I'm sure that there are some minor technical differences between Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its upcoming Ultimate counterpart. I'm also sure that most of them would go right over my head, so, this preview will focus on some of the bigger system changes. I can also lay out some basic info on Vergil and Iron Fist, two characters that made their public debut at TGS.
First up, the broader changes. I spoke with Capcom's Seth Killian, who explained new differences in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom systems. X-Factor, a mode that bestows extra speed, boosts damage and nullifies chip damage, has seen two distinct changes. First, it can now be activated in the air, offering up huge potential for extending combos or reducing the damage on Hyper combos. Second, I was told that X-Factor damage has been toned down across the board, though Killian didn't give me any specifics.
The other system to see a significant change is aerial exchange, which allows players to switch team members in mid-air during combos by pressing a direction and the launch attack button. The move has always been risky, since it can be countered if your opponent presses the same direction and launch attack. In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the only real bonus for doing an aerial exchange – apart from extending your combo, of course – was gaining some bonus hyper meter.
In Ultimate, Killian explained, Capcom decided to add some more reward to the risky maneuver. As in the original, each exchange direction – up, down or left/right – bestows a specific bonus. A downward exchange will still instantly grant you one bar of hyper meter, and upward exchanges still tend to do higher damage. In Ultimate, however, a sideways exchange no longer bestows half a meter. Instead, it will actually remove one bar of meter from your opponent. As Killian told me, the new system change will hopefully encourage players not to limit their strategies solely to safe combos. In other words, you could stick with the safe combos, or steal a hyper meter from, oh, say, Phoenix.
Now, onto Dante's older brother, Vergil. His focus seems to be on speed, and he has quite a bit of reach thanks to his sword. His main moves are a sword vortex, which can appear at near, middle, or long distance, offering up a chance to confuse opponents or take advantage of mistakes. He also has a very quick sword dash maneuver. Finally, he has the ability to juggle opponents from the ground by launching them and immediately slamming them back down with a standing hard attack. This can be repeated a few times and is pretty fun to pull off.
I really had a blast with Iron Fist though, as his special attacks can all be chained together (think of Fei Long's Rekka Ken or Abel's moves in Street Fighter IV). Depending on the attack button and command input, Iron Fist has three different special kicks and three different special punches. You can mix and max any three of these attacks, or you can cap off two attacks with a special launch attack.
Iron Fist's specials hit high, low or overhead, so he's got plenty of potential for mix-ups. On top of all this, he can activate Chi modes that boost his defense, attack or meter building abilities. You can even pop on different Chi modes in the middle of a combo, adapting to different situations on the fly. I'm a little frightened at the thought of what an expert could do with him, honestly.
Based on what I played, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is sticking with some common sense changes that will (hopefully) make it a more balanced game and, thus, more fun to play. As for unskilled players like me, at least we can enjoy watching Iron Fist leaping around and screaming like Bruce Lee.