I’ve long been someone that’s defended Marvel’s Avengers early on in its runtime. While it’s been a rough run for the game, the gameplay offered something special by truly allowing most of the Avengers to feel unique from each other. DLC characters have become more carbon copies as the game dialed back its ambitious plans to months of silence, it’s still a fun game to jump back in now and then. The only thing truly lacking was a gameplay loop in its endgame that would inspire replayability beyond its looting system; a usual crutch for most Games-as-a-Service.
Now, a new Marvel game has come around to offer something unique in the form of Midnight Suns. The game has its own charm in using a strategy-based card system to utilize different members from across Marvel’s supernatural and heroic pantheon of heroes. Yet, the more I played it, the more I realized it did something that was part of my initial hopes for Marvel’s Avengers when it was announced early on. There’s more to do besides the core missions.
I don’t play GaaS games a lot. Even after trying out Destiny 2 or The Division, there’s just nothing really holding me from playing the game outside of some interesting story beats. It’s what initially kept me playing Marvel’s Avengers, as it had a delightful campaign and the promise of even more story missions in the game’s future. Now that the game has all but left that part behind, there’s a certain lack of wanting to return to that world even with Winter Soldier’s recent addition. The same missions with different characters simply aren’t enticing outside of getting to play as a new Avenger.
Midnight Suns, however, manages to scratch an itch that keeps its world and a potential return compelling. The hub world known as The Abbey offers quite a bit of a way to interact with characters or take challenges. Characters actually ask you for advice and the relationship system inspires you to spend time outside of the main missions. Your actions even lead to your main hub evolving, such as adding new functions to your site to ensure you can develop new tools to aid in battle.
There’s a purpose to your central hub beyond just selecting missions; a far cry from how Marvel’s Avengers approached it. By the time Black Panther’s DLC rolled out, you had four hub areas to choose from and there didn’t seem to be any true purpose besides selecting specific missions or using their shops. Eye candy can only get you so far and there never was a real reason to leave the Helicarrier once updates made it easier to just grab all the necessary missions in one location.
Early on when the final trailer dropped, there was a hint of you being able to restore the Helicarrier to its glory through your actions in the story. Technically, it is true but that only applies to the main campaign as it is visually repaired and once again functional. Outside of that, there’s no real purpose to the Helicarrier, which is quite a shame given how even Marvel-themed browser games used it as a central hub to develop research, send SHIELD soldiers out to missions, and more.
Midnight Suns doesn’t fully bring that concept to life, but its main hub feels purposeful and there’s something that just brings you into the game besides the gameplay missions of taking on HYDRA (or AIM if you’re playing Marvel’s Avengers). It adds a sense of progression to the endgame content and would give players a reason to return. Trying to get gear for a new mission that drops once a year isn’t going to really inspire long-time players to stick around.
There’s no clear hint if we can expect Midnight Suns to potentially end up evolving as a GaaS-type experience, but with four new characters confirmed in its future, there’s a chance they could keep it running for a long time by adding new missions, characters to connect with and more. If they also provide new ways to evolve existing characters through new training regimes, expanding new locations or functionalities to the Abbey, the game might end up doing what Marvel’s Avengers never could.