While I wouldn’t describe myself as a hardcore fighting game player, I am one that puts in tons of hours across multiple franchises. That way I can at least look good wearing all my paid DLC outfits while getting stomped during online play. Despite this, even I am having trouble justifying Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite as a day one purchase. There is certainly a want there, but I have some gripes, a few concerns, and a lot of points I want to make for my case here, none of which have anything to do with how Chun-li’s face looked before they fixed it.
Everything I say below is as a fan of the previous games. I used to play a lot of Street Fighter vs. X-Men and Marvel vs Capcom 2 in the arcades, not to mention buying MVC3 multiple times across its two versions and having a ton of fun with each game. Titles like this are no longer just a $59.99 commitment though. DLC is already announced, and there’s always the threat of a Super, Ultimate, or AE version that will follow suit. Maybe the hype will get the better of me, but on the other hand, maybe it’s a game that can wait.
Since I finally played the demo not long ago, we should start there. I was glad to see Capcom giving everyone a taste of what is to come and show off the new story mode. It’s great that the game will have this, as everyone else is doing these wonderful full story portions and the property can offer up a fantastic tale spanning two worlds, but therein lays the problem also. I just recently finished the story mode for Injustice 2, and not too long before that Street Fighter V. Both of which were good, but Netherrealm Studios has really honed their presentation and storytelling. That made the Infinite demo stand out, but not in the best way. Nothing in the story was gripping, and so many of the interactions were cheesy. Mostly just cheap pop by having famous characters call out each other’s names. This piece that we got is not guaranteed to appear in the final release, and the end product could potentially amaze, but somehow I doubt it. If this is all the team put into the story mode, most will skip it.
The next issue is the biggest for most: the roster. There are fewer characters than what MVC3 initially launched with, thirty-six, trimmed down to a modest thirty. Most eager combatants however are citing a lack of new characters to a franchise that is flush with possibilities. Captain Marvel, Gamora, Ultron, and Jedah will make their debuts, with that last one getting most of the attention and being the only one from Capcom’s ranks if you don’t count Mega Man X, but will he be new or a slight upgrade? Marvel brought out their big guns, but they are very familiar guns, streamlined more towards their MCU iterations and possessing mostly familiar moves. Really it is about what is absent though, and in this case that covers all of the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. What’c concerning is that this is possibly due to Marvel’s attempts to starve FOX even more. That’s the company that owns the film rights to those characters currently, and fan favorites like Magneto and Dr. Doom may be lost for the foreseeable future because of it. Some quotes surfaced that insinuated fans might not even remember the X-Men, suggesting that most may only be fans of Marvel Studios films, a group that seems to have much more input with the game this time around. They then tried to say that these characters are just functions and playstyles for more technical players and that it didn’t matter what skin wore that set of moves and mechanics. I find all of this a bit insulting, especially since many of these mutants have been around since X-Men vs. Street Fighter.
The only character that might be saved from this down the line would be the devastating Super Skrull, since through some legal gray areas Marvel has partial film rights to that race of aliens. So far, it looks as if the game will try to draw a lot of attention from its DLC characters. Using them to fill in the gaps. The first character on that list is Black Panther. The King of Wakanda looks enticing for sure, but I worry there’ll only be a few added in this way, unless there is whole new edition of the game. Each of these slots needs to be filled by new characters that players will be eager to try out, especially with recent announcements liked Hellboy for Injustice 2. I think Capcom needs to shake up the DLC, perhaps some of the newer characters from Street Fighter V like Necalli and Rashid, but it seems they haven’t added much because there is nothing new that they want to push. This could be their lack of fresh IPs or Capcom being as guarded with their characters as Marvel is. Either way, it seems limiting on both sides, and it’s the fans that end up being hurt by it.
The game itself plays smoothly with the same fast-paced combat and flexible combo system that players have enjoyed in the past, but now it seems to be streamlined to make many moves easier to do. This exists while still having a strong need for technique and strategy, working on bringing in every fan they can while being appealing to the fighting game community. This has upset some, and turned others away after how SFV’s launch was handled, with esports in mind, something that Capcom may be too focused on instead of just creating the best game they can. The tagging system has seen some tweaking and people like the return to the two-on-two system apparently, and the infinity stones look to fit in with the mechanics, especially for those that played games like Street Fighter X Tekken. There’s some solid variety with the new setup and it should be a fun type of chaotic action, assuming nothing unforeseen messes that up, like abuses to the system. I’m hearing rumblings of some balancing issues already though, which isn’t a huge surprise, but Capcom tends to take their time with patches unless there is a game-breaking issue. They like to wait until new versions, larger DLC dumps, or in SFV’s case, new seasons, to actually fix and tweak. I also worry a little about the netcode, as this isn’t always the most stable aspect with these games and may take a while to stabilize.
Knowing that it may take a while to massage out the rough spots and that there are most likely going to be one or two weak sections in the game makes it hard to drop the money when I still want to revisit the other aforementioned fighting games and there are new challengers on the horizon. Dragon Ball FigherZ and Blazblue Cross Tag Battle are both looming and have the possibility of eating into Infinite’s player base. With these concerns levied against the game, and knowing that there are several other—and perhaps better—options, I can’t say I’ll be picking Marvel vs. Capcom up, and that’s before even considering the other non-fighting games that come out in October. Honestly though, if it is truly infinite, the game will hold until I do pick it up, and hopefully improve.
For another take on Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, check out our E3 2017 preview.