While many are praising Marvel’s Midnight Suns, fans of Fireaxis Games’ XCOM reboot are criticizing the absence of one of XCOM best mechanics.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is finally out, and both critics and casual gamers have been quick to sing the game’s praises. With a unique and intricate card-based battle system and a social simulation mechanic that encourages players to interact with and befriend some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is poised to become one of the House of Ideas’ most successful forays into the world of AAA gaming. However, not everyone is happy with how this long-awaited interactive journey into the Marvel Universe’s mystical side turned out.
Soon after Marvel’s Midnight Suns was released, fans of the title’s developer Firaxis Games’ reboot of the tactical RPG series XCOM began voicing their frustration over the lack of verticality in the game’s map design. While this criticism may seem like a nitpick at first glance, the lack of obstacles and alternate altitudes prevents Marvel’s Midnight Suns from achieving the same level of complexity as other turn-based tactical RPGs.
Besides their shared developer, Marvel’s Midnight Suns and XCOM have many similarities that make drawing comparisons almost inevitable. While Marvel Midnight Suns‘ core team of heroes is smaller than the army players are given command over in XCOM, both games heavily encourage players to consider where they position their forces on the battlefield. By giving each of their characters or units unique abilities to interact with the surrounding terrain in specific ways, Marvel’s Midnight Suns and XCOM reward players who find ways to position their forces that allow them to take full advantage of their capabilities.
However, while the maps in Marvel’s Midnight Suns are flat, open spaces, XCOM’s level design features much more varied layouts that allow both the player and the enemy’s forces to take positions on higher or lower ground. Whether they occur in the form of partially-leveled buildings or naturally occurring cliffs and plateaus, XCOM‘s maps feature multiple levels of elevation, forcing players to consider how these different altitudes work in correlation to their units’ signature abilities. While some soldiers excel at closing the gap and engaging their enemies up close, others might be better off ducking behind cover and attacking hostiles from a distance.
The Lack of Varied Terrain Leaves Some Heroes Feeling Underutilized
While Marvel’s Midnight Suns‘ maps’ lack of verticality and obstacles doesn’t drastically undermine the strength of the game’s core combat mechanics, it does rob it of a deeper layer of strategic precision present in XCOM and other tactical RPGs with more varied level design. Although each of Marvel Midnight Suns‘ thirteen playable heroes boasts an impressive arsenal of special abilities that reflect their distinct personalities and talents, the lack of varied terrain means that there’s little difference between how the bulky Captain America and the agile Spider-Man navigate the map and attack enemies, other than a minor difference in the range of their attacks.
Although Marvel’s Midnight Suns isn’t the first tactical RPG to feature relatively plain maps, the criticism the game has received over the lack of variation in its level design reflects a growing frustration that many fans of the genre feel towards its more recent installments. While some are likely to argue that the simplicity of Marvel Midnight’ Suns‘ maps allows players to focus on working out their characters’ individual builds, tactical RPG fans who prefer XCOM‘s focus on verticality and cover may find its core combat lacking. In turn, Marvel fans who were hoping to see Spider-Man and Magik swing and teleport from elevated positions may feel like their favorite heroes have been cheated.