The announcement of a new Spider-Man game, referred to with the working title of “Spider-Man PS4” was one of the biggest talking points from Sony’s E3 2016 presentation. Around the midpoint of the showcase, audiences were treated to a surprise trailer featuring everybody’s favorite wall-crawler. Whilst few details were revealed outside of the teams behind it and the fact it existed, speculation began almost immediately and people are already starting to get hyped for it.
It’s at a welcome time too, as the more recent Spidey games have fallen out of favor and garnered mediocre reviews and sales. The web-slinger’s games need some new blood, and handing the creative reins over to Insomniac Games, makers of Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank and Sunset Overdrive, was a good start. There’s understandably a lot of expectations for the new game, so here’s our take on the 15 Things We Want From Spider-Man PS4.
15. A rich and dynamic open world
Although we don’t know much about the game, it’s possible to infer several aspects of it from the brief trailer we’ve been given. Judging by the shots of sprawling rooftops and bustling streets, it certainly looks like Spider-Man PS4 will follow the precedent set by previous Spidey titles and will give us the entirety of New York City to free roam and treat as our personal concrete playground.
Here’s hoping that the world is packed with things to do. Aside from the usual exploration, a map stuffed with side missions, fun challenges and random crimes to prevent could really add to the value and longevity of the game. It’s likely there will be collectibles scattered around to find too, but if we must have them, perhaps taking a cue from the Crackdown series would be an interesting approach. The fun and rewarding mechanic of collecting hard-to-reach agility orbs could work perfectly for Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is funny. The quiet, nerdy Peter Parker snaps on the spandex and becomes the wisecracking Spider-Man — it’s an integral part of who the character is. However, the approach to this aspect in the video games so far has been hit and miss.
Most games have been happy to give Spider-Man a few repetitive one-liners to deliver whilst beating up enemies, but a true Spider-Man experience needs more than that. The game doesn’t need to be wall-to-wall thigh slappers, but an occasional humorous scene or a splash of witty banter would go a long way towards capturing one of the most enduring traits of the character. Insomniac have had a ton of experience with making light-hearted games like Spyro, Sunset Overdrive and especially the Ratchet and Clank series. Here’s hoping those experiences prove transferable.
13. A wide array of old and new characters
The Spider-Man universe is rife with great supporting characters. We’ve got Peter’s family and friends, like Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn, and villains that range from comical and ineffectual to downright terrifying. They all play crucial roles in Peter’s life, and any Spider-Man game worth its salt should include them. However, let’s not just stick to the famous ones that we’ve all seen before. The game should include some of the comics’ more recent allies and villains. How about an appearance from Silk or Spider-Gwen? What about facing off against the intimidating Morlun?
It looks like Spider-Man PS4 is thinking along the same lines, with many fans convinced of Mister Negative’s involvement thanks to a quick shot in the trailer where Spidey is shown beating up masked goons similar to Negative’s henchmen, the Inner Demons. In case you weren’t aware, Mister Negative is a crime boss with superhuman abilities like insane strength, durability and the ridiculously cool power to charge things up with black electricity called Darkforce. Mister Negative can also switch back between normal and reversed appearances, and has two opposing personalities to match. Negative could be a interesting choice for the big bad of the piece, but it’s likely that job will fall to one of the more iconic villains like Doc Ock or Green Goblin.
12. The ability to play as Miles Morales
The news that Donald Glover has been added to the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming sent the internet rumor mill into a frenzy trying to guess what role he could play in the upcoming movie. One of the leading theories of course is that Glover will be playing Miles Morales, an alternate Spider-Man he helped inspire. The only sticking point is that Miles is usually portrayed as a young teenager and Don Glover is in his mid-thirties. Still, that hasn’t stopped Hollywood before.
Whether Glover does end up being Miles Morales or not, it’s clear that the desire to see the character represented in other media is strong and very real. Spider-Man PS4 could pick up the slack and give us a playable Miles Morales, if not featuring in the main story, then perhaps as a bonus for completing the story mode. Fans want Miles, and Insomniac could supply that demand with a simple option to swing around NYC as the Morales Spider-Man.
11. Variety of boss battles
Boss battles should be big events. They should be the last peak to stumble over before the next level and should put the skills that the player has learned up until that point to the test. So why is it that most boss battles feel underwhelming? This has been especially true of the Spider-Man games. We know that as soon as Rhino shows up, we’re going to have to goad him into charging, dodge his attack and wait for him to get his face stuck in a wall, leaving the dumb brute open for a sound beating. A little more creativity when it comes to boss showdowns is something the game needs to set it apart from some of the weaker Spidey games that have come before.
One of the best superhero game fights in recent memory is the fight with Mr. Freeze in the Arkham Origins DLC “Cold, Cold Heart” where Freeze got wise to Batman’s angles of attack and the player had to constantly change up their tactics in order to take him down. A similar sort of encounter could make the big battles in Spider-Man PS4 memorable and fun to play.
10. A variety of side missions/activities
If you’re one of those people who do all the side missions before completing the main story, you’ll know that they can often be a boring, monotonous grind. Well-regarded games like Bethesda’s Fallout series often have side missions so involved and distracting you can find yourself still wandering the wasteland hours after you’d said you’d stop, with the main story objectives soundly ignored until you’ve helped out dead-eyed NPC #465 with his Super Mutant problem.
Spider-Man PS4 needs to do this too. However, there needs to be variety to it all. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game was especially lazy in this regard, only having a handful of uninspired side activities and the same few random crimes happening with alarming regularity. Even a high octane car chase can lose its luster once you’ve done the exact same thing 20 times over. We’re hoping for more variation when it comes to the side activities. Stopping robberies, chasing down crooks, helping the police with a hostage situation, rescuing people from a burning building – these are all things that would be awesome to play through and give us the feeling of actually being Spider-Man.
9. A rewarding progression system
Unless Insomniac is trying something really radical with the game mechanics, there’s likely to be a progression system in place that allows the player to upgrade Spidey’s abilities. This is all well and good, and it’s always fun to level up and unlock new moves and powers. However, these upgrades need to be interesting enough to warrant the player’s time. Unlocking the ability to increase the range of your webs slightly or to do a complicated combo that you’re never going to use can be slightly deflating, especially if the player has put a ton of work in to unlock them in the first place.
This isn’t specifically a Spider-Man game problem, although they’re certainly guilty of it. The Spider-Man 2 tie-in game defied all odds by being great, despite being shackled to a movie license. Whilst its progression system and skill tree could be token at times, it had some fun things to unlock, like the completely pointless but cool looking stunts you could do in mid-air and the ability to web hang crooks from street lights. However, as that game came out 12 years ago, a more modern, refined take on that kind of system could work wonders for this new Spidey title.
8. Multiple Spider-Man suits
Reactions to the trailer were almost universally positive, but several people have expressed their distaste for Spidey’s new threads, especially the huge white Spider logo emblazoned on his chest. Insomniac has stated that there are story reasons for this outfit, but it wouldn’t hurt to include some of the classic and wackier suits as unlockable bonuses, like previous Spider-Man games have done.
Including a Steve Ditko classic Spider-Man suit would be a must, as well as the ever-popular black symbiote suit. However, we’d love to see Spidey’s suit from Captain America: Civil War, especially as Insomniac has already used his eyepiece lenses in their version. In fact, as Sony is masterminding this, how about all the movie suits so far? A version of the Doc Ock Superior Spider-Man, complete with robotic arms, could be a worthy addition too. Plus, we’re fairly certain swinging about a shiny next gen version of New York in the Bombastic Bag Man outfit seen above would never lose its appeal.
7. A Bruce Campbell cameo
This is a minor point, but one of the consistently great things in previous Spider-Man games has been Bruce Campbell’s role as the sarcastic narrator. Granted, he has little to do with the new movies or games, but that didn’t stop developer Beenox from hiring him for a cameo in the first Amazing Spider-Man game as the “Extreme Reporter,” a character that floats above the city in a blimp, yelling through a PA system and challenging Spidey to race across the city.
A place for Bruce Campbell in Spider-Man PS4 could be great. Campbell is almost an institution at this point, and it’d be a real shame if he’s not included in some form. Him returning as the game’s narrator would make for a lot of laughs, but he could even voice a main character. He’s been consistently fan-cast as Spidey villain Mysterio for the movies, so why not give the fans what they want and give Quentin Beck Campbell’s rich tones. A Campbell appearance wouldn’t be a dealbreaker or anything, but it would be a brilliant addition.
6. Multiple mission approaches
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game made use of stealth mechanics to take out armed thugs one by one and even the odds in the web-crawler’s favor. However, these sections were criticized for their restrictive nature, limiting the quiet approach to several pre-determined areas. Stealth is a good fit for Spider-Man, but we’d like to see more open missions where you can choose to take on the challenge however you’d like, be it silently from the shadows or noisily and violently.
Having to think tactically could be used to show Peter’s intelligence, something which hasn’t really been explored in previous Spidey games. The high benchmark that it is for the genre, Rocksteady’s Arkham series managed to strike a balance between stealth and combat without it feeling like either was compromised. Giving the player a multitude of options on how to customise their experience is never a bad idea, and it’d be welcome tweak to the established Spider-Man game formula.
5. A solid story
This one should be a given, but well-told stories in games are still a rarity these days, especially in the blockbuster “AAA” game scene. Spider-Man is a fantastic character with a wealth of great stories to his name. It seems like in addition to creating their own take on the Spidey suit, Insomniac is telling their own unique Spider-Man tale too, so fingers crossed they do the character justice.
Insomniac could do much worse than looking to the Batman Arkham series (we’re fans, can you tell?) and seeing how developer Rocksteady managed to tell compelling and unique stories about The Dark Knight, whilst weaving in certain classic story callbacks and remaining true to the character. It’d certainly be a huge missed opportunity if Insomniac doesn’t take advantage of one of the best rogues’ galleries of all time.
4. A healthy dose of Parker
Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same, but Peter often finds his superhero life coming into direct conflict with his personal one. Nearly all of the best stories have come from Peter’s struggle to balance his two personas, and it could be a new and exciting element for Spider-Man PS4 to explore.
Several of the Spider-Man games have played around with the idea of choice and morality before, but it usually boiled down to a simple choice between things like saving a kitten from a tree and burning the entire tree to ash. If we’re looking for a true Spider-Man experience, the game could offer morally gray choices like some of the difficult decisions present in Mass Effect. Do you meet Mary Jane for a date or do you stop Shocker from robbing a bank? What would be the lasting effects of those choices? You might have scored a date with a smoking hot redhead, but now when you take on Shocker, he’s got more goons with upgraded weapons at his disposal, making the fight that much tougher. On the flipside, if you chose to confront Shocker straight away, maybe it damages your carefully cultivated relationship with Mary Jane. If the fallout over Mass Effect 3‘s ending is anything to go by, people like feeling that their choices matter, and it would be great to see something like that implemented in a Spider-Man game.
3. Easy to pick up but hard to master combat mechanics
Spider-Man mostly solves problems with his fists, so it’s a lock that there will some kind of combat system in the game that allows you new moves and combos as you level up. Insomniac has already stated that this Spidey has been spinning webs for several years before we catch up with him, so playing as a more combat hardened, experienced Spider-Man could be a ton of fun.
The Arkham games found a way to incorporate Batman’s brutal fighting style and his ability to take on multiple goons at once whilst still looking like a badass. Spider-Man PS4 needs to find a similar system that makes the most of what makes Spider-Man a unique fighter, with plenty of acrobatics and agile fluidity. You could even have to fight tactically, webbing up some of the stronger brawlers carrying weapons whilst you take out the weaker unarmed ones. Spider-Man’s a smart combatant, and a mixture of tactics and advanced combat abilities could really make crime fighting fun and extend the life of the game way beyond the rolling of the credits.
2. Playable villains
It’s tough to imagine why Spider-Man games haven’t really given us the option to play as some of the big bads. 2002’s Spider-Man game, based off the first Sam Raimi movie, included a neat reward for completing the main story — the ability to play as Harry Osborn in full Green Goblin armor and full use of the glider and Goblin weapons. The story even changed slightly when playing as Harry, with Osborn having to track down a rogue Oscorp Goblin and defeat him. In Ultimate Spider-Man, often considered one of the best Spidey games, you could play as Venom and use your symbiote powers to lay waste to anyone foolish enough to cross your path.
An option to play as classic Spider-Man villains would be brilliant and certainly add a whole new side to the game. As Spider-Man PS4 is a modern AAA title, it’s safe to bet there will be some social aspect to it or even a multiplayer mode. If we’re talking about playable villains and the possibility of some kind of multiplayer, allow us to blow your minds and suggest a form of something that has come to be known as “asymmetric multiplayer” as seen in games like Evolve, where the majority of the players play as hunters and one lucky soul gets to play as the massive and powerful monster they’re hunting. Perhaps we could have a Sinister Six mode. We’re imagining a cross between Evolve and Star Wars Battlefront‘s Hero Hunt mode, where one person plays as Spidey and the others play as Doc Ock, Sandman, Kraven, Electro, Vulture, and Mysterio, each with their own abilities and functions, with teamwork essential to taking the web-head down.
1. Proper web swinging
Whenever a new Spider-Man game is announced, the question that always comes up is whether Spidey’s webs attach to buildings. It may seem like a small point, but it has massive implications on how the game is going to play. Web swinging is Spider-Man’s principal form of transportation, and if it isn’t done right, the whole game could suffer.
A physics-based web swinging system like the one found in Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man would be the ideal choice. For those games, Spidey’s left and right arms were bound to the left and right shoulder buttons. If you wanted Spider-Man to make a sharp turn without losing flow, you had to pick the right spot to anchor your webs and swing around corners using your momentum. Fans have been clamoring for its return, and now that the series has switched developer and publisher, it’s the perfect time to do just that. It seems like the property is in good hands with Insomniac, as their last game, Sunset Overdrive, had a fun and fluid way of getting around the city, running on rooftops, grinding on wires and jumping on fans for a boost. Here’s hoping they take some of those ideas and mesh them with Spider-Man’s webs to make a hugely enjoyable and incredibly replayable web-slinging experience.
What do you want to see in the new Spider-Man game? Will the new title live up to expectations? Let us know what you think in the comments section.