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Harebrained Schemes’ next game was one of the highlights of the Game Developers Conference. On one side, it’s a turn-based tactics game with the depth of XCOM. On the other, there’s the stealth and setup you get before triggering a fight in Divinity: Original Sin 2. It looks magnificent. Strategy games are good. 

Taking on a band of scoundrels, rogues, assassins, and thieves, you’re tasked with reforming a long-dead team of heroes. Over a set amount of time, you have to push back three different factions while trying to find time to fulfill your own objectives, taking on increasingly high-stakes missions with ten unique characters that you can mix and match to form the best team for each job. Every single character comes equipped with their own abilities, both active and passive, as well as a unique skill tree.

There are tanks, occult assassins, mages, disgraced swordfighters, engineers, snipers, and more – all riffs on pulpy archetypes. Looking at the list of missions, you’re able to choose the right team of three for the job, whether that’s infiltration, damage, or a drawn-out fight.

The Lamplighters League Lateef.

On top of this customization, there’s also the Undrawn Hand – a deck of cards you can collect to further tweak your team. If you have a melee fighter that you want to have a ranged option, the cards can open that option up for you. Think of these as equipment, rather than abilities though – this ain’t a card game.

If one of your characters goes down and out during a mission, you have to go on a rescue mission to break them out of prison if you want them back on your team. Doing so means you have to forfeit attacking one of the factions, which allows the doomsday clock to progress closer to midnight. If that happens, you have one chance at an extremely hard mission or you fail the game entirely. It’s not for the faint of heart.

If you’re doing well, you’ll be spinning plates to keep the various factions in their place while also heading out onto missions that progress your side of the conflict – stealing ancient treasures and raiding Egyptian tombs from ancient gods. Reach the end and you have to pull off a major heist to win the game.

The Lamplighters League combat screenshot.

In the mission I’m shown, the developers attempt to sneak around and thin out the enemy ranks before the battle kicks off. This plays out in real time, and the player uses cover and movement to avoid vision cones and close the distance for stealth takedowns.

As you’d expect, things quickly descend into chaos and the game switches to its turn-based tactical phase. The developer takes control of a Russian mobster character and uses an ability called Bull Rush to sprint over a bridge and knock enemies over the edge like bowling pins.

Next, they knock over an oil barrel and shoot a lamp to spread fire over the enemies, before getting buffed by Rage and headbutting another enemy in the bridge of the nose, which heals their character like a vampiric Glasgow kiss.

the lamplighters league 3

Reinforcements soon beam in, but one of the characters is set up on Overwatch, ready to react on enemy movement and spray them up as soon as they move. Another character uses mind control to turn one of the enemies to their side for a short time, essentially taking two enemies off the board as they’re forced to duke it out. With smart ability deployment, you can rinse the enemies and feel like a genius, which is all I ever ask for in a tactical game like this.

The Lamplighters League looks like it has plenty of depth, and I can already imagine some of the smart synergies you could take advantage of with the various characters. Its Invisible, Inc-style plate-spinning metagame seems like it adds a layer of urgency to it, and the procedurally-generated nature of each mission ensures that it won’t be too frustrating when you inevitably mess it all up and have to start again – just try to set up a different A Team next time, eh?

If Marvel’s Midnight Suns didn’t do it for you, The Lamplighters League looks to fill that XCOM-shaped hole in your soul.