Marvel’s Midnight Suns gameplay is nothing like XCOM, but that’s okay

How will Firaxis respond to the divisive gameplay reveal?

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Marvel’s Midnight Suns gameplay may not be what’s expected from Firaxis, the same developer that previously made tactical RPGs like XCOM.

Its reveal at Gamescom Opening Night Live in August 2021 generated some serious hype with a story that shows the dark side of Marvel with more strategic gameplay compared to the action-packed Marvel’s Avengers. However, the official Marvel’s Midnight Suns gameplay reveal on September 1, 2021 showed off something very different from the “XCOM with Marvel heroes” that earlier leaks indicated.

Both trailers on IGN’s channel have a noticeable amount of dislikes and commenters that are uneasy about the game’s approach. In actuality, “XCOM with Marvel heroes” probably wouldn’t even work, so there’s every chance that this approach could work even better.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns drops the cover-based, stealthy approach of XCOM 2’s gameplay for a bombastic card system similar to that of Slay the Spire. Leaks led to unrealistic expectations, but the end result could be even better.

Expectations — In June 2021, a now-defunct Reddit account revealed the existence of Marvel’s Midnight Suns a bit early: “Codename CODA - New turn-based action game using Marvel property,” the post said. “Source described it as ‘XCOM with Marvel heroes.’ Seems like some famous actors are voicing the characters.”

Reality — While the Redditor got the developer correct, that description is not exactly accurate. Of course, there’s some shared DNA between XCOM and Midnight Suns, as the Marvel game is still is a turn-based strategy RPG. But there are some key differences.

XCOM’s gameplay focuses heavily on finding cover, flanking the enemy, and making sure attacks are as accurate as possible based on troop position around the battlefield. Midnight Suns shakes the formula up with a shuffling card system that determines how heroes pull off their powerful attacks.

That system, which is reminiscent of deck-building adventure games like Slay the Spire, makes for some pretty flashy attacks and combos to be pulled off. We don’t know how much control players will have over deck-building or which cards will show up in battle, but it has a lot of potential for making every encounter unique as you progress through and expand your deck. Thankfully, the game’s Twitter account confirmed that this system does not incorporate microtransactions.

On top of that, there’s The Abbey, the central hub where players will interact with various Marvel characters to unlock new cards and abilities. There’s nothing like that in XCOM 2. Firaxis is trying to create a game that defies expectations and takes a unique spin on a familiar game genre. It just has to be a good enough strategy game for the diehard community to accept it — and one that’s accessible enough to lure in the big Marvel fans out there.

Where does Firaxis go from here? We need to see lengthy, uncut gameplay soon so we have a clear idea of what to expect from the game. The first two gameplay videos jump around a lot and don’t really give a clear idea of what to expect unless you rewatch it a couple of times. We need a bit more clarity to put concerned fans at ease.

Seeing a full turn-based battle in action could quell some fears toward how its card system impacts the tactical planning of strategy games and confirm that its level design isn’t boring.

Hopefully, the video featuring Hunter, Wolverine, and Sabretooth that’s coming on September 7 delivers on that. Thanks to leaks and fan expectations, Firaxis and 2K have an uphill battle now, but the game can overcome its divisive gameplay reveal.

As a result, Midnight Suns will definitely be one of the most intriguing games to watch as we head into 2022.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be released for every major game platform in March 2022.

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