#SDCC17: First Look at Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite with Chris Redfield, Nemesis, and More!
Oh, zombies, will we ever truly tire of you? I get it… zombies are far oversaturated in games, movies, comic books, pop culture, and cosplay alt variants. Like found footage and superhero spinoffs, zombies have been done and done again.
But do any of us really HATE zombies? The genre of shambling dead that the late and great George A. Romero created? The craze that brought us games like Resident Evil and films like 28 Days Later? The field might be well tilled, but the soil is still rich and fertile.
It’s with that respect for horror’s most revered icon—both director and shambling monster—that I pushed my way through the San Diego Comic-Con 2017 crowds to the Capcom booth. They rudely decided to put their display on the far side of the convention center from where I happened to be, so let none say my dedication to all things even tangentially horror is absolute. Normally the cartoony Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite wouldn’t even be on my radar. However, they drew me in with the announcement of two new characters: Frank West and Nemesis. Combined with Chris Redfield and Dante, this brought the horror game representative up to four. Six if you count the two Darkstalkers characters. All right, Capcom, you got me.
If you don’t know because you are one of those lame non-gamer types, Chris Redfield and Nemesis are, respectively, the protagonist and antagonist of certain Resident Evil titles (or Biohazard if you are Japanese and therefore not reading this). Frank West is the lead of Dead Rising and Dante Devil May Cry. If you want to take the time to argue that Devil May Cry isn’t horror, I’ll remind you I shot off the Grim Reaper’s face with a shotgun in the very first game. Your point is moot.
I got to play about a dozen rounds, which I dedicated to learning what I could. Some general points before I get into it…
The combat in MVC:I isn’t as fast as what I saw in MVC3 (and certainly not MVC2). This isn’t a bad thing. Fighting games have always been the penultimate measurement of a gamer’s skill and reaction time. Traditionally, this has boiled down to mastering pixel perfect combo strings, counters, and aerial juggles that take months to master. It’s rewarding to master, but massively intimidating for new players.
The impression that I got from MVC:I is that the game is much more new player friendly without sacrificing the skill ceiling. Mobility is still a big factor, and the slower combos and attack strings open you up to even greater punishes. The longer completion time of combos overall increases the risk/reward factor, meaning that pop-up attacks followed by a well timed ground combo are well worth it. In a nutshell, newer players are still able to pull off strong combos without being required to learn a 36-button combo. It’s like the Falcon Punch: fun and accessible for noobs and a devastating tool for pros. There are also a number of new mechanics added, such as a gem system, that serve to add another element of complexity to the metagame outside of reaction time.
The first combo I tried was Nemesis and Chris Redfield because I get all giddy when I think about continuity kerfuffles. This was a great opportunity to see the diversity of character types in MVC:I. Nemesis towers above the battlefield, a hulking beast armed with a rocket launcher and massive necrotic balls. Most of his attacks have long windups and defensive frames, meaning you’ll have to balance soaking up damage with your big hits and counters. Even though he has a rocket launcher slung over his shoulder, trying to fire it straight will go over most characters heads by default due to his height. The best bet with Nemesis is to try to close the distance with your dashes and apply the pressure, and use the rocket launcher as an aerial denial for characters trying to avoid your ground power. The power level of these kinds of characters is always hard to judge, and my gut reaction is he lacks the dashing power to deal with some of the squirrelier characters. Still, in terms of translating the feel of Nemesis into the frantic MVC universe, it’s spot on.
Chris, on the other hand, was a mad bag of tricks mixed with some devastating combos. Pulling guns out of his ass in a way that would make his survival horror equivalent blush, he has a firearm for any situation. Flamethrower, grenade launcher, magnum, shotgun, SMG, pistol, and even the simple combat knife can be employed for lethal effect. The big thing about Chris is how his attack animations lock him into a certain action. There was a rather powerful combo where I would string a series of punches together into a magnum shot, but after just two assaults my opponent figured out my game and would promptly punish me. Most of his attacks work like this, meaning you’ll have to really learn the character to make use of him in mid-high level play.
Frank West was Frank West. Frankly (hahaha), I have no idea what his deal was. His attacks were a mishmash of goofy charges, helicopter throws, golfclub knockups, and other random shit. I will say that I did win with him, so I must have done something right. Not that I have any idea what that “something right” actually was. He plays similar to both his Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom variants (I am, oddly enough, far more familiar with the first of those two titles). A surprising character with some unpredictable attacks, he’s a solid wildcard and meme-machine.
Last up was Dante, who played like you’d imagine he would in a fighting game. This isn’t his first foray into MVC and will unlikely be his last. Focusing heavily on stringing together attacks with knockups and low damage but highly accessible juggles, this is the character that you’ll feel like a pro with after just a few hours. Of course, you’ll then go online and be promptly curbstomped by someone who’s been playing the game for 14 hours a day since three weeks before release. But then again, you’re playing a fighting game online. It’s what you signed up for.
There are some other cool tidbits I liked about Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (like how the stages are all mashups of Marvel and Capcom settings), but I’ll save those for the full review. Overall the horror cast available in the base MVC:I set so far is enough to get me excited. We still have a couple months before the September 19th release, so who knows? Maybe we’ll see Ethan Winters or a Velociraptor as a last-minute addition. There aren’t really any horror-fighters out there, but I’m more than happy to watch my favorite monsters pummel the crap out of superdudes in their underpants.
How about you guys? Excited for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite? What characters do you hope to see? Let me know below!