Everyone knew that the upcoming Marvel’s Midnight Suns would be a tactical game of some kind. The developer, Firaxis Games is famous in the tactics RPG genre thanks to previous hits like XCOM and Civilization. However, there was a lot of interest in what direction they were planning on taking the game. Was it going to be just a Marvel version of the popular XCOM series, a spin-off of Civilization, or was there a plan to take this potential new franchise in a completely different direction?
On Wednesday, we finally got our answers to at least some of those questions. Marvel released a gameplay trailer of the upcoming game to give fans some insight into some of the features we’ll see in Midnight Suns. The trailer featured a lot of fun gameplay such as dialogue trees, multiple characters, and most interestingly a card system. While the trailer didn’t go too in-depth into features, because it’s a trailer, what stood out the most was definitely the cards that appeared to represent characters’ abilities and powers.
Traditionally, tactical RPGs go in one of two directions. They either take the Civilization direction where it’s basically a turn-based Real-Time Strategy game. The alternative is the XCOM or Fire Emblem route where characters are positioned in a way that can create tactical battle advantages. These advantages can swing the direction of a fight and allow the player to potentially do more damage to their opponent. Midnight Suns however seems to be building their system around deck building, which has its pros and cons.
Deck building games in concept are simple, put together a deck of cards that will act as actions for the players. Where the fun in them lies is that, if the player spends enough time creating their deck, they can build ultra-powerful move sets. It’s all about creating the perfect win scenario and it requires a lot of scrolling through menus, trial, and error. For some people, the idea of collecting cards, building out a deck, and creating the perfect setup for characters is a ton of fun. For others, it’s a chore that is going to make them not want to play the game. Deck building isn’t for everyone and it’s a bit of a surprise to see such a polarizing gameplay style applied to a franchise with such a huge potential fanbase like Marvel.
However, there is one aspect of this trailer that could solve an issue that so many tactical RPGs have to deal with, especially the XCOM series. Cards might mean that the accuracy system from the XCOM games will not be a part of this game. Anyone that’s played XCOM knows this frustration. The setup is perfect, the enemy has been outmaneuvered, and all that’s necessary is for your AI to hit their shot. You have a 99 percent chance of a hit, and then your character misses. The enemy turns around and hits a shot on you with not only a lower percentage chance, but it’s a critical hit and you die immediately. Controller? Broken.
A reaction to the Midnight Suns, and one that would have been completely reasonable, is to say that it should have just been Marvel XCOM and in a lot of ways it looks just like that. However, with these cards acting as powers, the rules change. It becomes not only about how you have set yourself up for an attack, but what deck you’ve brought in with you. Set yourself up perfect, play the right card at the right moment, and watch the results of your work come to fruition. No 99 percent misses. While cards might not be for everyone, they may feel more fair and rewarding than the percentages of previous games.