One general aspect of fighting games is that mechanics like inputs and frame buffers are consistent no matter who you play or what you play on, but maybe it doesn’t need to be that way anymore.
After playing a decent chunk of MultiVersus’ Closed Alpha test, we’ve come away impressed by the title’s controller and customization options, and other fighting game developers need to pay attention to what Player First Games is doing.
MultiVersus’s default control scheme is admittedly atypical from what we generally see in the genre with attacks mapped to the triggers on pad, but those can obviously be re-mapped to whatever feels most comfortable.
That’s nothing new obviously though it is nice that players can map inputs to up to 2 buttons for those who want 2 jumps like Super Smash Bros. or a way to quickly swap between normal attacks and specials without moving your thumb.
What really started to impress me, however, is the ability to swap your neutral and side attack options, which is something you may want to look at especially if you’re coming from Smash.
I’ve spent most of my play time with Harley Quinn and kept finding myself messing up which aerials I was using because I felt that her big hammer swing would work better as her side attack.
One simple click of an option, and I was able to change that and made an immediate improvement to my play. I will warn you though that I experienced what appeared to be a bug after selecting those options that changed my controls back to the default, but restarting the game fixed that issue.
It’s an absolute breath of fresh air that control of how the game feels is put into the hands of the players themselves, and that’s not even the most interesting part.
What ended up impressing us most was the more nuanced and technical options that we haven’t really seen before in the genre.
Players can adjust the deadzone on their sticks both vertically and horizontally if the directions are feeling too loose or tight to your likings and perhaps messing with your inputs.
The ability to change input buffer frames as well as making buffered inputs only come out on hold is potentially the most fascinating customization option we’ve seen in a fighter in recent years too.
For years now, we’ve witnessed players complain about input buffering being too long in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Guilty Gear Strive, which can lead to unwanted attacks or dodges after getting hit or performing certain actions.
MultiVersus allows users to make the game feel more precise in basically any way they want, and it kinda shakes up what we’ve known and come to expect for fighters.
These types of control specifications have been available for years and years in other competitive genres like shooters, so why shouldn’t fighting games offer the same?
Obviously, not everything that MultiVersus offers would apply to more traditional fighters like Street Fighter and Tekken, but there are still lessons to be learned from it and how they could let players preform inputs and motions in slightly different ways.
The worry with that would be that one particular option could be objectively better to pick for serious play although none of MultiVersus’ customization appears to give an inherent advantage over another.
In an age where fighting game players are playing on a vast array of controller options from official pads like the DualShock 4 or GameCube to arcade sticks and Hit Box-type controllers, actually controlling them can feel completely different between them.
MultiVersus’ deadzone and input buffer adjustments open the doors to an age where the experience can be fine tuned to your own particular preferences to a certain point instead of being forced to fight in the default bubble.
That does, however, also raise the issue of playing on different setups like an offline tournament where you can’t simply change those aspects of a game for everyone else, so you may still want to try sticking with the defaults if you plan on ever doing that.
It would be nice though if we saw those types of options available for individual player profiles and is something that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve either.
A free to play fighting game that’s not even officially released yet has better control options and innovations than basically every other title out there right now, and developers really need to take notes if they want to keep up with where things may be heading.