Back in November, we called Marvel’s Midnight Suns “the year’s biggest surprise.” And while the game seemingly hasn’t picked up the commercial momentum of other Marvel titles, strong player feedback and glowing reviews saw it deservedly sit alongside Firaxis’ other tentpole franchises.
To mark the release of the game’s new Deadpool DLC (which is out now), VGC got the chance to once again sit down with creative director Jake Solomon to discuss the game’s reception and the newest member of the Midnight Suns, Deadpool.
Deadpool headlines the first of at least four DLC packs planned for Midnight Suns, including future add-ons based on Venom, Morbius and Storm.
The Merc with a Mouth was actually planned to feature in the base game, Solomon reveals to VGC, but the development team ultimately cut him due to concerns that his irreverent humour could drastically alter the tone of its core story.
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Marvel's Midnight Suns - Legendary Edition (Xbox Series X|S)
“We never did any work on it, but we choose him because we wanted the game to have a Saturday morning cartoon vibe,” the director explained.
“But then we realized that Deadpool can’t come across as earnest, and we were like, it’s just gonna ruin the whole tone of the game. So we thought, let’s write the game and tell the story with the tone we want to get across, and then for the first DLC, we’ll have someone come in and poke at the heroes and point out how ridiculous the situation was.
“It was cathartic for us to design, it was cathartic for the writers to write him, and it felt very free.”
Now that we’re a few months post-release, what’s the feeling within Firaxis about how the game turned out, and how it was received by players and critics?
It’s always partnered with a sense of relief, I think. Midnight Suns was a long, long journey. The game was particularly personal for those of us who were really, really hardcore comic fans. But the problem with games is that for 80% of their lifetime, they’re giant piles of shit (laugh).
You get the first 10% and ‘we’re like, we’re gonna make the greatest game in the world’. And then you have like, 80% in the middle, you’re like, ‘this really, truly is going to destroy my career’, and then you get the last 10% and you’re like, ‘I think we did it’.
We knew for a long time that we were having a lot of fun playing and writing the story, and so it’s just really, really nice that the team puts in so much work, and you get so personally invested in it when it comes out.
If we can honestly shake hands and say like, if you’re gonna give me money, I’m gonna give you something I hope we both walk away from it happy, that’s what matters, and it feels like that’s what happened with our players. So that’s a relief.
Deadpool joined Marvel’s Midnight Suns roster as part of its first DLC offering, which might come across to players as an eccentric first choice for a new character. What was the decision process like that led you to choose Deadpool?
So for a while, Deadpool was planned for the base game. We never did any work on it, but we choose him because we wanted the game to have a Saturday morning cartoon vibe. The characters themselves are very earnest about what they’re doing, right? It’s not a joke to them, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t put in jokes, we can’t put in larger jokes, or characters can’t make funny jokes
But then we realized that Deadpool can’t come across as earnest, and we were like, it’s just gonna ruin the whole tone of the game. So we thought, let’s write the game and tell the story with the tone we want to get across, and then for the first DLC, we’ll have someone come in and poke at the heroes and point out how ridiculous the situation was. It was cathartic for us to design, it was cathartic for the writers to write him, and it felt very free.
Deadpool was not just a funny guy, Deadpool was actually a very interesting character. So it was fun for them to write friendship stories with him and talk about who Deadpool is and why he is so jokey all the time. It’s actually rooted in kind of interesting character stuff. It sort of casts the whole game story through a new lens, basically.
“For a while, Deadpool was planned for the base game. We never did any work on it, but we choose him because we wanted the game to have a Saturday morning cartoon vibe”
Deadpool is a pretty R-rated character in a T-rated game, so from a creative perspective, was there anything you wanted to do with Deadpool, or a joke you wanted to make, that you couldn’t?
Are you kidding me? (laughs) That’s a very good question. We had to write alternative lines for almost every joke we made with Deadpool. It was always a conversation with the legal department, where they’d be like, ‘is this a reference to some manoeuvre that we’re not aware of ?’
Marvel always got it, because that’s Deadpool, that’s him. The other thing is he’s an uber-violent character, almost a parody of violence, which was hard to factor into the game. But we were always pushing our legal team, or rating team, with Deadpool, which kept the writer’s busy. It was a lot of fun.
We spoke ahead of the main game’s release about the preconceived visual notions of a lot of the Marvel characters due to the films, such as Robert Downey Junior’s Iron Man. Again, you’re going to face natural comparisons to Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool. How have you and the team dealt with that?
Well, a huge thing for us is Nolan North is back. Without a doubt, from the start, as long as he was interested in doing it, it was open and shut for us.
But yeah, that is the challenge. We always want to skew toward the comics, but it was tough because Ryan Reynolds has almost embodied the character in such a way that it feeds back into the current comics. We tried staying away from him constantly chirping all the time, but then we were just like, “that’s just how he is,” Deadpool is Deadpool
Another issue is that Deadpool doesn’t have nearly as much visual variety as other characters, so there are only a certain amount of looks we could take and make our own.
Beyond the characters announced upcoming Midnight Suns DLC, what are some characters that you’d love to include in the game in the future?
There are always names on a whiteboard. I won’t deny that there are always names on a whiteboard. Our starting roster was going to be 25 characters, and then our team said, ‘we are definitely not shipping with 25 characters’ (laughs), so there are plenty of names that didn’t get used.
It’s so funny to me, the number one requested character is Moon Knight, and Moon Knight wasn’t even on my original roster. I admit not being the biggest Moon Knight guy in the world, so I’m always like, ‘why Moon Knight?’ but you know, that’s fine. So yes, there are characters on a whiteboard, but that whiteboard is probably two years old at this point.
And finally, we have to ask, do you have any news on the future of the XCOM series?
Of course, you can ask (laughs). You can join your voice to the chorus ringing out from the hills.
I personally have no information on that right now, and I say that because, truly, yesterday I was working on Morbius’ abbey outfits and recolours, so I am not working on it. I don’t have any secret agenda, I don’t know anything about XCOM at this point.