Capcom flew over to NY to invite fans for yet another Fight Club event where the biggest, and proudest fans come to battle it out one-on-one. We got to attend the event, and got some personal hands on time later at our offices with Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom to check out the new characters, stages and gameplay changes.

Marketing Coordinator Ryan McDougall led us through the game. We won’t say that we were able to keep up with Ryan necessarily, but we got to pick his brain about the game whilst mid-battle. Read on for questions and answers about the bulked out MvC3 title.

Ryan's Introduction

This is the newest, greatest crossover battle game. We're adding 12 new characters, 8 new stages and remixing the match-ups to be more of a strategic fighter.

Obviously there is strategy and tactics with what we saw in MvC3, but it had a greater than normal emphasis on execution, which saw to the most finite stage of gameplay being overly emphasized. So we looked at that and asked, “How can we make this game a little bit more accessible to people who play fighting games or play video games but aren't hardcore MvC3 players?”

If somebody could play Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, NBA 2K11; if they can understand video games and understand its strategies, they can pick up a game like this and not have to catch up as much with somebody who's a hardcore MvC3 player.

We’re looking to have a more balanced battlefield, and pick up some new customers who aren't as experienced with this brand. Still, all of your old favorites are back. We're not getting rid of anything. The reasons people love the first one are still all here. We’re adding features on top of that to try to make it more accessible.

First and foremost: the 12 new characters. Obviously, the more characters, the better. We added these 12 based on our focus on gaining a diversity of gameplay. That's the reason this isn't Street Fighter. It's MvC3. The goal is to find characters that do things that no one else on the cast can do. The two we added that we’re showing off – Dr. Strange and Nemesis – are representative of that.

Dr. Strange is a brand new character. I'll show you a lot of his tricks. Nemesis is an old Resident Evil favorite, so a lot of people are excited to have him in the game. He's too big and too strong and got too many big tentacles coming out of so many parts of him. We just revealed these two characters on Wednesday (August 17th). So last night [at Fight Club] was the first time anybody in North America could get his or her hands on it. We bring the freshest stuff to the New York Fight Clubs.

Every character now has six default costumes. Check out Spiderman's costume there. He's rocking the Fantastic Four costume from his brief recent stint in the Fantastic Four.

They are inspired by different parts of the comic book history and our gaming history. They actually went back to the SNES game, War of the Gems, to pull out some of the costumes to really emphasize the collaboration with Marvel full-circle. Capcom and Marvel.

The goal with Ghost Rider was to be consistent with his comic inspiration. Ghost Rider is obviously a character with a lot of fans in the Marvel world, and we wanted to make him as accurate to that as possible. From the gameplay perspective, he plays a little bit like Street Fighter’s Dhalsim – the stretchy yoga master. He can control a lot of space at once with his normal attacks.

That long and diagonal chain whip is probably the most powerful jumping attack outside of Wolverine's dive-kicks. It allows him to control this huge swath of the screen, and I can't do much there because he's controlling the space so well.

Strider and Dr. Strange are what I would call glass cannons, meaning they are extremely potent offensive weapons but don't take a lot of damage before dying. Nemesis is the exact opposite of that. He's got more health than any character in the game. He can really take a beating. He's almost impossible to kill. Obviously the trade off is that he is not very mobile at all. Almost any attack will hit him, because even if you aim way too high he's just so huge.

The little balls I'm dropping (as Dr. Strange) here set up across the battlefield. When I cast that green ball, it will track between all the little ones that I cast earlier.

Dr. Strange is probably the most extreme example to our point that we're trying to make the game a little bit more strategic and focus a little bit more on projectiles. We see dealing with projectiles and controlling the battlefield to be a little bit more of an intuitive part of the game, and it allows for a deeper strategy. Dr.Strange probably more so than any existing character is all about that type of play.

But we also took existing characters and tweaked them to align more with that strategy. Magneto, for instance, canonically does not go around punching people in the face. That's not his thing. That's the realm of Hulk and Wolverine. When MvC3 first came out, because the character was made so fast, he was what was called a rush-down character. Magneto would always be right on top of the opponent, really trying to get in his face and do as much damage as possible.

That didn't really jive with the definition of the Marvel character because that's not what he does in the comics, but neither with our overall goal of making the game less about execution and more about tactics and strategies.

So – as a solution to both those problems – we added a new move for Magneto that an actually control the opponent. It can push them out of the air, pull them towards you or push them away from you. So that's a great example of controlling space and controlling the battlefield. It's also more in line with how Magneto behaves in the comics. And on top of that, we made him slower to force the player to play him slightly differently than they may have in MvC3. It's not gonna make him weaker, it's not gonna make him stronger. It just changes the way that he behaves.

Like I was saying before, we have all new costumes for the characters. Magneto gets a new costume. They're all gonna have six costumes overall, which is two more each than MvC3.

Capcom for whatever reason has one of the worlds finest collections of Dr. Strange fans. Our office is obsessed with Dr. Strange. So we've all been pushing, cheering for him in the game. Based on his comic history, it's not obvious how he would translate to a fighting game. So we're very cautious about how to bring him in this universe in a way that makes sense. He was one of the hardest to really design in a way that's balanced and will be competitive but at the same time is accurate to his comic persona.

Complex: Besides Dr. Strange, how were the other new characters selected?

Ryan: It is a collaboration between Capcom and Marvel. Each group has their set of interests and priorities. From the Marvel perspective, a character like Hawkeye makes a ton of sense. He's in the Avengers. He's going to be more a part of their universe soon.

If you're a comics-nerd, they've got characters like Rocket Raccoon and Nova who are of late more and more stars in their universes. So it's their preference to use the characters that are popular right noqw, and that they are promoting.

From the Capcom perspective, we really focus on what kind of diversity we can bring to the cast. That's the reason we make a crossover game like this, is to do something very unique and bizarre.

A character like Firebrand fits that definition perfectly. For starters, he's not human, which is something that we are prioritizing. He's a Capcom villain, which is something that Marvel had more than Capcom does, so we are aiming to get a bad guy (so to speak) in there.

He's a very unique character. Whenever he does an attack from the air, he gets launched back into a flying state, so that means he's almost constantly going to be in the air. That's where he does his best work essentially. And that really differentiates him from the rest of the cast that is more predictably grounded.

If you played MvC2, Strider is everything that you remember and more.

[Getting her ass kicked by Ryan] And Amaterasu is even more deadly.

Yeah, Amaterasu is really the only character I can play up. She really brings a lot of trouble to the battlefield.

So when Marvel and Capcom get together to decide characters, what's current and recent in our games and our comics, as well as what brings the most diversity to the cast are the two things that we focus most on.

Diversity in terms of the kind of character, and also their gameplay abilities?

Yeah, exactly. Firebrand is a good example. We try and get more characters from more games and, like you said, diversity in terms of their gameplay.

There’s the critique of Ken and Ryu. We didn't put Ken in this game, and there are a lot of Ken fans out there who want him. Ken plays a lot like Ryu. Ken would've taken the place of someone like Amaterasu who has her own Okami fans, and really is a brand new fighter. No fighting game out there has a character like Amaterasu. That's generally what drives us to a) make this game, and b) make the decisions about the cast.

Obviously there are characters out there that everyone would have loved. There are Okami fans that think that there should have been six Okami characters instead of one. There are Resident Evil fans who think there should be more characters from the series. So we tried to balance it out and get as many of our fans happy as possible. But it turns out that's impossible so we'll keep working on it.

Are there plans for a DLC for new characters after these?

We don't have any announcements for upcoming DLC for new characters. However, the two characters that were DLC in MvC3 are actually still downloadable in Ultimate Marvel. If you downloaded them the first time, you already have them, so you're golden. But if you're a new customer to Ultimate Marvel, they are still a downloadable content service.

But we do have a variety of other non-character DLC. We've already announced some pre-order costumes, and overall costumes. That type of content is more suitable for DLC for this title, but we'll keep an eye out for more.

So why is this a standalone title?

That's a question we get a lot and it makes a lot of sense. When we looked at it, there are two main issues.

First, the amount of content we put into this. There are obviously the 12 characters. There are the 8 new background stages. But there are also a lot of gameplay tweaks. Not only do a lot of characters get new moves, but we've also changed the fundamentals of the gameplay. X-factor is now activated in-air as well as on the ground, and features like that are not easy to integrate into an existing engine. You can't necessarily simply plug them in. So we looked at it from that perspective as a daunting technical challenge.

At the same time, we looked at it from the perspective of a customer. Now, for a customer who owns MvC3 to pay on a per-character basis for the 12 character upgrade as well as the additional content is going to be an expensive proposition. But on top of that, the customers that we were really focused on are brand new customers who don't own MvC3. And to get this level of content, it would be a capital investment in MvC3. The DLC on top of that would end up being extremely high variant entry.

So bringing it to a $40 price point seemed like the right thing to do so that new customers get a discount, and old customers who own MvC3 can upgrade for less than the price of the DLC. So it works out in both ways.

What can you tell me about the design of the UI? I've heard people say that it's not as clear as its predecessor was.

The goal overall, first and foremost, is to ensure that everyone is aware that you should not go an entire match without using X-Factor. That's something that we saw a lot of new players miss in MvC3. X-Factor is a very important part of this game. It can make any match exciting. It creates a lot of comeback potential and a lot of crazy shenanigans in the game that are fun to watch. So ensuring that everyone knows how to use X-Factor was a priority from a UI standpoint. It's difficult to look up there without realizing, yes or no, I've used X-Factor.

On top of that people are afraid about reading the assist. The good news is that if you close your eyes and play the game, it's the exact same game. The assist will do the same thing. The fact that we moved one above is more in line with the way they come into the screen, but it's not changing the nature of the gameplay.

In playing the internal builds, you get used to in like an hour and a half maximum. It's people who see it for the first time, and quite understandably, I'm not surprised. When I first saw it I was like, “Why? Why is that?” But as soon as you get your hands on it, it's really easy.

So you basically wanted to change the emphasis on what people were paying attention to?

Yeah. And overall it's nice to see a new shiny product. It's a new look for a new game.

[Starts playing as Nemesis]

And there's Nemesis for you.

He's so clunky.

Clunky is the right word. The flip side of that is that he gets to do an incredible amount of damage. And he takes very little damage.

[Playing as Ghost Rider]

All right, leather jacket fight!

[Activated in-air X-Factor with huge and clunky Nemesis]

That's the air X-factor activated. For the combo kids out there who like to build out ridiculously long combos, that is going to unlock a whole new realm of possibilities. The X-factor allows you to restart a combo midway, so they're going to be able to double the length of the combos in some cases.

[Playing as Dr. Strange]

[Playing as Dormammu]

This is a classic comics match-up. Dr. Strange and Dormammu are enemies in the comics, so when we added Dormammu to the game everybody's like, “You've got to add Dr. Strange.”

It's only sensible.

Yeah, makes a lot of sense. So we're happy to have them in here.

I think Dr. Strange is my favorite so far from the new characters. He’s got some really cool moves.

He's definitely got a very unique style. I like his tights.

[Laughs]

Don't laugh!

[Both laugh]

[Countering my attack]

That's a counter-move. I can outer any of his beams. If he hits me, I can push it back. I'll just teleport right here, don't worry about it.

So what are the new background stages?

We added 8 new stages. They're all sort of remixes of existing stages. The stage we’re at – sort of this laboratory – we added a remix where it’s on fire and everything escaped and we added a bunch of little Resident Evil style touches in there. It’s built off this same stage, but it’s taking it in a very different direction. We’ve added the Metro City stage, the city Haggar’s the mayor of. And yes, we did wrestling governors before real governors did that.

We added Marvel elements to the Capcom stages, and we added Capcom elements to the Marvel stages. There is a total of 17 stages overall. There are a big variety of backgrounds and places to fight. We added Dark Daredevil to one of the Capcom stages. Shadowlands, from one of the recent Marvel comics. Daredevil goes from a good guy to a bad guy and leads the cult that he used to be fighting against, so we added those more recent Marvel elements like that into it.

Overall, I would say the texture and the flavor of the game have been updated a lot. Take Hawkeye as a simple example. As a member of the Avengers, he recognizes the other Avengers and he’ll say as much. All the win quotes are updated; a lot of the endings of the characters are updated. Phoenix Wright – who will be in the game – appeared in She Hulk’s ending. Now that Phoenix Wright is in the game, we have to update She Hulk’s ending and rewrite it. That’s true in a couple of cases, where we’re updating brand new endings like that.

My favorite elements are when the Capcom characters and the Marvel characters interact. Like Spencer from Bionic Commando. If you fight him against Iron Man, Iron Man will say something like, “What, couldn’t afford the whole suit?” when he takes the field.

Just really snarky comments back and forth?

That’s the fun of it when we get the Marvel universes and the Capcom universes in the same game. It’s not canonical, but it’s not supposed to be taken super seriously. You might as well have that kind of fun with it. I’m happy that they have been able to include that type of touch.

[Playing as Strider and really killing it]

Strider is from MvC2, the fan favorite from that game. We added him back to really touch on our roots. It’s been a long, long time since we made a Strider game. At this point, he’s best known for being in our versus series. He’s always been an effective character. He’s incredibly popular.

So who’s your favorite?

I play a lot of Haggar, I like his pipe. Amaterasu is fun because she’s such a unique character. And obviously I should say Ryu because he practically employs me.

[Both laugh]

On the Marvel side, Phoenix is fun. Phoenix is a very hit and miss character. She has the lowest health in the game but if she dies with five hyper bars (those bars on the bottom) she is resurrected as Dark Phoenix who is easily the most powerful character in the game.

If you’re able to do that, then you stand a very good chance at winning the match. If you’re not able to do that, then you just play with one of the weakest characters in the game and stand a very good chance of losing the match. It’s very much all in; all or nothing.

Like I was saying, overall thematically we’re aiming for a more strategic experience. Like with Hawkeye.

Is that because he’s a distance fighter?

Exactly. So he’s got 16 different projectile attacks that all do different things, and he’s overall really built to keep his distance. A lot of his moves push him away at the same time that they are fired, so he can build space like that.

Overall, you’re going to be really not just the opponent, but the space on the screen. If you back yourself into a corner, you’re gonna get trapped. Hawkeye really teaches you to learn spacing, to learn how to control the environment.

What's your opinion that some people have said that this is an easy fighting game to button mash your way through?

I think it's great that this game is seen as accessible for new fans. It's a very colorful game, it's a very exciting game, so it's something that a lot of people can pick up and actually have a good time. They get to see the effects of their play live on the screen.

But if you look at this game compared to any other fighting game, it's probably the most technically advanced game we've ever developed. The amount of stuff that has not been discovered, the amount of techniques every character has at their disposal is greater than Tatsunoko vs Capcom, it's greater than MvC 2, it's greater than Street Fighter. There's a much larger variety here, and accessible depth.

People who are new to it are able to pick it up. But then they realize, slowly, that there's this huge depth of content left to be discovered.

And skill, I'm sure, or I hope.

Well, that's the thing we're addressing now with this greater emphasis on strategy. The previous game had this over emphasis on just exact execution. By developing more of an emphasis on strategy, that allows new players to compete with players who are more experienced, and you get a faster learning curve.

Capcom is dedicated to teaching and developing players. We've developed a video series where we get pro players to give coaching lessons to new players. We will, whenever asked, give advice and help on strategies.

The reason we come to these Fight Clubs is to get feedback from our fans and to talk to them. There is nothing we are more dedicated to than growing the fighting community, and that's starting with new players. That's our life-blood: new players.

Did anything change in the way of a tutorial? Because I remember when I was trying to get a hang of all the moves, the free play didn't really help me out. Playing the missions did because at least it's set up moves that you can conduct individually at your own pace with at least some guidance.

Well, we're taking our tutorials to the Internet. We're looking at more creative examples to get players into the game. This will have a built out, single player mission system that will be a lot more robust than MvC3, but we're also gonna have a series of produced videos coming out for the purpose of teaching new players. So the training mode remains the same, and the single player content is going to be blown out.

The other thing in terms of getting new players more experienced is spectator mode. That's something for online play, something a lot of our fans demanded, and like I was saying that's why we go to Fight Clubs, to learn what our fans demand.

Spectator mode allows players online to watch other players in their lobby, or if there's a high level match going on, you can essentially develop a digital crowd and join and watch those matches.

It's something that our fans wanted; it's something that we strongly believe will result in more online videos of the game. So you're going to have more recordings, more people sharing their content, and more people really digging into teaching the game and learning the game. So that definitely is one of our big priorities.

What'd you guys learn from yesterday's Fight Club?

Dr. Strange needs explanation, cause it's not immediately obvious what's going on with him. I think the nature of Fight Club is a little bit rough because of the free play. People get 90 seconds, and then have to wait 10 minutes. That’s a function of our games being popular. But, when people get their hands on it we want people to know exactly what Dr. Strange is capable of, so we'll see if we can address that.

Then, the roster. Capcom has the most vocal fan-base of all of our different games. People really want to see their favorites put into game. But what we learned is that people are actually incredibly understanding when we talk about why we made the decisions we made. They're extremely positive about the idea of gameplay versus gameplay variety. That's sort of something everyone can agree on.

Stuff like, “This characters cool, I want him in the game?”

Yes, Exactly. So it's a matter of dedication. We're really dedicated to getting out and talking to fans and communicating with them: this is the inside of the development; this is how these decisions are made. And, yes, we hear you. We know that you think this character is popular. We agree, we're fans, too. But, hear us out. Let us talk a little bit about why that character is not a good fit for a fighting game in a 3D world.

Was there a character that the majority of people were clamoring for?

[Looks away] Yeah. Megaman.

Ah, true. Is that a sore topic now?

I played so much Megaman I almost dropped out of college. Everyone in our office is a huge fan of Megaman. There's no ill will towards Megaman fans. But, the problem with Megaman and MvC3 is if you take an 8-bit character, you would either have to play him as a 2D sprite in a 3D world, or you have to render him out as some sort of 3D figure.

Which would of course piss off some fans.

Yep. On top of that, when we looked at the original cast and what Megaman would do, he's a strictly projectile character and doesn't have the versatility of approaches that even Hawkeye has or Arthur from our side has.

The decision was made that he didn't bring enough to the table to merit a spot. What's good about that is we're able to bring other characters that have their own fan-bases, their own following. Characters like Strider; characters like Nemesis. We're gonna have Virgil coming up; Frank West. You know, other big name characters are gonna be able to get into the game.

But, we know there are plenty of Megaman fans out there. That's why we come to these events, to hear that and communicate that. We definitely understand our fans; we definitely do listen to them. That's one of the most important things to Capcom.

Starting up another round

In this stage, you can see Dark Daredevil back there. That's what I was talking about. That's one of Dr. Strange's ways of keeping away. Sort of a melee in balance to that. So that's the remix of a different stage but we added this new element with Dark Daredevil.

Did you happen to see any of the news coming out of the EVO fighting game championship? It was a couple of weeks back, we had a big space in Las Vegas for the eighth annual championship. It's all the biggest fighting-game players in the world. And it's the world championships of Street Fighter, MvC3, and a couple of other Tekken games and what not.

The winner who won that played a Wesker-Haggar-Phoenix team; he played very well. He was one of the guys that helped us coach our community. So it was good to see one of our coaches from our series actually win that world championship. We had a little over two million people tune in to watch. So it was a pretty incredible number.

Have any questions about the game that we missed? Drop us a comment and we’ll be sure to get to it. Let’s keep the Megaman hostility to a minimum, though, kay?

We’d also like to thank Ryan McDougall and Honey Hamilton from Capcom for visiting us with Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.