Background on development
Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite is one of the most polarizing fighting games to be released in recent memory. You have players who adore the game and those who hate it. All of this is based off a number of factors but has nothing to do with gameplay. In fact, if we base this game solely on the gameplay, well, this might be the best fighting game to have been released last year, in 2017. This might be the best Marvel versus game in the series. Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite isn’t a bad game, it’s a misunderstood game.
In 2012, Disney, after acquiring Marvel, decided not to renew the partnership between Marvel and Capcom and subsequently removed all available versions of the beloved series from the Xbox Marketplace and the PlayStation network. This was all due to Disney wanting to self publish and develop games in house. Four years later, in 2016, they decided to go back to licensing their intellectual properties and hope began to fill fans who wanted a new Marvel Vs Capcom game. On December 3rd, 2016, Infinite was revealed to the world, with gameplay shown following the finale of the 2016 Capcom Cup.
The first thing to catch the eye and ire of fans everywhere was the games graphics, it’s art style, and the change from a three versus three fighter to a two versus two. A return to the series roots. People seemed more cautious than usual but with no definitive release date, there was a certain hope that the graphics could be improved and the art style could be updated. Another thing that made fans worry was the exclusion of the X-Men characters, staples of the series. It was believed that they would be announced eventually but when being interviewed, a developer on the game referred to the X-Men as functions. They were essentially disregarded, forgotten, rejected. Fans felt betrayed, their voices on deaf ears because Capcom wasn’t listening.
The thing with us fans is that we are quick to voice our displeasure to developers without considering how much say they actually have. I’m sure if it was up to Capcom, iconic characters from past entries would have returned. Unfortunately, their hands were tied. Until recently, Disney did not own the rights to the X-Men and decided not to have them included. With pestering questions to Capcom asking why, they gave that functions answer. I didn’t agree with the statement, and a part of me doesn’t believe they either, but it’s answer that does hold some merit. Partly. Wolverine is an iconic character but if he functioned poorly, the clamoring for him wouldn’t be that high. On the other side, a character no one wanted but plays in fantastic fashion will be pleasantly received, such as, say, Man-Ape.
Since the games release, some more light had been shed on the tumultuous development of the game. Rumbling and rumors state that the DLC characters in season 1 were completed but held off to make more money on the game, though it’s unknown if it’s true this is supported by the appearance of some DLC characters in the story mode. It also wouldn’t been the first time Capcom had done such a practice. The most troubling of these rumors is the one that insinuates the game had a development cost allowance on par with Street Fighter V’s DLC. This is supported by the poor graphics present in the game. None of this is justified nor is it excusable if true and I don’t condone any of this but none of this makes this game good or bad fundamentally. So, what makes Infinite such a good and misunderstood game?
What it does right
What makes this game so great is it’s gameplay. Everything about the combat, the obvious and the tiny often unnoticed touches, is what makes this version of the series truly phenomenal.
Norio Hirose returns to the franchise as director, his last entry was Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, and he worked on X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. One could argue that these, despite not reaching the popularity of Marvel Vs Capcom 2, were better than the more popular entry. With a smaller roster, those games had their characters more fleshed out mechanically, functionally. Internally Infinite was described as a reboot, evident by not being numbered, so it would only make sense that they would have some one who had experience on this franchise before it became an iconic crossover experience beloved by fans at the helm. Also, what this entry does better than the last two is balance.
I love Marvel Vs Capcom 2 as much as the next guy but that game is very unbalanced. An unbalanced mess to the point of frustration. Did Capcom even attempt to balance it with characters, assets, and moves copied and pasted from prior entries? That’s a whole other discussion. The point is that it lacked the balance to make every character a viable option but Infinite actually tries to rectify this. Yes, it does have the privilege of being in an era where rebalance patches are common but even on day one, for the most part, you can see it tried it’s best to place every one on equal footing. Player skill actually matters in Infinite and a lot of times your losses are either because of your own failures or because you haven’t yet learned on how to deal with a certain onslaught your being hit with but, overtime, you can overcome. Something other entries didn’t really strive to achieve but is evident in this game.
Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 was fantastic as well but was less about having three characters fighting against three others for supremacy and more about utilizing the best one in your team and using the others as assists rather than players. Also, X-factor was a broken mechanic that hurt more than it helped players in the long run. Let’s not even mention the characters who were seemingly invincible with their abilities.
Infinite’s gameplay is so addictively fun and it’s the strongest aspect to the game, the most important part. The fluidity in which you can perform your combos is fantastic and you can chain them with your tag partner with no cool downs or wait time. That’s the biggest change, really, having that ability to change characters on the fly with no issues or hold ups. No character feels too over powerful to deal with, no not even Dante. It mostly all comes down to skill and that’s a beautiful thing because there is always a sense of progression, a real sense that you can improve and get better at the game. Learning from your mistakes and having the ability to prevent yourself from making them again is where this game shines. It’s damn fun and a damn good time. You also have the infinity stones, essentially your third character, and they can truly change the dynamic of a fight. Even down to simple mechanics of gameplay like player movement and this ensures that there is, forgive the pun, an infinite number of combinations to fight against and to fight with. This adds a great deal of longevity to the game.
Yes, graphics and presentation are poor but at it’s core, the gameplay, this game is phenomenal. And I think that’s something a lot of us, myself included at times, focus on and put too much stock into and that’s the graphics of a game. We get the false impression that a pretty game is automatically a good game and that’s far, far, from true. Gameplay should always be the defining factor and this game shines in this department and it does so at a locked 60FPS.
Another thing this game does extraordinarily well is it’s online function. This is the first game in a long time where I had no server issues at all and finding a game is quick and easy. When you do find a game, there is hardly any lag and players with a stronger connection, 4 to max bars, will find games playing with a flawless fluidity akin to offline play. It’s really surprising to encounter such a buttery smooth online infrastructure but this game has it. They’ve also designed the menus to get you right back into the fight as quickly as possible and it’s nice not having to wait so long for a rematch or to find a new opponent. It’s spoiling, really. Yet, despite all this wonderful mechanics this game has in strides, we fixate too much on its graphics.
What can they do to fix this?
It was originally mentioned this game would be treated as a platform, like Street Fighter V, and I think honoring this and sticking with it will revive this game. That’s the popular thing to say, that the game is dead and that it has no hope or future. I disagree, there is always hope and a chance at redemption. Treating this game as a platform will help it, here are some ideas I feel will resurrect this game.
The beauty, and the horror, of the current state of the game is the silence. I would wait, for either EVO or E3, and announce a re-launch of the game. They should be transparent with the community and tell us that it is a platform with yearly, seasonal, updates and expansions and also tell us for how many years. With that, they should show a trailer showcasing the season 2 roster with the first characters being from the X-Men series like everyone wanted, I would personally choose Wolverine and Psylocke. They should make sure there is a strong emphasis in the trailer on the epic-ness two universe’s colliding should have. The opening menu should be reworked and a lot of what has made Street Fighter V better should be carried over.
The graphics don’t particularly bother me, for whatever reason, but I do think they should add something defining to represent a change in direction. Perhaps a different art style, something that screams re-launch and to catch everyone’s eyes. Little things like adding character endings to the arcade mode would go along way too. These updates, like done for Street Fighter V, should be free to owners of the game but as they launch a new disc version I think they should ensure there is a Switch version. Whether you love or hate Nintendo, their handheld hybrid is thriving and a revamped Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite would sell well for them. A lot of the success this game needs can be found by emulating what they did for Street Fighter V.
I bring this up because I love the game and I have a great time playing it and I always find myself coming back to it. The fighting game genre has so many wonderful offerings and has a lot of unpleasant ones but few, very few, manage to have such a strong gameplay element that is not only fun to play but fun to learn. Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite is not a bad game at all, far from it, it’s just a game that’s misunderstood.
The misunderstanding comes from the developers and publishers, two juggernaut companies that probably had entirely different visions for the game and misunderstood by fans who can’t seem to look past what it does wrong to see all that it does right. Stripped down and at it’s core, it’s a great game, a great game that has been overshadowed by negativity, both earned and some of it not warranted.
Also, more costumes. All the costumes.
But what do you think? Can Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite be salvaged? Do you or did you like the game? What do you think the game needs to compete with its counterparts? Please, let me know what you think.