Marvel's Midnight Suns Review

Marvel's Midnight Suns by developer Firaxis Games and publisher 2K GamesMicrosoft Xbox Series X review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Marvel's Midnight Suns has a great deal to offer to both Marvel fans, and those who enjoy the strategy genre of video games. It does so many things well, and I found myself engrossed in both the story and the overall gameplay mechanics. Simply put – this is the most fun I’ve had with a game in some time.

I’m a bit late to the party, as Marvel's Midnight Suns released right at the end of last year. I’ve been busy – but I’ve also been looking forward to playing this one. The promise of mixing XCOM-like strategy elements with Marvel characters sounded like a win to me as soon as Marvel's Midnight Suns was announced. This is one of those few times that a much-hyped game not only met, but in places even exceeded my expectations.

With a title like this, there are a lot of assumptions made about what the game will be like. Would it be as deep strategically as the XCOM games, will the story be any good, what are the RPG elements like? These and more made up the questions in my mind as I started to play. The stage gets set pretty quickly as the demon Lilith is brought back to Earth by Hydra. The Midnight Suns counter that strategy by bringing back her child, Hunter, who was the one who took her out the first time. This leads into the customization of your primary character, Hunter.

Here is where you start to see the RPG elements, in that you create your own character central to the story who interacts with a wide variety of Marvel heroes and villains in their effort to stop Lilith and Hydra. Marvel's Midnight Suns is not as deep as the XCOM games strategically, but there is still a lot to learn. Thankfully the game does a pretty good job of introducing the basics to new players, and over time continues to add layers to the mechanics. Early abilities are generally pretty simple, and boil down to attacks and knocking enemies around the battlefield. Later you learn to string attacks together, defend and boost, all from a card drawing mechanic that encapsulates most of the combat action.

There’s an element of card collection and upgrading outside of the combat, as well as lots of RPG progression elements. You gain experience, you have a handful of different types of resources that you can use to upgrade different cards and facilities. Going out on missions grants you more of these resources as well as means to other types of upgrades (blue prints, artifacts, cores, intel, etc). It’s a pretty solid gameplay loop that had me taking on oodles of optional / general missions outside of the storyline ones, because they feed into these various upgrade systems that I wanted to see through.

Where I could see Marvel's Midnight Suns becoming a bit divisive is in the non-combat interludes. Your mileage here may vary depending on how much you enjoy these RPG elements, or the story itself. That’s because there’s a lot of filler in between the battles that I enjoyed immensely, but if you’re only in it for the combat missions, you might see these as tedious and unnecessary. For example, there are ‘clubs’ you can join with some of the heroes. I thought it was fun to see the interactions between the characters, and they’re optional of course – but not doing them could keep you from getting some useful upgrades. Doing them however, takes collecting resources, having conversations with characters and other things that can pad the time between the actual missions. If you enjoy the idea of doing a ‘shop class’ with Tony Stark, Robbie Reyes and Peter Parker? Like me, you’ll enjoy the interactions. If you’d rather not have to spend fifteen minutes between missions just to get a one card power up? You might get annoyed.

The visuals are pretty good, but not spectacular (Spider-Man… Spectacular Spider-Man – I had to insert that pun. I’ll see myself out now…). They feel pretty true to their comic book origins, with bright color pallets and animations that in combat often reflect what you’d see in movies or cartoons. The voice acting is generally pretty strong, with some pretty well-known names such as Michael Jai White, Yuri Lowenthal, Jason Isaacs, Laura Bailey and Jennifer Hale to name a few. As most people on the CGR team know – I’m a huge Deadpool fan (he’s one of the four DLC characters – I picked up the Legendary edition for this review) – and Nolan North had me in stiches with his portrayal of the Merc With a Mouth’s antics.

These activities between missions are varied enough however, that I really never got annoyed with them, even if they were sometimes a bit repetitious by nature. You might get a message about someone’s birthday coming up, and be tasked with rounding up people to assist with the surprise party. This particular side plot spanned several missions, with a new person to hit up every couple of interludes. There’s some very light puzzle / exploration elements baked into the hub area as well, as you can explore beyond the primary building into the woods around it. You will find gated challenges along the way that unlock new abilities that then open up paths previously blocked to you. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of reagents scattered about that you’ll want to pick up for making new items or supplying to characters to further club activities, things of that nature. None of these exploration or fetch quest activities are revolutionary, but I found myself doing all of them because I enjoyed the character interactions that occurred and am someone who tends to dig into every last corner of a game to get as well geared-up as possible.

There’s a few other odds and ends meant to chew up time and help you to tailor the experience to your liking. There’s different outfits for each character with even more options for your customized central Hunter. This includes a variety of different styles and colors. On top of that, you can customize aspects of Hunter’s room, adding furniture, choosing between several colors for the curtains and bed, or even customized pictures to put around the room. Those can come from a variety of sources as well, from the built-in photo system to the generated comic book covers (completing missions creates a snazzy Marvel-esque comic book cover featuring the participating characters) and artworks already found around the abby itself. You can take those out and put them elsewhere, or use the aforementioned customized images and put them in frames to commemorate the game’s events. It’s a pretty niche system, but it’s a fun bit of flourish all the same.

Marvel's Midnight Suns is frankly one of the best games I have played in some time. If it had come out this year instead of December of 2022, it would likely be in the running for my game of the year. It’s not the deepest strategy game and some people might be put off by all of the activities between the missions, but this is the most fun I’ve had with a video game in some time and I played it non-stop once I started.  Strategy and Marvel fans owe it to themselves to at least give this one a try.

Score: 9 / 10



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