Petting the dog in a video game is a calcified meme at this point. It's not out of the ordinary for studios to dedicate hours of valuable development resources to creating bespoke dog-petting animations as an attempt at wholesome viral marketing.
Another 2022 favorite Pentiment even has unique petting animations depending on dog size. All of this effort to please players and court canine influencer @CanYouPetTheDog on Twitter for a mention.
But in the case of Midnight Suns, Firaxis' tactical superhero RPG that released last Friday, petting the dog isn't just a sensible moral decision. This is the first time where the fate of humanity could potentially rest on whether or not you call a puppy a good girl enough times.
Charlie is a dog from hell, which might make you think they're a bad dog, but they are, in fact, a good dog that deserves constant praise. (I will add that this is not even the first time we've been able to pet a dog from hell—2020's Hades let you pat Cerberus.)
Here's my Butterfly Effect theory of how petting Midnight Suns' Charlie might save Earth:
- Humanity is threatened by Lilith, a powerful sorceress
- Inside the Abbey (Midnight Suns' base and downtime hub), petting Charlie grants a handful of resources like Credits and Gloss
- Petting Charlie also raises your friendship XP with the dog, who becomes a playable character on some special, non-optional missions in your fight against Lilith.
- Leveling up your friendship with Charlie upgrades Charlie's deck of ability cards
- You can pet or praise the dog almost every day throughout Midnight Suns' campaign
- A campaign lasts dozens of days (I'm on day 71 right now) and perhaps ¾ complete
- The points earned from petting are spent on valuable base and card upgrades
Sorry, but this should be 100% of players MINIMUM. #midnightsuns @midnightsuns pic.twitter.com/BE8PfAnTI4December 5, 2022
If you neglect to pet Charlie it could have a material impact on how many Hydra soldiers Wolverine can kill, or whether you make a play that KOs a demon.
But the implications are even greater: there is also a cat. Ebony is harder to find within Midnight Suns' sprawling grounds (I think they may only be around on certain days; I recommend looking for the paw icon within Midnight Suns' map), but the bonuses I've received were substantial. One time, petting Ebony insta-healed my injured heroes. And last night when I pet the cat, it levelled up every character in my party. Never before has a head scritch been so consequential to my power level.
Thank you for coming to my PET Talk.