Marvel's Spider-Man 2 preview

Back in Black

With Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac Games delivered spectacularly on the promise of letting players become the web-slinging hero in a sprawling open-world experience. But for many Spider-Man fans, some of the game’s most exciting moments came at the very end, in the form of the mid- and post-credits stingers.

To cap off an epic adventure that saw Peter Parker face down some of the most memorable villains in his rogues’ gallery, Insomniac upped the ante for any future sequel in a big way. Now Miles Morales had his own spider-powers, giving this universe not one, but two Spider-Men. And lurking just around the corner to menace them both was an even bigger and more iconic threat: the sentient black alien goo known as the symbiote. Those two teases will finally pay off in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

“Like we did in our first Spider-Man game, our goal is to deliver what people love about the symbiote from all forms of media, but also put our own spin on certain things,” explained senior creative Bryan Intihar.

Norman and Harry Osborne will clearly play a major role in the story—but will things go exactly how we expect?

Other than Spidey’s origin story, the symbiote saga is the most revisited storyline across Spider-Man comics, animation, movies, and games. In Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, we’ll definitely see some of the key events unfold: Peter Parker fuses with the symbiote, gaining new abilities but also slowly corrupting his personality. And we know the symbiote eventually finds a new host, using what it learned about Spider-Man to become one of the hero’s most dangerous foes, Venom, chillingly voiced in the game by Candyman’s Tony Todd.

But we should expect the unexpected, too. Intihar has confirmed that Venom will have a different host than the usual Eddie Brock, though exactly who remains a mystery. (Fan theories based on the trailers point to Pete’s good friend Harry Osborne, but that may just be misdirection.) And the presence of Miles as a second playable hero, more experienced after his starring role in the 2020 spin-off, offers opportunities for even bigger surprises as the story unfolds.

What’s more, Venom won’t be the only villain our Spider-Men face. Just like the first game drew heavily from Spidey’s rogues’ gallery, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will draw a number of classic baddies into the story—many of them sharing a common thread, according to Intihar. 

“When it came time to choose our villains for this game, we made a conscious decision to mix things up thematically,” he said. “While the first game relied on tech for several of our adversaries, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has more of that ‘science gone wrong’ or monster feel.”

It’s certainly safe to call Venom monstrous. Also confirmed to appear is Lizard, the reptilian alter ego of Dr. Curt Connors created in a failed lab experiment, so he clearly ticks both boxes. Beyond that? You may want to start combing through your Spider-Man back issues to see what science-y, monster-y baddies you can find.

It wouldn’t be the symbiote saga without at least some light body horror.

Besides Venom, however, the villain who’s featured most prominently in what we’ve seen of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is Kraven the Hunter, who’s drawn to New York City by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with not just Peter and Miles, but their foes as well. Given that a great strength of Insomniac’s Spider-Man games has been their narratives, and particularly the nuanced way they treat their supervillains, a big dude in leopard print who’s just, like, really into hunting may not seem like the most natural choice. But the writing team made sure their version of Sergei Kravinoff had enough depth to fit into this universe.

“Kraven was a fun and challenging character to work with,” said Jon Paquette, senior narrative director. “On the surface, he’s a very simple character—he’s a hunter looking for the ultimate prey. But we had to dig a little bit deeper, and ask the question ‘Why?’ No spoilers, but for us the answer always has to come from a very human place. Our characters, all of them, need to have relatable human motivations and emotions.”

Of course, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is doing more than just telling the next chapter of the story. Insomniac is also using the sequel to push the envelope when it comes to gameplay, with an improved or expanded approach to everything that made the first game a joy to play. Chief among those pleasures was getting around New York City using all of Spider-Man’s varied abilities, so it’s no surprise that Insomniac has expanded the experience there, both by enlarging the map and by adding new ways to get around.

“For Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, we wanted to give the players new and exciting options for traversal,” said Ryan Smith, senior game director. “Since swinging is the core of our Spider-Man traversal experience, we wanted to make sure that the new abilities would work with our swinging system and build upon that core.”

One flashy addition on that front is the ability to glide through the air using Web Wings, which also serve as a neat reference to the underarm webbing Spider-Man sometimes sports in the comics. “You can build up a ton of speed and height by swinging, then you can pop the Web Wings and glide along using that speed,” Smith told us. “It’s really fun to weave back and forth between the two as you travel the world. We have upgrades for both Web Wings and swinging to add depth to the whole experience.”

No matter how you’re getting around the city, you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your surroundings, too, as Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 introduces new traversal options tied to the environment. There’s the Slingshot Launch, where you can use rooftop structures to hurtle Spidey forward with a huge speed boost, and wind tunnels and updrafts that can get you gliding faster or higher with the Web Wings.

Both Peter and Miles get new abilities to help them in stealth and combat, too, but their powers will develop in different directions to reflect their individual stories. For Peter, that means a suite of new skills enabled by the symbiote suit.

“For us, the symbiote is all about power and transformation. Peter’s symbiote combat abilities really reflect that—channeling that power in a more visceral way than we’ve seen before,” Smith said. “These moves also give Peter a way to physically engage multiple enemies, launching them in the air with Symbiote Strike or slamming them back down with multiple symbiote tendrils.” Still, given the corrupting nature of the symbiote, it’s a safe bet that it won’t feel entirely like a power-up. Smith teased “other ways that we’ll see the symbiote’s power and the effect it has on Peter reflected in gameplay,” which sounds at least a little ominous.

As for the game’s younger Spider-Man, we already saw him develop a new set of bioelectric powers in his solo spin-off Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. These Venom abilities—no relation to the symbiote—will get pushed even further in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with Evolved Venom powers.

Thankfully, Miles has new and returning Venom powers to help him out of sticky situations like this.

“Thunder Burst and Chain Lightning are more volatile than his previous bioelectric abilities, putting more emphasis on the shock of the initial attack and enabling Miles to reach enemies from longer distances,” Smith explained.

As for what prompts Miles to develop these new abilities—and why they appear to have changed in color from his earlier Venom powers? Well, there’s an unexpected catalyst behind it all, in the form of a returning villain.

“We always want our characters to be growing and changing, so for Miles in this game we wanted to have an internal ‘engine’ for what is driving these external changes,” said Paquette, the senior narrative director. “One of the characters that reappears in our story is Martin Li, aka Mr. Negative. It is this reappearance that triggers the change within Miles. And we’re excited for players to experience how these changes occur, both outside and inside of Miles.”

After the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man, no one would’ve blamed Insomniac for delivering a sequel that was essentially more of the same. It’s clear, however, that the team took the promise it made players at the end of the last game seriously. Not only is the studio tackling one of the biggest Spidey stories in the canon and adding a second playable hero to the mix, it’s also expanding just about every corner of an already teeming experience with new ways to live out the Spider-Man fantasy. It’s an effort so ambitious, you might even call it heroic.

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