The Problems with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Why the FGC Hates It
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite (MvC:I) has been available for a month, and one thing has become clear -- it's one of the most divisive fighting games to hit the market in a while. The fighting game community (FGC) either doesn't mind it, or totally hates it.
There are a lot of strong feelings among fans about this game. A considerable number of them are calling MvC:I the worst game in the series. This might sound like a baseless accusation, but closer examination reveals a number of glaring issues with Infinite that make it a significantly less satisfying fighting game than its predecessors.
But what happened, exactly? Where did this iteration of Marvel vs. Capcom go wrong? Let's break down this game to see if we can find out why it's become the target of such deep loathing among the fighting game community.
Deadly Sin #1: A Roster Missing Notable Characters
When Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was introduced, one thing was very clear: the roster was...different. It didn't feature any X-Men or Fantastic Four heroes -- meaning no Dr. Doom, Magneto, or Wolverine.
These characters have been part of the MvC crossover titles even before the Marvel vs. Capcom titles as we know them today were developed. From X-Men vs Street Fighter in 1997 and Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter in 1998 to Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes a few years later, characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four have been a staple in the series that's almost as recognizable as someone like Ryu. So it's understandable that fans were concerned about not seeing them featured in this iteration.
Why didn't these legacy characters get to make an appearance in MvC:I? It's a little bit complicated, and has a lot to do with the franchise rights.
Although Marvel (and by extension, Disney) owns the rights to almost all of its characters, 20th Century Fox owns the film and TV rights to the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Deadpool.
Credit goes to fans but it's been brought to my attention that the videogame rights are owned by Marvel (Disney). So these characters can make appearances within the game. The issue however is Fox's control of these movie franchises.
It was in Marvel's best interested to have MvC:I advertise their MCU (Marvel cinematic universe) heroes first and foremost. Now, Marvel would love nothing more that to gain control of those film rights from Fox. The relationship between these two studios as we speak isn't...nice, thus the additions of these characters seems unlikely. So we may not see Gambit or Doctor Doom on the roster...ever.
Regardless of the circumstances, though, the omission of these fighters was very off-putting for fans of the franchise. You'd be hard-pressed to find a MvC player who wouldn't list at least one of the X-Men as a recognizable mascot for the series. In fact, fighters like Wolvering have been consistently top-ranked in character tierlists because they are just so good.
To be honest, Marvel and Capcom probably could have recovered from this. But Capcom pulled a major PR blunder when a GameSpot journalist asked about the missing characters during an interview. Associate Producer Peter Rosas tried to sidestep the issue by saying that the specific mechanics which made those characters beloved had been embedded in other characters:
"If you were to actually think about it, these characters are just functions. They're just doing things. Magneto, case and point, is a favorite because he has eight-way dash and he's really fast, right? So our more technical players, all they want to do is triangle jump and that kind of stuff. Well guess what, Nova can do the same thing, Captain Marvel can do the same thing. Ultron can do the same thing. Go ahead and try them out."
But the real insult came when Producer Michael Evans tried to imply that the X-Men weren't recognizable to current audiences:
"Then the third one is obviously the popularity of these characters. X was one we had to get in there. A lot of fans wanted to see X, so we brought him back. Then also we talked with Marvel very closely about their future roadmap, about what's gonna be happening. Your modern Marvel fan, maybe they don't even remember some of the X-Men characters, but they know some of the Guardians characters or Black Panther. You know what I mean?"
This developer actually tried to sell the idea that the X-Men weren't recognizable characters for current Marvel fans. I'll just let that idea sit for a minute.
Has it started to sink in? Good. Now let's analyze that statement a little more. The reign of the X-Men started with a popular 1990s cartoon that a lot of comic book fans watched and enjoyed. The franchise's roster of mutants then went on to appear in a number of films of varying quality, from 2000's eponymous X-Men film to 2014's critically acclaimed X-Men: Days of Future Past. To imply that the modern Marvel fan wouldn't recognize characters from a franchise that's released iterations as recently as 2016 is one hell of a statement -- and some fans found it downright insulting.
It's possible that these missing heroes may appear later on as DLC, but nothing has been confirmed thus far. So for now, fan backlash over the limited roster of characters is understandable. A Marvel vs. Capcom game that doesn't feature at least some of the X-Men is incredibly alienating for long-time players.
Deadly Sin #2: Failure to Diversify Characters
The omission of legacy heroes from the MvC:I roster is one issue, but character diversity among the heroes that did make the cut is another. Out of the 30 fighters that players have at their disposal, only four of them are female characters.
If you ask me, and a lot of other fans, that's pretty tone deaf for a game in 2017. It has "boy's club" written all over it -- and puts MvC:I in the long list of titles that prove the gaming scene has some serious representation issues. Under-representing female characters in this iteration of the franchise not only hurts its appeal to an increasingly diverse market, it also ignores the history of the series itself. There were significantly more female fighters present in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, so the lack of them in MvC:I feels like a step back.
Sure, we've got Captain Marvel, Gamorra, Morrigan, and Chun Li. Those are some badass ladies. But it's not nearly enough.
Some might say that licensing issues have a lot to do with the poor representation in Infinite's character roster. But to be blunt, that's a pretty weak excuse. Both Marvel and Capcom have plenty of other recognizable heroines who could have made an appearance here.
On Capcom's side of the equation, the Darkstalkers character pool alone has five women to choose from, two of which made it into UMvC3. And aside from the multiple female characters that could have been reused from UMvC3, there are also plenty of newcomers from Street Fighter V that could have made an appearance as well.
As for Marvel, there's almost no excuse for how few female characters made the list. Many fans are wondering why Black Widow is nowhere to be found, especially since nearly all the other Avengers are in the game. The same is true for Scarlet Witch. Heck, now that Sony has loosened their grip on the Spider-Man franchise, perhaps Spider Gwen could have even made her premiere for the series.
To summarize, there's really no shortage of female characters that both Marvel and Capcom could have chosen from. So the idea that it all had to do with licensing is pure nonsense -- cuts were made to the roster, and a lot of female characters never made it past the chopping block.
It's certainly possible that more diversity will come with DLC characters (like the female Monster Hunter who is set to join the MvC:I roster down the line), but the lack of representation at launch is an unfortunate and rather embarrassing business decision.
Deadly Sin #3: Poor Character Design
If the representation and notable omissions from the fighter roster wasn't enough to put a wrench in MvC:I's machine, another glaring issue with its characters is how the fighter models are actually designed. To put it simply: they don't look good -- and it wouldn't be a stretch to say they're downright unappealing.
Don't get me wrong. Some characters in the game look decent enough. Captain Marvel, for example, has some solid animation and looks alright overall. It's just too bad the same can't be said for other characters.
Though it's hardly a surprise, many models and assets featured in MvC:I were reused from UMvC3 and other games. And the resulting clash of aesthetics has made most things, especially the character design, look...off.
The FGC was quick to point this out and make a mockery of it.
In the transition between the series' predecessors and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, its comic book aesthetic was lost along the way. The visuals included in this iteration of the franchise is less of a graphical style and more like a Marvel film. But that sort of realism doesn't really work when half the cast doesn't look right in an art style that doesn't closely mimic comics and animation. It creates a weird aesthetic dichotomy, a la Mega Man X.
Both the original MvC and MvC2 capitalized on 2D sprite work to create exaggerated visuals. Every fall, super move, taunt, and so on popped on the screen and made those games wonderful to look at. Though some of this distinct style was lost when MvC3 started using cel-shaded characters, even that art direction had a distinct look to it. All the models were detailed, but not realistic -- and more importantly, they still had most of the comic book aesthetic.
The same was true for UMvC3. In that game, everything from the user interface and story scenes to the character select screen and actual combat UI was flamboyant and unique. If you need a refresher on what it looked like, check it out below:
When you compare the graphics of UMvC3 with the graphics of Infinite -- and let's face it, most fans have by now -- it's obvious that one just looks better than the other. And surprise! MvC:I definitely doesn't come out on top in that regard.
In addition to the granular details of character design that simply doesn't work in the game's favor, many of the body proportions in these designs seem suspect as well. The titan Thanatos looks a bit weird, for example, because his upper torso is way too short for his massive frame. And during previews of the game, internet commentors mocked Chun Li's face relentlessly -- so much so that the developers actually went in and changed her character model accordingly.
It's a shame that MvC:I looks a step backwards in the looks department. When you compare it to something like Injustice 2, these characters look bad no matter how you slice it.
Deadly Sin #4: Poor Production Value
On the production front, it's not just character design that's an issue in MvC:I. The game's overall production value leaves a lot to be desired, from voice acting to animation and beyond.
Starting with one of the game's most egregious production sins, the voice acting in MvC: I is inconsistent at its very best. At worst, it's flat and completely unbelievable. Some heroes sound (kind of heroic), while others sound completely uninspired. And if you sit down to listen to the voice tracks for Jedah and Morrigan, it's easy to see why there were so many rumors circulating about the game having a relatively small budget.
On top of that, many of the game's characters have strange, janky animations during a lot of MvC:I, whether that be in matches or during cut scenes. This makes a lot of the fighting uninspired and just plain hideous to look at. Add to that the lack of cohesion between character models and it's a perfect storm of half-assed aesthetics that make the game significantly less engaging than many of its predecessors.
It's really strange that the production value is so ridiculously poor considering the game's pedigree. If you look at the production values in a game like Dragon Ball Fighter Z, the difference is night and day. DBFZ is clearly the superior game in that regard -- and it hasn't even launched yet.
So what gives?
Budget. In a video Liam Robertson posted (based on unconfirmed sources), he reports that the budget for MvC:I may have been around half of the budget spent on the DLC for SFV. If true, that would go a long way in explaining why the presentation of this game looks so backward when compared to those classics that came before it.
Robertson also mentions in his report that MvC:I uses a number of assets from past titles. These elements were reintegrated into the new game with a number of touchups -- but not quite enough. This could explain the game's weird animations and unusual-looking character models.
Deadly Sin #5: No 3v3 Crossover Combat
One of the largest and most noticeable design changes in MvC:I is the omission of 3-versus-3 gameplay. Capcom insists that this change was meant to be one that appealed to new fans in an effort to grow the game's playerbase. Sure, that's a reasonable answer, but the thing is that MvC has never really been casual-friendly.
Yes, the original MvC:Clash of Super Heroes featured 2-versus-2 teams, but the decision to return to that is adhering to something diehard MvC fans didn't want. A more casual friendly game invokes the message; "that we're ignoring our fans".
Three-versus-three gameplay reinforces the hectic nature of Marvel vs Capcom. In fact, the series has been welcomed and celebrated for this "chaos". Consequently, the community had to ask the simple question: If your series has held onto a gameplay style for over a decade, why abandon it?
Deadly Sin #5: Public Relations Debacles
You may or may not have noticed but this hasn't been advertised much. This was likely due to small budget...allegedly. Naturally, to promote this, game it was shown at events and tournaments. Logically, Capcom worked with FGC personalities and professional players. Whom better than the most well known and hardcore of fans to help you show off a new fighter?
Eventually...a few questions arose. Were these individuals being honest for the game's hype? I mean, why wouldn't they be honest? Then fans asked why should they believe that they're being genuine? Part of the FGC began to call this praise shilling and we quite adamant about it.
As discussed by The Nameless Fighting Game Show (seen above), we simply have to look at Street Fighter V, which was released in 2016. Practically everything surrounding its launch, post launch, and business plans were messy. Promises were made to make it better and to this day they haven't made good on them.
Now, we know they will make good on SFV...in January of 2018. Now, considering how MvC:I was released while SF is still being fixed...that's not exactly reassuring. Understandably, the community had little to no reason to believe if Infinite will be ok. Sure, we could give Capcom the benefit of the doubt however they've been in business for ages. They've given people more than enough reasons to be leery.
Now as for the other reason why the PR surrounding MvC:I is sketchy. After an accidental upload to youtube, we learned that MvC:I maybe a part of the 2018 Capcom Pro Tour. It missed that window this year due to its September release. The tour is a year round event that begins in January.
The tour is an opportunity for competitors to earn monetary prizes. If SFV's tour is any indication, the cash pool is quite attractive.
So, these same professional players (who could win big) were given the chance to sing the game's praises. As well as get their hands on it during development. Capcom is a big part/sponsor of eSports, so it appears like a "you help me, I help you kind of deal".
The thought process generally speaking is this: as a pro, it's beneficial to me get a leg up on a game that I can win money on later. Also having a good relationship with a big sponsor means more opportunity in the future.
It should be noted that if the pro tour gains another game, then more support for the qualifying tournaments would be gained. A new game means new players and they in turn would add more entry fees for tournaments. Thus, tournaments would grow in size and importance -- So it's a win-win for everyone involved.
Is This A Bad Game?
The FGC at large is still torn on Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. We are now a month post launch but some things are already very clear. It's main support has been mainly from professional players...for obvious reasons. It still remains to be a subject of mocking by members of the FGC.
I never really imagined there would be a "bad" Marvel vs Capcom game, yet here we are with weakest entry in the series. Honestly, at this point I'm not sure how long it will remain relevant either. Having a portion of the FGC harboring loathing and contempt for this game definitely doesn't help. The game we have again plays fine but is marred by poor production values.
Maybe you think all this hate and lack of support is extreme. Well, people have legitimate reasons to not like this and question its quality.
Its unfortunate but Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a definitely victim of it's publisher's bad business practices. Marvel vs Capcom you're a shell of your former self. Hopefully we'll see you return to form. Or maybe not? Series long fans and fighting aficionados whom are hurt, I feel your pain and share your sentiment.
Do you think Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a bad game? Do you disagree? Do you have more to add? Let us know in the comments below.