“The best stories at Marvel are when creators connect with the characters they love and have a true passion for them.” says Bill Roseman, the VP head of creative at Marvel Games.
“I grew up reading Marvel comics, especially late 80s, early 90s.” says Solomon. “I read everything Marvel. One of mine and narrative director Chad Rocco’s shared passions is that we love Ghost Rider. There was an awesome Ghost Rider run in the early 90s that brought in this awesome supernatural event. This event was, in my opinion, never exceeded, called Rise of the Midnight Sons. It was very, very cool. It featured a villain called Lilith, mother of demons. She’s such a cool villain, and so it had this great cast of characters that pulled all these supernatural heroes from across the Marvel Universe. Quite frankly, at the time Lilith was new and she had these demonic children, and it really stuck with me.
“Midnight Sons is one of my very favourite comic book events in Marvel history. It was funny because the first time I talked to Chad Rocco we were like “oh my gosh, what toys do you pull out the Marvel toy chest?” and we both started talking about Ghost Rider and the Midnight Sons. We were two guys who just loved this comic, and Midnight Sons is this really cool event that for whatever reason, for a lot of reasons, but it stuck with a lot of people. The people it did stick with, it really stuck with. There wasn’t really any doubt on our side. It didn’t take very long for us to realise that we wanted to do – we would love to do – a game that retold the Midnight Sons story.”
The game has changed names slightly – Firaxis’ effort is called Marvel’s Midnight Suns and the team within it are the Midnight Suns, so that it stands on its own while still paying homage to the original superteam, but at the core, this is a love letter from Solomon and narrative director Chad Rocco to everything Midnight Sons, and it’s a dream come true.
“I still have my Midnight Sons and my Spirits of Vengeance comics from when I was a kid,” adds Solomon. “It is crazy. It still strikes me that this is a day-to-day job and you’re working, but every once in a while, you’ll see a piece of concept art, or you’ll be playing the game, and you’ll be like, I cannot believe I am in this position where I get to re-tell the Midnight Sons story for a new audience and it was cool because everyone at Marvel was excited too and they knew that event too. Marvel being the “House of Ideas” – there are like a million awesome stories, right? Midnight Sons is as cool as any other story and I want to say ‘well let me show you how cool these Marvel characters are and how cool this story is.’”
The name isn’t the only change for Marvel’s Midnight Suns from a comic book perspective. Despite the fact that Solomon says this is a fairly dedicated retelling of Rise of the Midnight Sons, it’s featuring a fairly new cast – Solomon told us that characters like Hannibal King would not be playable – with Marvel mainstays like Captain America, Iron Man and even Captain Marvel showing up to batter demons. Even returning characters like Ghost Rider are seeing changes.
“We love that Jake and the crew looked at the original Midnight Sons and said, ‘yes of course we want to do Ghost Rider, but can we do the modern incarnation of Ghost Rider? Can we do Robbie Reyes?’” says Roseman. “What’s really cool is that it’s a blend of all the 90s Midnight Sons goodness mixed in with modern Marvel.”
This means that Wolverine will show up in his gold and tan suit – “Well, obviously,” quipped Soloman when we asked about which suit Wolvie would don – and Iron Man’s suit is based on his classic Crash and Burn look, although mixed with elements of a 90’s Ferrari F40 sports car.
Solomon puts it best: “We really wanted to play up the 90s look in some of our characters, Imagine guitar riffs all the time when you’re playing. That’s the way we picture it”
All those big name superheroes? Roseman says this is what happens when the Avengers find something they can’t handle alone. “You’re going to see characters you know and love – Captain America, Iron Man – and then they experience a challenge they need some expertise on. That’s the Midnight Suns. They need people who understand the supernatural threat. So, you as the player – as a Marvel fan – you’re going to begin with what you know and cross over into the darker side and experience what it’s like when darkness falls.”
“You’ll see a ton of building blocks – a ton of Marvel ingredients – but presented in a fresh way,” adds Roseman. “It’s going to be accessible to a huge audience, and if this is your first Marvel story, you’ll be very welcomed. You’ll go on this adventure, just like the Hunter. Waking up after centuries of sleep and waking up at the centre of this amazing experience.”
Solomon has more to add: “The idea is that from the beginning they run into a threat that again, the Avengers, you know, they are the protectors of the world, but they run into a threat that is outside their area of normal expertise, and that’s why it is fun to turn to a team that isn’t well known, but they are the experts in the supernatural. We play that up very much, the relationship between those characters and the Midnight Suns – the newer characters who players may not be familiar with. That’s part of the entire narrative, playing up what it is like putting all these characters together, and they have to live together in this new space called the Abbey. What is that relationship like between them? There’s tension, there’s relationships, there are friendships that form, and at the centre of it is the player character, the Hunter. It is fun to be in the middle of that and deal with these few groups of characters that eventually become one. It also goes back to obviously, if you love Marvel comics, some of the coolest things they do is when they have these big crossover events. It is like the coolest thing ever. They’ve got so many awesome crossover events where you see these characters from disparate backgrounds that deal with different threats and seeing them come together is always so fun. We want to play up that field as well.”
While you’ll get to control several of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and… you know… Ghost Rider, the main focus is on the player character, the Hunter.
The Hunter has got three different branches of skills, over 40 abilities, to let you truly customise how the character plays.
“There’s a dark branch of powers, and if you think of the dark abilities as much more devastating damage-dealing abilities, but they take a cost. Every time you use them, they take a cost from the Hunter or their allies. The light branch is much more supportive and buffing of the Hunter and their allies, and then there’s a power branch that is strictly more of a warrior branch – if you just want to be a combat damage-dealer then that’s the power branch. You can pick and choose whatever. There are benefits to going only down certain branches. There’re benefits to picking and choosing. It really comes down to you can very much customise. All the heroes have a lot of abilities to customise how you play. The Hunter is the most customisable, and so you can mould them to the other heroes that you’re bringing on combat.
“The Hunter as Jake says, with the dark side and the light side, the Hunter is really a reflection of all the Midnight Suns,” adds Roseman. “They’re all dealing with their destructive side and their heroic side, and you as the player will get to decide which path you want to take. So that dark and light is a main metaphor of not only the Hunter but of the Midnight Suns themselves.”
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is planned for release in March 2022.