We got a chance to speak with Capcom’s Wes Phillips about the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Wes was on his way to the airport, but managed to squeeze us in to answer our questions about the new game.
It’s been over 10 years since the last Marvel vs. Capcom game. Why so long?
There’s so many properties involved and so many different license-holders. Half of the problem was wrangling all of those things together and half of an ending-game renaissance to get the sting back on track. It took a bit of time to get everything together, but we finally did it, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an awesome game.
Was Stan Lee involved with the game at all?
No, Stan Lee is not really directly involved, even though he created most of the characters, which is why his fingerprints have been on the title. It’s the hands-on development team that have fostered this baby to the world.
What is the background and setting for the game?
I don’t want to ruin it too much because the background is part of the story, but it obviously takes something significant to get these two worlds to come together. Let’s just say it might have something to do with an interdimensional portal (or one of those types of devices).
Do you start out with a subset of characters and unlock more as the game progresses?
You have access to just about all of the characters from the start. There’s four characters that are locked at the beginning but they’re fairly easy to unlock (no more than a few hours of play).
Are there any secret characters (beyond the locked four)?
Secret is used a little lightly. Akuma and Hsein-Ko from Darkstalkers, and Taskmaster and Sentinel from the Marvel Universe.
What environments or levels can the player fight in? Are there elements in each environment that players can use to their advantage?
The environments don’t necessarily interact with the characters directly, but they are cool. There are all sorts of iterations from the Marvel and Capcom universes. We have X-men stages, and a Metro City stage from Final Fight. We have a really cool Resident Evil lab setting where if you smash something then things will escape from their cages and start crawling around the stage. We even have a throwback to our old Ghosts and Goblins game with Arthur. There’s all sorts of crazy backgrounds from both universes. A lot is going on, but they don’t necessarily affect the gameplay experience.
In MvC2 there was an improved control system. I’ve heard rumors about the control scheme being updated again. Can you tell us about this new button system?
There are two button layouts in MvC3. There’s a “normal” control scheme and “simple mode”. What simple mode does is essentially assign some of the harder combos to particular buttons. A more experienced player might say “Oh, that’s not fair!” to pull off a combo so easily, but only a few of the combos are available in this mode. For instance, Dante has a few dozen moves he can pull off, but if you play in Simple Mode then you’re limited to four of five of them. Simple mode makes the game a little more accessible, but you’ll have to learn the combos to unleash the full power of each character. As a game developer it’s about opening up the game to a larger audience because we want more people playing, which is part of the rationale for implementing this basic control scheme.
What’s new about the “Evolved VS” Fighting system?
A big part of the game are “air combos” (when you attack your opponent up in the air). In the past, each command to launch your opponent in the air has been different for each character, but what we’ve done now is utilize a “special attach button” which is essentially a “universal launcher”. You don’t have to learn different launchers for each character, and it allows gamers to get into air combat more easily which will allow for more of the fun crazy battles.
We’ve also added the “X-Factor” element to the gameplay. Let’s say two of your guys are down and your opponent has three characters left. You can trigger “X-Factor” and get a small damage boost for a limited amount of time which might allow you to even out the odds a little bit.
How does the design team choose which of the characters’ powers to include in the game and keep gameplay fair?
It really depends on which universe you’re talking about. For Capcom we worked with the various producers of each respective game to make sure that each character falls within the confines of their particular game. We really do work to make sure that each character’s ability is true to their world.
Marvel has their own team that decides which powers to include in the game, and we come together to get everything just right. It’s been a really cool collaborative process, and it makes for a really detail-rich game.
Are there any moves that are locked out until later?
There are no moves that are locked out, but the way the VS system works is that you have a damage meter at the bottom in order to pull off specific moves. For instance, the Level 3 Hyper Combos are the most powerful, so you have to build up that amount before you can access those particular attacks. In another example, once Dead Pool reaches level 3 on the Damage Meter he will grab the life bar off the top, hit you with it and hit a Home Run with you. As you progress within a particular match you have access to better and better Hyper-Combos.
What can you tell us about the multiplay in the game and is there co-op?
We’re focusing on the core fun experience, which is the straight-up Versus mode and of course we have the high-quality online connection that you would expect from Capcom fighting games. When you get into a game it feels just as smooth as if someone was in the same room with you. One of the cool things we’re doing is we’re adding lobbies to MvC3 so you and seven of your other buddies can get together, pool up, and cycle through battles, talk smack to one another… it’s a pretty cool online addition to the game. We have some more things in store as we talk about downloadable content down the road, too.
How does 3-on-3 Tag Team Fighting work?
You control three different characters, and four attack buttons (Light, Medium, Hard, and a Special Attack). You also have two assist buttons, which are used by the characters that are off the screen at that particular time. You can tap the assist button, and that character will attack and then leave the screen again, or you can hold that button down to “tag out” and play as that new character. Each one of those buttons corresponds to a different fighter. If you want to switch Dante for Dead Pool, then hold down the first assist button, but if you then want Chun-Li, then hold down the second assist button.
The engine is based on Resident Evil 5 and Lost Planet 2, all of which are available on the PC? Why no PC version for MvC3?
As a company we never really eliminate the possibility of something, but there’s nothing to announce today. Right now we have no plans to announce any other platforms, but right now what we have announced is the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
When is the official release date?
Oh, yeah, the game comes out February 15th, 2011, so it’s right around the corner.
Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via
Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.