In a new deep dive for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, developer Firaxis Games has touched on some of the gameplay elements players can look forward to in the upcoming strategy card game. Furthermore, the new blog post also reveals how the developer had to take a new approach to many of the game’s systems instead of following the XCOM route.
First off, the lead designer at Firaxis Games Joe Weinhoffer explained why the team decided to go with cards to expand the combat in Marvel’s Midnight Suns. He says that it was important to find the right balance between strategy and randomness. Using a card-based system has allowed the team to create a new level of surprise for players by making use of “luck of the draw”.
Randomization is an important design element in tactics games, as it offers a way to make the game unpredictable even when a player has mastered the core mechanics. It requires players to constantly adapt to new situations and keeps the puzzle fresh and surprising. And it’s how you end up with those amazing moments in XCOM, like hitting a clutch 25% shot… but also how you end up missing those 95% point-blank rounds!
Firaxis Games also wanted players to feel like they were living out their best fantasy and to do that, they had to get rid of the aspects of chance and luck in the game. It makes sense. While the XCOM series relied on certain percentages determining how much damage you dealt and whether or not you actually hit the enemy, these Marvel heroes are professionals. Iron Man would not miss his shot so a percentage system didn’t work.
Iron Man doesn’t miss shots with his Repulsor Blasts, and Captain Marvel isn’t going to take cover for protection when things heat up. As we removed more of those XCOM elements, particularly the percentage hit chance, the game began to feel more heroic…but the combat puzzle quickly became too simple. It was easy to repeat the same powerful attack with a hero each turn until the mission was over. We needed to reintroduce randomness to keep the combat puzzle engaging while still making you feel like a Super Hero. That’s when we had the idea to represent our hero abilities as cards.
Firaxis also says that cards are familiar to gamers. Key mechanics like “deck, draw, discard, shuffle” are known to almost everyone out there making this system approachable.
So how does each combat phase play out in Marvel’s Midnight Suns? Firaxis says that during your turn, you’ll have three Card Plays that represent how many times you can use your abilities. You’ll also get two Redraws to swap out abilities you don’t want to use. You also get one Move option per turn.
Attacks are then divided into three categories. Attacks, Skills, and Heroic Attack cards. Cards also have certain special effects. Some cause Knockback which forcefully repositions an enemy on the battlefield, for example. Skill cards are used for support and offer a variety of benefits to the player. These cards don’t deal damage but can heal, grant special status effects and more.
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Heroic cards are then the most powerful abilities in Marvel’s Midnight Suns. These deal more damage and even provide unique effects in combat. These cards also can’t be used without the correct amount of Heroism. This is earned by using Attack or Skill cards.
Heroism is also required to use objects on the battlefield in Environment Attacks which don’t require a Card Play to use. If you’ve got the Heroism, you can knock down light poles, explode barrels…even pick up a stack of newspapers and smack your foes in the face, all without spending a single Card Play.
Firaxis says that combat in Marvel’s Midnight Suns is uniquely accessible to most players. It is a case of picking up the game and playing it.
There is no movement grid or cover system, and heroes will automatically reposition to reach their targets. Playing abilities is as simple as selecting an ability card from your hand, selecting the target enemy or area, and that’s it – There goes Captain America sprinting across the battlefield to knock out a Hydra goon!
Other factors in the combat system then come into play once you have mastered the basics. These include:
- What abilities do I have in my hand?
- What heroes are on this mission, and how do their abilities interact?
- Which enemies are the biggest threats? Are there dangerous villains to handle?
- Should I spend my Heroism on a Heroic ability, or utilize the environment?
- Can I use Knockback abilities and the terrain to maximize damage output?
If that isn’t enough, each combat encounter has eight difficulty options for you to choose which offer a different challenge to take on each time. You can simply choose the Story Mode setting for an easy experience or pick the Ultimate III mode for the hardest one.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is set to launch on 2 December 2022 for PS5, Xbox Series X/s and PC. The PS4 and Xbox One releases will follow in 2023. Check out the latest dev diary below:
Source: PS Blog