A star rating of 4 out of 5.

When it was announced that 2K's Feraxis team, the company behind the turn-based tactics franchise XCOM, was working on a Marvel game, it was hard to picture exactly what to expect. The XCOM games tend to pit underpowered soldiers against enemies that are vastly more powerful than them, while any superhero-themed experience tends to do the opposite. So we couldn't help but wonder, how is this collab between Feraxis and Marvel Games going to work?


The resultant game is called Marvel's Midnight Suns, and we're pleased to report that it's a breath of fresh air among superhero games. This writer was somewhat sceptical that a Marvel game could work with turn-based combat in place of the traditional action gameplay that we've seen in the recent Spider-Man games by Insomniac (and the Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy games by Square Enix). But, remarkably enough, the more thoughtful and tactical approach here feels really great to play with.

In combat scenarios, you tend to bring three heroes with you — the main player character is a fresh creation called The Hunter (you can choose their gender, appearance and outfits), and from the start you have at your disposal Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Blade, Ghost Rider, Nico Minoru from The Runaways, and Magik from the X-Men (you might remember her as Anya Taylor-Joy's character from the ill-fated film The New Mutants). As you progress through the game, you'll unlock other heroes like Spider-Man and Wolverine.

Each character has their own unique set of moves, and these are represented to the player as cards that can be collected and upgraded. You can't bring every card into battle with you, so you'll find yourself editing each hero's deck until you have a selection of moves that work for your style of play.

This customisability forces you to be thoughtful in your approach to each mission and each hero, which makes it feel all the more satisfying when you overcome a horde of baddies — it's certainly more of an achievement than just hammering the 'punch' button in an action game until everyone falls down.

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If you've never really played a turn-based tactics game before, we'd encourage you not to worry. Marvel's Midnight Suns does a solid job of explaining how this system works, gradually introducing you to new elements and giving you plenty of chances to learn the ropes without dire consequences at stake.

The Hunter versus a Hydra goon in Marvel's Midnight Suns.
The Hunter versus a Hydra goon in Marvel's Midnight Suns. Firaxis/2K/Mavel

Before long, even the most inexperienced player will know who their favourite heroes are, what their favourite moves are, and how they work together with other characters to make a formidable force on the battlefield.

On said battlefield, you'll be facing an array of enemies, led by the supernatural big bad Lilith (who is actually The Hunter's mum), an ancient evil intent on causing chaos. Lilith is in league with Hydra, giving her an endless supply of goons to throw at you, and she also recruits familiar foes from the Marvel universe including Venom and Sabretooth.

Just like each hero is different, each villain brings their own unique quirks into combat, which stops the battles from ever getting too repetitive. In fact, it's always a thrill to start a new combat situation and use your brain to work out the best solution. (For example, Venom can trap heroes in his trademarked black goo – do you waste a turn saving a trapped hero, or do you forge ahead with an all-out assault instead?)

Between missions, you'll be given ample time to explore The Abbey, the newly-created HQ of the central Midnight Suns team (a group of mystical misfits who are currently hosting several top-tier Avengers to deal with Lilith's threat). Between missions, you'll realise that Midnight Suns is a deeply detailed RPG as well as a turn-based tactics game.

In fact, there's a whole Midnight Suns friendship system, which allows you to befriend these iconic characters through conversations, hangouts, compliments, offering advice and taking part in mini missions around the Abbey. For some players, we suspect that this might become their favourite part of the game.

When you're at the Abbey, the game shifts into a more traditional third-person perspective, allowing you to run around as The Hunter and develop any relationships that you choose. You can't romance these heroes, but you can learn a lot about them and become their best buds. In turn, this will allow you to unlock new outfits, resources and combat combos.

Doctor Strange asks for advice in Marvel's Midnight Suns.
Doctor Strange asks for advice in Marvel's Midnight Suns. Firaxis/2K/Marvel

The downtime side of the game blends really nicely with the combat side, making for a free-flowing experience where you feel like your character is actually making a difference in the vast Marvel universe. And your choices around the Abbey bleed back into your battles in a satisfying way, making for an enjoyable overall experience.

In terms of qualms, we only have minor ones. For example, some characters will ask you to collect resources around the Abbey to help them build things/help you out in various ways. These resources aren't exactly easy to find, though, and you might find yourself running around for longer than you'd like in the not-particularly-thrilling grounds of the Abbey.

It also might take longer than you'd like to unlock new outfits and cosmetic upgrades for The Hunter's room, although there are a few bits and bobs that you cam get without spending resources on them. Mainly, though, the game wants you to take things slow, spend time with characters each night and take part in side quests. This pacing takes some getting used to, and it is well suited to long play sessions (or lots of little ones).

The graphics are another area in which we aren't totally satisfied. Although the game looked amazing in its trailers, and it keeps that shiny sheen in its cut-scenes, the minute-to-minute gameplay sometimes doesn't look quite as polished. Particularly when you're chilling at the Abbey, we'd argue that some of the character models — particularly of the off-duty heroes — look a bit dated and a long way from photorealism.

That being said, the stellar voice work from the Marvel's Midnight Suns cast (which includes some familiar voices) does make up for that. Although some of the dialogue verges on hammy, there's an impressive amount of depth to each character, with their backstories fully fleshed out along with their likes, dislikes and things they're keen to chat about (Blade having a crush on Captain Marvel is a particular highlight, although the gag does get repeated a few times). The cast handles it all with aplomb, helping to make time at the Abbey feel like time well spent.

All in all, we'd say that Marvel's Midnight Suns is a very good time, especially if you're willing to put in the time and effort to get the most out of it. If you avoid socialising at the Abbey and always rush to the next mission, you'll miss out on the humour and heart that is working hard to hold all the game's characters and concepts together. If you commit the time to really invest in each of these characters, we're confident in saying that you'll have a good time.

Marvel's Midnight Suns launches Friday 2nd December on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. It will reach Switch, PS4 and Xbox One at a later date. We reviewed on PC using an NVIDIA 3070Ti GPU.

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