Marvel’s Midnight Suns is still a ways off, but the newly announced game is proving to be a contentious title. Based on reactions from the reveal, its combat system is perhaps its most divisive aspect, as it eschews the brawler-style gameplay seen in games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel's Spider-Man in favor of a more tactical, card-based system.
Naturally, this is a turn-off for some fans of Marvel's more action-oriented games, but folks shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Marvel’s Midnight Suns just because it’s different. The game seems to be taking cues from one of the best card battlers out there. There’s a comparison to be drawn between Midnight Suns and roguelike deck-builder Slay The Spire, the latter of which might be a good litmus test for Marvel's latest game.
Combat in Marvel's Midnight Suns Versus Slay The Spire
In Slay The Spire, players kick off each turn by drawing five cards at random, each of which possesses different offensive or defensive capabilities. Every card is also assigned an energy point value, and as players themselves start each turn with three energy points, the number and types of cards that can be played are dependent on how much energy a player has left.
In Marvel's new game, there has yet to be an extensive breakdown of Midnight Suns' combat, but the HUD shown off in early gameplay footage reveals the game may have a lot in common with Slay The Spire. Cards are used to attack or defend, and players are limited in what they can do each turn. However, Midnight Suns is by no means Slay The Spire with a Marvel coat of paint.
Whereas how many cards one can play in Slay The Spire is dependent on one's energy reserves, Midnight Suns apparently splits that mechanic in two. One meter labeled "card plays" tells players how many cards can be played in a single turn. A separate gauge labeled "Heroism" appears to limit which cards players can utilize. It seems that certain cards with assigned point values – like one labeled "Stake" – draw from this energy reserve. Presumably, if Heroism hits zero, these cards are nigh-useless.
When comparing these two titles, it's fair to say that Midnight Suns looks like a more elaborate Slay The Spire, but not solely due to its familiar elements. Similar design philosophies look to be at the heart of each game as well.
Shared DNA Between Marvel's Midnight Suns and Slay The Spire
Circling back to Slay The Spire's deck-building gameplay, there's a lot of thought that goes into deciding which cards to use and when. Using defense-based cards would likely be the right play if an enemy is about to deal out a devastating attack. Alternatively, stat-nerfing cards could temporarily lower an enemy's attack power, reducing the damage one will receive. Sometimes the right cards just aren't there; if one's hand is filled with offense-oriented cards when an opponent is about to attack, then players will just have to make do with what they have. It's dynamic, and so far the same can probably be said of Midnight Suns.
Midnight Suns' dynamic card battler gameplay seems bolstered further by the game's inclusion of mid-match movement. Footage shows players interacting with explosive barrels, positioning heroes alongside each other for tag-team attacks, and lining up enemies in rows to deal damage. In Midnight Suns, not only is it important to know which cards to play, but also where to play them, and that's sure to add an extra layer of unpredictability.
Slay The Spire doesn't appear to be as mechanically complex as Midnight Suns' trailers make the new Marvel game out to be, but playing the former could give players an idea of what to expect from the latter. If one enjoys the randomness and unpredictable nature of Slay The Spire, and is hankering for a slightly deeper version, Midnight Suns might be right up their alley. If not, at least they'll know to steer clear of the game when it launches.
Marvel's Midnight Suns will launch in March 2022 for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.