Marvel’s Midnight Suns is the XCOM Crossover We’ve Been Waiting For
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 11:00am 26/08/21 | Comments
With the turn-based action of Firaxis Games' XCOM series being the framework for a specific style of turn-based strategy, it was only a matter of time before it got the crossover we were hoping to see.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns comes from 2K Games and Firaxis Games, a collaboration between the team behind the turn-based XCOM series and the comic book masters over at Marvel. Which means the one line description of “yo, this be XCOM meets Marvel” should be enough to have you glance up from your phone, lower your glasses, raise an eyebrow, and say “tell me more son”.
Where XCOM was the sort of tactical turn-based action where every move mattered and each decision carried weight based on the odds being stacked up against you, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is described by Jacob Solomon, Creative Director on Marvel’s Midnight Suns as a tactical RPG. With the latter putting you in control of a team of superheroes, which adds a new and distinct feel to the action. “If you're a Marvel fan, or an RPG fan, or a fan of tactics games, Marvel’s Midnight Suns will make these beloved characters come alive in a way that you've never seen before.”
So yeah, it’s not really ‘XCOM, but Marvel’.
“In XCOM you’re taking these regular soldiers into battle against a much stronger opponent, which pushes you to play carefully as danger is really around every corner,” the team at Firaxis explains. “Having superheroes changes that – being one means you’re the coolest person on the field, and your enemies should fear you. In Marvel’s Midnight Suns, it’s not about seeing whether you can survive the fight, but about how many bad guys you can take out in your turn and manage the battlefield.”
“In XCOM you’re taking these regular soldiers into battle against a much stronger opponent, which pushes you to play carefully as danger is really around every corner. Having superheroes changes that – being one means you’re the coolest person on the field, and your enemies should fear you."
“This resulted in us not being able to carry really any of XCOM’s combat mechanics to Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which makes sense because they’re two different types of games.”
As fans of XCOM it might surprise you to learn that it was Marvel that approached Firaxis with the idea to collaborate on a new game. Naturally, as fans of everything from X-Men to Iron Man the team jumped at the opportunity. Not only to create a compelling new experience within the Marvel universe, one that could build on the style of action XCOM brought to the table. But to stretch its strategic wings into the world of people with, you know, wings.
In terms of design the team was given free reign to work within the scope of Marvel’s just about limitless catalogue of heroes, stories, and eras. With that in mind the team pitched Marvel an original tale based on Rise of the Midnight Sons from the early 1990s - a demon and vampire filled supernatural tale that featured the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, and Doctor Strange. With the semi-retelling and “loosely based on” setting of Marvel’s Midnight Suns featuring the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange and Lilith, Mother of All Demons as the main villain -- it also adds Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, and more.
Plus, players will be able to customise their own hero - XCOM-style - called the Hunter. Via the first straight-up RPG-like character creator in the Marvel Universe. In this original tale and setting, where the ‘90s vibe of the inspiration sees ol’ Wolvie decked out in apt bright yellow, the Hunter is Lilith’s child and the story revolves around restoring balance.
The team pitched Marvel an original tale based on Midnight Sons from the early 1990s - a demon and vampire filled supernatural tale that featured the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, and Doctor Strange.
According to Jacob, Marvel was surprised by the choice of the Midnight Sons. Not so much by going in a darker direction, but the specific and more obscure line from the ‘90s. Perhaps, like us, they thought “XCOM... maybe it’ll be turn-based X-Men?”. Naturally with a team of passionate fans drawing from their own history of loving comics - full support and access was given.
Being a tactical RPG means having access to superheroes that can learn new abilities and discover new ways to synergise on the battlefield, but it also means that this side of the experience is born from conversation and actually interacting with the various superheroes on your team. In Marvel’s Midnight Suns you’ll have your very own mysterious and secret mystical base of operations to visit in-between missions called The Abbey. A digital play-space you’ll be able to explore in-full, in third-person. And with that engage with the Marvel legends, talk to them, and even do things with them that they might enjoy.
More than a thing to do after a hectic encounter, the Abbey and the activities and interactions you’ll have within its walls will be the way to unlock new abilities and skills as opposed to simply levelling up with experience points.
“The RPG or ‘live among the legends’ element of Marvel’s Midnight Suns was always something very important for us to present to the player,” Firaxis tells us. “There are two parts to delivering the superhero fantasy – obviously being one and having all these powers, but also to see these heroes outside of combat, interacting with each other, living their lives. To this point – we want to make sure that players are always making impactful decisions, and having the Friendship system provide gameplay advantages was something that carried through from early on.”
The idea of not being able to fully unlock the combat potential of a superhero without building a relationship with them is different, but one that builds on the style of game the XCOM team has been building for years. Part of the strategy will be deciding who to spend your time with and where, using the finite time between missions wisely, and then seeing things like legendary abilities come into play purely from befriending characters. This sits alongside things like training and research and other types of base management you’d expect to find in a tactical game, but it immediately sets Marvel’s Midnight Suns apart from the pack.
“There are two parts to delivering the superhero fantasy – obviously being one and having all these powers, but also to see these heroes outside of combat, interacting with each other, living their lives."
And in that pure crossover sense, having something standalone as its own thing is the best kind of crossover.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is set to launch in March 2022, and will be available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.