Kickstart Guide to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

(Originally posted on Splitkick with minor edits)

It’s easy to be intimidated by or dismissive of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. With so many characters and projectiles flying around the screen at breakneck speed, it can look like an indecipherable laser light show or mindless button-masher. In reality, it’s one of the deepest, most exciting, and rewarding fighters out there. With its recent port to the PlayStation 4 and the release of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite looming, now’s a great time to play this killer crossover title.

The learning curve is definitely steep, but not insurmountable. With the help of this Kickstart Guide, you’ll hopefully gain a better understanding of the game’s crazier aspects while preparing yourself to take on the world.

I get by with a little help from my friends

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 contains a number of team-based gameplay mechanics to master. The most important of these is the assist system. While you have full control over one character at a time, you also can call on one of your off-screen characters to hop in and execute a move before quickly exiting the battlefield. By leveraging assists to their full potential, they can compensate for a point character’s weaknesses, improve their strengths, and/or open up opportunities that they wouldn’t have as a solo act.

As a newcomer, you might be intimidated by the thought of having to control three characters at once. In the heat of the moment, you might even forget that assists are an option. Both of these scenarios usually end with you not using them at all, which puts you at a big disadvantage. One way to break down those mental barriers is by thinking of assists as one-button special moves rather than a means of controlling multiple characters at once. This is a much simpler concept to grasp and one that will hopefully help you take advantage of the mechanic more liberally.

Great alone, even better together

Once you’re comfortable with using assists, you’re ready to start optimizing your team with the right ones. What constitutes an assist being right depends heavily on the characters you use, which one is on point, and how you want to make that point character better. This is a process that is going to require some trial-and-error in training mode, so be prepared to experiment with a number of combinations before you find the right set for you. Let’s create an example team together with Wolverine as our point character to demonstrate the type of thought process you should go through when selecting assists.

Wolverine is one of the best rushdown characters in the game. On the ground, he’s lightning quick and extremely hard to block once he gets in your face. However, he has a hard time closing the gap against characters with projectiles. With that in mind, let’s supercharge Wolverine with a set of assists that strengthen his mix-up game while covering his biggest deficiency.

(Fast forward 2:40)

To improve his mix-ups, let’s use Akuma’s hurricane kick as his first assist. If Akuma successfully connects, Wolverine can continue the offensive flurry into a full combo. If it’s blocked, they’re still not out of the woods. Since it’s a multi-hit attack, Akuma will pin down the blocking opponent, which leaves Wolverine free to execute a fast-hitting combination of high and/or low attacks that could hit on either side of your opponent’s body. If your opponent guesses wrong at any point in this barrage, then you can also continue the flurry for a full combo.

But what if you’re facing a character that is forcing you away with their projectiles? In that scenario, getting Akuma close enough to run the mix-up will be problematic. To address this, you can use a projectile attack as Wolverine’s second assist. One of the many projectile-based assists that works here is Dr. Doom’s Plasma Beam. With the right timing, Dr. Doom’s Plasma Beam can nullify most incoming projectiles, which gives Logan a window of opportunity to rush in.

This isn’t to say that Akuma’s hurricane kick and Dr. Doom’s Plasma Beam are the best for Wolverine, but it’s just an example of the type of thinking you should do when assembling a team with assists in mind. After you’ve gotten a few matches under your belt and have an idea of what you want out of a team, start experimenting with combinations in training mode to see what works for you. It will take time to find the perfect fit, but having that synergy between all of your characters will pay off in spades.

Might and Magic Series

It is very easy to get intimidated by a fighting game where combos routinely contain over 100 hits. You will not develop the ability to pull those off overnight, but you can set yourself on the road to success by understanding the Magic Series, which is the foundation for all combos in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Every character in the game has access to a Magic Series, which is a chain combo that they can execute on the ground or in the air. The ground version ends with them launching their opponent, while the air version knocks their foe back to the ground. While the actual chain possibilities vary slightly from character-to-character, the general notations for the Magic Series are as follows:

Ground: L, M, H, S
Air: M, M, H, S

Knowing this, you can create a simple combo where you start with the ground Magic Series, launch your opponent, follow them into the skies, and send them crashing to the ground with the air version. Once you get familiar with this concept, you can begin to build on that sequence with more moves for maximum damage.

The Jordan Rules

Most sports teams are comprised of a mix of superstars and role players. In the world of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, that adage also holds true. Your opponent’s superstar might be their ferocious lead character that can wipe out your whole team before you get the chance to press a button. They might be the anchor character that is capable of pulling off an epic comeback when the chips are down. They might even be someone whose primary function is to act as an assist. Whoever that stud is, it’s in your best interest to take them out of the equation quickly. By doing so, you’ll not only cut the heart out of your opponent’s team, but also break your opponent’s psyche for the rest of the match.

First, you need to figure out who that superstar is. If you’re playing against someone in an extended set of matches, you’ll have time to isolate the problem. In a one-off online ranked match, you can make an educated guess before it starts based on the characters they’ve selected and the order they’re arranged in. For instance, an opponent with Zero as their point character is a good sign that he’s the focal point of the team based on his inherent strengths at that position. Or, if you see a Phoenix in the anchor position, you definitely know that your opponent’s entire strategy will revolve around generating enough super meter to summon Dark Phoenix. With enough practice and character knowledge under your belt, you’ll develop a sense of which characters will pose the biggest threat based on how they’re arranged.

Once you’ve set your sights on a target, make it a priority to take them out early. Doing this is straightforward when the problem is your rival’s first character. If your target is in the second or third slot, you can still force their hand with a Snapback, which will knock your opponent’s point character out while forcing the off-screen character of your choice in. You can execute one by inputting quarter-circle forward and that character’s corresponding assist button. Be warned that Snapbacks require 1 bar of meter to use and they can be blocked, so use them wisely.

A successful Snapback will throw your opponent off their routine and likely put them in panicked and defensive state. While their guard is down, hit that star character with everything you’ve got. If they’re able to escape and you still feel that they’re a threat, keep snapping them in until you can finish them off.

X marks the spot

X-Factor is one of the most precious resources you have at your disposal. By activating this one-time power-up, it grants your team with a speed boost, damage boost, recharges your red life, and your team becomes impervious to chip damage. Because the effect of X-Factor is most dramatic when a team only has one member left, many players simply save it for the end as last ditch effort to turn the match around.

This in itself is a sound strategy, but you’re selling its benefits short. In particular, the act of X-Factor cancelling opens up a new world of possibilities. By using it mid-combo, you can create new and more damaging sequences that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. This is incredibly handy when you have the opportunity to kill two characters at once, or a chance to kill the final character.

X-Factor cancels can also serve as a viable counter to an opponent’s offensive assault. For instance, you normally don’t have enough time to hit Wolverine after you block his dive kick. However, if you activate it as soon as the move is blocked, your follow-up attack will be fast enough to catch him before he lands. Finish him off with a combo and you’ve successfully turned the tables in your favor. There are a number of moves in the game that are punishable in that exact manner, so keep that in mind if your foe is laying it on thick.

Regardless of what you use it for, always make it count. The worst thing you can do is to unleash it and not inflict any meaningful damage before it runs out. At that point, you’re in for an uphill battle.

I wanna take you for a ride

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s brand of action isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science for outsiders looking in, either. With the learnings from this Kickstart Guide, you’re hopefully a few steps closer to dishing out Galactus-sized beatings on the competition.

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