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  • Writer's pictureRock

What IS an Area of Effect?

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

I mean, we all know what it is, right?

You blast this big circle with some massive damage and all the goons die so you can then focus down the BBEG, right? Of course. Well. Phew. Good article, thanks for coming.

Or IS it?

Area of Effect (or AoE) has been around for as long as I can remember playing games, mostly starting with good old D&D. Launching a Fireball is quintessential AoE, and there’s a lot more spells where that came from. From that through countless RPGs on console and computer, to World of Warcraft (that’s for you, Skully), to science fiction games like Fallout where you can get mini-nukes, AoE has long been a standard way of doing damage in games. It’s best use is normally to take out a swarm of minions with lower health so you can concentrate on the bigger threats later.

Given what we’ve seen so far from Midnight Suns, I’ll have to say that it most definitely is not. Not when you’ve got Captain Marvel able to blow a huge photon blast along a line of bad guys. I mean, that’s got to be an Area of Effect, right? Hitting more than one goon, that makes sense to me, though the ‘area’ is more a line than an area.

Magik is an easy one, she has an old-fashioned AoE, what generally first comes to mind when we hear those letters; a big ol’ circle that’ll affect a bunch of enemies. But for Midnight Suns, the Queen of AoE is Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch. In fact, it doesn’t seem as if she has any single target specific cards at all! So if you’re a fan of such things (like I am) then she’s going to be a very hard hero to pass up.

But can we stretch AoE even further?

Chain comes to mind as a test. Chain lets you attack multiple times, right? But not all of those attacks have to hit the same target. They CAN, but they don’t HAVE to, so if we target and K.O. three different Hydra soldiers, does it count as an AoE? The same goes for Captain America’s Shield when he starts playing rebound games with it. Or Spidey when he decides to rubber ball around the battlefield.

I think in those latter cases, I’d have to say no, they don’t count and the key is in the first word: Area. To be an AoE, it seems to me that you’d have to affect an area with the attack, rather than a bunch of individual targets. So, while Captain Marvels’ big blasty beam would count, attacks that have either you or your weapon cycling through various targets wouldn’t… which brings me to the other part of AoE that is, I think, necessary and the most fun. Collateral damage.

Going back to the venerable Fireball, it has a pretty big downside when you actually look at it; it doesn’t discriminate. What I mean by that is that if you aren’t careful, you could wind up blowing up your own party members, or yourself. Area of Effect abilities normally have something along these lines as a disadvantage to how useful they can be, as well as a sneakier one; environmental damage. By that I mean it’ll also more often than not affect the battleground and that can lead to all sorts of tactical considerations.

We’ve seen in Midnight Suns that on a lot of missions you’ll need to rescue civilians during the fight. Tossing around Photon Blasts or Iron Mans’ repulsor blasts indiscriminately could lead to cars blowing up, hostages getting hurt, environmental items that you could’ve used being broken, buildings collapsing… the list goes on. Anyone that’s ever caught themselves or their party with a poorly aimed AoE, be it spell, grenade, power or mini-nuke, knows exactly what I’m talking about here. I think every character is going to have some way to affect more than one Hydra minion at a time, but not every character will have an AoE as I think of them. And that’s good, it’d be a pretty dull game if every character had the same powers with just a change of costume.

An actual Area of Effect attack, though, like Magik’s or Captain Marvels’ is going to take a bit more care than Chain, though, if Midnight Suns is anything like the other games I’ve played that have them. They’re powerful for a reason, great at crowd control, but if you get sloppy with them, they can do your own side even more harm than your enemies.

So keep your eyes on the Area, so you don’t hit your own team with that Effect!

- Rock

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