early notes on doing MVC3 right

17Feb11

The third installment of  the childhood fighting game series that my entire generation grew up with came out on Tuesday. I was lucky enough to find a store that broke the street date, so I had mine since Saturday, allowing me to experiment a tad early. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my team to look like,  a traditional keep away composition revolving around Dormammu and assists that would help keep my opponents either pinned or off of me. However, the more I played and the more I watched, I quickly realized that keep away is not the dominant strategy of the game. Thanks to high stamina, high damage rushdown characters (some with teleports) and the increased damage intake modifier on assists, meant that the old days of traditional full-screen zoning would be much harder to apply in practice. This isn’t to say that full-screen keep away strategies are invalid, but they’re much more difficult to perform and fairly easy to punish now because beam specials (ie. Magneto’s EM Disruptor assist) can often times absorb or trade with weaker projectiles and now cause knockdown, giving your point character a much more viable way to approach these types of team setups. This isn’t even pointing out popular teleport characters, like Wesker and Dante, that can easily punish any special with recovery. The lack of strong invincible AA assists does not help the cause, and thus zoning becomes a difficult task. But before I go off talking about how I think a pure keep away team is a lost art, this post is to mainly comment on how many bad team compositions I see people have, characters thrown together with terrible reasonings, such as “to provide a bit more offense”. What does that even mean? Tell me, in specific, how this character is going to do exactly that! And if you mean by utilizing the character alone, I’m afraid that character isn’t going to make the cut. This iteration of the Marvel vs Capcom series, and arguably the second as well, has a great emphasis on team choice over individual character choice. This said, it is extremely important to keep the capabilities, composition, and order of your MvC3 team in mind, cause frankly, some people just don’t quite get it.

So what then, constitutes a strong MvC3 team? There are tons of factors, and the ones with the most or the ones that are brutally good at the factors they excel in, are often the ones that do the best. You should think about these key elements in characters when building your MvC3 team:

DHC-ability: Can your characters easily transition between each others’ supers? Often times, a single BnB leading into back-to-back supers can easily kill a character, especially if X-Factor is involved. Since this game has a very great emphasis on BnBs that lead into high-damaging supers, chaining those supers, and incorporating X-Factor into those supers, I would rate DHC-ability fairly high. Also note that this affects the order of your characters. It might also be important to note the ability to DHC into extended chip damage to finish characters off – but I’ll talk about that a bit further down.

Assist Options: Probably the most obvious, but also much more important than ever. Note that assists aren’t just there to cover your rushdown or zoning, they often have a very important purpose to your team. For example, last night Justin Wong used Wolverine with Akuma’s hurricane kick assists, allowing him to OTG his opponents into extended combos or resets. Not only does this increase your meterless combo damage and meter building, you can opt to not OTG and use the blockstun from Akuma’s kicks to go for mixups. Keep in mind all the possibilities of your team: does character A only work with character B? Or does character A worth with both B and C? Does character B do the same? While it may not always be possible to have the perfect combination, it’s worth noting the possibilities instead of mindlessly picking the “AA” assist. If your team has the ability to take advantage of OTGs or unblockables with a low assist, make sure to incorporate it as part of your game! Also, stop thinking about MvC2! Beam specials are now amazing!

Dealing with Pushblock: This is a bit early, I think, but Wong proved to us last night the power of closing space with wave dashing. Characters that can wave dash have a huge advantage over those that don’t, especially when you’re trying to encroach on a character that you know has worse normals than your current one. If you have a team that’s very rushdown oriented, be sure to keep this in mind. Utilizing lockdown assists, like Chun-Li, allow for an even greater advantage, as your opponents will be unable to pushblock while under assist blockstun.

Supers that Deal Chip: I personally think that chip will become much more relevant once we reach a higher level of play. In the current state of things, people aren’t used to the strength of each character and will often misjudge (or just straight up not block) their attacks. The best supers for chipping are the ones that hit from full screen and have good startup, ie. Storm’s Hail Storm or Trish’s Round Harvest.

Anchor / Comeback Ability: X-Factor is the name of the game. We have all been witnesses to single character comebacks against two, or sometimes even three, opposing characters! Often times, you want a character that has strong meter usage, as you’ll need to take out opposing characters with needing as few connects as possible. Sentinel has been the greatest asset (or terror) thus far, and is notorious for his ability to turn the tables. Level 3 XFC Sentinel can easily kill characters with one combo, making him one of the most dangerous characters in the game. On the other hand, there are characters like Phoenix, who has been explored by some but not yet fully developed, who thrives on her ability to be the ultimate anchor character. It’ll be interesting to see which other characters end up falling into this category (I think I see Morrigan possibly ending up here) in the coming months.

These are what I think, players should be focusing on building right now and seeing where the strongest ties between characters are (especially in the first two points) instead of just focusing on individual strengths or tier lists. As Wong said in his interview last night (and I’m paraphrasing this), be creative. The game is young, stop shackling yourselves into what people overhype as “good”, and come up with “good” yourself. There are untapped characters that I think have great potential, so I hope we’ll see some more experimentation. For those curious, I think I’ve already broken the law of “playing the most generic teams ever”, but I honestly like the comps I have now and they’ve met several of the requirements I talk about above.

Dead (C) / Dante (A) / Sent (A) - contrary to what I said before, I have a strong setup that builds on top of Deadpool. The reason why I think Deadpool might stick around as a zoning character is that he has mobility on his side with some great hitbox properties on things like his ground dash. This team has great DHC-ability and can switch modes between hyper-aggressive and hyper-defensive fairly quickly, with both Deadpool AND Dante.

Trish (A) / Dante (A) / Sent (A) - I haven't played this team much yet, and I'm not even sure if Trish is the right fit, but she does have some decent zoning capabilities, a great chipping super, and a projectile assist that comes out very quickly to put people in blockstun for Dante. She's a great battery on point and her Round Harvest super allows for some interesting setups with Devil Trigger. Sentinel finds its way onto both teams because he provides an invaluable cover assist and serves as, currently, still the most reliable anchor character.

So that’s that. Of course, I have to put a disclaimer here stating that I’m not some guru of the game. I would however, take some of these observations into consideration, especially about how Wong was talking about being creative. Just look at how he uses Wolverine and Akuma, or Spiderman and Wesker (for unblockables). I think he was out to show everyone that Sentinel is NOT the only option.

>> Been sick all week. Sucks.

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