The opening hours of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 feel slick and cinematic, like a well-edited superhero movie. It’s the kind of game you sit back with, soak up. If mucking up your PlayStation 5 controllers weren’t an issue, it would go perfect with a bucket of popcorn.
Just because it’s massive, though, doesn’t mean it’s only for elite players. While there’s plenty here for dedicated fans of the franchise—from variations on his classic suit to the web-slinging traversal—it’s still approachable for gamers just looking for something fresh to play. “We definitely go through pains to make sure that we are teaching the player everything they need to know to be great at being Spider-Man,” says Doug Sheahan, a senior programming director at Insomniac Games, which dropped the title on Friday.
If you’d like a few, helpful tips before starting your Spider-Man 2 adventure, WIRED spoke with Sheahan for his advice on getting started. (Any narrative and late-game spoilers are avoided in this guide. Phew!)
The four difficulty levels for Spider-Man 2 are Friendly Neighborhood, Friendly, Amazing, and Spectacular. What’s different for players who choose the top difficulty setting? “Enemies are going to deal more damage,” Sheahan says. “Their timings are going to be a bit faster.” Does a quick dodge sound intimidating? Try starting with Amazing, and see how it feels. You can bump the difficulty up or down anytime by going to Settings, then Gameplay.
Younger players who might not have the best coordination or anyone who desires immortality when they don the Spidey suit may want to consider Friendly Neighborhood. If you pick this setting, there’s only a couple of situations where your superhero can die.
“The biggest thing with the web wings to optimize speed is about utilizing them in conjunction with everything else,” says Sheahan. Make sure you’ve got physics on your side! Take your Spider-Man up, as high as you can on a New York City skyscraper. Then, dive down toward the ground and deploy your wingsuit to capture that speed. Sling a couple of webs to get back on top. Repeat.
Similar to the wings, the defensive parry is new in Spider-Man 2. “Regular combat is more engaging,” Sheahan says. “Because the player has to pay a little more attention.” While fighting crime and supervillains, you have to determine when the encounter calls for a dodge and when a parry might be the best idea. Parrying isn’t as central to the game as something like Lies of P, but it’s a welcome addition to the abilities toolkit.
For Insomniac’s 2018 release, Marvel’s Spider-Man, players focused on Peter Parker. The title earned a Game of the Year nomination, losing out to God of War. The next installment in the franchise featured the story of Miles Morales. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 leans into the duality, and you can often switch between the two by swiping left on the touchpad and holding the square button.
How is gameplay different between the superheroes? Sheahan says that Peter’s combat is more keyed toward single-target attacks, and Miles is more adept at ranged attacks.
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Fast travel is, erm, faster in Spider-Man 2. “It feels next-gen in the fact that you can just jump around. You don’t have to set your controller down for 30 seconds,” he says. While a 30-second wait for a loading screen is a bit of an exaggeration, the updated fast travel does seem lightning quick.
Some patience is needed, though, when it comes to unlocking the fast travel feature. Access is gated off by district on the map, and it’s unlocked only after completing around half of the progress in a district.
If the game ever feels overwhelming, you can control the timescale of Spider-Man 2. “It will slow the game down to run at 70 percent or 50 percent speed,” says Sheahan. “So [players] have more time to process attacks, process what’s going on.” To experiment with this feature, open your Settings. Then select Accessibility, and toggle the section labeled Game Speed.
Whether it’s been a while since you’ve played or this is your first time swinging around NYC, the recap available at the top of Spider-Man 2 is well-curated and worth sitting through. With that in mind, you don’t have to be an encyclopedia of superhero lore to enjoy this experience. “This game absolutely stands on its own as a complete and full story,” Sheahan says. No multiverse knowledge necessary!
The experience of playing as Spider-Man is malleable and can adapt based on what you need. Some options available in the accessibility settings include high-contrast modes for clearer visuals, a motion sensitivity option to turn off camera shakes, and an autocomplete for quick time events. Sheahan mentions that Insomniac plans to add more accessibility options to the game, like a screen reader, before the end of the year.