and assume that he may be a setplay character. Setplay characters rely on using special moves to create specific situations in which they thrive. For Morty, look no further than his grenades. Once he’s covered the screen in grenades, firing his pistol at them does massive damage, which means one would assume that his gameplan revolves around grenade setups. So far, this hasn’t been the case. His grenades are extremely slow and, in a game without hard knockdowns, there aren’t many easy opportunities for Morty to start setting up. Instead, he’s forced to scramble his grenade setups into place while his opponent is recovering off screen, muting much of his setplay potential in 1v1s. In 2v2s however, he can rely on his ally distracting the enemy, while he makes the rest of the stage a living hell into which those enemies can be thrown. That is, unless those enemies just bat away his grenades at which point they become functionally useless.
Perhaps Morty is a zoner, a character who relies on strong projectiles to dominate space. Well, his primary projectile only does a significant amount of damage when off cooldown, and his grenades are, as previously established, inconsistent. He can dominate space competently, sure, but once that space is pressured his control disintegrates.
His melee attacks are…fine to good. They feel, like his in-game class suggests, like a bruiser’s melee attacks. They do good damage, they have big hitboxes, they’re a little bit slow. What he lacks, however, is kill potential. His grounded attacks are all fine for dealing damage, but terrible for knocking an enemy offstage. The same goes for his neutral and forward aerials. Instead, all of his kill potential is given to his up and down airs, which have a powerful knock-up and spike respectively. This spike heavy kill style puts Morty in an awkward position, because he really struggles off-stage.
This leaves him in a strange place. He’s kind of an all-rounder, but not a shoto-style all-rounder who has access to all of the game’s basic tools. Instead, Morty feels like if you took the oddest aspects of every fighting game archetype and combined them into a single, exceptionally strange character. This gives him an extremely high skill floor by Multiversus’ standards. While some characters like Batman are easy to pick up and play, Morty requires a lot of genre experience and micromanagement to really shine.
The oddness of his moveset has led some to suspect that he is designed to be played alongside Rick, who has yet to be released. A leak of Rick’s abilities revealed a portal through which allies can fire projectiles, allowing Morty to more competently and quickly control vast swaths of the arena with his grenades. Multiversus’ 2v2 format allows for character synergies to take center stage, and potentially elevate otherwise useless characters through the strengths of their allies.
Whether or not you like it, Multiversus has a really unique approach to character design and balance, one which has resulted in a lot of interesting, messy characters in the months following the game’s open beta. Even by platform fighter standards, it is a game full of terrible little freaks. It is a strategy that I cannot help but respect.