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Marvel’s Midnight Suns: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more

Marvel has never been bigger than it is now. Between the wildly successful MCU films, TV spinoffs, and some of their games, Marvel seems to be able to fit into just about any mold. Games have obviously had some rough patches between cheap movie tie-ins and the controversial games-as-a-service attempt with Marvel’s Avengers, but there’s no denying that there is just so much potential within that world for games of all kinds to be made. One rumor that began circulating, though, was somewhat unique, and yet it has now been revealed to be true … mostly.

Firaxis is known for its incredible revival of the XCOM series with last generation’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, as well as expansions. These tactics games set the standard for the genre and paved the way for a small revival that we’re still seeing today with the likes of Gears: Tactics and even Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now this team has its sights set on Marvel with Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which will be taking a more tactical approach to gameplay and utilizing some characters not often given the spotlight. If you’re a little confused as to how a tactical superhero game will end up looking, here’s all the information we have so far on Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

Further reading

Release date

Dr. Strange in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

Revealed during 2021’s Gamescom presentation, a release window for Marvel’s Midnight Suns was set for March 2022. However, it was delayed to an unspecified date until Summer Game Fest, where it got the current October 7, 2022, release date. That date, unfortunately, didn’t stand, and the game is now only set to come in the nebulous fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

Thankfully, that delay won’t push the game out of 2022. The game’s new, hopefully final, release date is set for December 2, 2022, for current-gen systems. PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch versions still don’t have a release date yet.

Platforms

Wolverine in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

Firaxis was also able to tell us all the platforms the game will come to via the ending of the announcement trailer. Basically, if you have a console or PC of any kind, you will be able to play Marvel’s Midnight Suns when it launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. What differences there will be between versions, specifically last- and current-gen consoles, is still unknown, as well as how it will impact any multiplayer or crossplay potential.

Trailers

Marvel’s Midnight Suns | Announcement Trailer

As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child, known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing.

Creative director Jake Solomon said in an interview, “From the very beginning, when we started working with Marvel, we knew that was the story we wanted to tell. We wanted to go to a corner of the Marvel Universe where we felt nobody else was at that moment, and it gave us our little space that we could tell our own story.”

We know that the Hunter will be our main character, as well as the fact that there will be 13 total members of the Midnight Suns. These members include:

  • Captain Marvel
  • Captain America
  • Iron Man
  • Dr. Strange
  • Ghost Rider
  • Blade
  • Wolverine
  • Magik
  • Nico Minoru
  • Spider-Man
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Venom
  • Hulk

The Hunter will be the primary character that you are able to fully customize. The trailer shows her off in what we assume is a default appearance that can be altered; however, it is unclear if you will be able to change her gender as well. This also is who you will take control of when exploring your base, The Abbey, in between missions. Here, you will take control of the Hunter in a third-person perspective to interact with the other characters and build your bond.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns | “Darkness Falls” Trailer

Summer Game Fest brought us not only the release date, but a new Darkness Falls trailer that shows off new characters, starting with Venom getting chased and attacked by Lilith. Before he can be finished off, none other than Spider-Man shows up, a team of heroes with him including another new face, Scarlet Witch, to face off against Lilith and her goons, which now include a corrupted Venom and Hulk.

Gameplay

Captain America Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

The announcement had no actual gameplay in it but did share that the gameplay debut trailer would be coming later. Before we got that, we did get some more in-depth information from the people at Firaxis, who cleared up some initial assumptions about what this game would be. First, and most importantly, this is not just an XCOM game with a Marvel skin put on top of it. While it is classified as a tactical RPG, the same genre as XCOM, the developers have been quick to clarify that it is not going to play the same.

Jake Solomon, in another interview, stated, “There are zero mechanics shared between XCOM and the Midnight Suns. You’re doing these very large moves, these epic moves, and so the mechanics are just completely different, which results in you still scratching the same itch because it is turn-based tactics combat where you’re controlling the team. But the fantasy is very different. And that means the mechanics are 100% different.”

While we feel that saying the game’s mechanics will be “100% different” is a bit of a stretch considering it will still be a tactical, turn-based, squad-focused game, the differences are important to set player expectations correctly. Teams will be led by the Hunter, who brings along three other heroes on each mission.

One big change to the XCOM formula is the fact that the game will not have any permadeath function, which makes sense on several levels. The first is due to the size of the roster. Being so small, the impact of losing anyone would be a major blow mechanically, as well as in terms of story. It also wouldn’t really fit well with a superhero game where you wouldn’t expect to be worried about Iron Man being killed off forever during a mission. Solomon added that “the bad guys are terrified of you” rather than how XCOM works where, more often than not, you’re the one who should be scared.

Each mission will allow you to pick three different heroes to join your character, and all the characters’ abilities are slotted in or out in the form of cards. The game will focus less on building up a strong team over time and instead will be more about strategizing which combinations of heroes and cards will work best for the mission at hand.

Between missions, players will spend time in a hub area called the Abbey. Here, you as the Hunter can go around and build relationships (not that kind) with all the different heroes through dialogue and even a system where you give them gifts. Apparently, not all the characters in Marvel’s Midnight Suns will initially get along, giving you the chance to build bonds with other heroes as well.

Captain America Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

The Captain America showcase for Marvel’s Midnight Suns was the first true official footage the studio showed off. This deep dive on Cap was the first of many to come, each focusing on different characters.

We see Cap in action using his shield both as a melee weapon and ranged option, but it’s obviously a great defensive tool as well. In fact, Cap can build up blocked damage and dish it back out as offensive power. One skill shown off, represented by a card, allows Cap to build up block based on how much damage he can dish out during a turn. This was used in addition to a taunt to draw enemy attention, so building your team’s skills to synergize will be a key strategy.

Cards all cost different amounts of Heroism to be played and will all be able to be upgraded to increase their power, offer additional bonuses, and more. Heroics are the most powerful moves your characters get and cost the most Heroism to be played.

Movement and targeting will not be grid-based like most strategy games. Instead, you target manually with a cursor or target with designated AoEs depending on the skill or attack being used. Some attacks can deal knockback, which you can also direct to attempt to position the enemy to your advantage or simply knock them into hazards.

Out of combat, characters will also gain passive buffs via the previously mentioned relationship system. Cap, for example, will start every encounter with some block at level 1 friendship, and at level 2, generates block each turn.

Iron Man Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

The next hero to get a showcase is none other than the genius billionaire philanthropist Iron Man.

Iron Man is a character that specializes in one of the game’s new features known as redraw. In normal combat, your turn consists of playing three cards, redrawing two, and moving once. Redraw does exactly what it sounds like — allowing you to discard a card from your hand and draw a new, hopefully better, card. Iron Man’s cards typically have the bonus of getting buffed if you choose to use your redraw on them. This means you will want to save any redraws for Iron Man when possible to gain those extra benefits.

In terms of playstyle, Iron Man covers all bases, including attack, defense, and even support skills. He also has cards that draw more Iron Man-specific cards as well as grant additional redraws to further improve his capabilities.

One Heroic we saw is called Surgical Strike, which lets you chain together a series of attacks on enemies within an AoE. The number of targets you can target, assuming they’re all in range, is dependent on how many Iron Man cards you have in your hand. This can be upgraded to reduce the Heroism cost, as well as give a chance to apply a status effect. Air Superiority is similar, except it has no range and can be buffed for more damage the more redraws you use on it.

Of course, Iron Man has to have some sort of chest beam, and this one is tied to his Midnight Suns card called Hellfire Beam. Unleashing a massive beam in a straight line, this card also gets stronger with each redraw applied to it, except it has no maximum limit to how far it can be buffed.

When you improve your friendship with Iron Man, aka Tony, he can get the passive ability called I’ll Handle This, which will automatically give you an extra redraw if you play three Iron Man cards in a turn, but that can be reduced to just two if you get your relationship up to level 2.

Spider-Man Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Swinging into action next is your friendly neighborhood … you know the rest. Spider-Man brings all his agility, web-slinging, and quips to the game as shown in the showcase.

Spider-Man’s main style is meant to mimic his agile nature by including many abilities that cost nothing to play, as well as chain attacks that can hit multiple enemies at once. He’s also more adept at using the environment to his advantage and will deal more damage than other heroes when he incorporates elements on the stage into his attacks. Interacting with things like crates costs Heroism, though Spider-Man has specific cards to bypass that cost.

The web crawler’s passive ability is called Bring The House Down, which gives a 15% chance of refunding the Heroism spent using an environmental attack. Level it up by increasing your relationship and it also makes your first environment attack of a battle free no matter what.

One Heroic Spider-Man has is called Web Throw. This move spins enemies around and deals twice as much knockback, as well as aim it in any direction you want. But, if there are any enemies in range of that initial web and swing, they also take some damage. Another special card in his deck is the Infernal Spider. After you play this, your next three Spider-Man cards are free to play and can be upgraded to also give you a draw to give you more options.

Doctor Strange Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

With a villain as bizarre as Lilith, you need an expert in the … strange. Doctor Strange brings his mystical arts (and killer goatee) to your team as perhaps the best support character on the roster. He can heal, cure, conceal, and buff himself and allies, but benefits most from having a stock of Heroism. Called Enhanced, Strange gets bonuses as long as you have stored up Heroism, and his Heroic abilities can even cost less the more you have.

A new feature Strange can interact with is called combat items. These are one-time-use items that you select before missions to bring in and use at any time to get out of a jam. Strange cards like Astral Meditation can restore uses of these limited items.

If you’re of a pure mind and spirit, you can befriend this spiritual man of science and unlock his Greater Good passive. This gives him a 50% chance to automatically generate one Heroism every turn, but at level two, that increases to two per turn.

While most buffs are self-explanatory, such as healing and curing, concealing teammates makes them completely un-targetable for a turn. Resist is similar, but the target will automatically resist the next instance they would take damage.

For damage, look no further than his Seven Suns of Cinnibus Heroic. This card hits all enemies in an AoE for massive damage that can be enhanced by having more Heroism.

Captain Marvel Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

The captivating and marvelous Captain Marvel is bursting on the scene next. She is considered one of Earth’s mightiest heroes and the strongest Avenger, so you can expect her to be a massive powerhouse in-game. In fact, she even has her own unique meter called a Binary Meter. As you play her cards, this meter will fill. When filled, it grants you a card called Go Binary. When played, this card applies block and increases her offense by 100%.

The downside is that she loses this form if she ever runs out of block, which can be tricky since many of her cards also apply Taunt on her, drawing more enemy attention.

By spending time training with Carol, you can gain her passive called Didn’t Feel a Thing. At level one, she gains a 10% chance to gain one counter on a KO, or 20% at level two.

When you need to really lay the smack down, Marvel’s Heroic, Rain of Blows, is ready to bring down the house. This card takes all your Heroism but converts it all into single-target damage. However, it also purges all your block, leaving her out of Binary once it’s done.

Scarlet Witch Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Scarlet Witch joins the roster with her own brand of magic. This isn’t the Wanda you may be familiar with, and she is under the tutelage of our very own Dr. Strange.

All of Scarlet Witch’s main abilities require careful positioning since they mostly attack in AoEs rather than directly targeting foes. She also has a very strong buff for allies called Chaos Field. When used, for two turns any nearby allies will gain a Resist buff at the end of the turn, and can even heal them if upgraded.

If you’re able to befriend this powerful witch, it will be well worth the trouble. Her passive is called Wrong Place, Wrong Time and again works with her positioning. Once unlocked, any enemies within range will have a 25% chance of getting inflicted with a negative status effect every turn.

For a Heroic, Chaos Reigns is Wanda’s best draw. This move doesn’t deal direct damage, but turns all affected enemies against their allies, causing them to fight amongst themselves. When upgraded, there’s even a 50% chance brainwashed enemies will attack twice on their turn.

Magik Gameplay Showcase | Marvel’s Midnight Suns

A relatively lesser-known member of the Marvel universe, Magik is a character you’ll become a fan of quickly. This sorceress combines her teleportation and demonic powers with a magical blade. Her portals, in particular, are her main ability, which can be used offensively as well as to support your squad. For instance, you can create portals under enemies and cause them to fall from great heights or slash them through a portal to slam into an object elsewhere on the map.

These portals can also be great for repositioning and grouping up enemies for other teammates to take advantage of. She can also buff herself to increase the damage enemies take when hit through portals, which is obviously her primary way of dealing damage.

By raising your friendship with Magik, you will be able to take advantage of even more portals. At level one, she gets a 10% chance to create a portal card every time an enemy is knocked into a portal, which increases to 25% at level two.

When it comes to Heroics, one of Magik’s is called Banish. This, much like it sounds, simply removes an enemy from battle for one turn and leaves a Drop in their place. A Drop is a portal that, if another enemy is knocked into it, has a chance to instantly KO that enemy. To make this even more tactical, you can upgrade it so you can target allies to get them out of danger for a turn, as well as set up that hazard for enemies.

Multiplayer

The cast of Marvel Midnight Suns stands in a line-up.

Nothing has been said about whether this game will feature multiplayer, and from the looks of it, we doubt it will. Co-op wouldn’t make much sense in this style of game, and while XCOM was able to implement a competitive mode, we don’t see how it would work with this set cast of characters thematically. There could be some form of asynchronous multiplayer of some kind, maybe, but we don’t expect anything substantial in terms of playing with friends in Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

Pre-order

Iron Man in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

Even though the game is delayed, you can now pre-order your copy of Marvel’s Midnight Suns on the official site. The game will come in three editions: Standard, Enhanced, Digital +, and Legendary. Here’s how each one breaks down.

The Standard edition gives you just the pre-order bonus of the Doctor Strange Defenders skin and costs you $60.

Enhanced

The Enhanced edition costs $70 and has the base game and pre-order bonus, plus five premium skins:

  • Captain America (Future Soldier)
  • Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)
  • Magik (Phoenix 5)
  • Nico Minoru (Sister Grimm)
  • Wolverine (X-Force)

Digital +

Next we have the Digital + edition, costing $80. It has all the previous bonuses, as well as six additional skins:

  • Blade (Demon Hunter)
  • Captain America (Captain of the Guard)
  • Iron Man (Iron Knight)
  • Nico Minoru (Shadow Witch)
  • Ghost Rider (Spirit of Vengeance)
  • Magik (New Mutant)

Legendary

And the biggest and baddest edition is the Legendary edition. For $100, you get all the previous 11 skins, plus 12 more:

  • Captain Marvel (Medieval Marvel)
  • Wolverine (Cowboy Logan)
  • Blade (Blade 1602)
  • Iron Man (Bleeding Edge)
  • Ghost Rider (Death Knight)
  • Doctor Strange (Strange Future Supreme)
  • Scarlet Witch (Boss Witch)
  • Scarlet Witch (Fallen Scarlet Witch)
  • Spider-Man (Symbiote)
  • Spider-Man (Demon)
  • Additional Skin for Unannounced Hero
  • Additional Skin for Unannounced Hero

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