The Internet has been ripping Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite a new one ever since it was initially revealed. During a time when the fighting game community has been seeing a consistent flow of stellar games, the Twitterverse seemed disappointed with what Capcom dragged to the table. The story mode demo was made available during Sony’s E3 presser and while it was met with harsh critiques, our hopes were high that Capcom would have a more polished version of the game that they were just keeping under wraps. A few minutes in the Capcom booth, however, delivered a Chun Li high-kick to our optimism. Many of the observations surfacing online are just about as true as they come. It seems pretty clear that Capcom is struggling to learn from their past mistakes.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite doesn’t hit shelves until September but Capcom has already started to unveil its usual aggressive DLC strategy. The game’s E3 trailer showcased a variety of different characters but there were some, like Black Panther, who will only be available via DLC. This comes after Capcom put out a trailer in April that promoted six DLC characters before the game’s full roster had even been revealed. It can feel a bit like a punch in the jaw to get excited about characters in a reveal trailer who actually come with their very own separate price tag. But for longtime players of Capcom’s games, complaints about their DLC strategies are nothing new. Street Fighter V was met with a wave of backlash for its DLC strategy and Capcom made an unsuccessful attempt to appease players by insisting a portion of the money garnered from DLC sales would go to supporting different tournaments. There’s no doubt that some gamers watched the entire Street Fighter V DLC fiasco and crossed their fingers in hopes that Capcom would finally listen to their consumers’ demands. That clearly isn’t the case.
But Capcom fans have managed to forgive these DLC flaws time and time again. It’s far from being a nail in the coffin for a series with as much fanfare as Marvel vs. Capcom. The real problem comes from the fact that in more ways than one, Capcom still hasn’t made loyal gamers a priority and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite feels like a reminder of that. Mike Evans, Capcom’s Director of Production, told Game Informer back in December that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite would narrow a player’s team down to two characters instead of three in order to make character selection feel less intimidating to newcomers. While this reasoning easily explains why a 2v2 mode might be a great add, it fails to justify the complete removal of the original 3v3 mode. Instead of giving the option to choose if you prefer 3v3 or 2v2, Capcom ultimately made a judgement call that has a significant impact on how the game is played. In an effort to welcome newcomers to the series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite feels like it turned its back on veterans instead of finding a fair middle ground.
The often chaotic brawls that unfold during 3v3 battles has become a key part of the decision making process in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. More often than not, the third character selected is a utility pick that longtime players of the franchise value for their assists. Marvel vs. Capcom completely eliminates this mechanic and ultimately leaves the game feeling a lot less like itself. This isn’t the only mechanic that’s been altered with the sole purpose of catering to newcomers either. The game now features easy combo options in order to help out players who have no idea how to string together combos or get a good juggle off of their opponent. Easy combos are activated with the simple push of two buttons at the same time instead of relying on the player to put together their own strings. Again, this decision wouldn’t have garnered much criticism if it was paired with something that would cater to more advanced players as well. Capcom didn’t think to take much time to also implement more dynamic mechanics that might appeal to professional or hardcore players who are looking to find a sense of satisfaction every time they dominate their opponent. As demonstrated through some of the harsh critiques of Street Fighter V, there is certainly a large number of players who find oversimplified fighting games to be a lot less appealing.
While pulling in newcomers is an important goal for any new game release, a truly successful franchise can attract new players while also making its core fan base feel valued. Players with a demonstrated record of supporting the game should, at the very least, feel like their feedback is being heard and acknowledged. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is now a game filled with poor animations and character models, void of tag-in combos, absent of 3v3 brawls, missing X-Men characters, and penny pinching players by pitching DLC content before a full roster is even confirmed. Adding easy combos and 2v2 matches are a great move to get more casual fighting game players into the action but these new mechanics shouldn’t have come at the cost of the players who have supported Marvel vs. Capcom for years. So while newcomers received new mechanics and game modes tailored specifically to them, veterans have received little more than another slap-in-the-face DLC strategy and a game they once knew that now barely even looks like itself.