, a new video game by Firaxis, the brain behind strategy games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, offers an interesting concept. It requires tactics, turn-based RPG rules and adds a team of superheroes like Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine.
But Midnight Suns is not quite the “Marvel XCOM” game that fans might have expected. No, it’s a full-on dark-fantasy, choice-driven role-playing game inspired by one of Marvel’s more high-concept comedic events of the ’90s.
While Marvel team events are almost old-hat these days, after event movies and TV shows like Avengers: Endgame, Loki and Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the Midnight Suns are going in a different direction — one that will lean further into it darker, more supernatural side of the Marvel universe. With hints of The Rise of the Midnight Son’s comic event from 1992, the Midnight Suns game gathers anti-heroes from the darker corners of Marvel lore and other famous members of the X-Men and Avengers to meet demons and other monsters that invade the mortal realm .
We recently interviewed Marvel VP of Creative Content Bill Rosemann and Firaxis Creative Director Jake Solomon about making Midnight Suns, how it embraces the darker elements of Marvel lore and how different this game is from the XCOM series Firaxis is famous for developing.
“Jake and I both read The Rise of the Midnight Sons back in the ’90s, and we loved it,” Rosemann said. “It was here that they really developed the supernatural side of Marvel in style, and it took a bit of an X-Men shot with the whole line-up.
“You had characters like Blade and Ghost Rider get together to meet Lillith, the mother of demons, and it was such an event that Jake’s heart and the team’s heart are close and high. We really looked at the dark comics of the ’90s. for inspiration, but we put a modern Firaxis spin on it. “
Midnight Suns made its debut at Gamescom this year. It immediately became clear that the game was more than XCOM with a Marvel spin. Midnight Suns is far more story driven. Assuming the role of an original Marvel character named The Hunter, players will bond with established heroes throughout history and make important choices throughout their campaign to stop the villain Lilith. Solomon stated that the Midnight Suns are looking for a more action-oriented and accessible bid for tactical combat that deviates from the XCOM series’ infamous challenging gameplay with punitive consequences.
Midnight Suns mixes tactical, squad-based battles with deck-building games — which essentially work by allowing players to bring a variety of abilities for each character into battle. Each of the characters has a lot of support and offensive skills to use in combat, and in some cases you can perform team attacks with other members of your team. It is an unusual approach to focus on card-based actions. Still, early gameplay shows exciting ways to link attacks that can take advantage of battlefield terrain. It’s definitely another tactical gameplay, but the creative leader of the game believes it was a necessary change due to the focus on superheroes — moving them away from the cover-based combat of the XCOM series.
“Midnight Suns plays much faster than XCOM, and it’s not in service of the mythical idea of accessibility, but rather that it fits what the game is trying to do for the player,” Solomon said. “You’re still clearly making tactical decisions, you weigh your choices on the battlefield, but the idea is to get players to jump in and make decisions quickly when matches start. From that point of view, it’s more accessible. XCOM has the idea that stress and “Mistakes were part of reinforcing a certain kind of imagination. But with the Midnight Suns, it’s more about how well you want to clear the board of enemies? There are many choices in terms of how you win.”
Even from the brief gameplay we got to see, it was clear that the tactical RPG element that Firaxis has been known for is still present, but with a manageable, fast-paced approach. This casual style also means that the permadeath and the awkward and unintentionally tense moments from the XCOM series are not present in the Midnight Suns. So rest assured that there will be no cases where Captain America somehow misses a 95% strike with his shield and gets a counterattack that results in his permanent removal from your campaign. That said, Solomon stated in our interview that the team plans to have the Midnight Suns offer a set of difficulty options to adjust the challenge to your liking.
Even from the debut trailer we saw, Midnight Suns embraces the attitude and dark atmosphere that was the norm in 90s comics. It can provide an interesting change of pace from most other Marvel projects as of late. We’re keeping up with more of the Midnight Suns months before the release in March 2022, and Firaxis is releasing new videos of the game showing new footage of the heroes who will join your team in the game.
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