Spider-Man has always been one of those superheroes that work in video game form. His powers translate well and who doesn’t enjoy swinging around New York? Despite having a slew of good games under his belt, Spider-Man hasn’t released a good game in nearly a decade with the past few being absolute stinkers. Perhaps that’s why Insomniac Games’ take on the classic hero is so exciting. Combining a studio well known for making fun games with inventive gameplay and the Spider-Man franchise should, in theory, be a home run. Based on what we saw at E3 2017, it’s looking like one.
Meeting with Insomniac Games behind-closed-doors at the show, we got to see the game running at 4K with HDR enabled on a PS4 Pro. It was the same demo shown during the PlayStation press conference, but the studio was careful to play the demo differently to highlight how unique each encounter could be for each player.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a unique Spider-Man story that doesn’t have any ties to any comic story, past Spider-Man films or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s also not an origin story, with Peter Parker in his eighth year as the web crawler. He has plenty of experience, which gives him a lot of flexibility in combat. The demo takes place early in the game with Spider-Man having imprisoned Kingpin, and the Inner-Demons waging war against his remaining operations, including the construction site seen in the demo.
Insomniac’s goal with Spider-Man was to design an experience that is approachable to any type of player. While the press conference demo was focused more on stealth, the demo we saw focused more on combat. The goal was to create a fluid system that allows Spider-Man to fight stealthily and in the open and in the air on the ground. Insomniac demonstrated this as Spider-Man fought through the construction site by dodging bullets, swinging to vantage points and using his gadgets to disarm and web up enemies.
Once at the top, Spider-Man encounters Martin Li, also known as Mister Negative. Regarding story, Insomniac consulted Marvel about what makes the best Spider-Man stories. To Marvel, the best stories happen when Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s world collide, which is exactly what happens here. Martin Li runs the homeless shelters and Aunt May volunteers there. Making this personal for Peter, he tries to capture Li, but inadvertently causes a giant crane to fall into buildings. The helicopter carrying Li is also swinging a giant crate around thanks to an ill-advised move from our hero.
From here we get our frantic chase around New York City. While it isn’t a one-to-one recreation, it’s going to be a big playground to explore. Much like with combat, Insomniac wanted to create a system that’s fun and creates a sense of speed and momentum. Like Sunset Overdrive, there’s minimal downtime when moving and it’s easy to connect moves. None of what was shown during the press conference was faked.
The demo ended with the reveal that Miles Morales is in the game, though Insomniac is tight-lipped about what his role in the story will be. In fact, while they did confirm we’ll be seeing many familiar and unfamiliar Spider-Man characters, they didn’t dive into too many details.
We also got a chance to discuss quick-time-events and how prevalent they’ll be in the full game. Though the E3 demo used a lot of QTE’s, Insomniac was quick to say they won’t be prevalent. According to the studio, they’ll only be in a fraction of the game and will be mostly used for bigger, set piece moments such as what we saw in the demo.
They also revealed that there are two reasons behind Spider-Man’s costume. While the character traditionally has a small, black spider on his costume, Insomniac’s version has a giant white one. The first reason is that the studio wanted a unique look people can use to identify that it’s Insomniac’s Spider-Man. The second is a story reason, which they aren’t revealing for obvious reasons. For those wanting a more traditional look, the studio did confirm there will be alternate costumes.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a true dream-pairing. Spider-Man’s unique move set combined with Insomniac’s pedigree for developing unique games is yielding what might be the best Spider-Man game since Spider-Man 2. Based on what we saw, Insomniac knows how to make you feel like Spider-Man by giving us all of his tools to play, a giant New York City to explore, and mechanics that make combat and traversal a fluid experience. What we’ve seen looks insanely fun and we can’t wait to see more.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is out sometime in 2018 on PS4.