Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite Sneak Peak

The Marvel and Capcom universes collide as heroes and villains battle together to save their merged worlds from a sinister new threat, Ultron Sigma. A combination of the robotic foes known as Ultron from the Marvel Universe and Sigma from the Capcom Universe, this psychotic villain is obsessed with infecting all organic life with a cybernetic virus. Historys greatest gathering of warriors must now unite to fight back against Ultron Sigma and save their newly formed world.

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite is an upcoming fighter game being developed by Capcom. It is the sixth game in the series after a six year wait between games. The game offers players the chance to pit certain Marvel heroes and Capcom characters into tag team combat. Players select two heroes and then have to battle an opposing duo, whereas in previous games players were able to select three characters.

We were lucky enough to receive an invitation to a sneak peek of the game so we loaded up the car and headed on down. I planned to attend with Matt and John, but unfortunately John was sick on the day, so I called in Jake (a massive fan of the fighting genre and as close to an expert as you can get).
The final game will have a variety of gameplay modes including the Cinematic Story Mode, Singleplayer Training, Mission, and Arcade Modes, and Multiplayer ranked and casual matches, complete with global leaderboards, and online lobbies with spectator mode.

The only mode we got to try out on the day was PvP and there was a limited number of characters available (the currently announced roster of 13 characters minus 2): Marvel: Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Ultron. Capcom: Chris Redfield, Chun-li, Mega Man X, Morrigan, Ryu, Strider Hiryu. The character choices for this game align very much with the current Marvel Universe (the movie universe) with all character models looking very similar to their movie counterparts. Unfortunately, this means it is very unlikely we will see fan favourites from the X-men. We also only got to see three levels but they all looked incredibly detailed and very vibrant.

The big change in this installment is the introduction of the Infinity Stones. Once you select your team of characters you get to pick an Infinity Stone to use. There will be six available in the final release, but we only got to see the first three: Power, Time, and Space. These stones give the characters an extra ability that can be used during gameplay. Power knocks your opponent back; Time is a fast dash; and Space pulls the enemy closer. Once a special meter is full, you can activate the Infinity Surge which has a huge effect on the game. Power increases all damage you do, Time makes combos easier, and Space locks the opponent in a small cube. The game is also more accessible to newer players with some simpler combos available, and some mechanics tweaked to slow the game down. Hopefully this doesn’t drive away the more enfranchised players.

Ben’s Thoughts (Casual Button Masher)

I went into the preview with very low expectations. I haven’t really played a fighting game since Injustice came out, and I didn’t play that very much. I did enjoy playing Tekken as a kid, but that was on easy and even then I struggled. I was very excited when I was told about the easy combos available, and I also loved the choice of characters. I loved being able to team up the few Capcom characters I still remembered (Chris Redfield is the best!) with all the current Marvel characters that I have grown to love. The Infinity Stones felt really good, and I can see the potential for some awesome combinations with certain characters (Hulk using the Time Stone to dash for example). I used the Power Stone a lot because I wasn’t quite good enough to learn the combos in the time available and it increased my damage, which is perfect for button mashing. I highly recommend checking this game out and I definitely recommend playing it with some friends.

Matt’s Thoughts (Casually Lost)

Like Ben, I definitely don’t play enough fighters to be considered a viable source of information on how this game compares to other titles in the franchise. I was banking on John to be my source of information for this trip since he definitely plays way more fighters than I do, but when he fell sick I began to worry. Luckily, Ben mentioned that our friend Jake was a massive fan of fighters, so we locked him in immediately.

When we entered the room, we were met with a massive TV mounted to the wall, and two joystick controllers on the table. I immediately got that rush of nostalgia of running into an arcade when I was younger. Despite the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into, I really enjoyed myself. The game definitely feels less button mash-y than other fighters I’ve played, and I never once felt like I was locked out of the game. Even when facing down Jake (who wiped the floor with everyone, including some of the staff who came in to challenge him) I never felt like I was wasting my time even bothering to touch the controller. This game is fun! The visuals are really nice, and the gameplay feels crisp. The game is much more noob friendly than any other fighter I’ve touched, and that got me wondering whether or not that could drive away some of the more hardcore player base. But as I sat and watched Jake work out the mechanics, talk himself through what’s possible and what isn’t, find out what still works and what has been replaced, and at one point display a literal leap of joy when he got something to work, that worry was quashed. I walked away smiling and actually considering buying a fighting game, which is a first.

Jake’s Thoughts (Actually Competent)

When my room mate told me he was going to check out a brand new fighting game, my ears definitely pricked up a bit. I’ve loved, played and followed the fighting game genre since I was five or six, when my mum first took me to the local arcade. When he told me the game was Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite, I think it’ll suffice to say I freaked out a little. After about 20 minutes of freaking out and the 40 minute story of my history with the franchise, Ben cheekily revealed to me that he had already asked if I could tag along so I could give my “professional insight.” Oh Boy, that’s a lot of pressure, but lets see how I do!

The first thing, straight off the bat, was the roster. 15 characters have been revealed so far from the vast number of IP’s that span the two franchises. We had 13 fighters to choose from in a 2vs2 format. Rocket Raccoon and Sigma were revealed in the last trailer but were not playable in this version. The first thing that caught my interest during gameplay was the button layout. MVC:I has abandoned the simplified three generic attack buttons and a launcher button (L,M,H,S) button system of Marvel vs Capcom 3 in favour of a four button punch/kick system reminiscent of Marvel Vs Capcom 2 (LP,HP,LK,HK). Accompanying the attack buttons are the tag button and the new Infinity Gem button. The tag system works very differently than any other MvC game I have ever played. Obviously pressing the tag button will bring in your other character to fight your opponent, however, unlike previous games, it seems you can activate your “tag” at almost any time. This leads to some amazing possibilities in gameplay that frankly have me very excited. You can “tag” in your partner during a combo to continue your combo with a different character or even tag in at the end of the combo to catch the enemy with a different “super”.

The interesting thing is that when you press the tag button your original character will continue doing whatever command you input at the moment you tagged. For example, if you input the command for Ryu to throw a fireball and then instantly pressed tag, Ryu would scream “HADOKEN” as Hulk runs in from off screen and allows Hulk to follow up with a normal / special / grab / super move in the same combo string. This works extremely well for moves with long animations such as Chun’s rapid kicks. With this new tag system, I can imagine the potential for set-ups and cross-ups to be enormous. You can even tag in your other character when YOU are getting comboed! Lets say Ultron has your Ryu in the air, press “tag” to call in Iron Man and blast him out of the sky, breaking up the combo and allowing Ryu to retreat off screen. Obviously this system, and both characters being on the screen at the same time for longer, opens up opportunities for your opponent to catch both characters at once. In previous games this was referred to by the community as a “Happy Birthday” because the character who was not currently tagged in would take double damage – essentially it was a gift for your opponent, hence the term. I’m not too sure how I feel about it yet but it seems that the joyous celebratory greeting has been somewhat excluded from the game at this point. Non-tagged characters seem to take the same or similar damage to characters who are already in. This will lead to less total blow-out moments and may stop MVC:I from becoming a one touch kill game like its predecessor.

Next we have the new Infinity Stone system! When selecting our characters we could select from three Infinity Stones that granted our team with two abilities – a special move and an ultimate effect for a short duration when the Stone gauge is filled. The Power Stone gave you a wall bounce that you can activate with the “stone” button and its ultimate granted your team double damage. The Time Stone gave you access to a mid-length teleport (that is also usable in the air!) and the ultimate ability granted your team super speed. Finally, and the most interesting, was the Space Stone which pulls the opponent closer to you when activated. This can be used for continuing combos, stopping opponents from running away, and even pulling them into oncoming projectiles (which is hilarious!). However, the most interesting is when you fill up the gauge and activate the ultimate ability, THE SPACE GEM PUTS YOUR OPPONENT IN A GIANT BLUE BOX! They cannot move outside of the box, they cannot tag out, they can’t shoot projectiles out of it! You literally put them in a giant blue shame cube where they must take a time-out and are not allowed to play with their friends. Whilst your victim is in the shame cube you can certainly still throw them, combo them, even knock them up and aerial combo them and the shame cube will follow them and inhibit their fun for the next 15 or so seconds.

The Stones allowed for more new and innovative game play. Ever wish Hulk had a teleport? I sure have, now HE DOES! Use the Time Stone to get your big green hunk of Hulk right into the thick of the combat. Use the Space Stone to keep your opponents in one place so you can harass them with mirror move Morrigan Fireballs. Or use the Power Stone with literally any character and it’ll work out great (shout out to button-mashing compatriots). The other three stones haven’t been revealed yet, but I can’t wait to see what other gameplay options they open up. The Stone system is very reminiscent of the Groove system from Capcom Vs SNK 2, however the new ultimate abilities of the stones give some added depth.

The game plays very smoothly, even at the early stages. Combos are incredibly smooth and most chains seem very easy, and linking time is relatively long. Most specials can be cancelled into with ease. I couldn’t figure out any optimised combos in my short time with the game, but I could fairly consistently chain LP,LK,*special*, Down HP *Launcher*, into a similar aerial combo finishing with a Super. Most characters had this extremely simple combo. Every character in the game so far seems to be a “Shodo” style character. Shodo characters are characters with the same basic special move inputs as characters such as Ryu, Ken and Akuma from Streetfighter (Quarter circle forward punch, quarter circle back kick). This doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no charge style or command throw characters like M.Bison or Zangief in the game – just none so far. Also in the developers push for easy accessibility in MVC:I, it seems like all “Shoryuken” or dragon fist inputs (Down/forward, Down, Forward) have been replaced with Down Down inputs. “Shoryuken” motions have been the bane of fighting game newbies ever since Street Fighter cemented its place as the dominant fighting game franchise.

The game is visually very different to MVC3 before it. MVC3’s art style portrayed a literal adaptation of comic page to video game screen with heavy black outlines around the characters, page flipping screen transitions, comic book panels, and speech bubbles. MVC:I does away with this completely in favour of a more photo realistic style. Characters, on the Marvel side, resemble more their Marvel Cinematic Universe designs, which makes sense due to the immense popularity of the movies. Even on the Capcom side, X and Morrigan seem a lot less cartoon like and look slightly more realistic. The game is still as showy and explosive as the last, visually. Super moves are accompanied by flashy animations, bright damage sparks and the colourful stone system as well. However, one critique is that the colours in the stages are a little dull. My favourite stage of the three we got to play was the destroyed Asgardian highway, which is full of a wide array of pretty things in the background to look at.

I’m sure there are a million things that I’ve forgotten to talk about, although I hope I encompassed how much I really loved this game! It’s just about everything I want in a MVC game (except X-men – Come on Marvel!) and I will definitely be buying it when it gets released in September! Thanks so much for reading what I had to say, and a special thanks for Matt, Ben and Pixel Pop Network for this opportunity.

Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite releases on September 19 2017, on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

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