Marvel Midnight Suns preview - Excommunicate

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Lilith in Marvel Midnight Suns

Marvel is the phenomenon it is for a reason. Blending high-paced action with snappy dialogue and a huge budget, it makes sense it would have such a broad appeal. The choice to make Marvel Midnight Suns more of a niche title in the mould of XCOM seems like a strange fit, but from what I've played I feel it could actually work.

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There are some noticeable growing pains as a result of moving that formula over and making it a bit more approachable, but it sits in a different realm to Firaxis' previous strategy games. It feels a lot closer to what Mario and Rabbids is doing and, with this, they manage to capture a very different joy.

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Dawn

Marvel Midnight Suns starts just as you would expect a Marvel game to start. Bad guys are coming back and you have to assemble a ragtag team worthy of fighting them. Lilith, the mother of demons, has been resurrected and with her comes the ability to corrupt and bend others to her will.

Ghost Rider in Marvel Midnight Suns

Alongside Hydra, she terrorises Earth and tries to take control of key locations. The last line of defence are the Midnight Suns, a group of supernatural beings who aim to fight them off and cut off their power at the source. By choosing this specific property, it allows you to play as superheroes, magic wielders, and everyone in between. The roster is deep and gives you some really great choices like Blade, Wolverine, and Doctor Strange.

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The story appears rather inconsequential thus far, but that's not necessarily a point against the game. It focused on the storytelling itself, rather than the story. Playing the role of an ancient demon hunter, the child of Lilith, you must build your team by giving them the right equipment and connecting with them.

A full deck

Though the game is certainly defined by strategy, it's a little different to what you may expect. Instead of having certain actions you can do, your moves are defined by cards you play and movements you make. Almost all actions are a card you draw from a deck. Simple attacks or buffs grant you some sort of bonus, and also give you heroism. That heroism is then spent on more interesting cards and abilities.

Wolverine and Blade in Marvel Midnight Suns
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Generally speaking, you can play three cards per turn and can move once after every card. While your movement is limited, it is also incredibly important. One of the biggest allies is your environment, allowing you to explode barrels or throw bricks.

Part of the fun of combat is discovering new combos and ways to move around the battlefield. You can then use resources earned in battle to unlock new cards, upgrade current ones, or purchase new abilities. Battles are small and confined. Movement is purely part of combat and not something you do to explore more of a map. In this sense, missions have started to feel somewhat repetitive.

The same can be said for dialogue. As someone who isn't a big fan of the way Marvel tends to do their dialogue, my apprehension about some of the game's writing is a sign that they're nailing the style. This feels undeniably like a Marvel product, complete with one-liners and pop culture references. It definitely tries more than this, giving genuine character moments and dialogue, but you really have to dig into the game to get there.

Not all combat

The game is split up into a handful of major sections. Combat encounters are small and confined, often having you pick off smaller enemies while chipping away at a boss. After this, you return home, where you can talk to your fellow team members, customise your gear, and generally feel like part of the team. Midnight Suns puts a big emphasis on having you discover things yourself and even rewards this by giving you XP for interacting with pieces of lore.

Spiderman in Marvel Midnight Suns
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This is something fans of Marvel will likely love. I've never felt forced into piecing together more of the universe but always feel rewarded for my curiosity. There are so many characters on-screen after the first few minutes that may make you lose track, but it sets up their story and progression in linear ways, allowing you space to explore their character.

Speaking of character, all of your teammates have unique levels and abilities, making them good in certain fights. You can push up their level by making them kill enemies on missions, but the game makes you use certain characters for certain missions, ensuring your team stays at a reasonable level.

You constantly have something new to work towards. You can work on researching new things in the forge, taking characters on missions to level them up, or getting resources to work towards your next major move. This has kept me going, but it's hard to see how long this will stay fresh for.

From my short time with the game so far, Marvel Midnight Suns has got many things right but I haven't fully clicked with it yet. It feels competent and many of the characters are made appealing in their own right, but it hasn't entirely hooked me. Its gameplay style is much easier to grasp now, but I'm worried the injection of Marvel's universe may leave me wanting more in another twenty hours.