Marvel's Midnight Suns Hands-on Preview

Marvel's Midnight Suns Hands-on Preview

By  Danielle Angel - 17th Nov 2022

20 hours in... what'd I think?

Marvel's Midnight Suns Hands-on Preview

I have had the pleasure of experiencing the first 20 hours of Marvel's Midnight Suns, Marvel's brand-new turn-based strategy and card-based battler featuring unlikely allies joining forces to fight against the evil clutches of Lilith!

Throughout the 20 hours of game time, I managed to see a lot of the gameplay information and the story, though I'll try to keep this preview focused on the mechanics of the game and keep some of the opinions for the hands-on impressions closer to release, when I am more freely allowed to talk about the whole game.

The Abbey — A Superhero Hideout

The Abbey — A Superhero Hideout

I have had the pleasure of experiencing the first 20 hours of Marvel's Midnight Suns, Marvel's brand-new turn-based strategy and card-based battler featuring unlikely allies joining forces to fight against the evil clutches of Lilith!

Throughout the 20 hours of game time, I managed to see a lot of the gameplay information and the story, though I'll try to keep this preview focused on the mechanics of the game and keep some of the opinions for the hands-on impressions closer to release, when I am more freely allowed to talk about the whole game.

The Abbey — A Superhero Hideout

The Abbey will be your hub throughout your adventures in Marvel's Midnight Suns, as you'll take control of The Hunter, Lilith's child (daughter, in my case), to fulfil the prophecy of slaying her... again. Accompanied by a slew of other superheroes, some of which fans of the comics and the Marvel movies will be familiar with.

You'll share the Abbey with heroes from the Midnight Sons lineup, including Nico Minoru, Magik, Blade, and the Caretaker, The Hunter's aunt. These are the original heroes that you'll come to meet, alongside some of the Avengers, including Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Robbie Reyes (Ghost Rider), and Captain Marvel, who join the fight at the start of the story. As you progress through the story, you'll unlock some other characters; most notably, Logan (Wolverine) joins the Midnight Sons lineup, whilst Captain America and Spider-Man join in the Avengers side.

You'll spend a lot of your time in the Abbey, the hub for the game, where you will be interacting with the superheroes in order to raise their friendship and get access to unique combat skills. Perhaps most importantly, you'll get access to unique interaction scenes with them, as you'll join clubs (such as a book reading club with Blade, Captain Marvel, and Captain America or the EMO KIDS club) and engage in hangouts with some of your favourite superheroes. These give you an insight into the characters you've come to know and love from their other Marvel appearances, with unique interactions per character. Whilst The Hunter allows for more playful choices with Peter Parker (Spider-Man), you'll find yourself having more serious conversations with other members of the crew and — if you're stupidly friendly like me — having problems befriending Magik. 

A lot of your time is spent interacting in the Abbey, as you'll want to talk to each character and get to know their stories, with deep interactions never-before-seen with one of the largest casts that Marvel has had in a videogame to date. You'll also find yourself doing some side missions across the Abbey for Agatha or taking up missions from heroes asking you to do chime in on opinions or even take them out on quests. If you've ever wanted to throw Magik a surprise birthday party, you'll get your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here!

Dialogue and interactions are plentiful in Marvel's Midnight Suns, as you'll be able to talk to your favourite superheroes in-between quests, both before and after. You'll be able to talk to them as you wake up and discuss upcoming events, and once you've completed a mission, you'll be able to wind down by hanging out with them or hearing them talk about what transpired throughout the day. This system was enjoyable, as being able to interact with the heroes was an enjoyable change of pace from the usual action-heavy titles that Marvel releases.

Enjoyable Turn- and Card-based Combat

Enjoyable Turn- and Card-based Combat

Whenever you aren't lounging around spending time in your bikini at the pool with your favourite superheroes, you'll be out doing missions and progressing the main story or completing general quests. The limited party slots became a real pain, though not because of anything negative but because I had an issue choosing between all of the heroes that the game gives you.

Each party is comprised of three characters you can take, though, in story quests, one of your slots will be taken by The Hunter, meaning you'll have a choice of two. Sometimes, these quests will force you into selecting one specific character or, at times, all three will be pre-determined. This was a welcome change of pace to my usual team (comprised of The Hunter, Blade, and Spider-Man early) because it forced me to try other characters and showed me why I'd like them. Being forced out of my comfort zone allowed me to see which heroes I wanted in my team and allowed me to experience all of them despite my adamancy against moving on from Spider-Man. 

Thankfully, my continuous neglect for Magik due to our constant negative encounters didn't hinder her level-wise whenever I was forced to take her to the battlefield, thanks to a nifty system that Marvel's Midnight Suns implements, levelling up all of your heroes gradually according to The Hunter's level. This meant that none of my heroes were underlevelled whenever it came the time that I had to use them, and it made it far less annoying and grindy than having to level them all up manually in order to be able to progress the narrative.

Combat is a turn-based strategy with card-based fighting that allows you to have six cards in your hand, with each character having eight cards on them, leading to a deck of 24 cards for you to play and customise. You cannot change the cards to have more than two duplicates of each attack, meaning you won't be able to have wacky builds that force one specific card repeating endlessly. This isn't a bad thing, as it forces you to try out different attacks and, oftentimes, fall in love with them, though I do wish that free deckbuilding had been taken into account a bit more, allowing the player to do whatever they wanted with their game.

Each character plays uniquely, making the experience of passing quests enjoyable despite having to be forced to play some heroes I hadn't otherwise taken to the battlefield very often. With Nico Minoru's unique roulette-based cards depending entirely on luck to dictate their effectiveness, Blade's quick-paced combat that helps dwindle down enemy hordes, and even tanks having different forms of tanking and aggression, every character felt unique, and it made it truly difficult to choose which ones to take into quests and forming a "main" team.

Quests are split into two different categories:, you'll be able to embark on a journey to fight through the Story and bring about the fall of Lilith or you'll be able to venture into the General quests, allowing you to upgrade your characters. Each mission has a set of rewards, and each one feels as valuable as the last; you'll want to make use of the numerous rewards to upgrade your heroes and the Abbey.

Some rewards quests give include the artifacts that Stephen Strange can use to investigate and raise the Research level of the Abbey, allowing you to build facilities within the Abbey to facilitate your playthrough; Intel Caches that you'll be able to use to gain intel and send heroes on Hero Ops to gain cards for them without taking them into the missions; and caches that give you a slew of cards for you to unlock for participating heroes. This system rewards you for everything you do in-game and helps at making it feel like everything you do is worthwhile. Whether you're spending time chatting with heroes to raise friendship levels, embarking on general quests, or progressing the narrative, you're working towards something.

You'll have three card plays to use from your six cards on hand, though numerous Quick attacks (which refund card plays) and extra card pulls means you'll have several options in combat. Marvel's Midnight Suns rewards aggressive play, encouraging you to use cards in order to slay your foes as quickly as possible. This playstyle felt different from other turn-based strategy titles, though it was a welcome change that made the fighting feel more fast-paced and fun rather than strategic. That said, thinking isn't entirely discouraged thanks to the limited amount of moves you have, as all of your heroes share one move token that you'll have to use wisely and two redraws to replace cards in your deck for others; I often found myself strategically trying to get cards that would benefit me by throwing caution to the wind and hoping Mother Luck would smile down on me. If you want to play even more hardcore, you'll be able to select higher difficulties mid-run as you unlock them, which offer a steady increase in challenge but a hefty increase for hero XP and currency to unlock cosmetics for heroes and The Hunter's room in the Abbey. Speaking of which...

Cosmetics Aplenty!

Cosmetics Aplenty!

You'll be able to get cosmetics throughout your journey in Marvel's Midnight Suns, both through purchases for the Digital+ Edition and the Legendary Edition as well as in-game currency that you acquire for completing quests. These cosmetics don't serve an in-game purpose (aside from The Hunter's cosmetics, which can increase her power though they are only acquirable later on in the game), but I was pleasantly surprised to see all of the skins I selected, including my unique Hunter with every cosmetic addition I did to her outfit, appeared in cutscenes! Seeing the fruits of my labour, the meticulous attempt at making The Hunter look cool and fitting to the world, and the costumes I put for my other heroes — such as Shadow Witch skin for Nico Minoru and Captain of the Guard Captain America from the Legendary edition — that I just thoroughly enjoyed. Although these aren't their traditional costumes, I sincerely had fun finding the ones I thought looked cool, selecting different colour schemes, and seeing it represented in the cutscenes.

You'll also be able to decorate The Hunter's room with pre-set items with pre-determined locations, though being able to choose what I purchased and then changing the colour was genuinely enjoyable; I saw the room go from a glorified storage to a passable room due to my (admittedly poor) decorating skills. I enjoyed the cosmetics, as they weren't invasive nor challenging to attain, and they were genuinely added as a means for collection and self-expression. To get the currency to buy them, you'll receive a rating at the end of the level dictating how well you performed, decided mainly by how quickly you passed the quest, how many heroes died, and the difficulty level. It was nice not having to decide whether I really wanted a cosmetic because that currency was strictly for cosmetic purchases, allowing you to just go crazy and buy items you wouldn't otherwise want to spend too much on.

Verdict

With the way Marvel's Midnight Suns is at the moment, I can confidently say that it is one of the most unique and enjoyable turn-based strategy titles I've had the pleasure of playing. I never thought these two genres could work so well together, but after experiencing this title, I stand rightly and gladly corrected.

Closing: Embark on your quest through Marvel's Midnight Suns when the game releases on the 2nd of December! Take control of The Hunter and stop Lilith — fulfil the prophecy.

Marvel's Midnight Suns Hands-on Preview


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