While I only got to try out three games on day one of E3 2017, one game I tried multiple times was one that I was eagerly anticipating, with a somewhat cautious optimism – Marvel vs Capcom Infinite.
I loved Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, no matter how unbalanced some of the top tier fighters were; there was something thrilling about setting up log traps with my Dr. Strange/Rocket Raccoon combo. Ironically enough, those two are back in Infinite, and that was the duo I played today.
The controls have been shifted back to the more traditional four button attack layout (weak punch, weak kick, hard punch, hard kick) with down and hard punch being the launcher, which is very reminiscent of Marvel vs Capcom 2. For the most part, I was able to easily adjust to the four button layout, but I didn’t get too familiar with how air combos worked. Every time I went to go and see if tapping weak punch after weak kick let me throw a medium attack, I auto piloted with Dr. Strange from weak punch, weak kick, hard punch, forward and hard punch and then hard kick to knock them down.
The big game changer to me was how much of a slower pace Infinite felt like. There is still a sense of speed and always an abundance of trickery to be had, but it felt like 60-75% the speed of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.
On top of that, Dr. Strange and Rocket Raccoon both felt very familiar, yet so very different. I was able to set up ring combos with Dr. Strange, but I couldn’t teleport or fly, no matter what combination I used. Rocket Raccoon seemed to be missing his log trap and burrowing, but again, there wasn’t much time to fully experiment. With the fact that the game was crashing quite often on each kiosk, I didn’t want to chance pausing the game to look at the control settings. I also tried Infinite out on both arcade stick and controller, and both felt completely competent, whereas Ultimate felt unplayable to me on a standard controller.
The big gimmick for Infinite revolves around the Infinity gems. Each one holds a certain power and ability. When the meter fills you can unleash the gems “special power”. I used the Space gem for my playthrough, which erected a very tight barrier to either side of your opponent for what seemed like 20 seconds. Each gem has its use; the Space gem’s encasing of the opponent allows for a much easier time to zone them out, or try and cross them over repeatedly until you break through their defense.
Tagging and assisting are not entirely the same as previous game either; you can summon your partner in and continue a combo for extra damage, or to switch heroes. I didn’t much use this feature as I was mostly mixing defensive with ring summoning and then going in offense with certain Dr. Strange combos that carried over from Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Switching characters will leave the both of them out long enough to both be punished.
Damage calculations and scaling seems a little uneven as well. Performing a typical ground to air combo into a super with Dr. Strange produced a pretty sizable chunk of health taken from my opponent on the ground to air, but the scaling on the super was huge; it seemed like it was almost a waste of meter. Landing a super out of the blue and the damage didn’t seem like it was worth it either. With only two on two battles as opposed to the 3v3 we’ve seen from Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Marvel vs Capcom 3, there had to have been some changes to damage calculations to make sure fights didn’t end in 10 seconds. All three of my matches felt like an appropriate length, though the overall damage calculations seemed to be inconsistent.
Visually, the style is a peculiar one. The fighters brought over from Ultimate look similar, but with a lot more detail. Some stick out in a bland manner (Chris Redfield), while others (Thanos) are shiny from head to toe. Each of the five stages available looked magnificent though, however putting those characters in front of them, and the art style just seems odd. It’s not an unpleasant game to look at whatsoever; the combination of the character models and the backgrounds just don’t seem to mesh very well.
There were 21 available fighters on this build; 10 Capcom and 11 Marvel. It was a mixed bag in regards to who has made it into the game. Series staples like Ryu and Hulk are here, along with the return of Mega Man (as X) and a couple of brand new fighters such as Captain Marvel and Ultron. Even still, the roster doesn’t scream “awesome”. If 24 is the number being launched, it feels limited. There’s DLC coming down the line, which will alleviate the situation, but the fact that the Marvel roster is skewed towards the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), characters like Wolverine, who has been in every crossover game, are missing and may not make it in as DLC.
There was something about Infinite though, that had me coming back for more. Maybe it was because it was one of the four games I wanted to play more than any other, or maybe it was that the fighting engine, as slow and deliberate as it feels now, worked for me. Or maybe it was that much fun. Regardless, Infinite drew me back twice after my initial try out; once immediately after and a second time hours later. I plan on going back for more before the show ends, and switching up my character selection.
I can see how the Vs. series fans may not fall in love with Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, with its uneven visuals, much slower paced feeling. The fact that there’s a Dragon Ball Z fighting game that feels more like a Marvel vs Capcom game than Infinite does may not help either. Hell, it may sound like I wasn’t overly thrilled with my time playing Infinite, but that’s not the case. Even with the limited roster, it was more than enjoyable, and is one I will likely spend a ton of time with, just like I did with Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. With a September 19th release date, Capcom doesn’t have much more time to tweak the speed, or make the visuals fit together a more cohesive manner. As it is, I can see it dividing the fighting game community a lot more than Ultimate did, but I’ll still be playing the hell out of it.
Stay Tuned to Galarian Gaming throughout the week for more hands-on previews from E3 2017!