Fighting games can be very intimidating for a newbie. Learning the staggering complexities of a fighting game can take months and actually putting them into practice effectively can take years so understand that it’s a very daunting task that not all gamers are dedicated enough to learn. However, I’m here to help some of you Marvel vs. Capcom 3 newbies out there by doing an informational post. We already did two for Black Ops’ Zombies mode (Part 1 and Part 2) so I’m going to take over for Jon and do one for MvC3. I’m by no means claiming to be a high level player but I feel I have a solid enough understanding of the mechanics and theory as well as have been playing MvC long enough to teach a newbie the ropes.
I have to say that although Capcom made many changes to the series to make it as accessible as possible, it’s still a very complex game to learn compared to FPS and action games so be prepared for a steep learning curve. Although I am going to start with the basics, I’m going to assume you already know how to block, move, jump, how to do special moves (fireballs and such) and how your Hyper meter works. That information is in the manual and the inputs for all special moves and Hyper combos are listed in the “Command List” section of the pause menu so check there if you’re unsure, although I’ll answer any questions you have in the comments. And keep in mind that all information here is assuming you have Normal Mode enabled. Simple Mode maps certain special moves and Hyper combos to a single button but if you want to get better, you must turn this mode off immediately as it’ll only make you worse. Let’s get into it.
-Blocking: This is such a simple thing to do and is the cornerstone of any player. I’m sure you already know to hold the back direction to block but if you’re unfamiliar with fighters, you might not understand how attacks are still getting through. Attacks come in three forms: high, mid and low. To block low, hold down-back (crouch and block), which prevents any low attacks. However, high attacks will still hit you and so you must block high by simply holding back. Either version will block mid attacks. With the fast pace of MvC, you might have a hard time distinguishing when to block high and low. This is not an easy thing to do because most players will frequently mix highs and lows to bypass your block. A jumping block will block everything and is the safest to do. However, throws cannot be blocked in any situation.
-Movement: Now I said I’m not going to cover movement but I wanted to point out here that besides walking forwards, backwards, jumping and crouching, there are more advanced ways of moving. You can super jump by quickly pressing down and then up. This is a handy way to jump over someone spamming projectiles (it’s also the only way to avoid Galactus’ hand clap attack in Arcade mode). You can dash by quickly pressing forward or back twice. Alternatively, you can also dash by pressing any two attack buttons along with a direction. Most characters can cancel their dash with any normal move or a crouch. By rapidly alternating between dashing and crouching (by pressing two attack buttons followed by a crouch repeatedly) this can be a quick way to move along the ground and is referred to as wave-dashing.
With certain characters, dashing can also be done in the air. Some characters can only air-dash forward and backwards whereas other characters can air-dash in all eight directions. The latter can take advantage of something called triangle jumping by jumping towards an opponent then immediately air-dashing down-towards. This can lead to some tricky mixups and fast attacks. Some characters also have the ability to double jump, wall jump or even fly while others have a teleport. Teleports and fly mode will be listed as special moves both in the manual and in the “Command List” section of the pause menu but air-dashing, wall jumping and double jumping will not so you have to figure those out on your own. Experiment with different characters and learn what they’re capable of.
-Character, Team and Assist selection: There’s 36 characters in the game and for the most part, all of these characters play drastically differently. Play with all of them a couple of times or jump into the Mission mode to first get a feel for the cast then narrow them down to a handful that you like and fit your playstyle. It’s very important to know your characters’ strengths and weaknesses and play to those. After choosing a character, you get to pick one of three assist moves that they’ll perform when you press the assigned partner button. Get to know your characters inside and out so take the time to go through each assist move of your team individually as well as learning all of their individual normal moves, special moves and combos and when to best use them.
Many people make the mistake of simply choosing a team of three characters they really like or are really good at. This is a team game so pick a team that compliments each other. For example, projectile assists are great for helping a close-quarters character get inside and are also vital for teleport characters to cross up (meaning to quickly move behind your opponent, forcing them to change their block direction) and assists that hold opponents in place are great for extending combos. Team chemistry will be even more important when I get into more advanced stuff later.
It should be noted that any assist character that is hit takes one and a half times the damage they would normally take if they were the point character so use assists often but don’t spam randomly because a good player will punish you severely for mistimed assists.
-Cancelling, Links, Combos and the Magic Series: A combo is a string of attacks where if you land the first hit, your opponent can literally do nothing until you either finish or mess up in the execution. The foundation of the combo is cancelling and linking. Cancelling is where you input an attack to cancel the animation of your previous attack, usually by inputting the next move as soon as possible, leaving not even a single frame for your opponent to recover and block. Linking is a similar concept except since you are not cancelling the previous move, it usually requires the next move to be done with a specific timing.
The simplest combo is known as the Magic Series. This is something that has been in MvC since the beginning and was meant as an easier method for people to do combos. The Magic Series is applicable for just about every character and is essentially simply pressing Light, Medium and Heavy attack in that order. If you want to, you can then hit the Special button (aka the launcher) to launch the opponent into the air and you can jump to continue the combo by inputting the Magic Series followed by the Special button again (so essentially L, M, H, S, jump, L, M, H, S will combo, launch, air combo and knock them down).
There will be some variations of the Magic Series between characters. On the ground, some characters can even do a full six hit combo before launching by using the standing and crouching attacks while some other characters’ attacks will whiff, preventing you from continuing the series so you might be forced to skip the Light attack with that character in order for the Hard to connect, for example. Although the basic Magic Series will work for most characters, you’ll need to experiment and learn the most effective variation of it for your character as the foundation for your combos. Once you have this basic combo down, you can move onto ways to extend the combo by using knockdowns, assists and Team Aerial Combos (I’ll explain these later).
Throwing out Hyper (aka Super) combos randomly is not a good idea because the long start-up animation gives the opponent time to block and you’ll end up wasting a Hyper meter doing only chip damage (the small amount of damage that is done while blocking) or even worse, get punished by your opponent. It’s very important to learn what normal and special moves can combo into your Hyper so that your opponent has no chance to block it. There’s no rule for this so again, experimentation is the only way.
So you now have your preferred characters, you’ve experimented with all of them, can pull off their special moves and Hyper combos at will and you can do the simple Magic Series for basic combos. So where do we go from here? Next I’m going to go through some more advanced techniques, give you a little knowledge of how people are doing these crazy combos and with practice, take your game to the next level. Now I should say here that these “Advanced” techniques are not actually that advanced for someone well versed in the series but I would consider them advanced for a beginner.
-Advancing Guard (aka Push Blocking): When you’re up against a rush-down character like Wolverine, it can be difficult to guess whether they will attack low or high and oftentimes when you’re pushed into the corner, you just get overwhelmed. There’s a defense against that called Push Blocking (now called Advancing Guard in MvC3). By pressing any two attack buttons while blocking, you’ll push the opponent to the opposite side of the screen, giving yourself breathing room to call an assist, do a counter attack or simply to get the hell out of there. This will be your last line of defense against rush-down players and is very effective.
-Snap Backs: If you’ve noticed, hitting an enemy decreases the enemy’s life bar but there will be some red extending further. If the player tags that character out, the red life will recover, making this a useful strategy to save a character’s life. However, if the opponent does this, you can use Snap Backs to kick out the opponent’s current character and force the almost dead character back into the fray, thus losing the recoverable health and allowing you to finish them off. This is done by doing a quarter-circle forward motion (aka fireball/ Hadouken motion) and hitting an assist button simultaneously (which assist button you press will dictate which character will be forced back in). This will use up a Hyper meter and the opponent can once again tag that character out after a few seconds so if you’re going to snap a character back in, make it worth the cost and make sure you kill them before the opponent can tag out again.
-Crossover Counter: Simply holding the assist button will tag out your point character for a partner but you can be hit on the way in and it’s not always a safe way to switch characters. You can tag in much more safely by doing a Cross-Over Counter. When blocking an attack, quickly hit forward and an assist button. This will swap out your character and cause your teammate to hit the enemy on the way in (again, the teammate will depend on which assist button you press). Keep in mind this will use up a Hyper meter but sometimes it’s worth it to save a character from dying.
-Team Aerial Combos (aka Aerial Exchange): Part of what makes air combos so long in MvC3 is the new Team Aerial Combo. This will not only safely tag in a partner but it happens in the middle of an air combo, allowing you to continue the combo with the incoming character for huge damage. There are a few variations of this. While in the middle of an air combo, you can press up along with the Special button (which causes the new character to to come in and hit the opponent at an upward angle), back or forward along with the Special button (which causes them to dive in from the side), or down with the Special button (which causes them to come in, bounce the opponent off the ground and continue the combo). Notably, the down version will also automatically give you one bar of Hyper meter and the side version will give you half a bar, making this a very easy way to build up meter. You can do this two times in a single combo string, allowing you to cycle through all three characters.
This can be countered however. If you’re getting air comboed and can guess which of the three directions your opponent will attempt to do an Aerial Exchange and hit the Special button, you will knock them away, automatically ending their combo. For example, if I think the opponent will do an up exchange, I’m going to hold up and hit the Special button. If I guessed right, I’ll end their combo and prevent the tag. As a force of habit, whenever I’m being air comboed and think they are going to Aerial Exchange, I usually hold a direction and mash the Special button so if they decide to Team Aerial Combo, I have a 1/3 chance of countering. There is a degree of guessing here, just like there is for blocking high or low, but if the opponent uses an up exchange to tag in the second character, for example, they will usually do the same for the third so you can kind of predict where they will go for that second attempt. Likewise, when you’re the one performing the Team Aerial Combo, make sure to mix it up so the opponent has a harder time countering.
-Crossover Combinations and Team Hyper Combos (aka Delayed Hyper Combos): Crossover Combinations are done by pressing both assist buttons simultaneously while having three Hyper meters. All three characters will come on screen and perform a Hyper combo at the same time. If you only have two meters or two characters still alive, only two will do their Hypers and the same thing goes if you only have one meter or one character alive. Be careful when you’re doing this because you can’t choose which Hyper combo they’ll do so one or more may miss, wasting precious meter.
A better way to do this is by using Delayed Hyper Combos (aka DHC). You can do this by first doing a Hyper combo, then at any time during that animation, do the input for your next character’s Hyper combo who will then jump on screen, replace your point character and do their own Hyper combo. You can also do this a second time to do a total of three Hypers, just like Crossover Combinations. However, you can choose to do any of that character’s Hyper combos by simply doing the required input so it’s easier than Crossover Combinations for all three Hypers to hit. You can also use this as another method to safely tag out a character, although it uses two meters so be careful not to abuse this if you’re not stocked on meter.
-X-Factor: X-Factor is likely the biggest and most game-changing addition to the series. By pressing all three attack buttons and the special simultaneously, you’ll see the character glow red. This has a lot of benefits but you can only use it once per match so use it wisely. The most obvious benefit is that it makes your characters much faster and/or stronger. It also recovers your red health, which normally only recovers when that character is not on point. In addition, you will not receive any chip damage whatsoever so X-Factoring and then blocking is a great strategy to defend against an incoming Hyper combo that you know would chip you to death otherwise.
The interesting thing is that there are three levels to X-Factor, with one level being gained by losing a character. For example, activating X-Factor with all three characters alive is a level one X-Factor and gives the least benefits for the least amount of time whereas activating it with only one character alive is a level three X-Factor and gives an enormous advantage to that character for the longest amount of time. It can definitely swing the momentum of a fight and a single level three X-Factor character can take out an entire team.
Furthermore, X-Factor can cancel the animation of any normal, special move or Hyper combo as well as cancel out of block-stun (the animation that freezes you in place while you block), as long as you’re on the ground. Most characters can actually do a Hyper combo and then X-Factor Cancel into another Hyper, causing massive damage without having to DHC. You can also X-Factor Cancel to bail out of a missed Hyper. For example, if you do a Hyper but you whiff, there is normally a huge amount of time where an opponent can punish you with whatever they please. However, if you know the opponent is going to do this, you can X-Factor Cancel out of your Hyper combo animation and get to safety.
-Hard Knockdowns and Off The Ground (aka OTG) Attacks: Out of everything that I’ve gone over so far, this may be the most important and the most complicated thing for doing those really flashy or really long combos that you just can’t seem to pull off so don’t feel bad if you don’t get this one right away. Remember that the Magic Series only allows you to go as far as Hard attacks. You can generally follow this up with a special move or Hyper combo but game will usually not allow anything after that. So how are people doing these huge combos? Simple: taking advantage of Hard Knockdowns and their characters’ Off The Ground (aka OTG) attacks. Let me explain.
Hard Knockdowns are attacks that leave the opponent on their backs for a short period after getting knocked down and they are vulnerable in this state to any OTG attack (in other words, they can be hit Off The Ground). Some characters’ normals and specials can cause this Hard Knockdown state but the most frequent use of this is when you end an air combo with the Special button, launching the opponent into the ground. When your opponent is in this Hard Knockdown state, it leaves a generous amount of time for you to OTG the opponent and continue the combo.
Each characters’ attacks have properties that are unique so you must experiment to see which attacks can hit OTG and can be used as a followup to a Hard Knockdown. Some characters may not have any attack at all that can hit OTG so this is where choosing an assist that does can drastically affect your ability to do combos if you use one of these characters. For example, Chun-Li does not have any attack that can hit OTG as far as I know. So if she knocks down the opponent in an air combo, she has no moves herself that she can use to followup and continue the combo. However, Deadpool (along with many others) has a very quick assist with OTG properties called Katanarama. So potentially, I could do an air combo with Chun-Li, knock the opponent down, call in Deadpool’s Katanarama assist to hit OTG and continue the combo with Chun. Learning what moves your characters have that can hit OTG is key to doing these long combos but this will take time.
-Practice, practice, practice: This goes without saying but it might take a while to be able to do these things in a match without thinking so just absorb a little at a time and eventually each of these techniques will creep its way into your repertoire. I pointed this out in my review as well but if you noticed, there is no proper vs. mode against bots. You can play the Arcade mode but the difficulty always ramps up in increments so it’s not really an ideal way to practice. Instead go into Training mode and turn off Life and H.C. Recovery for both you and the dummy, set its Action to CPU and the difficulty to whatever you want. This way, you have a consistent way to practice against the AI in real-game conditions.
Fighting games are not for everyone but if you want to get better, follow these tips and practice! If you want more information about specific characters or more in-depth information about the game, check out Shoryuken.com’s Hyper Guide. It’s full of great information. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.