In the aftermath of Cyberpunk 2077, any game that leads solely with PC reviews is right to arouse suspicion. We only received PS5 review code for Marvel’s Midnight Suns today, and have been eager to put the release through its paces in order to bring you some early hands-on impressions. The good news is, so far, we’ve had no issues with the console release – in fact, based on some of the stories we’ve heard about the PC version, it may actually be the more stable build right now.
From developer Firaxis, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an XCOM-style strategy title with a superhero skin. You’d be wrong. This unusual outing actually shares more in common with collectible card games like Slay the Spire, as each character – Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, and Blade to name a few – has their own deck. You then draw cards in battle and use these for either attacks or team-boosting abilities.
That’s the long and short of it, but there’s much more depth beneath the surface. For example, as you play cards you’ll earn Heroism, which allows you to use some of the more potent cards in your deck. In addition, you can also invest this currency into environmental attacks, such as leaping off surfaces and the like. You’ll even get additional turns if you knockout an enemy with a specific type of card.
Needless to say, after several hours of play we’ve barely scratched the surface, but as more moves are introduced and additional superheroes join the party, we’re looking forward to the potential that the game’s many systems afford.
While positioning isn’t quite as important as it is in a game like XCOM – there’s no cover system that we’ve encountered thus far, for instance – you do need to find good angles to attack from, in order to inflict as much damage as possible. An example of this is when Captain Marvel is in your party. She has a card that fires a proton blast in a straight line. So, if you can position her in such a way where you can blast through several enemies at once, you’re going to get a lot of mileage out of that move.
The decks are relatively small for each character, so the game’s not overwhelming – at least not yet. However, some systems that we’re just discovering allow you to merge multiple duplicates of the same card in order to permanently enhance its potency. In some of the instances we’ve seen thus far, this reduces the Heroism required to play a card, as well as increases its damage output – although, we’re sure there’ll be cards that deviate from this fairly obvious formula.
We should note, there are two phases to the gameplay. Playing as your own created superhero – a legendary warrior brought back from the dead to defeat an ancient threat – a good chunk of the action takes place in a hub named The Abbey. This is where you’ll spend time with your fellow superheroes and build relationships, with social activities increasing bonds and unlocking new combat opportunities. A good point of reference here is Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
It's a strange cocktail for a Marvel game, but it’s interesting to experience something a little different. Our biggest criticism thus far is that, while the game does run and perform fairly well, it looks ugly – both technically and artistically. There’s no two ways about it: the art style is outright awful, and it’s not exactly helped by the outdated lighting. To be honest, there are moments playing this where it looks like a PS4 remaster of a PS3 game – not exactly a glowing endorsement, considering we’re playing the PS5 version.
As so much time is spent in conversation during the aforementioned social sequences, the game is leaning heavily on its characters, cutscenes, and writing. And the cinematics look like they’re straight out of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, while the script hasn’t exactly hooked us thus far – in fact, Tony Stark’s witty snipes are outright infuriating us already.
The gameplay is the strongest part so far, then, and we’re looking forward to returning to that card-based combat system. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Marvel Snap has taken the mobile gaming arena by storm over the past couple of months, and now here’s another superhero-themed collectible card game – albeit a completely different type of experience.
Have you had a chance to try Marvel’s Midnight Suns yet, and what are your thoughts thus far? Is this game on your radar at all? Show your hand in the comments section below, and look out for our full review over the coming days.