Are you waiting with bated breath for XCOM 3? Are you, specifically, me? Well, you/me are gonna have to wait a while longer, because the next big turn-based strategy game from Firaxis stars a bunch of Marvel superheroes, not a ragtag band of permadeath-prone alien fighters.
Today, as part of Gamescom’s Opening Night Live showcase, Firaxis revealed the new game, titled Marvel: Midnight Suns. It comes out next March and officially signals the end of an era—comprising all of human history up to this point—when things that were not Disney properties existed.
If you’re itching for XCOM with a spandex-clad skin, you’re bound to be more disappointed. Firaxis’ Jake Solomon told Polygon that Midnight Suns “won’t have permadeath because the fantasy is very different.” Rather, the enemies are supposed to be scared of you.
This game’s existence was rumored prior to E3, as part of a larger leak of publisher 2K’s announcements. At the time, it was described as “XCOM with Marvel heroes,” and this sure looks to fit that bill. You can create your own superhero, but other A-listers, like Dr. Strange and some guy with unbreakable bones, show up.
Marvel: Midnight Suns is not Firaxis’ first crack at squad-based pseudo-superheroic antics. Last year, the developer released XCOM: Chimera Squad, a tactics game that eschewed the series’ usual focus on player-made squads in favor of specialist heroes with built-in personalities and combat abilities. In effect, you controlled a team of rambunctious super cops trying to maintain uneasy peace between aliens and humans. It was certainly a change of pace for XCOM, but in pivoting away from emphasizing players’ triumphs and tragedies against the backdrop of potential extinction, it lost some of what makes XCOM special.
In hindsight, Chimera Squad feels like a testbed for this superhero-focused tactics game. If nothing else, that means many of the ideas present will likely be more refined this time around than if Firaxis had opted to dive into the deep end with Marvel heroes right off the bat. Will that result in a game on level with, say, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen? Like an NYC resident whose cat is stuck in a tree and who has decided to wait for Spider-Man instead of calling the fire department, we can only hope.
Firaxis will show off gameplay on September 1.