This year’s Sony E3 conference closed on an impressive demo of Insomniac’s upcoming open-world Spider-Man game. I checked out an alternate playthrough and on the show floor, and while creative director Bryan Intihar was tight-lipped when it came to specifics, he did give me a handful of interesting tidbits.
You might have noticed that in the press conference demo Spidey never, say, booted a dude off a rooftop and watched in grim satisfaction as he plummeted to an unsavory end. Not only that, he even saved the lives of random goons by slinging them away from certain doom a couple times. Intihar told me Spider-Man will have contingency animations—such as slinging baddies back onto rooftops, rather than letting them fall—that will keep players from killing anyone, even during unpredictable open-world shenanigans.
“It’s certain scenarios we’ve put him in, certain abilities he’ll do during combat to prevent people from dying,” Intihar said. “So whether it’s about deciding where stuff gets placed or how it unfolds, Spider-Man’s not gonna be killing people. That’s not the game we want to make.”
He added that it’s not just about villains. Civilians will be running around, too, trying to do their jobs and shop for groceries in between gawking and screaming at super battles. In the sequence Insomniac showed at E3, Spider-Man has to juggle bringing down a helicopter with saving civilians from its debris. Intihar said to expect more scenarios like that, because the development team wants it to feel like there are authentic stakes to your actions.
“We don’t want you to feel like you’re beating up guys just for the sake of beating up guys,” he explained. “We do have scenarios where there aren’t civilians around, but we also want to push the feeling of being a hero in New York City. Spider-Man is its protector. Whether someone’s calling him a menace or not, he feels responsible for it.”
In the past, Spider-Man games have mostly been about, you know, Spider-Man. In this one, however, Insomniac wants to show both sides of the coin: the hero and the dude behind the mask.
“It can’t just be Spider-Man 100 percent of the time,” said Intihar. “Peter Parker is integral to the character. In our game, you’re gonna see Peter a lot in story and in gameplay. He has a job. He just graduated college, and he has his first job as a scientist.”
At the end of the Spider-Man E3 demo, fan favorite character Miles Morales—aka, also Spider-Man from Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate run, who’s since become a Marvel universe mainstay—made a brief appearance, photographing Peter’s helicopter-destroying handiwork and grinning in the face of potential danger like a Cool Teen. While Intihar was cagey about whether or not Miles will be playable, he did explain why Insomniac decided to end the demo on that particular easter egg.
“It tells you that this is a different Spider-Man universe,” Intihar said. “Miles and Pete being together… yeah, there’s been some comic things where worlds collide, but in our game he’s part of that world. There’s also been a lot of Spider-Man stories, a lot about Peter. Bringing Miles into that helps us explore sides of Peter we haven’t seen before.”
In terms of gameplay, Intihar told me the campaign will be single-player-only—no co-op. So if you were getting starry eyed over hypothetical Peter/Miles co-op action, probably blink a couple times and let cruel reality once again overtake your senses.
The game will “mostly” be open-world exploration and acrobatic combat, rather than QTE-ridden story scenes, Intihar also said. Insomniac does want the game to have cinematic flair to it, though, and they’re taking inspiration from games like Uncharted. If you screw up a QTE, you’ll get a “fail state,” rather than a branching path through a scene. However, Intihar told me there won’t be anything like that one infamous scene from the Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in game.
There also won’t be an annoying-as-fuck balloon kid in this one. Thank god.