The MultiVersus (opens in new tab) patch that went live yesterday, taking the game to version 1.02, makes a number of big and small changes to the game, and one that's particularly interesting because it's so seemingly odd: Velma, the big brain of the Scooby Gang, will no longer call the police after solving a mystery.
Velma's passive in MultiVersus enables her to generate "evidence" when she lands attacks that she can pick up during a fight. Once she's accumulated enough, she can call the police, who will come rolling in and "arrest" the opposing player. It's her ultimate ability, basically, a splashy payoff that can guarantee a kill if an enemy team does nothing. It looks like this:
As of yesterday, however, that's no longer the case. As described in the 1.02 patch notes (opens in new tab), "Instead of calling the police, Velma now solves the mystery and calls the Mystery Inc. gang and the Mystery Machine to take the bad guys away."
No reason for the change was given, but it's fair to say that the image of Velma calling the cops on her opponents—under false pretenses, no less, because she tells them it's actually Old Man Jenkins—is at the very least uncomfortable at a time when police abuses and criminality, amidst almost complete impunity from consequences, are coming under increasing public scrutiny. This is especially so when she's facing Black men like, say, Lebron James, which bears many similarities to real-world incidents (opens in new tab).
It did not go unnoticed by the MultiVersus community.
Apart from a different hitbox, Velma's move is functionally identical following the patch, but instead of the police showing up, the Mystery Machine arrives and takes the opponent away. This has sparked some debate, not all entirely serious, about whether extrajudicial kidnappings are actually better or more defensible than police brutality. AntWithNoPants addressed that issue with a brief post on Reddit (opens in new tab) that as far as I'm concerned puts the matter to bed quite handily.
"The Scooby Gang literally stop rich people from screwing over the poor for funsies," they wrote. "I'd deal with them any day over the cops."
This is what Velma's phone call looks like now, with a side-by-side comparison to the original:
Interestingly, most of the reaction on social media seemed to focus not on the sociopolitical element of the change, but on how it will impact gameplay. Game director Tony Huynh said on Twitter that swapping the police with the Mystery Machine is both a buff and a nerf: The larger size of the Mystery Machine compared to the police car means it's more likely to hit enemies, but also more likely to be hit.
It has a larger hurtbox too so I think nets out about evenSeptember 9, 2022
An overhaul of MultiVersus' hitboxes and hurtboxes aimed at tying them more closely to individual character animations was the real focal point of the update. "This will be a process for us to get there, but this is our first step towards truly accurate hitbox/hurtbox detection and gives us a foundation to permanently fixing issues going forward," developer Player First Games said in the patch notes.
Still, the removal of the police from MultiVersus was the clear priority for some players:
I can't help but feel slightly responsible for this...https://t.co/MGfM4fnrl4September 8, 2022
On Thursday PC Gamer reached out to Warner for comment on the removal of MultiVersus' police car but did not receive a reply.