One of the more surprising things to come out of the onslaught of Gamescom announcements this week was Marvel’s Midnight Suns: a turn-based tactical RPG developed by Firaxis Games, the studio behind the acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns takes place “in the darker side of the Marvel Universe”, when the awakening of the ancient demon Lilith prompts the Avengers to seek the help of supernaturally-powered Midnight Suns: Blade, Ghost Rider, Magik (from X-Men), and Nico Minoru (from Runaways). It takes an ancient demonic power to stop an ancient demonic power, so the crew resurrects the Hunter, the only hero to have stopped Lilith before. Also, Lilith’s forsaken child. Also, You—the first customisable original hero in the Marvel Universe.
At gamescom: Opening Night Live, Marvel and Firaxis announced the game with a cinematic trailer, giving a sense of the game and introducing some of the heroes you’ll fight alongside. It’s got all the flash you’d expect from Marvel, but also teases the darker, more mythical direction the game is going in, with an unexpectedly haunting rendition of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” by Alessia Cara & The Warning to tie the whole thing together. There’s no game footage, but a gameplay reveal is scheduled for September 2, starting at 6.30am NZST / 4.30am AEST.
What we do know is that Marvel’s Midnight Suns is an RPG with “promising cinematic tactical combat with a Super Hero flair”. With Firaxis behind it, the obvious assumption as a Marvel spin on XCOM, but according to creative director Jake Solomon, it’s something quite different. Speaking with PC Gamer, Solomon said that the team quickly realised that XCOM‘s mechanics wouldn’t translate well to a superhero game. “In XCOM, you take a group of soldiers and they are outmanned and outgunned by the alien threat. In Marvel’s Midnight Suns, you are a superhero and you should feel like the coolest person on the battlefield. Those mechanics from XCOM that were designed for that game didn’t translate to Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and we can say that combat in this game is completely different.”
It won’t have the permadeath that XCOM is known for or the emergent player stories that come from that, instead opting for a more character-centric, directed narrative. But it is still a turn-based tactical RPG, which should create some interesting dynamics when coupled with superhero antics and supernatural abilities. “To be entrusted with these characters and their stories is an honour for me and the team,” said Solomon. “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.”
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, with a release planned for March 2022.