Recent Marvel video games haven’t garnered the success you’d expect, at least from a commercial standpoint. For every Marvel’s Spider-Man, it seems there are multiple games that fail to perform such as Marvel’s Avengers or Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This isn’t necessarily a testament to their quality, as many contemporary Marvel games are fun to play — especially tactical RPG Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Despite its positive critical reception, it underperformed, but thankfully, you can now play the first three hours of it for free across PlayStation and Xbox. “No excuses at this point,” says Firaxis Designer Jake Solomon.
Described as Marvel meets XCOM, Midnight Suns implements a turn-based battle system that rewards strategic play. This means you have to position your team of three units — consisting of Marvel’s most popular heroes — in smart ways to defeat enemies, complete objectives, and tackle bosses.
You get to customize your squad with heroes such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and a slew of others — who all have unique abilities, skills, and weaknesses. For instance, Spider-Man can use his webs to stun enemies for a turn, allowing out to maximize your efforts. Other characters like Ghost Rider focus more on big attacks, meaning you’ll have to build your squads appropriately to immerge victoriously.
Midnight Suns’ greatest strength is the card system that intertwines with its combat, giving you a bit of variety in each mission. Characters have a slew of moves, each of which are tied to a card. During a mission, you draw a random assortment of those cards, which adds an element of surprise.
The thing is, all of these moves are useful, but if there are some you don’t like, you can remove them from a deck to increase your likelihood of success. It’s a fascinating system that sounds like it might be annoying, but it forces you to work with what you have, which gives the game much more depth and variety. It also disallows players from simply spamming the same move over and over again, as you can only utilize an ability if you draw its corresponding card.
In games like these, it’s easy to continuously utilize only the most powerful attacks to come out ahead, but the card system makes each battle feel nuanced. It simultaneously feels a lot like XCOM while standing apart on its own.
Approachable, Yet Deep
But with all of its depth, surely Midnight Suns is hard to get into, right? Not exactly. While its combat certainly feels complex, the game does a great job of slowly ramping up the difficulty while trickling out new mechanics. You also have a great degree of control of the game’s difficulty settings, with an approachable Story Mode that practically makes you invincible.
Or, if you’re a glutton for punishment, why not try out the Ultimate III Mode, which boosts enemy health by 125 percent? There are plenty of options in between, meaning there’s likely a mode for you, regardless of your experience with turn-based tactics games.
Aside from mechanics, Midnight Suns’ story is yet another shining example of its approachability. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the Marvel comics, shows, and films, but thankfully, none of those stories are tied to Midnight Suns. So whether you’ve seen all the Marvel movies and read all the comics, or if this is your first comic book experience, ever, the story makes sense pretty much right away, making it easy to get into.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a great example of a risky new idea that paid off — at least critically. Given how it underperformed commercially, it’s unclear if we’ll ever see anything else like it, but we still recommend giving it a try.
Play the first three hours of Marvel’s Midnight Suns for free on Xbox and PlayStation now.
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