Fighting Games Friday: The Return of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

While Capcom was bound to take a break from promoting Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite after its announcement at PlayStation Experience in early December, it went MIA longer than expected. They started by revealing six characters, three from each side. Ryu and Morrigan were confirmed to return from the previous Marvel vs. Capcom games for the Capcom side, while Mega Man X joined them. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Captain America returned for the Marvel side, who are now joined by Captain Marvel. Assuming they were sticking to the fall release timeframe, and that it would have a slew of characters like previous titles (sans the first game), they had to start talking about it again anytime now.

That time, as it turns out, was the last week of April — nearly five months after the reveal. They didn’t address why it disappeared for so long, but instead made up for it by revealing a bunch of new characters and details. Since this is a Capcom project, fans are divided over whether some changes are for the better.

For the Capcom side of the roster, the company confirmed Chun-Li, Chris Redfield, and Strider Hiryu, all of which are returning from the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games. Strider, notably, will be part of the initial cast this time and won’t be saved for an Ultimate version, as he should have been before. For Marvel, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Rocket Racoon will return from previous MvC titles, while Ultron will make his debut in this installment. The character roster is currently lopsided in favor of the Marvel cast, but they’ll presumably make up for that with more reveals in the near future.

In addition to them, it was confirmed well before the game’s release that it will have six DLC characters, and among them will be MMX main villain Sigma. There’s nothing wrong with post-release DLC in theory, but announcing it this far in advance gives potential purchasers the impression that they already have plans to nickel and dime them. Even if that’s not the plan, it’s tough to think otherwise after how their last two fighters, Street Fighter x Tekken and Street Fighter V, turned out, which both sold below Capcom’s sales expectations.

The main boss character will be a fusion of Ultron and Sigma, who will likely resemble previous MvC bosses in being a gigantic monstrosity that won’t be playable. He’s previewed in the Story Trailer, which focused on this subplot and showcased how Capcom might be serious about taking the story seriously this time. Capcom provided similar promises for MvC3 and SFV before they released, and neither amounted to much, so it’s tough to have faith they’ll deliver on this.

Instead of providing a gameplay trailer alongside the aforementioned one, Capcom waited a couple of days to release it simultaneously with previews from the press that went live. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do so fast enough to stop some new gameplay from leaking, which featured the newly-confirmed characters listed above.

Gameplay changes can be seen in both the leaked video and Capcom’s official one, but it’s remarkable how similar (but not identical) this looks to the MvC3 titles. Infinite retains the off-the-ground (or “OTG”) combos introduced in that game, and returning characters have many reused animations. That’s not to take away from the importance of the noticeable new animations and techniques, like Chun-Li’s additional kicks at the end of her Spinning Bird Kick, which have OTG and wall-bounce properties. Hopefully they’ll make up for that with a large initial cast, though the fact that they’ve already announced DLC and how we’re only months away from release is not an encouraging sign. If this game launches with less characters than the original MvC3, the reactions will not be pretty.

The aforementioned OTGs will work differently in combos, thanks to how this game won’t have Assists. That means characters will either have to continue combos themselves after the OTG lands, or they can tag-in their partner for multiple techniques. However, characters will have their own assists in the form of special techniques, like Ultron with his drones.

The lack of assists is only one way in how this game is being made easier to play than previous installments; but since it’s a fighting game, that’s not to say it will necessarily be easy to play. It will still take skill to execute some longer combos, though there’s a good chance it won’t have the infinite combos that have dominated Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s tournament play — which makes this game’s name humorously ironic in one way.

Fans of the older games will like one aspect of the controls: Infinite will have two punch and two kick buttons, similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. However, Capcom’s going through painstaking effort to simplify other aspects of the controls, like mapping tagging to one button since it’s a 2-on-2 title, while another button will trigger an Infinity Stone. The game will also have no charging techniques to make each character approachable, and Capcom is considering other simplifications in addition to a simplified Shoryuken technique. The latter, admittedly, has existed since the Street Fighter III titles. They’re taking risks with these changes, so whether the Fighting Game Community and the expanded audience Capcom and Marvel want to attract will like them remains to be seen.

The other big point of contention is the art style, which is more generic compared to the comic-shading style of the MvC3 games. This was apparently done so it would look more realistic, to lure in fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of the comic book fans, which is ostensibly logical. The old art style will still be sorely missed, however.

After it went into hibernation for a while, it’s a little alarming that Capcom will be releasing Infinite so soon. They confirmed it will arrive on September 19th, less than five months from now. That doesn’t leave them much time to reveal more characters, perhaps hinting at how it will have SFV-style seasons. If it does, I hope they’ve learned all the right lessons from that experiment. This is the beginning of the advertising blitz, so Capcom will have much more to share in the coming months, if not weeks.


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