The creators behind Waypoint favorite XCOM are turning their tactics expertise towards the Marvel universe—except now, it’s got cards. Of course, we jumped at the chance to check out the game early and interview game director Jake Solomon. Join Patrick and Rob as they interview Jake and get a (surprisingly honest!) answer to why XCOM + superheroes didn’t work, and discuss everything from making the move to card mechanics, to why of all the storylines and comic events Marvel has done, they chose the obscure “Midnight Sons.”
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3p4g5/why-not-just-make-xcom-with-marvel-superheroes
IMO I think you can do a super hero XCOM game but you can’t use already established characters because as Rob and Patrick say you don’t want Captain America getting dunked on by random low level bad guys. However I think something with a new IP where people just randomly one day get powers is doable because it establishes in world why your characters aren’t super hero gods. Unfortunately that’s not really something a character IP focused company like Disney is going to want.
An XCOM-like based on The Boys could be neat.
On the one hand, sure, on the other hand: why is this more of a problem for tactical games than it is for first or third person action games?
You can be a pretty incompetent Batman in the Arkham * games, for example, and only one Superman game really has you be effectively indestructible (using Metropolis’ own state as its “health bar”).
Even in the realm of non-superheroic “famous protagonists”, The Witcher 3 starts you off as a fairly incompetent Geralt of Rivia, given how long he’s been in the field for at this point.
I think the difference is in those games the hero dying is a game over and not “canon” to the story. In an XCOM, it would be considered canon, and so it wouldn’t be practical for the devs to put in this very big social layer that would have to be reconfigured every time a Spider-Man or Ghost Rider died. The current system they’re going with, where a hero “dying” only makes them unavailable for a few subsequent missions, is pretty much the only way to make the game work as it’s currently configured.
Thinking about it more I guess Injustice did skirt using the multiple universes approach. So if your batman dies your super computer AI thing back at your base has to lock on to another universes batman which could take multiple in game days (same as recruiting a new templar/reaper/skirmisher) to pull them into your universe and then you get a batman who might even have a slightly different kit based on the universe you dragged him out of.
Part of the appeal of the templar/reaper/skirmisher is that they are incredibly strong compared to your normal units typically. So having something like your basic Shield Agents or something that can fill the standard XCOM soldier slot wouldn’t be bad. You still care about them and losing them would suck but it’s not like losing an almost fully level Iron Man.
Now that would be a pretty good twist on the super hero game genre by making you be the one sending people out to kill super heroes.
The thing with superheroes is no one ever stays dead. There should be a timer till they’re revealed to have faked their own death, been in a superhuman state of living death, be revived through some sort of contract, or be rescued through time travel.
The thing that gets me is, why didn’t they just make it bigger? Sure it’s lame when ironman gets taken down by a couple of mooks, but if he gets taken down by two squads of mooks, then you can go to yourself “well, I wasn’t careful enough.” Though i struggle to see why you’d need that many mooks, does marvel have such a shortage of supervillians?
Also if you were a squad-scale tactics game, the collateral damage would be a lot higher, so you could make stopping that and saving civilians a whole thing (or maximising damage in a hydra base).
I think you’re severely underestimating the work required to make more heroes and villains. There’s art, rigging, animation, voice acting, mechanics generation, gameplay balancing, and a multiple of bugs generated by every new bespoke character, not to mention storyline and gameplay balances to consider once each character perma-dies. This isn’t an XCOM where characters are generated from a bin of parts, they’re established characters that would require immense effort to put in.
It sounded to me like the main consideration for moving away from a straight XCOM retread was that it would really undersell the superhero aspect. In most tactics games you’re heavily reliant on terrain for cover and one slip up means the end. It sounds like the card system was a way to more accurately recreate a comic style fight with multiple team members where the focus is on juggling their different abilities rather than maintaining cover.