SRK just now posted an article detailing Capcom’s interest in rebalancing the game. I’m sure we all have a long list of what to change and what not, but I urge that we really evaluate concepts that make the game…more chaotic and random versus consistently skillful. So here are my issues with the game and what needs to be fixed beyond simple character buffs/nerfs.
Current State of the Game - Currently the game is still very open to much of the cast unlike MvC2. However 2 archetypes tend to dominate in high level play for the most part: TOD vortexes and Space Control Lockdown. The TOD vortex is the standard 1 combo kill with an ambiguous reset on incoming. Space Control Lockdown is using characters like Morrigan or Vergil to constantly keep the opponent pinned down till you open up. Typically these teams follow the concept of not letting the other player play once things get rolling, which leads to hype comebacks…but generally braindead gameplay once this establishes and turns into a dexterity competition. Gimicks and team tech have begun to thin out fundamentals and neutral game is occurring less and less with how far damage and synergy has come since Vanilla day1.
So what concepts are breaking the game?
TODs are too easy to accomplish and build - TODs make perfect sense in marvel, however currently a lot of characters can accomplish them for little effort, resources, or team consideration. Capcom took strides to lessen meter gain in attempts to lower damage output and nerf Phoenix indirectly, however combos and unexpected no-hitstun extensions have evolved too far and typically most teams can deal 1 mil with a single meter at start without need of X-factor. If your character can’t, simply adding a character like Vergil or Spencer, a free reset gimick, or a TAC infinite can give any character a free TOD. Team synergy to accomplish this is a good thing, but we are seeing it become too commonplace with too many mixes. Resources and shells need to be planned more carefully and give the player narrower options if they must have a TOD. There needs to be a sacrifice in utility or some other area to justify an easy TOD with a single character or pairing.
This has lead to making the game less deep by invalidating the need for neutral game resets, managing resources, and making characters who should do TODs invalidated by characters that shouldn’t by design (EX: hulk vs zero…why does zero get self 1meter TODs and hulk has to use a specific team???). We also have some characters that deal too much damage for minimal effort, making optimal combos laughably pointless at times (EX: doom s.HS, sjc.MM,footdive,footdive (x3!)).
Incoming vortexes - This is by far the worst problem in UMvC3 right now. In combination with easy access TODs, it’s not uncommon for wolverine or zero to open the match up with a hit and literally end the fight in 3 combos with 2 incoming vortexes. For the opponent, the incoming is a guess…it is not a skillful block unless the attacking player messes up and leaves an indication of the side to block. What we have is far too much reward for being hit and no real options for the other player. Sometimes these can be inescapable, give the attacker more free set ups to keep attacking even if you block right, etc… Basically the skill is purely in how ambiguous the set up can be crafted, but for the other player there’s no real level of training that can prepare you for high level set ups that are truly ambiguous.
A simple fix of letting incoming choose a direction to emerge or placing a temporary scaling penalty to a combo if hit (similar to a throw which scales damage and hitstun remaining). The offense deserves neutral game advantage, however they do not deserve a free setup with no consideration to the actions of the second player. This is a two player game, not a combo video. You shouldn’t be rewarded for a guess scenario that wasn’t set up in neutral game. Calling jam session and running under the opponent who can’t even see you is not exactly a skill intensive effort that should yield a free TOD followup because they guessed wrong. The incoming opponent is already disadvantaged by a lost teammate and a 4 second penalty denying them access to assists, alpha counters, THCs, DHCs, hard tags, and a forced arc of movement.
Some characters have excelled beyond their design - I think the worst case of this is Zero. Zero has high priority normals, great movement, self setting cross ups/mix ups, gimicks, auto correcting safe buster, etc… This character is blatantly designed to open the opponent up and have a dominating neutral game. The trade off was low damage and low life…however with TODs so highly prevalent, life totals have become more meaningless and Lightning Loop has now made Zero one of the most efficient self sustaining TOD vortexs in the game for very low meter limitations. The character has exceeded his role as a low damage mix/up and heavy priority character that would need a heavy hitter normally to deal damage, burn 3 meter, or depend on drop combo resets. The character now doesn’t need to focus on those problems and has a free pass to build teams to fill his other gaps, leaving no real weakness to the character unlike others who must pick and choose what they can or cant have in the end.
This is simple a matter of forcing characters into respective archetypes. Strider is a great example of how Zero should work out. He possess great neutral game advantage and very solid assists, however he must work really hard for damage or burn resources that may not guarantee a full comeback. He is a balanced. As well reset heavy characters should not be out damaging heavy hitters like Hulk who must work hard to get in and land a hit.
X-Factor offensive perks - I fully believe in the concept of a comeback factor in UMvC3. Why? Because without it the game snowballs as you lose utility. It cripples the opponent too much after the fact. The solution however needs to work as an equilibrium…not a get out of jail free insane mode. The idea behind it should be one that is more defensive in nature not offensive. Right now it can be used as an offensive tool for insane dmg buffs, speed to dominate neutral game, and worst of all punishing the opponent on block for a free kill. There’s a lot of room for thought, but at the end X-Factor should be about aiding survivability and compensating for loss of utility of an assist. Concepts to play with are more healing, less damage taken, armor, buffing only hyper dmg or certain moves not normals, bursting out of combos or adding hitstun penalty if you get hit, both characters return to neutral (canceling an attack but removing the freebie punish factor), etc… X-factor needs to balance the playing feel, not hand you control.
TACs - In short TAC infinites need to go, but more importantly the concepts of TACs don’t work. TAC’s give 3 specific perks and a free character swap out. The idea is that the 3 perks will give a mindgame of wagering at risk of dropping the combo. Up - more dmg, down - free meter, side - steal meter. Now combos have made up and down completely pointless since you will likely deal more damage and gain enough meter to make it a mute point. The side is the only true perk that gives the defending player a coherent mind game. If the offense doesn’t care about stealing meter, they likely don’t care what option they pick so long as it works. The mind game is broken, we are now just guessing.
TAC’s need to accept the trade off that you broke the combo and the swap out and immediate perk should be more than enough with a small ender after wards to wrap it up. This means the up and down need to be reevaluated. Down should provide more meter or something related, and up needs a whole new perk added to it. Perks that would create a solid mind game of utility between the 3 are: regen red health, dmg or speed buff after the combo ends, snap back, debuff to opponent such as slow, etc… So rather than be about guessing it becomes more about locking out the option you dont want your opponent to get. This also means the combo following should be very limited as the rewards are already justified for the attempt.
Unblockable/inescapable vortexes - This is a gray area, sometimes this is justified by needing a very specific team that can fall apart to make it a risk/reward, but sometimes they can cheat the game and win the whole match. This is mostly still in relation to incoming, but beyond the initial incoming attempt there’s some dirty vortexes that can repeat to get easy TODs and too many free set ups. There should be unblockables indeed, but in terms of free setups they simply just need to be looked at. Being hit by an unblockable should come at the price of doing something wrong in the neutral game to get set up.
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER - The FGC adopts a wonderful concept of “adapt, don’t nerf”. However I feel this is a philosophy that makes a better player, not a better game. At the end of the day you need to ask, does current tech add depth? Or invalidate options and make it more shallow? Buffs can fix neutral game and output issues, but sometimes rewards and options are too strong with disregard to what the other player can do. I see UMvC3 as intensely over buffed. Giving you tools to fight zero or vergil doesn’t change the fact they output way too much damage and gain too much reward once you are hit or blocking. Basically it’s like firing at the hip with bazookas right now. We need to see neutral game options become more prevalent and free kills and set ups become more justified. I think it’s fair to say that sometimes the character makes a bigger difference than the player more often than it should.