With the tactical new game Marvel's Midnight Suns launching soon, RadioTimes.com hopped on a Zoom call with Jake Solomon (the game's Creative Director) and Garth DeAngelis (its Senior Franchise Producer). You can see some highlights from our chat in the video above!


Both of these fine folk have worked extensively on the XCOM franchise before, and now they're using their skills to make a Marvel game filled with fan-favourite superheroes, supernatural threats and — surprisingly enough — plenty of opportunities for the player to make friends with iconic Marvel characters.

Playing as a new character called The Hunter, you'll be able to befriend Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and several other famous faces from comic-book lore (the Marvel's Midnight Suns cast is full of them), finding time for levity and laughs as the Marvel universe bands together to face a dark new threat.

As Solomon explains, "we were always thinking about, outside of combat, having some type of friendship system. And we knew that no games have really done that in the Marvel Universe. And so, we were looking at games like Fire Emblem and Persona. I remember playing those very early on. Japanese RPGs do a much better job, and they've done, historically, a better job of gamifying [and] making design systems out of relationships and friendship. And I think that those were inspirations for us to kind of do that on the Marvel side."

DeAngelis added: "We have a lot of people on the team that are big fans of those those types of games, and we haven't seen anything like that at Marvel [before now]. So we just knew we wanted to provide an avenue for the player to hang out with these heroes, who they grew up knowing and loving. Not just watching alongside them, but actually engaging with them in dialogues."

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What is the friendship system in Marvel's Midnight Suns?

Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch in Marvel's Midnight Suns.
Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch in Marvel's Midnight Suns. Marvel/Firaxis

DeAngelis told us that the development team ideated "a lot of different systems" before they landed on the core concept of "these dialogues that you can have, the hangouts that you can do, with these heroes" between missions.

DeAngelis offered some examples, saying, "You're gonna go talk to Steve Rogers, and he's gonna give you an inspirational anecdote about what it takes to be a great leader. He's trying to inspire you. Or you go talk to Robbie Reyes [Ghost Rider] about his brother that he's worrying about. They're all super interesting, and they've super different personalities, and the writing team have nailed each of those personalities. So every time you choose to engage with these dialogues with these heroes, it's something new, it's fresh, and it's not empty."

Solomon said there is "a massive amount of – optional, for the most part – stuff you can check in about with the heroes, conversations they're gonna have." We asked if it would be anything like Mass Effect, a game where you're encouraged to visit all of your squad-mates between each level.

To that, Solomon said, "you kind of have to walk around The Abbey [the game's main HQ] – you wake up in your room and walk around, because you want to see what new abilities you've earned, and maybe you want to go upgrade some of those, maybe you'll check in the War Room to see what's going on there. And as you're making that daily cycle, we try to sprinkle in stuff, and so it's part of your daily routine. It's definitely not the case that you're gonna have to, like, take the elevator down to the engine room to check in on Garrus and he's like, 'I'm busy at this time. Come see me tomorrow'. [When that happens in Mass Effect] You're like, 'Son of a b***h! I've just come all this way'. So we tried not to do that. We try to try to make sure it's sprinkling in your daily routine."

Is there romance in Marvel's Midnight Suns?

Marvel's Midnight Suns introduces the Hunter, here chatting with Captain Marvel.
Marvel's Midnight Suns introduces the Hunter, here chatting with Captain Marvel. Firaxis/Marvel

When you think about RPGs that let you bond with characters between missions, there's always one question that comes up: can your character romance any of these allies? We asked this duo of developers just that, and they confirmed to us that Marvel's Midnight Suns does not have romance.

When we asked whether we'd be able to forge romantic relationships in the game, Solomon said, "No. Although, you know... you get very, very close to them. You become their absolute, their closest, one the closest people in the world to these characters. If you maximise friendship."

Making it clear that head-canon is very much an option here, Solomon added: "And then whatever stories you tell in your head, I think that that's perfectly fine. I won't say that I haven't told stories in my head when I befriend some of these characters, so I think it's perfectly fine. Nobody can police your thoughts, okay?"

At this point DeAngelis chimed in, saying jokingly: "Jake is always choosing to hang out at the pool with with these heroes. I don't know why."

To which Solomon replied: "I am. I am. It makes them more comfortable, Garth. That's why."

What are the benefits to friendship in Marvel's Midnight Suns?

So, if the goal/purpose isn't romantic, what is the benefit to players if they put in the time and effort to build friendships in Marvel's Midnight Suns?

Solomon says: "There are very, very powerful rewards for developing friendships with heroes. So specifically with that hero that you're developing a friendship with, they unlock multiple tiers of their passive abilities, which are very, very powerful. And their legendary ability, and their legendary suit, can only be unlocked if they are at maximum friendship level with the Hunter. So that's a really big investment of time."

It's also worth noting that having multiple friendships, with different characters, will reap rewards on a larger scale. As Solomon puts it, "as you increase friendship with multiple heroes, there's like an overall friendship level around the entire Abbey, and that unlocks things like giant combo attacks, and all different kinds of rewards for the entire team. There's always benefits to spending time and building relationships. Just like in real life, there's always a benefit to building interpersonal relationships."

Read more on Marvel's Midnight Suns:

How does The Abbey factor into it?

The Abbey is a major new location for Marvel's Midnight Suns.
The Abbey is a major new location for Marvel's Midnight Suns. Firaxis/Marvel

Speaking of the Abbey, the official home base of the Midnight Suns superhero team, Solomon also tells us that there are other things to do around the place on top of befriending heroes.

Going back to his head-canon chat from earlier, Solomon notes: "You can certainly customise your room. You can change out paintings and photos and frames, which is great because... I know it's stupid, but you can go into Wolverine's room and change the photos to all be pictures of you by the pool, if you want to. You can do that. I've done it.

"But yeah, you can also get massive amounts of upgrades, just like in XCOM. By researching things with with Doctor Strange down in the Forge, you will unlock all different kinds of things to build around the Abbey, all different parts of the Abbey, and everything you build is gonna have a big gameplay impact.

"So you could end up building combat items. You could end up sending people on Hero Ops. You can, you know, create a dimensional portal to Limbo where you can go train yourself. There's all kinds of things you can do to sort of expand the function of the Abbey for sure."

Between making friends and customising the Abbey, it sounds like Marvel's Midnight Suns will be keeping us very busy. And that's before we event get into the tactical, turn-based battles. Oh yes, this is a game you could spent a lot of time with.

Marvel's Midnight Suns launches Friday 2nd December for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. It will hit PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch at an as-yet-unconfirmed later date.

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