I have to learn to let go of my expectations. In many areas, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is the latest victim of a leak culture that has become so widespread via social media in the modern era. When I first heard the rumor that Firaxis Games was collaborating with Marvel on a new tactical RPG, without context or detail, it convinced a mental image that is hard to prove. Maybe you imagined it too.
It’s XCOM, only the extraterrestrial combat unit has been dismissed and replaced by a lineup of Earth’s most powerful heroes. Gradually, as recognizable faces in battle begin to fall, they are replaced by newly created, customizable Enhanced, Inhumans, and Mutants. The gruesome aesthetics that once helped define Enemy Unknown have been replaced by the kind of sharp, stylized line work that artists like Andy Kubert used to breathe new life into the X-Men portfolio in the ’90s. This hypothetical Marvel-meets-XCOM sounds cool, but it’s nothing like Firaxis’ Midnight Suns.
While Firaxis really goes back to the space in which it specializes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns has as much in common with games like Into the Breach and Slay the Spire as XCOM does. And after talking to creative director Jake Solomon about this bizarre combination of turn-based tactics, fast-paced action, and deliberate deck-building, I’m convinced that Marvel’s Midnight Suns deserves to be seen for what it actually is – rather than what it is. many of us had hoped it could be.
Play the hand you dealt
Marvel’s Midnight Suns does not launch you into a war of exception. You will not crawl behind the cover, count places on a grid, or desperately hope that a dice roll will not push you to land from your shot. You play as an established superhero, and you have to act accordingly. There’s a fundamental difference to the premise of XCOM’s action – “you do not learn how to fight or get stronger,” says Soloman. Instead, you bring up to three heroes into battle, battle legendary Marvel evil and the kind of foot soldiers who never seem to survive past a single panel in the comics.
Some of the enemies you will encounter do not even have health bars, so is the power of heroes like Blade, Captain America, Ghost Rider, and Magik. Organizations like Hydra compensate for their lack of survivability by flooding the zone, and you must use hero skills to clear arenas quickly and efficiently before you are overwhelmed by reinforcements. Instead of mapping these capabilities to a taskbar or button input, Firaxis presented them as playable maps.
“Each hero has a unique deck and set of abilities – no characters share cards with each other,” says Solomon GamesRadar +, noting that there are no general ‘punch’ or ‘block’ cards. Each card was specially designed to reflect a hero’s fighting style, skills, and personality. “From the battle you can select and swap all the skills you want in your eight card deck; you can have duplicates of the same skill or you can have a unique card in each slot.”
Learning this information convinced my initial fear that deck building and map management would be like Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering – which means too much time to hold my attention these days. But the knock-on effect is that it made me worry about the depth of the Midnight Suns’ fight. Managing an 8-card deck sounds simple enough, but how could it possibly offer enough variance to stay fun over long, triggered battles?
As it should happen, they should not. Battlefields are only a fraction of the size of XCOM maps, and many of the missions can be completed in about 10 minutes. You accept a task, you gather a cadre, and you get the job done. Deep and midnight sun is not born to build from a deck wide enough to survive the RNG, but by the way your hero deck combines. “Because you can customize each hero deck, you can change their style of play to be more offensive, defensive, or supportive,” said Solomon, noting that skill cards can be both improved and modified to support further specialization.
You personalize blankets back in The Abbey, the Midnight Sunny Homebase where you can interact and invest in the large roster of heroes who join you in the fight against Lilith. “If you want more Iron Man skills, you have to take Iron Man into the fight more often,” says Solomon, explaining that Gamma Coils can be collected in battle in Tony Stark’s Team Forge analysis, which gives you “three semi- random skills, influenced by who you choose to take in the final battle and battle “which can later be added to a hero deck.
Solomon also tells me that you can upgrade skill cards to refine the skills of your favorite heroes. “If you have two of the same base card, you can take them into the yard and upgrade them for a certain price the knockback effect on Forceful Knockback,” he explains. “You can not customize an already upgraded skill (you can not create a Slash ++ map, for example), but you can open the ability to modify maps later to add even more effects.”
“Ultimately,” Solomon continues, “a good squad consists of three heroes who have complimenting skills and a combined set of skills that come out to generate some heroism.” Heroism is so integral to the struggle of the midnight sun, and such a visible component of the UI, that I leave the creative director just to explain it. He says: “Much of the fight is centered around a resource called Heroism. Cards fall into three categories – Attack, Skill, and Heroic. Attack and Skill Cards generate heroism, while Heroism costs heroism. Heroes are the most powerful category of skills in the. Play, but there is no guarantee if you pull it off or if you have enough heroism to execute it.
Midnight suns in action crystallize how this interplay should work. Blade deflects the first wave of enemies by playing an action card to shoot down some machine guns, Hunter follows with a skill card that unleashes a chain of swordsmen, sending one Hydra agent and another damaging both. These attacks generate enough heroism for Doctor Strange to summon the ax of Angarruumus – a hero who inflicts truly devastating damage on a single enemy.
Like the hugely influential indie card battle Slay the Spire, Midnight Suns is about synergy as much as anything else. “You have to think of the individual heroes of each hero, and then how those character blankets blend in or collide with the rest of your squad,” Solomon continues. “If you load up on too many heroic skills in each character, you will find that you can not use any of them because you can not generate enough heroism. Do enough damage.”
What’s funny here is that Firaxis promises a lot of variance in terms of specialization, which in turn affects the kind of combinations you perform in combat. “Ghost Rider specializes in dealing tons of damage, but his attacks often do damage to themselves. The magician lacks a lot of direct damage, but their ability to generate portals, crack enemies, and manipulate their positioning makes them valuable. Blade “is a direct trafficker, but many of his attacks generate blood and he can die alive. Nico Minoru has very powerful magical offensive skills, except they can be unpredictable and require some lineups to maximize results.”
Due to the size of the battlefields, Marvel’s Midnight Suns have less dependence on movement and placement than XCOM. Getting your heroes into advantageous positions, however, is still the key to success. “Each turn, the player has three card games, two redraws, and one move. For the move, you can select any hero and move them wherever you want on the battlefield. This is often most useful when trying to attack with knockback, or set Yourself at an angle so that you can jump from an environmental object to do damage, “says Solomon.
Without cover or suppression effects to worry you, the way the feature also changed between XCOM and Midnight Sun. Enemies clearly indicate who they plan to attack next, giving you ample opportunity to decimate your enemies using smart card games. Each hero has a unique icon, and this icon is displayed at the top of each enemy to indicate who they plan to attack next. “by taking down enemies, or by applying Debuffs like Weak to reduce their damage. Some heroes like Captain America, Wolverine and Captain Marvel have the ability to taunt to force the enemy to change targets,” says Solomon. , adds, “and using the environment is also an important element – you can hit the enemies in the electrical crossbars to stun on them, stopping the attack in the next turn.”
And then there is the issue of a tried and true XCOM issue – Permadeath, an element that really helped set the Firaxis strategy series apart. While Midnight Sun lets you build your own unique leading hero, The Hunter, and blankets for all of your squad, let your bad choices not kill the Marvel most famous hero. That said, there ass a punishment for tactical disasters. “If any hero falls down, the player is given the opportunity to resurrect them at the expense of two heroism,” Solomon continues. “When all your heroes are dropped, you lose the mission and have to start over. Heroes who fall below a certain health limit are ‘injured’, which lasts for a few days in the game. These injuries leave temporary negative traces for the ‘ Heroes – for example, an ‘injured’ Doctor Strange may struggle with less overall health. ”
I’m impressed with what I’ve seen from Marvel’s Midnight Suns so far. It is much more than a rebranded XCOM, interrupting some common elements in intelligent ways and relying on an easy-to-understand deck building system to deliver a new spin on superhero action. Marvel’s Midnight Suns deserves to be seen, and judged, on its own merits. Firaxis is scheduled to launch its tactical RPG in March 2022 and I hope we do not have to wait long to see more of it in action. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is not the game I thought it would be, and it’s probably going to get better for it.
Ask yourself how such a diverse group of heroes came together to meet a common enemy? Meet the Marvel Comics supernatural superheroes who inspired the Midnight Suns game.