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  • Writer's pictureRock

Sabretooths' Frenzy: A wonderful mechanic that sucks to deal with...

I have to assume you've seen the gameplay trailer for Midnight Suns and, like me and Skully, are super stoked about it. Playing your own hero in what amounts to a Marvel movie is going to be amazing!

What won't be, though, is fighting Sabretooth, the first main villain we've seen in action. And the reason WHY he won't be fun is summed up in one word: Frenzy.

You have to understand that I come to this game from being a looooong time player and fan of the XCom franchise, and I've seen a Frenzy-type mechanic before. Specifically in the DLC for the Alien Leaders in XCom2. And I can tell you, it absolutely SUCKS to deal with.

In turn-based games, the rules are normally pretty simple. You go, the other side goes, whether that's A.I. or a human opponent. It's been around since GAMES have been around. It's such a staple, you really don't think of it as even being a RULE. It's how games just fundamentally work.

Well, Frenzy appears to break that rule... no, shatter it into tiny little pieces that you'll vainly try to pick up with tears in your eyes. In XCom 2, it works like this: anytime anyone on your side does almost ANYTHING, the alien leader gets an action. You move, it can go. You reload, it can go. You shoot, you heal, you toss a grenade, you do just about anything and that alien Boss monster is going to ruin someones' day.

And Firaxis seems to have ported that mechanic into Midnight Suns, though not wholesale. It appears that it won’t activate every turn, just after a set amount of card plays and, while the normal troops will be a pain in the ass to deal with, it’s nothing compared to what we’ve seen from Sabretooth. The sadistic developers have taken one of my most hated abilities from XCom 2 and put it on one of the most bloodthirsty, savage, and hardest-to-kill villains in the whole damn Marvel Universe. Joy is not what I would describe as my feeling about that. Dread, despair, and overwhelming fear are all tied at the top of that list.

Don't get me wrong, while I hate it, I also LOVE the mechanic. It turns what could've been a simple Boss battle into a complete rethink of how you plan what to do when you encounter those alien leaders. It makes the game more tense, more REAL, since there is a very good possibility that one of the high ranked soldiers you've worked so hard to promote has a decent chance of dying every time you meet them. It's a fantastic solution to what I call the 'snowball' problem in these types of games: The fact that, as you grow ever more in power and capability, the game becomes ever easier, even on the hardest difficulties. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, your character/s just get so good at what they do that even end game content becomes a cake walk.

Frenzy changes that fundamentally, and while it sucks to play against, it’s an excellent mechanic. Sabretooth won't just be a bullet sponge, or need some special macguffin to defeat, or have some hard to see disappearing target you need to hit and then spend the majority of time dodging around until your thumbs fall off.

No, he'll be what he is in the comics, a murderous rage monster that will try to gut your characters every chance he gets, relentlessly and without mercy. And that is a GREAT portrayal. The mechanic not only fits the game, it fits the character, and that's going to be amazing...

And it's absolutely gonna suck, too.

- Rock

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