Friday, November 30, 2012

Starting out in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Comic Cover
I was a big Marvel vs Capcom 2 player when it was still an arcade exclusive. I was into the tournament scene and had my own crew, mostly friends from high school. We'd go to different arcades together and challenge other crews and players; it was a lot of fun. There is no better way to play a fighting game than in person. But with everything coming out on console, the arcade slowly died out, and now the only way to encounter new players, in a casual setting, is to hop online.

After Capcom pulled the same release crap to console owners that it used to do to arcade owners, in the 90s, I decided to wait the entire thing out. I skipped over MVC3 vanilla completely and didn't end up getting UMVC3 until a few weeks ago when it dropped to the price of 25 dollars — making its DLC hurt less.

I suspect there are quite a few people who want this game but are reluctant because they believe the online masses have all run off to the next big thing. Well, they're sort of correct. If you're looking for a local match with a similarly ranked player, good luck, let alone one finding one with a decent connection. And honestly, it's a lot more fun playing weak players on great connections than great players on horrible ones. Any connection below five bars is really a crap-shoot. And this is why Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 can get people so angry. However, in the 100 + matches I've had, I've only experienced one rage quit. And I think this has to do with the ranking system really not meaning much to anyone, which I'll get to later, but first let's talk about the offline play.

The arcade mode probably has the best AI of any Marvel vs games. It's still nowhere near Virtua Fighter 4's ghost players, but it's so much better than MVC 1, 2, and even Street Fighter vs X-men. On the hardest difficulty, the computer will zone, do larger combos, OTG combos, use assists, advancing guard, and put up a solid defensive effort. It's just enough to give an intermediate player a challenge now and then.

Heroes and Heralds mode is pretty lame. I went through both the good guy and evil modes just to unlock some titles and practice against powered up opponents. But as far as I can tell, nobody is playing this mode online. At least, I couldn't fine one player. But it's somewhat fun to go through when you first get the game.

Missions are similar to trials in Street Fighter 4 and up. In this mode, you will be told to perform various attacks and combos with the difficulty progressing as you advance. A lot of these are easy, dumb, or insanely frustrating. But by completing them, you'll learn a little bit more about the character and unlock some titles. And I tend to forget their combos right after I pass them. Instead, I troll YouTube to find more consistent ones that don't burn your x-factor or require a level three hyper bar.

And lastly there is your standard training mode with lots of options. Most of the time this is where you'll be practicing your combos and team strategies. But it can also be used to help beginners in other ways. E.g., if you're a beginner who struggles with zoning or straight spamming, select the characters used against you and copy the player's spam tactics against the computer using your team, set at a higher difficulty level of course. Then just watch and see how it deals with you. And you can do this for any basic tactic that gets you easily.

Now online play is a different game. Good arcade players tend to react to the actual animation itself. We use a combination of muscle memory and reflex. It makes it so you can play more on the fly and adjust to anything. You can't really do that in online play. Even a five bar connection will throw your real time game way off. You have to basically guess what attack is coming and just hope your input latency isn't wonky or too off to punish them and finish your combos. It's also really easy to pull off mix-ups that would never fly offline. And I'll show an example of what can happen when an online / bedroom player takes his lag based abilities to the big show.

When it comes to ranking, you won't find a ton of people in the earlier levels. And out of the handful of beginners, rookies, and amateurs I've fought, about half were really good players who were just playing online because we're currently in a free XBL Gold weekend. But if you're a beginner or just new to the MVC series, stay offline until you can handle the computer in Very Hard. And even then, the online lag has it's own learning curve that will result in you losing a lot of matches. Personally, I'm never going to fully adjust to it. I'm OK with dropping combos and losing matches. Playing like I can't read the animation or move exactly the way I want to is a bad habit not worth picking up for an online ranking that nobody will ever care about. And with that said, let's talk about that.

The game stores your ranking, fighting history, and fighting data on a virtual license that any of your opponents can look at; this one is mine. But bear in mind, I'm way too new at this game to not be scrubby and have only been playing online for a few days. Also, my MVC2 skills really only helped my defensive game. But this is where the stats can sort of be misleading. Ex: I've switched back and forth from Lord and Judge after seemingly random matches. And no Lord plays the same way, so, that title alone doesn't say too much. But the license can give you an idea of what you might be in for. But more than likely, just prepare for lots of rushdowns and mix-ups.

This is my UMVC3 License Card. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
And one more thing, don't believe half of the players' rankings that you encounter. Lots of them will reset their battle data. I can't even count how many beginners and various low ranking people that have magically logged hundreds of hours online and unlocked all the ranking based achievements! What bothers me the most about this is what it does to discourage new players.

You're going to fight some of these guys in low ranked matches now and then; they will pop up when you want to fight only similarly skilled people; they will join lobbies labeled for beginners and beast on them. And most of all, they will make the typical newcomer feel like they're completely retarded because it looks like having a synergistic team and being able to pull off these giant, complex combos is normal for someone just starting out. So don't feel bad. You do suck, but so do I. And the game has been out for over a year, and that doesn't include MVC3 "Vanilla."

Take your time, but don't worry about having too much of a life to master all of its bullshit. Being a great online player means absolutely nothing to anyone but said player. And if you find yourself getting obsessed, just watch the South Park episode: Make Love, Not Warcraft for a reality check.

Typical Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Player with an Inaccurate / Fake Ranking, Making the Entire System Worthless.
Exhibit B: That Same Player at My Same Rank has Over 376 Hours into the Game! 

And finally, searching for ranked matches can be a pain. You can either hit quick match and get whoever, wherever, or customize it to limit the type of player you'll be matched with. And trying to get a local fight with a similarly ranked player can take upwards of an hour or more, depending on where you live. I know I've spent more time looking for people to fight, in that mode, then actually playing the game. But the ultimate reason your ranking doesn't matter much is because this isn't where the real action is.

Exciting Screen Shot of Typical Ranked Mode Game Play!
If you want that arcade like experience and lots of fights, you need to enter lobby mode. Lobby mode is easily the best part of online play. You join a room with up to seven other players and take turns fighting as if you were standing at an actual arcade cabinet. The coolest part is you get to watch everyone's matches. I started a lobby myself, and within ten minutes, it was filled up with all different types of players at different skill levels. I got to watch some high level play and get roughed up really badly — just like the good old days!

And because the lobby controls aren't in the actual instruction book, I'm going to post them here: L1 is "Great Fight." L2 is "Leaving Lobby." L3 is "Okay." R1 is "Bring it On." R2 is "Good Game." And R3 is "No Way." You can push any of these in between matches instead of trying to use your mic to say the same, damn thing. In fact, unplug your headset or disable the Kinect's chat function before playing. The game has enough lag as it is; it needs all the possible bandwidth available, and most of us will mute you automatically if you even make a sound.

The second best place to find a fight is within player matches. You'll find far more beginners here who either don't feel good enough or couldn't find anyone near their skill level in ranked mode. But if you're lucky, someone better than you might rematch you a few times to give you some needed experience. I've done this for other players and had it done for me. The best part of this mode is the rematch feature; it really cuts out the bullshit for players who really only have one team and makes it worth entering now and then.

The last thing I want to touch on related to online play is taunting. Teabagging can be pretty infuriating — especially when it happens in a match with a ton of lag. And while I want to say that it belongs no where near fighting games, I've played my fair share of ghetto ass players in many respectable tournaments. In the FGC, it's unavoidable.

But what I absolutely can't stand is toying with someone during a lobby match. If you dominate another player, just finish them quickly so the next match can get started up. I find it more offensive as a waist of my and everyone else's time. I will disconnect from a match or a lobby if I see it. I'd rather use that minute of my life on anything else other than watching some anonymous douche with a stupid, forgettable user name stroke their ego, in a match that nobody, including said douche, will remember.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a great fighting game. Most of my friends seem to hate it because they changed it from 2. The biggest comparison people throw out is with Tatsunoko vs Capcom, which I've played a bit of, but I'd say it feels much closer to BlazBlue or Guilty Gear X. And this can be really confusing for a Street Fighter player picking Ryu, as you don't have access to all your basic three punches and kicks. Instead, you only have a basic light, medium, heavy, and special / launcher. And you can't think of them like punches or kicks; they can be either or neither depending on the directional input before they're pressed and or if your character uses a weapon.

In conclusion, its current popularity is still pretty high, and a lot of people, from all over the world, are playing this game. Also, you'll never find a fighting game with a newbie friendly online environment. At least, past a few months of the game's initial release. Because just like in the arcades, the average person ends up quitting really fast after getting the snot kicked out of them. But that's never where the real fun is anyways; it's all about rising to the virtual challenge and making some new friends.


  1. Really Good post, I just play with a few friends because I don't have time to practice. But after reading this post i think i'll try and get in some lobbies.

  2. I cannot stand these people who reset their records for the sole purpose of playing people at a huge disadvantage. It has utterly ruined playing online for me.

  3. It's a stupid move by Capcom to allow it. They should take note of how Sega handled online rankings with VF5 FS: You get one point just for showing up, one point per round you win, and four if you win the match.

    Bad players can rank up, but it takes them a lot longer, and nobody loses rank titles. It takes away all the frustration of starting out in a game and keeps people more honest. This was also how Namco handled Tekken 5 in the arcades.

  4. Love the post :3 it helped me learn how to deal with marvel.

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