Marvel’s Midnight Suns Interview: The Biggest Game Firaxis Has Ever Made

When Marvel’s Midnight Suns was announced at last year’s Gamescom, the release date was set for March 2022. After two delays, the game is now arriving December 2, nine months after it was originally planned to come out. Creative director Jake Solomon and producer Garth DeAngelis say that the extended delay was necessary because the game is such a massive undertaking, not because they needed to fix any kind of problem in the core design of the game. “The design and narrative of the game have been pretty much done since last December. We were pretty solid,” Solomon tells me. DeAngelis adds that it was mostly a matter of polish. “This is an enormous title. We want to make sure we have our best foot forward and we’re as polished as absolutely possible. It’s an enormous amount of bug fixing and polishing the corners of the game. This is the largest game Firaxis has ever made by far and it’s in a genre we haven’t done before.”

The scope of Marvel’s Midnight Suns really is staggering. Solomon estimates a single playthrough will take nearly 60 hours, and even then, players will have only seen a specific version of the story based on their choices, and will only be able to unlock two or three characters’ most powerful abilities, AKA their Midnight Sun power. To see all the different story permutations and experience everything that all 13 characters can do – including your customizable original character The Hunter, who has triple the amount of available powers than every other hero – you’ll need to play through Midnight Suns multiple times. DeAngelis says that narrowing the experience a player can have in a single playthrough is an important part of any role-playing game.

“I love playing through RPGs,” DeAngelis says. “You play through the story and you’re like, ‘Well, I want to go through it again and play with party members E, F, and G. I want to play with Blade more because I didn’t do that in my first playthrough, what does he do when you unlock his Midnight Sun ability?’ I think that’s part of the required scope of the game. You need a reason to be called back to this world.”

Beyond their individual playstyles, which are expressed through a customizable deck of cards you use to activate abilities in combat, each character can also build their own relationships with you in the non-combat, life sim-esque part of the game that happens in between battles in a hub zone called the Abbey. As you spend time with each superhero getting to know them and doing side missions for them, you’ll unlock even more upgrades and abilities. “You can spread the love in terms of [hanging out with everyone] but you cannot upgrade every hero's abilities,” Solomon says. “It’s gonna be impossible. You really do have to pick an A team and a B team.” DeAngelis says if a character you like ends up falling behind or decide you really want to change your main team, there are some catch-up mechanics. “There’s a lot of mechanisms [to] have some fun and rapidly build up [characters].” There are optional side missions where players can grind, as well as an upgrade for the Abbey called the Threat Room where you can focus on building one specific character.

Firaxis has been releasing weekly character deep dive videos on its YouTube page that show off the unique play styles of each hero, as well as the general flow of combat. Unlike the XCOM games, you aren’t exploring a large map or moving a squad from Point A to Point B. Instead, missions are all skirmish battles that take place on small, contained maps, like a street intersection or back alley. DeAngelis says there’s a ton of variety in those combat scenarios though, even beyond what the deck building system has to offer. “We have a lot of objectives in the game, it's not all just go in and beat ‘em up,” he explains. “You can go in and you have to protect a vehicle, or you have to destroy a Hydra device, there’s over 20 objectives.” Completing those objectives may reward objective cards that go right into your deck to help you with the rest of the mission. Other missions will have modifier cards that get shuffled into your deck right at the start, sometimes they’ll help you, and sometimes they’ll make the missions much harder.

Solomon gives a couple of examples, like injury cards that weaken your characters get added to your deck if you bring an injured hero with you, a powerful card you earn by taking down a strong enemy, or an Abbey upgrade that gives you the ability to use interrogation cards on fallen enemies. “They won’t fully fall over [when you defeat them], they’ll fall down to their knees,” he says. “If you really want to spend a card play, which is difficult to do, then you’ll interrogate them and get [some] high quality extra resources.”

The complexity and variety in Midnight Suns just doesn’t end. Back at the Abbey, you can spend earned resources to craft new cards and modify existing cards. Once you’ve started to build your collection, Blade can add random perks to your cards that, according to Solomon, can take average abilities and make them extraordinary. “It’s a complete game changer,” he says. “You have this okay card and you take it to Blade to modify and you’re like ‘Oh my God. I will now rebuild my entire hero deck around this one card.”

Each hero also has unique passive abilities, like Spider-Man who can take free actions to attack multiple targets and use the environment to his advantage. There are status effects you unlock by building your friendship, a demon dog named Charlie you can summon in battle, and yes, Solomon reveals, a cat you can find at the Abbey. “Agatha Harkness has a cat called Ebony in the comics,” he says. “Ebony is actually in the Abbey. She’s really hard to find. If you’re exploring the grounds you can find her, but she moves. You can pet the cat too.”

If all of that wasn’t enough, Firaxis has a season pass of expansion content planned for post-launch. “We have some really strong DLC that we’re excited about,” DeAngelis says. “We want to give players more of what makes the core title great: heroes, narrative, and of course, a ton more gameplay.” The season pass will include four new heroes, each with their own unique story missions. Those characters can be “seamlessly integrated” into the campaign so players don’t have to start over to use them. There will be an in-game marketplace where players can purchase new skins for the heroes, but there won’t be any cards of power upgrades that can be purchased with real money.

The full launch roster will include 13 heroes, The Hunter, Iron Man, Captain America, Magik, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Blade, Nico Minoru, Ghost Rider, Scarlet Witch, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, and a secret 13th character who won’t be revealed until launch, which Solomon says is being held back for narrative reasons. It’s been a longer wait for Midnight Suns than expected, but it sounds like Marvel fans are going to have a very long and deep RPG to sink their teeth into this December.

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