Probably one of the most exciting announcements from E3 2016 is the reveal of Insomniac’s new PlayStation 4 exclusive Spider-Man game. If the trailer was anything to go by, it seems that Insomniac understands what elements a good Spider-Man game should include. Although the trailer was short and didn’t show all that much, it got me excited for what the future holds for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Of course, my confidence in Insomniac doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own idea of what would make the new game great. Therefore, I have decided to make a list of 7 things that, in my opinion, need to be included in the new game.
1. A Solid Story
It has already been revealed on multiple occasions by Insomniac games that their Spider-Man game would feature a unique stand-alone story. Hopefully, this means that we won’t be slogging through another origin tale. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t know Spider-Man‘s origin story by now?
Insomniac could learn a lot from they way in which Rocksteady was able to really concentrate on what the essence of being Batman was and how they were able to inject this into the Arkham games narrative. Insomniac has a wealth of Spider-man lore to delve into for inspiration; from comics, movies, and TV shows. Developers also seem to forget that Peter Parker and Spider-Man is one in the same. It’s time that Peter also gets a spot in the limelight. It could be an interesting angle if the story incorporates how being Spider-Man conflicts with Peter Parker’s life and using this as a base for parts of the narrative. Also having a solid story that utilizes one of the best rogues’ galleries in the Marvel universe would be a great start to a great Spider-Man game.
Another interesting way to go would to have Spider-Man playthrough popular comic book story lines – like The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Spider-Man: Blue, The Death of Jean DeWolff, To Have and to Hold, or Spider-Man No More. The opportunites are really endless.
2. Momentum based web-slinging
Web-slinging is one, if not the most, important part of a Spider-Man game and some would say integral to a new Spider-Man games success. As Spidey’s main form of travel, Insomniac needs to get this right if the game has any chance of being good.
The developer has already proven that they understand motion and momentum with Sunset Overdrive. The question is, can they take the same feeling of motion we got in Sunset Overdrive and successfully implement it in a web-slinging mechanic? Both Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man used momentum based web-slinging where the left and right triggers of the controller were each assigned to one of Spider-Man’s arms. This meant that Spidey’s movement was controlled by the momentum he gained from attaching his webbing to objects (and not thin air as in previous games). A lot of fans preferred this way of web-slinging and have been patiently awaiting its return. With Insomniacs knowledge of momentum and how it can be used, this seems like the best time for this method of web-slinging to make its return.
3. Easy to learn, hard to master combat
So apparently being bitten by a radioactive spider has some advantages, which include enhanced strength and agility. Up until now, Spider-Man games have focused a lot on the strength aspect of combat. Sure, Spidey could dodge and jump around his attackers but developers haven’t been able to fully communicate his enhanced agility. The Arkham series combat system was able to convey the brutal tactics Batman employs while still making him look like a bad-ass when taking on multiple enemies. What Insomniac needs to focus on is not only making combat look and feel good but most importantly Spider-Man needs to be able to fluidly move from attacker to attacker without having it feel or look awkward. Where Batman has his gadgets, Spider-Man has his webbing. Finding unique and interesting ways in which he could use his webbing when fending off enemies would add to the strategic depth of the combat system, and make for some unusual combos.
The key would be to make combat fun and easy to learn but deep enough to keep us coming back long after the credits have rolled.
4. An open world that feels alive
Lately the word “open world” has been thrown around a lot when talking about all the latest releases. It seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. The problem with most open world games is that the open world, although open, lacks any sort of richness and life. A new Spider-man game would probably follow in the previous games footsteps by having players freely roaming New York.
What Insomniac needs to do is give players a reason to go out and explore New York. In the past, collectibles have been used for this purpose, but in this era of gaming there needs to be more than repetitive side quests and collectibles. People forget that Peter Parker is quite the little genius (he invented his web shooters and fluid all by himself), so why not have some interesting Mysterio based puzzles for him to solve in-between saving civilians from muggings (similar to the Riddler puzzles in the Arkham series). Having little branching side-quests that could lead to a confrontation with an unexpected villain could make these quests more attractive, basically have little self-contained stories tucked away in the city.
Giving players the ability to approach these quests in a variety of ways (stealthily or web-shooters a blazing) would not only add to the replayability but would make these quests more engaging.
5. Bring on the hero and villain cameos
Spider-Man has one of the most unique rogue’s galleries out there. Although we can expect that Spider-Man will be facing a familiar evil in the main story, having re-imagined versions of less familiar villains as part of the above-mentioned side quests could make for some exciting boss fights and narrative twists.
Seeing Spidey face off against re-imagined obscure villains such as the Legion of Losers, The Swarm or even Jack O’ Lantern could make for some fun distractions in-between fighting the main bad guy. Spider-Man also has ties, in some way or other, to most of the Marvel heroes out there. Having some of his fellow heroes pop in to lend him a hand in one of the side-quests or even main quest could be a recipe for fun. Hilarity always ensues when the wise-cracking Spider-Man teams up with other heroes.
What Spider-Man game would be complete without a few cameos? We need that Deadpool and Stan Lee cameo!
6. An interesting and rewarding progression system
As with previous Spider-Man games, Insomniac’s new game will probably implement some sort of upgrade system that will augment or improve Spidey’s abilities as the game progresses. I’ve never had a problem with improving my characters as I level up, but what I don’t like is if the unlocks and upgrades only marginally improve say, for instance, my web shooters or unlock a combo which I would never use or need to use. Insomniac has to be smart in how the approach this, unlocks and upgrades need to make a substantial difference in how they change or Improve Spidey. Summed up it needs to be worth a player’s time to invest in upgrading and unlocking abilities for Spider-Man.
7. More Spider-Man costumes
Most of the previous Spider-Man games have had the option to unlock new costumes for Spider-Man, and this is something I hope Insomniac builds and improve on. Not only would I like to see an interesting and unique variety of costumes, but it would be great if these augmented or gave Spidey certain new abilities. There have been a surprising amount of alternate costumes for Spider-Man over the years and I hope that Insomniac goes digging through Spidey’s closet and include some of the more unusual ones. Maybe even alternate Spider-Man characters – like Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Old Man Spider, or Peni Parker. Maybe play as the different Spider-Man actors too? Heck, I’d even be down for Aunt May in a Spidey suit.
Over the years, there have already been a number of really good Spider-Man games for this new release to learn from. Let’s hope they take the best of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2: The Game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes to recreate the Webhead magic.
Below is the trailer for Insomniac’s PlayStatioon Exclusive Spider-Man game that was shown at E3 2016: