I found watching my friend play Marvel's Spider-Man 2 more enjoyable than the game itself

Marvel's Spider-Man 2
(Image credit: Sony)

My friend is a huge Spider-Man fan, and when I say that I really mean it. They’ve fully completed both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales several times and could rattle off enough facts and knowledge about the web-slinging hero that would win any pub quiz. So it comes as no surprise that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was a must-play when it launched on October 20. That said, they faced one major challenge when the game came out: they didn’t own a PlayStation 5. 

After a lot of persuasion, a lot of pros and cons lists - and generally a lecture on how you only live once and you can make money back - they finally pulled the trigger and upgraded to a PS5 from near-ten-year-old PlayStation 4. While I enjoyed feeling a bit smug about persuading someone to buy a PS5, I then went on to take great pleasure in witnessing first-hand the excitement of someone completely oblivious to the hardware upgrades the PS5 boasts over its predecessor. 

Once the console arrived and was set up, and with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 freshly installed, we sat down to see exactly what it had to offer. Excited glances were shared over the opening, and I quickly realized that the most enjoyment I was getting out of the game wasn’t through playing it myself but watching someone who is so utterly invested in the series return to a state of childlike glee from the second it began. We'd even spend time excitedly spinning theories and guessing what we’d see next in the game's story.

This excitement didn’t stem from the content of the game exclusively. My friend's reaction to the technology embedded in the DualSense controller is what really sealed the deal of me finding more joy in watching them play rather than taking control myself. Each time my friend experienced something new and wanted to share the experience, it replicated a feeling like that of sitting down with your best friend and taking turns with the newest game release back when you were a kid.

A new technology 

Marvel's Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony)

The first instance of watching my friend experience the prowess of the DualSense controller was the moment you crack open the crystals scattered across the map. Without skipping a beat they turned to me with the same level of joy as a kid who has just unwrapped the best present imaginable and went: “They go crunchy!” in response to the gamepad’s adaptive triggers. That’s something their near-decade-old PS4 didn’t offer, of course, so I think the excitement here is justified. 

Even as someone who knew about what the controller is capable of, I was still thrilled to experience the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback firsthand in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. From here on out we took turns passing the controller between us each time we came across one of these crystal clusters so we could share the now affectionately nicknamed ‘crunchies’ around the map until we quickly collected the entire set. 

For someone who isn’t used to this inventive controller tech, the novelty lasts a surprisingly long time, especially when trawling through one of the best PS5 games to see how each approaches the DualSense’s functionality. That’s refreshing for someone like me who might have overlooked it were it not for the vicarious enjoyment I was now experiencing. The same experience can be said for lining up the triggers with the guides to locate Prowler bases as Miles, balancing each trigger's resistance to emphasize how steady you need to be to correctly complete the task. 

It’s all around us 

Marvel's Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers aside, the 3D audio capabilities of the PS5 really helped bring the entire experience to life and immerse us further into the iconic New York setting. 

There’s an impressive level of detail throughout the game’s audio that breathes new life into New York City, be it the layered audio created by all the pedestrians or the distant chirping of a Spider-Bot, these all feed into the engrossing atmosphere of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 that had me and my friend so enchanted and gripped. This was emphasized further by the audio crackles that come through the controller’s speaker, such as the twisted noises of the symbiote when you have the black suit equipped for Peter Parker, or when you get a call mid-flight.

After a lot of swinging around, some desperate attempts at pulling off the most impressive web-to-wingsuit glides under bridges, and with the final ping of the last trophy collected, our time with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 came to an end. Usually, I’d be pretty swift to mentally check off the game from my list and not think about it for another year or two, but my friend immediately perked up and went “I think I’ll start it again actually.” 

While I don’t think I’ll get to experience the same amount of satisfaction through them and their joy a second time, I'm certainly looking forward to the next PS5 game they pick up and how that, and the PS5's tech, will elevate their experience even further.

We’ve got all the best Black Friday PS5 deals if you’re also considering upgrading your setup for cheaper this year. Our guide to Black Friday gaming headset deals and Black Friday gaming chair deals may also offer some bargains to enhance your gaming space. 

Kara Phillips
Evergreen Writer

Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.