Marvel’s Midnight Suns is slated for release later this year (check out the latest Summer Game Fest trailer) after experiencing a delay from its original spring release. The superhero RPG reimagines the events of the ’90s comic book event Rise of the Midnight Sons, merging Marvel’s darker occult heroes like Blade, Magik and Ghost Rider with its heavyweights like Iron Man, Captain Marvel and the others are joined by newly revealed Spider-Man and Scarlet Witch. Players take on the role of the Hunter, an original customizable hero who serves as the key to defeating her parents and the game’s villain: Lilith, mother of all demons.
We recently took a trip to Firaxis to play a few hours of Midnight Suns to see how it’s played out since our cover story last year. After taking on Lilith’s corrupted forces and battling Hydra, here are a few key takeaways.
Card battle is fun and rewards creativity
Some might see Midnight Suns as “XCOM but Marvel,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Firaxis describes the game as a turn-based role-playing adventure; The difference is that instead of traditional commands, players use cards to dish out attacks, activate abilities, and unleash special moves.
Firaxis told us it’s aware that card mechanics carry negative baggage from people who don’t like deckbuilders or associate them with microtransactions. While fair enough, the creators told us that they chose maps because they wanted to find a way to make each turn new and unpredictable. The only way to do this was to make sure players didn’t have the same combination of skills Each round lends itself to a concept of card games. Despite initial skepticism, I’m happy to report that it’s a good choice.
Executing powers is as easy as drawing and playing a card, and each character has unique traits that make both team building and deck building a fun exercise in strategy. Blade’s blood-inflicting sword attacks made him my favorite offensive hero. I found Doctor Strange’s assist-based powers to be invaluable, such as his ability to increase the damage output of all cards in hand. As a fan of trading card games, I enjoyed planning the best moves a hand offers, and thanks to the way decks are structured, I always had an option. Individual hero decks contain eight cards and must contain a specified number of each card type and up to two copies of the same card to ensure players have a balanced mix of options. It also helps that you can redraw a card twice per turn, allowing you to drop abilities that you might not be able to use at the moment.
I also like how the combat encourages smart thinking by allowing players to combine a team’s talents. For example, Ghost Rider can create hellish pits that instantly KO enemies who fall into them. Another favorite of mine, Magik creates portals that can teleport enemies around the arena (including into dangerous areas). Feeling sneaky, I placed Magik’s portal on Ghost Rider’s literal hellhole, allowing me to nudge enemies into an instant one-way trip to fiery doom. I wasn’t sure if that would work and was happy when I was right. Despite its presentation, both RPG and tactical fans should be comfortable with the action of Midnight Suns. If you love TCG, that’s even better.
The environment is your secret weapon
Battlegrounds contain many destructible objects and hazards, and I quickly fell in love with using them to my advantage. Certain attacks will knock enemies back or throw them in different directions. For example, the Hunter has a whip that can hurl enemies wherever you aim. I quickly realized that a great target is often another enemy, allowing me to kill two birds with one throw. A storage area has a floating pallet of crates that can crash into surrounding targets with a well-placed ranged attack. Aside from enjoying watching baddies smash through crates, weaponizing my surroundings allows me to get the most out of each map, as playing a single map can chain reaction with extra damage if timed properly.
The Abbey is busy
Between fights, I spent a lot of time roaming the Abbey, the headquarters of the Midnight Suns. The area offers a range of activities, large and small, which ended up capturing more of my attention than I expected.
First off, you can customize your bedroom by hanging collectible paintings (scattered around the area) and buying furniture with in-game currency. This includes buying a comfy bed for your demon dog, Charlie, who you can totally pet.
You can level up cards and fight with teammates outside in the yard. In the Forge, where Tony Stark and Doctor Strange combine their talents to create new toys for the team, you’ll receive new cards and conduct research projects. The Priory operates on a day-night cycle, with some tasks lasting a full day or more. For example, you can send individual heroes on special missions to earn extra goodies, even though that teammate isn’t available to bring them into battle for at least a day.
Collectibles include over 20 tarot cards themed after different heroes. I found maps based on Human Torch, Moon Knight and Cloak and Dagger. I’ve also found elemental sticks that unlock a specific puzzle and several locked chests that require keys. Luckily, the map will automatically remember these chests so you can revisit them later.
Solving environmental puzzles such as B. the tribute to scattered statues, rewards with additional treats and secrets. The Priory also has many sealed areas that can only be opened with exploration-based spells. A quick select menu shows four skill slots, although I only gained one during mine meeting; a a kind of power surge that opened doors that bore a corresponding symbol.
While the Priory has a mild collectible element, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy searching for lore notes, artifacts, or Easter eggs. I was pleasantly surprised at how intricate it was and want to see how Home of the Suns develops.
You must build friendships selectively
Among the Priory’s most important activities is socializing with allies in what Firaxis calls the “Friendship System”. Much like games like Mass Effect or Fire Emblem, the more you ingratiate yourself with a character, the closer you become. The easiest way to build favor is through dialogue. If you choose an answer that resonates positively with someone, you get a point in their favour. Saying something wrong has the opposite effect, and knowing your audience is crucial. Tony Stark might appreciate a scathing comment, but the more persistent Blade might take offense. Positive or negative answers earn points towards the hunter’s respective light and dark skill trees, so there’s some incentive to be a jerk if you want to gain darker skills. Still, I’ve struggled with wanting to be anything other than an angel as it feels like there are more benefits to everyone being like me, but I’d have to put up with being a nuisance to know for sure.
Special meeting places offer the most extensive forms of relationship building. These events can take up an entire evening, and multiple characters can be available to chill out at once. I was spending a night playing video games with Robbie Reyes when he asked me about his younger brother. You could spend another evening meditating with Magik. You can’t hang out with everyone in one day, and Firaxis told us that the adventure only has enough time for players to maximize relationships with three or four heroes, so you’ll have to pick favorites. Whether you form your inner circle based solely on personality or combat skills is entirely up to you. The Abbey even has clubs based on shared interests within the team (e.g. a book club), but I haven’t seen that element in action. These interactions provide a light, sometimes humorous break from the action. I appreciated how they let me see the human sides of these titans, which brings me to my next point.
The tone is lighter than you think
Despite its darker, heavy metal-inspired vibe, Midnight Suns retains Marvel’s signature sense of humor. Stylized Borderlands-esque title cards introduce characters (e.g. one for a random Hydra soldier with the subtitle “Joined for the dental plan”). Heroes joke with each other on and especially off the battlefield. For example, Tony Stark and Doctor Strange humorously argue about the merits of technology vs. magic. There’s even a Twitter-like social media feed that the Suns use to communicate, and topics can range from the current mission to a request about which person is using another teammate’s shower loofa. Not every joke lands, but the humor generally worked based on what I saw. Don’t worry; it’s still not total comedy. Midnight Suns gets serious when it needs to, so expect a balance similar to that of your average MCU film.
It’s a long game
Firaxis told us that Midnight Suns will take about 40 hours to mainline. However, if you want to dig up every collectible and secret, or spend as much time as possible getting to know your teammates, you should plan on spending 50-60 hours.
You can create custom comic covers
A small but surprising bonus effect is that players can create custom comic book covers after completing missions. Each comes with preset characters themed after the fight you just finished, but you can change background graphics, titles, add different word bubbles, etc. I’m not sure what the purpose of this feature is, other than to play around for a giggle, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
Overall, I had a good time playing Midnight Suns, and the delay seemed to have helped the game in terms of polish. We look forward to experiencing the full adventure when the game launches on October 7th for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. Also, check out how we battle Fallen Venom in our latest episode of New Gameplay Today.