Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a fun but tangled mess of nylon, lasers, and wind-down time with Iron Man. Though made by Firaxis Games, developers behind treasured turn-based strategy franchise XCOM, Midnight Suns is its own ridiculous neon thing, with role-playing elements intricately entwined with its turn-based, card-driven combat.
There’s a lot going on. It’s a lot to take in. I’ve consistently been getting pop-up tutorial windows even though I’m around 10 hours deep, so I want things to go more smoothly for you. These five tips should help you start your game off strong. You deserve to spend more in-game time luxuriating by the pool with a superbabe and less keeping up with all the pop ups (there are so many).
From my description, you might be getting worried that Midnight Suns is packed with a lot of extraneous bullshit. That’s not untrue—I’ve been writing “WOW” in my notes every time I come across yet another mechanic that feels inessential, yet another new thing to craft, level up, join, customize, fight, win, or earn.
And when this happens, I can feel my teenage insolence returning. I want to ignore the existence of the serum I just learned about, or the club I’m supposed to join, or whatever. But it really is in your best interest to take on most of what Midnight Suns is offering. Doing so will not only lead to real combat gains, but also help immerse you in a Marvel’s confectionary game, too.
Particularly, I think you should remember to:
- Engage in daily sparring: You can spend money to “fight” (you never see the fight, it’s more like buying a momentary power-up) another superhero every day. You can only spar the same hero once every four days, but the activity always lets you immediately earn Training XP and Friendship XP, both of which boost your partner’s performance in real combat. Sparring can also get you arcane keys, useful to crack into loot boxes scattered around the game.
- Take friendship seriously: Friendship XP improves heroes’ ability to brawl, and unlocks a lot of other benefits, too, like combo moves, cosmetics, special abilities, and passives. Increasing your friendship with living skull Ghost Rider, for example, better fills his “Soul meter” that adds a powerful Drain Souls card to your deck once he takes out enough enemies. Easy ways to level friendship daily include initiating a “hangout” with a hero at night, answering heroes’ requests for advice, responding to text messages, and joining clubs. It’s like college except this will not help you get a job.
- Add everything to your inventory: Snatch up those bright bursts of color you see throughout the Abbey. They’ll either be Essences you can use to craft into tinctures you can take into battle (crafting Agility Serum helpfully adds one move to your hand, etc.) or currencies you can blow on cosmetics and furniture. Random garbage around the Abbey can be used as gifts for your new leather-wearing friends—that empty picture frame you found will boost Friendship XP when you offload it onto someone else. It pays to be generous. Complete missions with gamma coil rewards then hand them over to Iron Man to add or upgrade moves in any heroes’ deck. Giving found artifacts to Doctor Strange helps you perform various environmental and crafting upgrades.
All that said, don’t feel like you need to turn Midnight Suns into a grocery store checklist. I spent a decent chunk of my playtime running through different optional missions and not cashing in on any items or anything. And it was fine. Though it offers many ways to do it, the game doesn’t seem to take leveling too seriously—your heroes will automatically level up as you repeat certain moves in combat, and any character who falls too far behind will automatically level up. Taking on high-difficulty missions levels up heroes faster, too. Easy peasy.
In combat, you get a random set of cards that pull from all your heroes’ abilities. At the risk of sounding obvious, your goal is always to end the turn-based encounter quickly with impactful plays, but that can feel impossible when all that’s available to you is knockback cards for enemies that are immune to knockback, for example. I know, because I’ve been there. I screamed at my computer.
But combat also requires you to pay attention to your accrued hero points, which you gain by playing cards with point values displayed on them, and spend to field your most powerful cards. But don’t overlook hero points’ less flashy use, environmental attacks. They can be finicky, with restrictive areas of impact, but since environmental attacks don’t drain your three total combat moves (not counting two card reshuffles), you should keep them in mind for speeding encounters along when the stars align.
Also in the interest of fast-passing bad guys, you can hover over enemies to learn about their passives and qualities in detail, all the better to exploit them. I was surprised to find out that a tricky Hydra Specialist had a shock shield that harmed my heroes during some melee attacks, or that an innocuous Hydra Officer would release a random “frenzy” attack after two cards instead of the typical three.
The hover tool also tells you which one of your heroes an enemy plans to attack on their next turn, though this is also shown by hero-related symbols that float above their heads. You can again use this combat feature to your advantage, letting it help you determine which characters need immediate healing, or which enemies you shouldn’t hesitate to annihilate.
It’s not quite a “hover,” but clicking on a card before you play it will give you more information about it. I like prioritizing cards that refund a turn in exchange for an enemy knock out. If you combine these card refunds with the information you learned from hovering, you can lean back and watch combatants disappear like blown-out candles.
This is eternal advice. Everyone needs their beauty rest, even an immortal video game protagonist. When you’re done sparring, charming the Avengers with strange gifts, and kicking Hydra officers into crackling electrical boxes, make sure your character, the Hunter, heads to their bedroom for sleep. Doing so heals injuries sustained in battle, making you a more effective fighter, and, ever-importantly, launches you into another day of moody crime fighting.