So, the gameplay info for Marvel’s Midnight Suns was released… and it doesn’t look great.

With my increasingly growing distaste of AAA titles, it was a bit disconcerting to listen to Midnight Suns be described as such in the gameplay overview video that was recently released.

As I watched through both the gameplay reveal and the official game overview videos, my uneasiness continued. 

The first thing that disturbed me was seeing a combat scene where it looked like you had a stack of ability cards lined up for your heroes. For something billed as a tactical RPG, something felt a little off about it, and my suspicions were later confirmed when they said that abilities are randomised per battle, with cards being drawn from what I assume is an existing deck of abilities for each character.

Why, oh why, do we need a system like this in a tactical RPG? For me, a large part of the fun of games like XCOM and Gears Tactics is being able to customise my squad of characters to my liking, and having a growing understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as I progressed further through a campaign and upgraded their abilities and gear.

Granted, they never promised that Midnight Suns would be like XCOM, but I find the whole randomised ability system to be nonsense. That’s not what I’m personally looking for in a game, and to be honest, it’s muted a lot of my excitement about the game, which comes out in March 2022. 

There are still quite a few things that I like about the game, like being able to build friendships and deepen them with what seems to be a decent roster of Marvel Heroes, ranging from members of the Avengers, X-Men, Runaways, and more. Being able to customise the look of the player character, or ‘The Hunter’, looks like it could be a fun experience as well.

It looks like there will also be combo moves with specific character teamups, depending on which three heroes you decide to take along on a mission with The Hunter, but again, with the card-based combat system, I’m not entirely sure how that will pan out. Do you have to get lucky and draw a combo card? Do you have to have two specific cards available on two different heroes? I don’t know, and that bothers me.

Ability cards. Yay.

It’s also not very promising that a snapshot in one of the videos showed that you may be able to gain certain abilities only through conversation choices, which I guess could increase replayability but also brings me back to being annoyed about not having full control of the abilities that you bring into each battle.

Getting a random assortment of abilities instead of knowing what your characters will always have, like in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series, really grinds my gears. Sure, they’re not exactly the same genre of game, but I just don’t want stuff to be random. The last game that I tried with a combat system like this was the Magic: Legends beta, and that game is shutting down permanently next month.

Collectibles, which are always a fun part of any superhero game, feel like a mixed bag too. It seems like there’ll be a whole bunch of options for both the player and the supporting heroes, but with Midnight Suns being published by 2K, you can’t help but wonder if exploitative microtransactions will be part of the process of acquiring the best gear without having to spend a stupid amount of time grinding. I’m an old-school gamer who doesn’t mind the grind for rare or tough items, but if there’s ever any real money involved that can help with this process, I’m immediately turned off. It’s the reason I stopped buying the NBA 2K games about three years ago.

Story-wise, it feels like a mash-up of previous comics series plus new unique content for the game, but it feels almost inescapable in the Marvel cartoons, games, and movies that HYDRA is somehow involved. The prospect of Chthon being involved could prove for a fun story, but again, my worries about the gameplay make me think there’s a chance I wouldn’t even finish the game.

This is one of those titles where I’m REALLY hoping my initial misgivings are proven wrong, and that it ends up being a fun experience.

But for now, the excitement I felt upon watching last week’s CGI trailer has been replaced with a slight sense of dread.

Do me a favor, Firaxis and 2K. Please prove me wrong.

Check out the two latest videos below:

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