We had the opportunity to test the long, wide and across the long-awaited XCOM-like Marvel’s Midnight Suns. What to understand how the life of a superhero works?
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is the new creation of the Firaxis studio, giant of strategy / tactics behind mastodons like Civilization VI or XCOM 2 which this Marvel game is obviously inspired by. Namely a turn-based tactical combat title with an RPG aspect. But this time there is no question of repelling the alien invader from planet Earth with the resistance but rather of taking control of the superhero organization Midnight Suns, which, like the Avengers, aims to protect the Earth multiple threats. In this case, the powerful secret organization HYDRA, always in bad luck, which invoked Lilithan ancient demonic goddess expert in sorcery. Marvel’s Midnight Suns wants to push far in the scenario by offering real coherence, while offering Marvel fans a real epic experience with familiar faces. So Hydra’s Doctor Faustus uses dark magic and science to rouse Lilith, Mother of Demons from her eternal slumber. Doctor Strange decides to recruit the Midnight Suns (son of Midnight in the comics) to try to save the day.
A fine team
At the same time, the group of superheroes resurrect an ancient warrior, The Hunter which is a great opportunity for Firaxis to give you the ability to create your superhero from scratch. Man or woman, you will have the possibility to choose a face, a haircut and everything that makes the creation of characters fun in this type of game. If at the start we find the idea of not only enjoying super -heroes of the Marvel catalog a bit embarrassing, we realize over time the real added value of such an addition. Allowing to offer the scenario a fairly neutral protagonist in the story, who can make choices and create friendships or, on the contrary, disagreements with others. Which would not have been possible otherwise. Ultimately, it’s up to you with Hunter to become Peter Parker’s best friend or, on the contrary, to stay away from him and focus on the essentials, like a certain Blade, a very charismatic superhero of the Marvel universe that we finally see back on the front of the stage.
Throughout the adventure you will cross paths with many superheroes or supervillains, some of whom will join your ranks like Spider-Man or Wolverine. For the rest, there is something for everyone with the presence of Blade, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Ghost Rider, Magik or even Doctor Strange. Everyone obviously has their own personality and their own powers, it’s up to you to make the right choices to make them your best allies or not. Like XCOM, the game works in two phases: a preparatory phase within your HQ, here the Abbey, an old fortress relocated in an inter-dimensional pocket on the cliffs of Salem, in Massachusetts. In which you will bond with the characters, develop your skills, prepare your missions, etc. And a tactical combat phase in which you will have to fulfill several objectives depending on the scenario: recover a relic from HYDRA’s hands, prevent cargo from being stolen by helicopter, defeat a boss, etc. The fight takes place seen from above, turn-based with sometimes a third-person camera or close-up during an attack. Once your turn is over, usually via 3 action points, it’s the opponent’s turn to begin and you are then just an observer. With its kind of giant chess game, the Firaxis studio once again demonstrates its know-how in the field of tactical combat. It’s very simple, it’s a delight at every moment.
The game where you are the hero
Your team consists of three characters, including Hunter for the main missions. For secondary missions you can choose three heroes available in your HQ. The choice of your combat partners is very important because it may or may not define your ability to win. If you see that a mission is not going well with a character, it is better to try your luck with a different team. Knowing in addition that two characters who get along well will have various bonuses and will be more effective on the battlefield, hence the importance of the friendship system. Then, everything in combat is based on a card deck system, each card of which represents a power, a skill. It is within the Abbey that you will be able to win new cards and change the deck of your characters for future battles. This makes it possible to specialize a character in pure support or on the contrary in attack. Once again, the fight is a real pleasure if one has even a little affinity with the Marvel universe. What a pleasure to see Blade and Doctor Strange fight hand in hand to beat Venom. Or admire Iron Man and Spider-Man laughed together at the same valve. Because yes, in addition to the battle itself, the combat phase allows our characters to interact with each other via dialogues and actions. Simply exhilarating. It’s hard to be exhaustive, the game is so deep and complete, but know that if you’re a Marvel fan, you’re going to get your money’s worth.
A good slap in the jaw of the Nazis
Each skill spends an action point, but it is also possible to perform actions without using it, for example by using a decorative object to defeat an opponent, which amounts to spending a movement point. Throwing a piece of stone at a HYDRA soldier, blowing up a barrel of gas at Venom… the game offers many possibilities besides the skills of your heroes. We will also remember a whole system of obstacles allowing you to paralyze a fighter for one turn, preventing him from causing you damage. It can be a Magic portal or a Spider-Man web, it’s up to you to discover all the intricacies (and joys) of discovery.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns works totally against the current of an XCOM for its fight which worked on a reversed chance system. In XCOM you knew the skills of your characters in advance but you could miss a move (via a dice system). But here it’s the opposite, a skill will work each time but each start of the round is a surprise since the game selects a few cards at random for you. It is thus possible to end up with Captain Marvel, Blade and Doctor Strange in his team but with 3/4 of the cards concerning Blade. If you don’t like the deck that is selected by the game, you have the option of drawing two cards again. It’s up to you to see what makes the most sense for your team. Knowing in addition that there are heroic skills which are only available after a certain number of turns. It’s sometimes a real headache but also all the fun of the game.
A game that clearly takes its time
The only downside to the combat picture is the aspect that is sometimes a bit slow. There is a certain latency between the moment of selecting an action and the action itself and its triggering, which could discourage the most impatient of you. Nothing dramatic though. The game being very beautiful, with an artistic direction to the hair, it’s the opportunity to admire our superheroes in the smallest detail, with in addition many costumes to unlock (or to buy via the store) for each of them. Only the facial animation clearly leaves something to be desired (hello Peter Parker).
The Abbey, which represents the nerve center of your operations, allows you to focus on the entire scriptwriting part, the opportunity in particular to admire the very good general writing, the omnipresent Marvel humor as well as the multitude of secrets and winks movies and comics. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a very chatty game, and don’t expect combat all the time. Because it has a strong RPG aspect that asks you to make choices in the dialogues as well as to best prepare you for your future confrontations.
On the pure technical side, we were able to play on PC and the game is overall very beautiful with good optimization. On the other hand, it is a real ordeal as soon as we play in 4K because as it stands the title forces us to go through Windows and reduce the scaling of your desktop to take advantage of said resolution. In short, a total nonsense in 2022 which we hope will be resolved on release via a patch.
We want to say thanks to the author of this article for this incredible content
Marvel’s Midnight Suns TEST: forget the cinema, Marvel is better in video games
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