Marvel's Midnight Suns released last Friday, but one fan got his hands on it more than a year before the rest of us. A report from GI.biz highlights the story of Luke Wiltshire, a terminal cancer sufferer in the UK, and the lengths that Firaxis went to in order to get a working build of Midnight Suns into his hands before he died.
Diagnosed with neuroblastoma—a form of cancer which develops in the nerve cells and primarily affects children—at age 14, Wiltshire spent nine years battling the disease before running out of treatment options last year. Knowing the end was approaching, Wiltshire drew up a bucket list of things he wanted to do with the time he had left. Prominent among them: Play Marvel's Midnight Suns.
As a lifelong Marvel fan and videogame player, Firaxis' social/tactics hybrid was a dream come true for Wiltshire, the only problem was that its release was over a year away at the time, and he didn't have that long left.
Luckily, the charity that had been supporting Wiltshire and his family—Solving Kids' Cancer—sparked a social media campaign to catch Firaxis' attention. It worked, and before long devs at the studio were heads-down on a project to put together a build of a game that wouldn't be released for over a year.
They pulled it off in a day, creating a working build of the game's first act for Wiltshire to try out, which was hand-delivered to him on a gaming laptop by 2K social media manager Asim Tanvir. During the session, he got a chance to share a few of his own comic designs with Marvel Games creative director Bill Rosemann, and devs from 2K and Firaxis dropped in on video calls—at about 3 am their time—to chat with him too.
In a blog post about the experience, Solving Kids' Cancer CEO Gail Jackson wrote that 2K, Firaxis, and Marvel "did this purely from the purity of heart that drives the very best of humanity," and that the devs put everything aside "to achieve what should have been unachievable, on behalf of a complete stranger".
"Heroes come in many forms, and in this most important hour, they came in the form of the wonderful people at Firaxis, Marvel and 2K".
Luke Wiltshire died only a few weeks after getting his hands on the game, on November 12, 2021. He was 23 years old. Firaxis paid tribute to him with an entry in the credits as a game design consultant, and a carving on a tree in the game's Abbey, reading "Luke W Was Here". When Firaxis showed him the tributes, Wiltshire said he had been "forever immortalised in Marvel".