Details of a Marvel strategy game and Borderlands spin-off title have surfaced via a leaked list of upcoming games from publisher 2K, and both could potentially breathe new life into each respective franchise.
The list, which recently appeared on Reddit and has since been verified by Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier on Twitter, contains information on four upcoming games. Those include NBA 2K22, as well as a game currently titled Codename Volt, which the leak describes as "Cthulhu meets Saints Row," and could be the next game from Mafia developer Hanger 13 (a leaked contract last year revealed that the studio was working on an "open-world sci-fi title with supernatural elements").
Elsewhere in the list, however, are two games based around particularly notable IPs. The leak states that Wonderlands is a "Borderlands spin-off" potentially based around long-term NPC Tiny Tina.
While the project is reportedly in the same loot-shooting style as the rest of the franchise, the popularity of both Borderlands 2's Handsome Jack and Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands narrative adventure spin-off exemplifies the series' potential for character-focused storytelling. Building on the bombast of Borderlands 3 (which finally arrived in 2019 after a seven-year wait) with explosive fan-favourite Tina could be an excellent way to double down.
The final game reportedly comes from XCOM 2 developer Firaxis. Codenamed 'CODA', it's said to be a "'XCOM with Marvel heroes'" - a turn-based strategy game using the Marvel IP. Details are scarce, but right now, the combination of studio and IP sounds like a perfect match, and an excellent opportunity for a narrative that sticks a little closer to what fans of the MCU will be familiar with.
A globe-trotting Avengers-focused strategy game could make excellent use of some of Marvel's biggest bads - Ultron seems like a particularly good fit, given the sheer number of robotic bodies at its disposal and the inherent adaptability of its artificial form. As it did in Square Enix's Marvel's Avengers game, The SHIELD Helicarrier could also work as a stand-in for XCOM 2's roaming airborne base (coincidentally named The Avenger).
Even permadeath, an important aspect of XCOM's progression, could play a central part in a franchise where new and returning faces regularly take up the mantle of their fallen friends. With decades of comic book precedent allowing for everything, from re-imaginings to resurrections of your favourite characters, it'll be interesting to see how a Marvel strategy game could approach the in-game deaths of some of its most iconic figures.
While multiple sources suggest the leaks are accurate, there's no word yet on when we'll get our first look at these games. E3 2021 is just around the corner, and 2K is set to appear as part of parent company Take-Two's presentation on June 14, but Schreier says that while the leak is real, he's "not sure all of it is going to be at E3."
Similarly, it's reasonable to assume that Gearbox might not be ready to unveil its next Borderlands project, but it's also a safer bet that Firaxis - which released XCOM 2 in early 2016 and hasn't released a major numbered game since Civilization 6 later that same year - could be ready to show off it's next big project.
After the somewhat muted reception to Marvel's Avengers (the future of which we'll also be hearing more about at E3), this could be an excellent opportunity to build on the video gaming future of Earth's mightiest heroes.