How Marvel’s Midnight Suns Changes The XCOM Formula

Several weeks ago, a new Marvel game was announced, adding to a glut of the games currently either coming to, or already on, the market. However, this game, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, is being developed by Firaxis, the same team behind XCOM. However, that doesn’t mean the two will play the same, according to narrative director Chad Rocco in latest issue of EDGE magazine:

“Within the first couple of days, when I really started looking at the problem from a design standpoint, I realized, oh, man, this is nothing like we’ve ever done before.”

The game’s two leads, Rocco and creative director Jake Solomon, had a rough road to get the game into the state it’s in. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe sparking a resurgence in comic media taken from existing story lines, they had to dig very deep to find a story they could make their own. They found this in the “Rise of the Midnight Sons” arc, which comes all the way from 1992. According to Solomon,

“The problem being that Marvel is everywhere now. As a creative team, that’s actually a challenge, because you really have to find a corner of this universe that you can call your own.”

Gameplay isn’t the only difficult part of developing Marvel’s Midnight Suns, either. With such a star-studded cast as the Marvel universe, the Firaxis team had to draw down hundreds of possible heroes to a small pool of roughly a dozen, which includes Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Blade, Doctor Strange, and Iron Man, among others, and including a personalized hero in the form of The Hunter. These heroes will all work together and live together, according to Solomon.

“The other [player fantasy in Marvel’s Midnight Suns] is living alongside the legends. What is it like not just to fight alongside these heroes that you know and love, but to live alongside them, and see how they interact with each other?”

But just because Midnight Suns is being developed by the XCOM team, doesn’t mean it’ll play the same. Gameplay is much faster-paced and built around action economies, with combat encounters a fraction of what players will ordinarily spend on an XCOM mission. According to Solomon, the design philosophies are radically different.

“It’s not about ‘Can I beat this guy?’ It’s about ‘How many guys can I beat with this ability?’ How can I take out three guys at once?'”

Hopefully, this new take on the strategy genre will work well with Marvel when Marvel’s Midnight Suns comes out in March of next year for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, Xbox Series X, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch.