If you go into Marvel’s Midnight Suns expecting XCOM with superheroes, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Yes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a strategy game, but it’s one unlike anything you’ve played before. It’s more casual and accessible, which makes sense given that it has to appeal to a wider audience and is made with both consoles and PC in mind. But don’t worry, there’s enough depth to its gameplay to keep you on the edge of your seat during each battle.
Based on The Rise of the Midnight Sons comic book run of the 90s, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a passion project for Firaxis. The developer hasn’t directly adapted the story, but instead used it as a creative base, allowing for some key changes to be made. In any case, the crux is that Lilith, Mother of Demons, threatens the world once more. And being the Hunter, it’s your destiny to defeat her.
The first customisable hero in the Marvel universe, it’s up to you to define the appearance of Hunter. And as you progress through the game, you’ll even be able to determine the nature of their personality. Be it light or dark, you’ll gain new abilities along the way to suit. Though while you may be all-powerful, overcoming Lilith and her loyal forces is going to require some help.
Thankfully you have it. From Midnight Sons stalwart Blade, to the quippy Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, you’re going accumulate a fearsome posse of superheroes on your adventure. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, that you’re going to have to consider if you want to emerge victorious in battle. Some are built to dish out damage, for example, while others are better at providing support.
What might surprise you is that you don’t have direct control of each superhero in any given combat encounter. Instead, Marvel’s Midnight Suns has a card-based combat system that means each round you can only select from a random assortment of commands. On the one hand, it means you don’t feel fully in control of destiny. But on the other, it keeps you on your toes, forcing you to make the best of the cards you’ve been dealt.
You won’t be able to heal an injured party member, for example, unless you have a character with a healing ability active and a card is dealt that allows you to use it. You do have the ability to switch out a limited number of cards each turn though, so you could take a chance to obtain one if you wish. Perhaps you’ll swap out a powerful Heroic ability card that you can’t currently use.
You can generally draw three cards per turn, though some cards grant you another draw if you manage to dispatch an enemy when using them. And that’s not hard when some enemies don’t have a health bar and are literally defeated with any source of damage. But when it comes to meatier foes, you’ll want to think carefully about how you go about taking them down. Your cards aren’t the only way to inflict considerable damage to them.
A range of free actions can be performed alongside using your cards. Nearby objects can be picked up and thrown, for example, explosive barrels can be triggered, and some structures can be used as springboards for powerful melee attacks. You can even freely move one of your team members per turn, lining them up to kick a large object such as a chair at an unsuspecting foe.
Ultimately, the combat of Marvel’s Midnight Suns feels dynamic, exciting and powerful. You can get a hell of a lot done in one turn, which is why reinforcements are brought in regularly. And while a battlefield may start relatively pristine, by the time you’re done with it it might look like a warzone, especially once you’ve knocked enemies into walls and other structures, making them crumble with the force.
There’s enjoyment to be found outside of combat, too. Between missions you’ll spend time at the Abbey, your base of operations hidden away in a pocket dimension. It’s there that you’ll chat to members of your squad, developing your relationships with them. You’ll also forge and upgrade abilities, engage in events, and manage your gear. You don’t have to walk around in your stuffy hero costume all of the time.
The Abbey and the area surrounding it is also surprisingly large, allowing for exploration. And it’s worth doing so, as you’re able to find challenges to complete, which may lead to lucrative rewards. There are even chests dotted around, but of course, you’ll need keys to open them.
At this stage, we’ve still got a lot of Marvel’s Midnight Suns to play through. In fact, we feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of it in some regards. But already, we’re invested in its story, keen to find out how many more of the superheroes we know and love are connected to it, and the fate that awaits them. And while the combat isn’t quite what we expected, it largely makes sense given the awe-inspiring abilities available to the aggressors on both sides.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns launches 2nd December on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.