Marvel's Midnight Suns is one of those games that took me by surprise. I wasn't sure what to expect from this combination of XCOM-style strategy and deck building, but these elements mixed together wonderfully. On top of that, it had a story that was on par with some of the best narratives ever seen in a Marvel game. There was one other feature that I was pleasantly surprised by, something I never knew I needed in a Marvel game. However, it's this feature that leaves me wary of what happens if the story moves forward.
(Warning: The following contains spoilers for Marvel's Midnight Suns. If you have not finished the game, do not proceed any further.)
For everything that makes Marvel's Midnight Suns a great strategy game, it truly stands out because of what it does outside of battle. It offers character moments, it nails personal dynamics, and it tells a gripping story that feels like it's pulled right out of a comic. Part of the reason the narrative works so well is because of what Firaxis is able to do with the blank slate that is the main player character. The Hunter is not a known Marvel character, but rather a player avatar. Through this player avatar, Firaxis challenges players to approach Marvel's Midnight Suns as part friendship/dating simulator.
Because of the brilliantly-written dialogue and systems like gift-giving and a deep dialogue system, few players will have the same experience over the course of their campaign. Some will relate more to certain characters than others and those players will see those friendships flourish. I personally got a lot out of seeing a heart icon with a plus sign next to it. The higher the number next to that heart, the better. I saw my Hunter become deeply bonded with Nico, Magik, Ghost Rider, and the Scarlet Witch. I loved watching those characters hang out, whether it was having a bad movie night or bird watching around the Abbey grounds.
It was especially wonderful to see this mechanic on display in the game's final battle, which would see the Hunter fight side-by-side with the four characters with the highest friendship totals. While there was still XCOM-style strategy at work, I had to adjust and go a little bit farther if I wanted to see my particular "Friendship is magic" tale play out. Everything was great, right up until the game's final moments.
The end of the story sees Hunter and Lilith sacrifice themselves, since both are bonded with Chthon. With the evil elder god dying, so too would they both perish. Had the story ended on that note, it would have been bittersweet. However, one post-credits scene seemed to indicate that Caretaker, Agatha Harkness, Wanda Maximoff, and Doctor Strange were all hard at work trying to bring Hunter and Lilith back, while another overtly pointed to a Midnight Suns sequel with a new big bad: Doctor Doom.
I don't want to be the guy who complains about more Midnight Suns. This was a game that climbed my personal Game of the Year list as 2022 came to an end. I want to see what Firaxis can do with a refined formula. If we can get full-blown romance options, the type one would expect in a game like Mass Effect, in the future, I'd be excited for that.
Here's why I'm wary of that, though. I put a lot of work into cultivating those friendships. Just like in real life, building and maintaining friendship takes effort. However, the ending seems to suggest that if Hunter does come back for a Midnight Suns sequel, he (or she) would be a blank slate all over again. I'd essentially start from scratch. Is that certain to happen? It didn't for Mass Effect, so I certainly hope it is possible to keep some sort of save file with my choices intact. I'm not necessarily counting on that to happen, though.
One of my favorite hangout activities for my heroes was to sit at the bar and have a drink. I don't want to pour one out for those virtual friendships. Every indicator seems to be that the Marvel's Midnight Suns story is not over and will get a sequel, but if it happens, I'm not ready to start over. Maybe I'll be wrong and the post-credits scene will pave the way for an expansion, which Firaxis has certainly done with the XCOM games. It'll certainly give more more incentive to play again than the Season Pass. If that's the case, it's more likely my Hunter's friendships can be salvaged. We won't know for sure until 2K decides to share more about this game's future. Until then, I'm still not ready to say goodbye.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Marvel's Midnight Suns' best feature leaves me wary of a sequel
My hope is that the next game is going to be heavy on the Fantastic Four or the X-Men, because there’s a lot of hints towards those things, and use those locales as the new hub and give the Hunter a fresh set of characters and relationships so that it won’t feel like a loss of relationships.
I think it’s also possible they’ll use a different sort of Hunter archetype. Like an unshackled AI Doombot given the ending or some sort of new mutant at Xavier’s school.