Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review – I don’t know where to start. I was expecting this game to be an XCOM clone game in Marvel universe – which I don’t mind, because I love both XCOM games and Marvel movies/characters. But what I got after playing this game for several hours, is more than what I expected and it ends up as being this fun, super addictive game that I haven’t come across for a long time.
I’ve been playing around 45 hours now and I think I’ve only been up to 1/4 of the main storyline. This is because you can keep doing side or general missions to collect resources, cards, friendship points, and more without the need to touch the main storyline. And this is one of those games where you will enjoy doing the side missions over and over just to collect in-game resources, and you’ll still have a great time.
But okay, let’s take a step back and start from the beginning.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a game created by Firaxis Games which is the studio responsible for the XCOM and Civilization franchise games, working together with Marvel. So, expect an intuitive turn-based combat but combined with rich story and character lore from the Marvel universe. If you are a fan of Marvel characters like the Avengers (Spiderman, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Iron-Man, etc), Wolverine, Blade, and a few others, you’ll be super pleased to finally be able to play these heroes and get to know more about them in game.
You will create your own character though, named Hunter – which will then interact with these Marvel characters in the game, team up together, and complete the main storyline to fight against the common enemy which is your demonic mother, Lilith. You’ll also be able to converse with these characters and develop friendship with each of them. Friendship levels can be increased which will give you an advantage in combat (like Passive skills) if you bring that hero along in the mission.
Picking the right answers during a conversation can increase or decrease how a character likes you (similar to Bioware games), and you can also spend time with him or her in activities. Plus, you can give them gifts and compliments to boost those points. Giving the right gifts to the right character will yield an even better result. Training with these characters will also increase their friendship level with you though you can only do this once every few days as the game encourages you to also get invested in the other characters.
The game does encourage you to use the other characters in general missions but thankfully, never really forces you to (well okay, story/main missions do pick the characters you have to go for at times). If you don’t like playing a specific character (since they all have different playstyle, strengths, and weaknesses), fret not because you can leave that character behind most of the time. There is a system where characters’ level will catch up with your main character (usually a few levels behind) and there are plenty of ways to get them levelled up without much hassle. And while you may not have newer, better cards, you can still keep up even with the starting ones.
Enemies will be balanced depending on the level of the characters you bring in a mission so you’ll never be overpowered and combat will never be boring. However, as the game progresses, you’ll get newer hero abilities so you will feel a sense of progression as you get stronger. This is a great game design because you will always have fun in battle no matter what state in the game you are in.
In XCOM games, the battles are turn-based and it’s the same here in Marvel’s Midnight Suns. However, there is a card system where you can only execute an ability if the card is in your hand. So think of the game battle system like playing a digital-collectible card game like Blizzard’s Hearthstone combined with XCOM’s intuitive turn-based system in a Marvel universe.
The addictive part of the game is collecting these cards because each hero will have his/her own cards and abilities to collect and unlock. You’ll meet a new Marvel hero as the story progresses and this means, more cards to collect and unlock! Again, you don’t have to do this if you are not a fond of that character (I somehow don’t like Ghost Rider’s playstyle so I rarely use him unless the mission forces me to).
Obviously, there are Rare and Legendary cards to collect and they each give different sets of skills and abilities. Some Heroic attacks require Heroic points to perform which you accumulate by playing certain cards that give you one (or some). Cards can also be redrawn and discarded. You get your first hand randomly, taken from the three heroes’ card decks. To make things even more interesting, cards can be upgraded to get the powerful version and modded for a bonus stat or effect.
I thought I was going to dislike the card system but as I play the game, I realise how fun and addictive this is. It’s not complex but rich enough to keep you busy and have the urge to unlock more cards for all your heroes. You only get cards for the heroes you bring in the mission so again, if you don’t want to play certain heroes, that’s fine. Each hero is unique and there is always something to like whenever you start getting new, more powerful cards.
Apart from the use of cards, combat is also rich in itself as you can reposition your characters to utilise its knockback system, environments that you can use to your advantage, and other mechanics like hero attack combo cards or once-off items you can craft and use in the battle. Characters can also be weakened, stunned, slowed, etc so there are lots of strategical moves to analyse and perform each battle.
Quick attack cards for example, don’t cost a card play so you’ll have to strategies when you should use them and to which enemies. At times, you need to do a few combination moves to finish an enemy but since you only have 3 card plays, 2 redraws, and 1 move per turn (you can get extras through certain cards/items), mind calculations are needed sometimes.
Outside of combat, there are also tons of stuff to explore, unlock, and do without making them feel like chores and tedious. I usually dislike open world games where they just throw all these non-sense markers on the map for you to explore and complete. It feels mundane and overwhelming for this old gamer who doesn’t have much time to game anymore. However, all these things to explore, unlock, and find in Marvel’s Midnight Suns never feel that way. And most of the time, you have options not to do them if you don’t want to as they usually only unlock cosmetic items in game.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review Conclusion
This review is getting long and I honestly am still scratching the surface here. There are many things that you can explore and do before and after missions, a Light or Dark path that your main character can pursue, sending your heroes to Op missions to get a Rare or Epic card, doing Research to unlock newer abilities and “base” upgrades (like XCOM), heroes’ and base customisations and more. These get unveiled gradually in the game so you will never feel overwhelmed as you start playing the game and you can also unlock the ultimate costume/skin and ability card per hero if you max your friendship level with him/her.
The card system is a fresh design to turn-based combat system we all know of, and it is also addictive as you collect and upgrade your heroes’ cards. Seeing a new Rare or Legendary card offers plenty of amusement and excitement, like when you are buying a physical booster pack from the shop and unpacking the cards one by one.
Marvel’s lore also offers rich and deep characters development and backstory, so you’ll enjoy listening and participating in the conversations with each of them. You can skip the dialogues if you want (which are all voice-acted) but the voice acting is quite good and stay true to each character (especially snob heroes like Iron Man and Dr. Strange).
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available now on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5.
UPDATE: I’ve finally completed the game (76 hours in total), with just 3 heroes not maxed in friendship levels. Gotta love that last mission and epic conclusion – and yes, you’ll be warned of the last mission so you can best prepared by upgrading your heroes, cards, and mods before going in.
Disclosure: Marvel’s Midnight Suns review licence for PC was supplied for reviewing
Marvel's Midnight Suns Review
An excellent game that takes all the fun and addictive things from various genre like collectible card games, XCOM turn-based combat system, and many more. Plus, the characters are across the Marvel Universe.
- Well-designed, well-polished
- Plenty of lovable characters from the Marvel Universe
- Card system is unique, well-crafted, and addicting
- The game design allows you to choose characters you want to invest time on
- General/Side missions are fun to play even though they are repetitive in nature, as you collect newer abilities, unlock new heroes, fit new costumes, or need resources to unlock stuff
- There are explorations in the game outside combat, though kind of optional
- Plenty of things to collect, unlock, and do
- All dialogues are voice-acted and stay true to the character
- You may experience a stutter/fps drop when a card effect is first performed (most likely for caching purpose?)
- There are lots of dialogues, chatter, and banter in this game – but they can be skipped if you get tired of them