Games based on superheros have a pretty patchy history. Before Rocksteady blew us all away with the Batman Arkham games, superhero titles usually felt like cheap experiences rushed out to cash in on fan excitement surrounding an accompanying movie.
The exception was Spider-Man 2, a Treyarch-developed tie in to the movie of the same name, which, for the first time, put us into the shoes of the legendary web-slinger in a fully open-world New York.
With such an amazing legacy to live up to, who could blame us for being excited when at E3 2016 Sony announced a new Spider-Man game was in development from Insomniac Games, the development studio behind the Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, Sunset Overdrive and Spyro the Dragon games?
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new Spiderman game from the studio behind Ratchet and Clank and Spyro the Dragon series
- When’s it out? September 7 2018
- What can I play it on? PS4
Spider-Man PS4 Trailers
As expected, E3 2018 brought a new Spider-Man trailer but this time it offered a deep dive into gameplay. The footage is a who's who of villains, with Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture, and Mr Negative all making appearances to really punish Spider-Man. Not only does the footage give us a good look at combat, it really showcases the traversal mechanics. Spidey moves fluidly both on foot and through the air. It's clear that the game is very cinematic, moving fluidly between gameplay and cutscenes. Watch it for yourself below
Yet another trailer came with the announcement of Spider-Man's release date. You can watch for yourself below:
Paris Games Week in 2017 saw another trailer and it gave us a much better look at the game's story than we've ever seen before. Giving us our first look at Peter Parker without the Spider-Man costume and showing well-known characters like Mary Jane, King Pin and even Miles Morales it's well worth a watch. You can see it for yourself below:
At E3 2017 Sony showed off a second trailer for the game, which gives us a more in-depth look at the game's combat and story.
At the previous year's E3 Sony announced the game with an impressive reveal trailer. Features shown off in this first trailer include a city with internal, as well as external, areas to explore, vehicle-based missions (for Spidey’s enemies, not the man himself, thank god), and a whole load of web-based fighting.
Spider-Man release date
Sony has now confirmed that Spider-Man for PS4 will be released on September 7 2018.
Spider-Man PS4 Features
Read on for the few details that have been released so far.
Development is coming on well
Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games has posted an update on the current state of the game to Twitter to bring in 2018. It's a small update, but a sweet one, as it tells excited players that the game is now far enough into development that it's being tested by the whole studio. This is pretty promising given the only release date we have for the game so far is 2018.
Day 2 of a studio-wide #SpiderManPS4 playtest is underway. Yes, this is our official job! #gamedev pic.twitter.com/gVBpQtHtoVJanuary 5, 2018
Ratchet and Clank Engine
Just after E3 2016 Insomniac confirmed that the game would be running on the same engine as the recently-released Ratchet and Clank remake for the PS4.
The news was confirmed by the official Insomniac Games twitter account, although it also stated that the development team has been iterating on the engine since.
The PS4 version of Ratchet and Clank is one of the console’s best looking titles, so we think its engine being used to power the new Spider-Man game is no bad thing.
Heh, Rachel. We always iterate our engine between games. We don't have more than one though.June 27, 2016
Not based on Spider-Man: Homecoming
Although the game being released this year coincides nicely with the return of Spidey to the big screen with Spider-Man: Homecoming, the game’s creative director, Bryan Intihar, has confirmed that the game will not be tied into the movie.
The news was confirmed in a post on the official US PlayStation blog which said that, “Nope, this isn’t the same Spider-Man you’ve met before, nor is our game based on the upcoming movie.”
While it’s a shame that we won’t be web-slinging through the streets of NYC as Tom Holland, we can’t help but think this has the potential to be a good thing for the game, as its developers will be free to forge their own path without having to stick to the plot, characters, and themes of the movie.
In a recent behind-the-scenes look at the game shown at D23, Insomniac said that the game will actually be more inspired by the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, featuring an older, 23 year old hero.
A more seasoned Peter Parker
In the same blog post, Intihar said that the game will feature “a more seasoned Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City.”
At this year's D23 it was revealed that in this game Peter would be 23 years old and more experienced as Spider-Man.
Rather than sitting through yet another Spidey origins story, we're going to jump right into the fun gameplay stuff. According to Insomniac, the game will more fully explore how Peter Parker and Spider-Man's worlds collide in an attempt to tell a human story as well as a superhero story.
While it’s always satisfying to see the downtrodden nerd get blessed with super-powers, this isn’t necessarily fun from a gameplay perspective.
Hopefully this direction will allow players to jump right in with a fully powered-up superhero, and get to the good stuff right away.
So what is the story?
In the trailer shown at Paris Games Week 2017 we got our best look at the game's story yet. Though the game is separate from the movie universe, the Peter Parker in the trailer does look remarkably like Tom Holland. It seems that William Fisk (or Kingpin as he's more well-known as) is locked up, resulting in less crime and a Peter more at ease with his life.
Suddenly, a new villainous faction run by Mr Negative appears to cause problems while Norman Osborn makes a play for the Mayor's office. The trailer also gives us a glimpse of Aunt May and a redhead who we assume must be Mary Jane.
Interestingly, Miles Morales appears to play a much larger role than we initially thought given that Peter introduces him to Aunt May and tells her he'll be helping out. Miles Morales is also someone who takes up the role of Spider-Man in the comics universe so it'll be interesting to see what kind of help he offers Peter. Certainly his appearance suggests that this Spider-Man game will be breaking some new story ground.
An open world
We know this game is going to feature an open world and we really can't wait to swing around it. One of the most satisfying things about previous open world Spider-Man games was being able to see New York from the web slinger's point of view and we're looking forward to seeing what the latest gaming engines can do here.
According to Insomniac this is the biggest game map they've created and will be even bigger than their Xbox exclusive Sunset Overdrive map, Sunset City.
From the trailer shown at E3 2017 it looks as though the game will make use of quick-time events for its more action-packed moments. We're not fans of how these can take away control from the player, but we won't know the effect for sure until we try out the game for ourselves.
What we want to see
With so little solid information released about the game, we can’t help but speculate as to what direction Spider-Man’s first PS4 outing might take. None of this is in any way confirmed, but we’d love to see these features make their way into the new game.
A friendly Spider-Man
Spider-Man has always been one of Marvel’s lighter-hearted heroes. He’s a quippy, funny, teenager who’s almost, almost, more concerned about his grades than the fate of the world.
While past games and movies have included gun-toting villains, we hope the new game doesn’t stray too close to the real world. We want colourful bad-guys with bombastic plans, not the gritty realism of the Nolan Batman films.
This isn’t an excuse to shy away from having an impactful story, but if it could stop short of a Logan-esque bleak-fest then we’d be very grateful.
A neighbourhood Spider-Man
Related to the previous point is that we’d like to see Spider-Man stay true to his roots as a neighborhood superhero, rather than the more globe-trotting heroes seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As far as we’re concerned, the Spider-Man 2 game was at its best when Parker was doing something as simple as retrieving a child’s balloon. He’s a character that’s motivated by trying to clean up the city he loves, rather than grander ambitions like trying to save the world.
We’re reassured that the game won’t be related to the Homecoming film which seems to tie Spidey more into the wider Marvel Universe, and hopefully this will mean that Insomniac are free to focus on the New York setting rather than worrying about the rest of the Avengers.
A wide cast of supporting characters
Not being related to the movie should also allow Insomniac to explore Spider-Man’s ecclectic cast of villains, which range from the Sinister Six, to Venom, Doctor Octopus and Kingpin.
However, with Disney owning the rights to most of the Marvel Universe and Sony owning the rights to Spider-Man’s corner of it, it’s difficult to know exactly how much of the Marvel IP Insomiac has access to.
There has been a lot of crossover between Spider-Man and Daredevil in the comics, with Peter Parker even donning Daredevil’s suit to act as a decoy on one occasion, but with the Daredevil license currently being used by Netflix for an original series it’s not clear whether the character is up for grabs in the game.
There are lots of unknowns at this point, but it’s definitely a case of ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to Spider-Man’s supporting cast.