You might have heard there’s a new Spider-Man game out today. You might have also heard it’s very good. For those who have decided to try out this little old game for themselves, I have some guidance to offer.
Spider-Man is a surprisingly approachable game, but beneath the surface there are a lot of systems at work with little details that can be easy to overlook. I’ve spent around 40 hours with the game so far, and during my time in Insomniac Games’ Manhattan, I’ve learned a thing or two. Below, young web slingers, you’ll find the most helpful tips I wish I’d known from the start.
Spider-Man’s map is broken up into a handful of regions, just like the real Manhattan. Each of these areas houses a police station with a radio tower you can descramble to de-fog the surrounding parts of the map. Of all the game’s side-activities and collectibles, these are the most important, because they’re key to locating the rest. Early focusing on descrambling the towers, all of which sit atop NYPD buildings, is also a great way to get acquainted with the game’s web slinging. They also become fast travel points later in the game, at which point you’ll be glad you completed so many of them.
There are backpacks to collect, landmarks to take pictures of with Peter Parker’s camera, and a host of other activities to complete like stopping nearby crimes, taking down enemy hideouts, and completing little science projects for your friend, Harry Osborn. This stuff is spread all over the map, and each type of activity gives you a unique type of token for completing it. An easy way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by them all is to do a few things on your way to each new story mission.
Not only will this give you a diverse smattering of tokens that can be used to unlock and upgrade Spider-Man’s suits and gadgets, it also provides a change of pace and makes it so by the end of the game you’re not stuck with just one or two types of these missions left on the map. For example, I left most of the Osborn science missions for the end of the game, and mainlining all of those in a row quickly became a slog.
Some of the most fun and difficult side-missions in the game are Challenges that revolve around showing off all your combat and platforming skills. You’ll get bronze, silver, or gold ratings on each depending on how well you do, and the number of Challenge tokens you receive will vary accordingly. It can feel grindy to keep trying for the gold, but the number of tokens you get is multiples higher and well worth it. Many of the best suits and upgrades require a handful of them, and there’s nothing worse than wanting to try one of them only to realize you’re broke.
Spider-Man has a lot of gadgets, but Web Bombs are by far the best. When launched at an enemy they web up everything in the immediate vicinity, and the effect gets stronger with a bigger blast radius the more you upgrade them, which you’ll want to do. In addition to being extremely useful for crowd control, the Web Bombs can be invaluable for quickly subduing small groups of enemies during stealth missions without alerting everyone else.
If you just keep spraying enemies with webs they’ll get stunned but will eventually rebound and come back to the fight. To subdue them for good in the most Spidey-ass way possible, make sure you’ve knocked them to the ground or near another object before you web them.
Spider-Man is at his strongest and most versatile when he’s jumping around and swinging through the air. The key to winning fights and also having fun with the superhero is never staying on the ground for long. Pop down, punch some guys, web some other guys, then swing back into the air to another part of the fight.
In addition to the stealth missions in the main game, there are base missions scattered throughout Manhattan that revolve around clearing a zone of all the bad guys inside. While you can go in swinging, it’s better to take your time sneaking up on individual enemies instead of alerting the whole base. It’s a good opportunity to get the lay of the land before engaging the later waves of enemies that will start coming out and it’s also a great way to see all of the unique animations for Spider-Man’s silent web takedowns.
There are over a dozen mods you can unlock for Spider-Man’s suit in the game, which has room to equip three at a time. While you should definitely play around with all of them to find a mix that suits your personal play style, I’ve found the best three by far to be Combat Analyzer, Long Range Scanner, and Webbed Striker. Combat Analyzer increases the XP you get, which is very helpful early on when you’re trying to level up to increase the size of your health bar and unlock new parts of the skill tree. Long Range Scanner expands the radius of the R3 Spidey sense which shows the location of nearby collectibles and lets you see enemies through walls. Especially in some of the larger stealth sections, being able to track enemy movements from a distance is extremely helpful. Finally, Webbed Striker gives you extra focus whenever you web an enemy, including with Web Bombs. Your focus meter is what you use to heal and also execute instant takedowns, and since you’ll always be webbing enemies during the natural flow of a fight, getting bonus focus is a huge perk.
The skill tree is broken into three sections. There are cool abilities in all of them, but the Web Slinging tree to the far right on the menu screen is where most of your traversal abilities are. Since you spend the majority of the game shooting a web at something to get from point A to point B, it’s worth having all of the maneuvers as early as possible. The most notable ones are Quick Zip, which lets you use the zipline web twice in a row, Quick Recovery, which lets you press X after rolling to immediately lunge forward, and Air Tricks which lets you do small stunts while falling through the air. The last one is more for fun than anything else. While you get a small amount of XP for holding circle and triangle to do tricks in the air, the real purpose of the skill is just to look extra stylish while falling through the air, which you will spend more than half the game doing.
There are a lot of suits in this game. Some of them look really cool. Some of them don’t. Almost all of them come with special suit powers that, once unlocked, can be equipped to whichever suit you prefer to spend your time fighting crime in. The Homecoming suit, inspired by last year’s movie, is by far one of the most useful and versatile thanks to its Spider Buddy power. When available, you can unleash it to summon a drone that goes around the battlefield shocking enemies, both stunning and damaging them. While useful for crowd control during fights with mobs of enemies, it’s also useful for stealth sections since it doesn’t give your position away.
In addition to just kicking everyone’s ass, every brawl in the game comes with side challenges which, if completed, net you extra experience and tokens. Usually it’s something like getting a certain combo length or knocking people off a building (which automatically finishes them off). You can always punch the R3 stick during a fight to bring them back up and see how close you are to getting the bonuses so you don’t accidently subdue the last few guys before finishing.
Spider-Man handles difficulty in a somewhat interesting way. While you’ll get overpowered a little more than halfway through the game, it’s still very easy to die. Gun fire especially will take you out quickly, while bosses can deal a lot of damage. If you’re nailing your combos though and web slinging in and out of the chaos at the right times, you’ll be almost invincible. I recommend putting the game on hard once you feel yourself being able to sleep walk through fights and just mash buttons. It won’t make anyone into a damage sponge, but it will give you less chances to fuck up and keep you on your toes more.
Spider-Man isn’t the most complex game, but there are a lot of little moving parts to keep track of between all the different upgrades and all the different types of tokens. The tips above should help you get a handle on the key stuff early on though, though of course it never hurts to experiment on your own. And if you think there’s anything big I missed, be sure to share it in the comments section below.