‘Marvel vs Capcom Infinite’ Just Got a Whole Lot Easier to Enjoy: E3 2017 Preview
Announced earlier this year, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite looked like nothing more than another sequel to the wildly successful and popular crossover fighting franchise. It wasn't until we got to go hands-on with the upcoming fourth entry in the series that many of it differences became obvious. Most importantly, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite introduces new elements to lower the barrier for entry, while still keeping that trademark Capcom fighting system depth longtime fans and players have come to know and love.
We got to try out both the Story demo (which is available to anyone right now) and the standard Versus demo with about a dozen different fighters at E3. Though it was very cool that Capcom not only showed off a new trailer and release date info before dropping that demo on console players last weekend, the Story demo doesn't do all that's enjoyable about Marvel vs Capcom Infinite much justice. All the fights are predetermined, and you have so little time with each character, there's little to learn about how they all play. There's also not much glue holding all those story elements together in the demo, but hopefully that will be fleshed out more when the full game arrives in September. Where MvC Infinite really let us get a solid look at the latest changes and advancements in the franchise was in the Versus mode.
Capcom in putting a lot of thought into making Infinite more approachable. Though not every fighting game requires a complicated bit of technical mastery to enjoy, there is a stigma surrounding the genre when it comes to ease of entry. While that's still likely to be true of online competitive play, Capcom is hoping to reach more than the familiar dedicated audience with this Marvel vs. Capcom. The first way the team is doing that is trimming the active teams from three characters each to just two. This way, players can still devote as much time and energy as they want to learning the ins and outs of every character, but you truly only need to learn a handful of pairings to get the most from your experience. It should also help rework some of the strategies used in Marvel vs Capcom 3 to, and what's more, make matches faster. No more slogging through three health bars in order to get a win.
The other major element we noticed while playing was the return to two light and heavy attacks each for kicks and punches, versus Marvel vs. Capcom 3's light, medium, heavy scheme. Infinite's use of the beloved Marvel vs. Capcom 2 button arrangement makes everything feel familiar again, even for new characters like Captain Marvel and Zero. We found ourselves falling back into those old habits from the franchise's PlayStation 2 days, though that was likely helped by the fact we were playing on the PlayStation 4 and not the massive arcade sticks elsewhere at the booth. It just felt more natural to have four types of attacks instead of three, and anything that can go towards making lapsed and new players feel at ease is a good move.
All of the moves are still accomplished in those half- and quarter-circle movements that are a hallmark of the Capcom fighting family, but there are also some great new easy combos for players to pull off with just one button. Understandably, some veterans might see making Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite easier to enjoy the same as dialing down the difficulty, but that's not the case at all. These moves, accomplished by hitting the light attack several times in succession or by following a counter-clockwise move through all four attack buttons, dish out about a half-dozen hits with a steady bit of damage. They don't have any other chains to attach or break, and they are very easy to block. You can also turn them off entirely, but that's not the point. This is there to give people the sense of power and accomplishment of doing something amazing in the game without taxing them to be the next Justin Wong.
Experienced players will still likely wipe the floor with anyone relying on these easy paths to combos, and they'll also find there's just as many ridiculous combination attacks to throw together to control opponents. The Infinity Stones do offer a twist on all that strategizing though, especially when using something like the Time or Space stones. The Time stone gives you some sick speed to dole out impossibly quick combinations, and has the added bonus of little warp dashes for evasion. It's not fun to go up against if you're just learning the ropes. However, if you have the Space stone, you can lock an opponent in a cube where they have limited movement and attack ranges, and unload on them with whatever ground combos you have. Just be careful not to get too close, or you'll still be in their attack range.
By lowering the barrier for entry, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite could be a true breakout hit across all levels of play. There's still a lot to uncover about the Infinity Stones and what kinds of unique strategies players can mix up with different duos, but after just a few fights, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite certainly feels like another great fighter from the developer. Granting inexperienced players a way to get into the game and enjoy it is a bonus, and one that should play out nicely for everyone involved.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on September 19.
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