Marvel Midnight Suns Early Impressions

Marvel Midnight Suns is in this month’s Humble Choice bundle, but that’s not how I got it. I picked it up right at launch, in December 2022. It had sort of a summer blockbuster feel and looked like it might make for a good time.

And for a time, it did.

However, I came to a rather screeching halt when I ran into a mission that repeatedly crashed in the same spot every time I attempted it. This was no side mission either, I couldn’t just go back and pick a different one. It was the main story. If I wanted to go further, that crash would need to be fixed. I couldn’t tell you when it was fixed, only that a) It wasn’t fixed within a month or two of the game’s launch, but b) it does appear to be fixed now.

While you’d certainly hope so a year on from launch, it isn’t always a given a game will be fixed1 — so I appreciated it.

Technical competency in a game is sort of a fairly minimal bar though… Is it fun? Would I recommend it to you?

The short answer is: Yes.

The longer answer… Well, it depends on what you’re after. Marvel Midnight Suns is a game of two halves. The first half is the missions. The combat system itself, and how your heroes feel to play.

That section is amazing.

I won’t lie — I had my reservations when I saw the pre-release gameplay. I just wanted more XCOM basically, and look, I understand why the XCOM systems don’t wholesale work when it comes to KOs vs Deaths and other such elements. So I get it, I do. But to turn actions into a card game/deck builder?

What?

But blow me over with a feather — it works. It really, really does. The designers at Firaxis knew what they were doing.

  • The Cards: Have an interesting range of modifiers and abilities to keep things going. One of my favourites is ‘Quick’ where if you KO an enemy with that attack, it doesn’t consume one of your limited ‘Card Use’ charges for that turn. You can build around these to really smash out the minion-level enemies in no time flat.
  • The Environments: The environments are small, I’ll grant you that. They feel like the smaller XCOM: Chimaera style areas for the most part, rather than a full ‘level’ like XCOM/XCOM 2. But. They are highly interactive. If you have enough Heroism charged up (gained from almost any card you spend), you can leap off crates into special attacks, hurl boulders, place other debris with a well-placed kick into a nearby Hydra face, all sorts.
  • The Visual Flare: While graphics should never fully define your enjoyment or not of a game… Sometimes they help. Particularly when we’re talking a franchise like Marvel, where there are certain expectations already in place. Fair to say; Firaxis nailed these elements too. From costumes to attack and ability animations, they look good. And more importantly, how you would expect.

The other half of the game though… Yikes.

It takes place back at the Abbey, your base of operations hidden away in a pocket dimension. It’s a cool locale and has some interesting off-mission play around unlocking various areas and solving light mysteries. That’s all fine. I don’t actually hate any of that.

But for how well Marvel Midnight Suns nails the feel of the heroes you play with and alongside in combat, it blows away and heads off in a completely contrary direction back in base.

It was decided that you should have a chance to really ‘get to know’ the characters. The people behind the mask, both literal and figurative. Which conceptually? Cool! Neat!

But wait- why… Wait… No. Nonono.

I didn’t come here to join the ‘EMO KIDS’ club. Yes, that is precisely what they call it too. Literal, in-game, including the caps, name. Nor do I want to talk to Blade about his ‘crush’ on Carol Danvers.2 Altogether too many of the conversations illicit an actual, physical, cringe reaction.

It isn’t all quite that bad. It hasn’t been enough to fully turn me away from the game, but I call it out as it may have a heavier impact on your personal enjoyment of the game.

But given you can get it in this month’s Humble Choice? For me, it’s a fairly strong ‘recommend’. If you haven’t yet picked it up, and you have some interest in either the Marvel franchise (possibly less likely these days) or turn-based tactical combat games, then just go ahead and grab this month’s bundle. If you’re not a fan of the base sections, you can skip a fairly large portion of it. I’ve gone ahead and done most of it anyway, but you don’t have to. Fortunately.

Footnotes

  1. Wildhearts being a recent example of this. The PC port is still awful, and has been abandoned by EA.
  2. Again, ‘crush’ is the actual term used in the game. For Blade. And spoken by you, The Hunter, who has in theory been in stasis for the last few hundred years.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

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