Marvel's Midnight Suns deserved better than its terrible DLCs

The superhero Storm wielding lightning in Marvel's Midnight Suns.
(Image credit: Firaxis)

It's a sad fact that Marvel's Midnight Suns was a commercial flop for developer Firaxis. That's despite being so good that, when it launched part way into our Game of the Year 2022 deliberations, we scrambled to make it our runner up for the top honour. Sadly, there's little chance from here of the game getting the kind of post-release support that Firaxis' XCOM games so benefited from in the years after launch. 

So, all that we got and all that we're likely to ever get was the four DLC packs that were already committed to when the game first went up for preorder. These four packs each added a new superhero to the roster—Deadpool, Venom, Morbius, and Storm—as well as a handful of story missions that all followed a conflict with a new enemy faction, the Vampyres.

Glad of any excuse to return to a game I still get so much strategy fun out of, I played through all four as they were released. Every time, they found new ways to disappoint me.

The four new heroes all feel completely half-baked and uninspired in battle. Bland attack animations and boring mechanics make them a shadow of the excellent cast of the core game. Some feel cobbled together out of existing elements—such as Venom animations copied over from his boss form, or Morbius' Bloodlust mode being a clear reskin of Captain Marvel's Binary power. As I said when he released, Deadpool just feels like a guy with a sword and a gun, and Storm's big, exciting power is literally that her cards get better when she does nothing for a turn. They're four wonderfully larger-than-life heroes, but Midnight Suns manages to make them all feel generic and dull to control.

Even more uninspired are the Vampyres. I was looking forward to the addition of a new enemy faction—while playing the base game, I kept thinking just one more would enhance the variety of missions hugely. But these bloodsuckers are appallingly limp. Not only are they just reskins of existing enemies, they combine being very easy to fight (whenever they turn up in a general mission it's usually possible to kill them all before they even get a turn) with remarkably irritating mechanics. Their endless kill-this-immediately-or-lose timers, awkward bleed effects, and ability to resurrect and spawn extra minions makes all of the larger battles against them a slog. 

(Image credit: Firaxis)

You end up fighting Nazi vampire Sin about four or five times, and every time she has the exact same mechanics.

And slogging through them is really all you do in the story missions. Almost all of the missions just involve mindlessly killing vamps—at best, you sometimes have to kill certain ones before others. Most egregious is the boss fights. You end up fighting Nazi vampire Sin about four or five times, and every time she has the exact same mechanics: she does a basic damage attack twice on her turn, and if you hit her, it taunts her allies onto you. That's it. In a game full of wonderfully engaging, intricate boss battles against classic villains, she sticks out like an unfinished thumb. Her secret master (who I won't spoil here) is a little more interesting, but shows up much more rarely and still manages to outstay his welcome.

The story itself is fine—a tale of vampires creating a new breed of their kind and trying to eliminate their classic weaknesses—but it's hamstrung by an attempt to make it easy to parse no matter what order you play it in. Because the DLCs can be bought separately, each set of missions has to be able to stand alone to some extent—but the result is the story begins in the Deadpool pack and then just meanders around going nowhere through all the others until you unlock the final confrontation at the end of Storm's pack. Out of order, they're confusing; in order, they feel directionless.

(Image credit: Firaxis)

It just means the near-perfect core strategy experience is now peppered with a load of confusingly awful, out of place missions.

The only credit I can give is that the new characters are at least well served in the superhero friendship simulator portion of the game. Each character has a full relationship tree complete with tons of dialogue and little narrative events—as personalities, they're completely made to feel like proper members of the crew, even if their limp decks don't back it up in battle. 

Other than that, Midnight Suns' DLC offering is ultimately so poor that it actually dilutes the game. If you start a new save with it all installed, it's integrated throughout the main story, which just means the near-perfect core strategy experience is now peppered with a load of confusingly awful, out of place missions. The Vampyres also show up as enemies in general missions, ready to stink those up too. And you'll find yourself confused as to why four of the characters you unlock as you play feel inexplicably unfinished. It means a playthrough with more variety, but it's an overall worse experience, to the point that I'd strongly recommend new players in the years to come don't install the DLC at all. 

I don't know what happened here. Maybe, after the game's poor early sales, the resources dedicated to the DLC were cut; maybe creative lead Jake Solomon leaving the project had an impact; or maybe, for whatever reason, the post-release support was just badly planned from the start. Whatever the cause, the result is a sad stain on a truly excellent strategy game that deserved far better. 

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.