Upcoming XCOM-like The Lamplighters League has revealed its colorful cast of characters, as the PC Game Pass strategy game looks to blend real-time stealth, turn-based combat, and a 1930s pulpy narrative into what I think is going to be one of the biggest hits this year.
There are ten characters in total in Harebrained Scheme’s next tactical adventure after the Shadowrun Trilogy and BattleTech, with each striking a balance between unique motivations and personalities and their more mechanical gameplay elements. You’ve got Bruisers, Sneakers, and Infiltrators, with each having a specific role in the blend of real-time and turn-based gameplay.
You can control a “disarmingly cheerful sniper,” a former Russian mob enforcer, a bohemian scholar, a mystic healer, and even an occult assassin, among many other characters. Each will have different interactions during missions and at the hideout, leaning into the BioWare-style of character interaction in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. You pick three of the characters to take on a mission, with the bigger hives letting you take four.
“You start taking these tropey characters and you put them up against each other,” game director Chris Rogers told PCGamesN at GDC earlier this year. “And as you’re writing them, they just start to talk to each other, because they want different things, and have such different viewpoints as they start to really see the outlook on the conflict.”
Ever since The Lamplighters League reveal trailer from earlier this year, I’ve been keeping a keen eye on what Harebrained Schemes are cooking; from what I played at GDC in my Lamplighters League preview, the game looks like it could be a 2023 standout.
Having character, story, and mechanics all feed into each other isn’t exactly an easy task, but Harebrained Schemes co-founder Mitch Gitelman further broke it down for us in our GDC preview.
“What we do is develop a character concept based on a trope,” Gitelman explains. “We tell that to the design team, and the design team says, ‘Okay, what is this guy? You know, when he takes damage, he gets enraged, we’ll make that part of his character.’ And so now he’s a rageful character. And it goes back and forth like that,” Gitelman explains. “It’s a very collaborative, very iterative process, and they start prototyping the character’s abilities. As they do that, we realise ‘Oh, wait, we can build that into their character background’.”
There’s no Lamplighters League release date yet, but PC Game Pass subscribers with a desire for a strategy game that focuses on characters and how they interact with each other and the game world should absolutely keep an eye on this one.