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E3 2017 – Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Preview – Breaking the Mold (PS4)

The demo of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite I got to check out at Capcom’s E3 2017 booth is the same one that’s publicly available on the PlayStation Store for free, so make sure to give it a download if you’re interested in the latest game to pit Mega Man against Iron Man. It’s a good thing that it is available for free download, as my initial impressions were rather poor. I was confused about the fighting game’s inner mechanics as I watched all of my Marvel vs. Capcom 3 skills fail to translate over. I managed to give the demo a second chance, though, and I actually had a much better time with the game when playing it on my own couch.

A lot of my initial disappointment was due to the fundamental changes that Capcom has made to the core fighting. No longer do characters have a weak, medium, heavy and special attack, as attacks are now divided in a more Street Fighter-like manner. In Infinite each of the face buttons on the DualShock 4 correspond to a punch or kick button. That’s why none of my established combos were landing, and why I came away frustrated at the Capcom booth.

Now that I’ve had another chance to learn the systems in place, and most importantly change my mindset, I actually have had a lot of fun playing Infinite. It’s definitely a very different experience from Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but since that game is available on PlayStation 4 already, I’m glad to be getting something different. Gameplay revolves less about calling in partners for assists, and instead feels much more like Street Fighter X Tekken from a tactical standpoint. That isn’t a bad thing in of itself, and I feel like more people will appreciate the intricacies of the action once they let go that this isn’t Marvel vs. Capcom 4.

Infinity Stones

There are two gauges that players have to keep an eye out for during combat. One of them allows the player to use devastating hyper combos (basically an ultimate attack), and the other corresponds to an Infinity Stone that the player possesses. The latter is super interesting from a tactics point-of-view, as players can use it (as long as its over 50% charged) to unleash a special ability. The effect changes depending on what Infinity Stone is selected by the player, and range from powerful attacks to character buffs (such as being faster or dealing extra damage). Activating these at the right time can change the tide of battle, and add a whole new layer to the action.

Other changes help make the two-on-two fighter feel way different than its predecessors, including a new ability that’ll allow players to switch characters at any time. Yes, even when they’re getting beat up during a combo, the player can switch characters as long as they don’t mind spending two bars of energy. This is a really cool addition, and adds a nice risk-reward factor to the action.

Other upgrades come in the form of accessibility additions. Similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ, players can just continue tapping the light punch button to unleash an auto combo that’ll end in a hyper combo if the necessary energy is there. These combos will never allow a new player to compete with a competitive player, but they help bridge the gap against friends on the couch plenty. Players can also unleash hyper combos without having to remember the specific move by hitting both heavy attack buttons at the same time. These are both great additions that don’t take away from the technical combat any.


Story Mode

While I’ve mostly talked about the combat, the focus of the demo was on Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite‘s story mode. It’s a pretty by the numbers affair as players battle a bunch of Ultron goons during it, and eventually clash with the big baddie himself at the end. If the mode has any interesting ideas, it certainly didn’t show them in the short demo.

Still, it is pretty cool to see Marvel heroes and Capcom characters interacting together. I don’t mind a mindless story mode with some cool cutscenes, and at least this delivers in that aspect. The only downside is that some of the character models look rough when viewed head-on (although I didn’t think they looked very strange from the gameplay perspective). Overall, it’s nothing to write home about, but it’ll likely entertain for the few hours it lasts.

I’ve had a lot of conflicted feelings about Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite over the past few days, but after spending more time learning the changes to the combat I’m starting to dig it. As the two-on-two focus should indicate, this is certainly a very different game from Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Those looking for more of the same might be disappointed, but the core combat is definitely solid when given the chance to shine.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is set to release September 19, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Previewed on PS4