Marvel’s Spider-Man is a 2018 action-adventure game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Based on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man, it is inspired by the long-running comic book lore series adaptations in other media. In the main storyline, the super-human crime lord Mister Negative orchestrates a plot to seize control of New York City’s criminal underworld. When Mister Negative threatens to release a deadly virus, Spider-Man must confront him and protect the city while dealing with the personal problems of his civilian persona, Peter Parker.
Gameplay is presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on Spider-Man’s traversal and combat abilities. Spider-Man can freely move around New York City, interacting with characters, undertaking missions, and unlocking new gadgets and suits by progressing through the main story or completing tasks. Outside the story, the player is able to complete side missions to unlock additional content and collectible items. Combat focuses on chaining attacks together and using the environment and webs to incapacitate numerous foes while avoiding damage.
Development of Spider-Man, the first licensed game by Insomniac in its then-22-year history, began in 2014 and took approximately four years. Insomniac was given the choice of using any character from Marvel’s catalog to work on; Spider-Man was chosen both for his appeal to the employees and the similarities in traversal gameplay to their previous game Sunset Overdrive (2014). The game design took inspiration from the history of Spider-Man across all media but Marvel Comics and Insomniac wanted to tell an original story that was not linked to an existing property, creating a unique universe (known as Earth-1048) that has since appeared in novels, merchandise, and comics.
Spider-Man was released for the PlayStation 4 on September 7, 2018. The game received praise for its narrative, characterization, combat, and web-swinging traversal mechanics, although some criticized its open-world design for lacking innovation. A number of reviewers called it one of the best superhero games ever made, some comparing it favorably to the Batman: Arkham series. It won several year-end accolades from a variety of gaming publications, critics, and game award ceremonies. Spider-Man became one of the fastest-selling games of the year, one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 games of all time, and the fastest-selling superhero game in the United States. A three-part downloadable content (DLC), Spider-Man: The City that Never Sleeps, was released monthly from October to December 2018. A Game of the Year edition was released in August 2019, including the DLC. A follow-up game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, was released in November 2020 for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, alongside a remastered version of Spider-Man for the PlayStation 5.
Spider-Man is an open-world action-adventure game set in the borough of Manhattan in a fictionalized version of modern-day New York City. It is presented from a third-person perspective showing the playable character and allowing the camera to be rotated freely around them. The primary playable character is the superhero Spider-Man, who can navigate the world by jumping, using his web shooters to fire webs that allow him to swing between buildings, running along walls and automatically vaulting over obstacles. The player can precisely aim webs to pull himself towards specific points. Physical objects are required to attach webs to for swinging, and momentum and speed of the swing can be controlled by releasing the web at specific points to gain height or move more quickly. The game features an optional fast travel system that uses the New York City Subway system.
Combat is enacted using three buttons; one for dodging, one for physical strikes, and one for web-based attacks. Webbing can be used to incapacitate enemies and stick them to nearby objects, immediately removing them from battle. Enemies who are knocked from great heights are automatically stuck to a nearby surface in a web-cocoon, preventing death. Spider-Man can also use the environment to fight, jumping off walls and throwing objects like manhole covers, grenades and webbing-restrained enemies.
Successful and consecutive attacks build “Focus”, which can be partially used to heal Spider-Man, while full Focus allows special finishing attacks to take down an enemy instantly. Spider-Man possesses “spider-sense”, which is shown as a white icon around the character’s head, indicating an incoming attack that can be dodged. A precise dodge performed just before the attack hits allows Spider-Man to retaliate with webbing against the enemy. Some enemies must be overcome using different approaches. Melee-weapon-wielding enemies must be knocked into the air and shielded enemies must be attacked from behind. Enemies armed with whips will drag Spider-Man out of the air and require a counterattack to fight effectively. Other types of enemy include heavily armored agents who can take more damage, brutes, and jetpack-wearing enemies who remain airborne.
Spider-Man has access to a variety of gadgets that can be deployed in combat; these include electric webbing, concussive blasts, and impact webbing that launches enemies backwards and can stick them to a nearby surface. Gadgets are unlocked by progressing through the game and can be accessed from a radial menu. Spider-Man has several unlockable suits that are based on existing versions of the character in media; there are also original suits created for the game. Many of these offer special abilities that can aid in combat, such as increasing Focus gain, reducing gravity, enhancing stealth, making the player invulnerable, and unleashing an electromagnetic pulse to disable enemy weapons. Once unlocked, suits and powers can be freely combined. Stealth combat involves Spider-Man moving around raised locations using gadgets or webbing to neutralize isolated enemies. Leveling up allows the player to unlock skills from three different specialties, focusing on ground combat, aerial combat, and traversal.
Suits, suit mods, gadgets, and their associated upgrades are purchased with resources called Tokens, which are awarded for completion of specific tasks. Each unlockable item requires different quantities of each Token type: Challenge Tokens for completing Taskmaster’s time-and-skill based combat, stealth, and traversal missions; Backpack Tokens for locating Spider-Man’s old backpacks containing mementos from his past; Research Tokens for completing research station missions, science minigames, and the collection of pigeons; Crime Tokens for stopping ambient crimes; Base Tokens for clearing out enemy bases; and Landmark Tokens for taking pictures of specific locations around the city. There are also minigames that are rewarded with experience points and research tokens including Circuit Puzzles that require the arrangement of an electric grid and Pattern Puzzles that require the recreation of a specific pattern using composite parts. Radio towers in different areas can be unscrambled, highlighting collectable objects, missions, and active crimes.
Some sections of the game are played as Spider-Man’s alter-ego Peter Parker, his friend Mary Jane Watson, and ally Miles Morales. Peter’s sections often involve puzzle-solving, while Mary Jane’s and Miles’ segments focus on the use of stealth to avoid enemies. The game originally featured three difficulty levels; Friendly (easy), Amazing (normal), and Spectacular (hard). A post-release update added a fourth “Ultimate” difficulty that increases enemy damage and health while decreasing Spider-Man’s, and a “New Game Plus” option that allows the player to start a new game using all of the suits, powers, gadgets, and suit mods unlocked in a previous playthrough. The game includes accessibility options, enabling players to skip the puzzle minigames, enable larger subtitles, automatically complete quick time events, and replace button tapping with holding. A photo mode allows the player to take pictures of Spider-Man using a variety of image filters, frames, and stickers for customization. The camera can be used to take selfies and can be freely moved around Spider-Man to capture him in action.