Spider-Man PS4: Gameplay, new villains, fresh story details, special edition console, and everything else you need to know

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We've played Spider-Man PS4 again, and oh boy, does it keep getting better and better. Long a hotbed of potential and pressure, given Sony's long-standing reputation for putting out some of the best PS4 games around - alongside the relentless goliath that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe - it's now looking more and more certain that Spider-Man PS4, from Ratchet and Clank developer Insomniac, is going to be a pretty damn special game indeed. 

Blending all the right DNA - from character-driven, Marvel-minded storytelling, to Insomniac's talent for tactile, kinetic gameplay, to Sony's consummate production gloss - everything about Spider-Man PS4 just feels right at the moment. But at this point, so close to the Spider-Man PS4 release date, you don't want the broad strokes. You want the details. And details we have. Below you'll find everything there is to know about Spider-Man PS4, from every single gameplay demo, interview, and news story over the last couple of years, right up to details gleaned from our very latest hands-on. 

Let's start with a few... 

Fast facts

  • Spider-Man PS4 release date: September 7, 2018
  • Developer: Insomniac Games
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Format: PS4

Spider-Man PS4 release date is September 7, 2018

As of a tease for GameInformer's May cover story, we know know that the official  Spider-Man PS4 release date is September 7. We'd hoped we wouldn't have to wait too long, and that seems to land right in the sweet spot between 'soon enough to get legitimately hyped' and 'long enough for a healthy amount of polish'. Basically, that's ideal. 

The Spider-Man gameplay from E3 2018 features an explosive trip to the Raft prison and (maybe?) The Sinister 6 

The new Spider-Man PS4 E3 2018 gameplay takes place on The Raft, the supermax holding site for Marvel's most wanted (kind of like Arkham Asylum, but in the ocean), which is unfortunately falling into chaos after Electro begins causing havoc on the scene. Our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man is already on the job but, over the course of seven minutes of new gameplay footage, we also see him run in with Scorpion, Vulture, Rhino, and Mr. Negative, by way of an escalating rollercoaster ride of destruction taking in the entire Raft, inside and out. 

The trailer doesn't end well for poor old Peter Parker, trapped on a rooftop and thoroughly beaten down the five bad guys all at the same time. And then a sixth appears. We don't see the identity of this last interloper, but given that the assembled known villains comprise 5/6 of The Sinister Six bad guy coalition, that leaves one slot conspicuously free for Doctor Octopus. In fact, there's (possibly) a bit of evidence for that

Spider-Man PS4 might start a Marvel Games Universe to parallel the MCU 

This always felt like a possibility, but now we have word that nudges it closer to ‘probability’. It was announced from the start that Spider-Man PS4 represents the start of Marvel becoming more involved in the games that spawn from its comics, getting hands-on in the creative process with hand-picked publishers and producers, rather than letting the dice-roll of licensing sales dictate the (usually average at best) quality of the final products. So far, so exactly the thinking that informed the creation of the MCU. But now, Marvel Games executive creative director Bill Rosemann has waded in, discussing the possibility of a shared Marvel Games Universe in an interview with The Telegraph. And entirely not ruling it out…

“This is Marvel’s New York”, Rosemann says of the game’s setting. “This is a Marvel game. It’s not in a bubble. It is the New York that you want Spider-Man in. So yeah, uh, if you’re a Marvel fan coming to play this game you’ll see familiar names and logos and locations and we’re lucky that you’ll see, oh, that is the Sanctum Sanctorum?! It’s not going to be a focus but you’ll be able to swing by it. You’ll feel like, this isn’t just any New York City, I’m in the Marvel universe. This is Marvel’s New York. There will be a lot of elements that will make you feel like it’s part of a larger story.”

Rosemann does go on to repeatedly iterate that Marvel doesn’t want to “put the cart before the horse”, and references how Iron-Man started as a focused, single-character movie before spinning out into the wider MCU. Which it absolutely did. But then the MCU did happen, so the comparison certainly doesn’t mean a ‘No’. It’s also notable how cagey Rosemann gets when asked whether the Avengers game in production at Square-Enix will have ties to Spider-Man PS4. It all has a distinct whiff of guarded intent about it. 

Spider-Man PS4 cast will probably miss the same characters as the MCU currently does 

Despite containing evidence of all manner of other Marvel characters, it seems that Spider-Man PS4's New York won't include any sign of the Fantastic Four. When recently asked on Twitter about the potential appearance of the Baxter Building - the group's New York HQ - Insomniac Creative Director Bryan Intihar stated unambiguously that it will not be present. Given the confirmed appearance of major Marvel landmarks such as the Sanctum Sanctorum and the Wakandan Embassy, that's one heck of an omission. 

Although it's all speculation at the moment, the most likely reason for the building's non-appearance would seem to be the ongoing clash between Marvel and Fox in regard to which character rights are in the possession of each company. At present, Fox has the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, which would explain the Four's omission from a Marvel-produced Spidey game. That might change in the future if Marvel parent company Disney buys Fox, as planned - a move which could also have a major effect on the Alien series - but for now, it seems that Spider-Man PS4's wider universe references will be MCU only. 

Spider-Man PS4 DLC and Collector's Edition detailed

Spider-Man PS4 is being released in several different flavours. First of all there's the normal edition ($59.99), and the Digital Deluxe version ($79.99), which comes with three DLC chapters, new missions, costumes, and villains. Presumably those villains are part of the new chapters, because it'd be a bit weird if they were just wandering around the place. 

And if you want to crank up the spend to $149.99, you can get the Collector's Edition, which comprises all of the above, alongside an art book, a steel case, and a statue of Spidey perching upon... something. The something has yet to be revealed, probably due to being a spoiler, as have two of the special DLC suits. Maybe wait a bit to find out, just in case it's something really embarrassing?  

Spider-Man PS4 special edition PS4 Pro is rather pretty, and now confirmed real

An earlier version of this article, citing a Reddit post, dubiously detailed an apparent Spider-Man PS4 Pro special edition. At the time, the hardware seemed slightly implausible, largely due to some erroneous branding in the artwork. But the machine was rather good-looking for a special edition PS4, and so we remained hopeful. And now, those hopes have proved well-founded. 

It's debatable whether this is actually the same PS4 Pro, or just a remarkable coincidence (a close look at both machines' design does reveal a few differences, though they could just be the product of iteration), but the point is that we're getting a specially themed Spider-Man PS4 Pro bundle, launching alongside the game on September 7, and it looks very nice. Though by 'we'. I mean 'people in the US and Canada', because those are the only regions currently confirmed to be getting this one. Sorry, most of the world. 

Spider-Man PS4 gameplay on PS4 Pro is pretty spectacular, and don't worry about the QTEs

It looks like Insomniac's Sony exclusive is taking more than a few notes from Rocksteady's Batman Arkham series. Along with the expected high-flying (er, swinging) antics you'd expect from Marvel's most famous hero, the first big gameplay demo (from E3 2017) shows Spidey stalking goons from high atop the rafters, silently picking them off and webbing them up one by one.

After ol' webhead takes out the first round of goons, we see him engage in a bit of fisticuffs with some tougher foes, countering and rhythmically striking back in spectacular fashion. This too is very Arkham-y. Which hey, isn't a bad thing!

Things keep escalating, as one of the game's villains, Mr. Negative, starts to escape by helicopter. This causes a construction crane to come crashing down as Spidey takes chase. Here's where the QTEs come in but don't worry, this isn't indicative of the final game. This is a cinematic section in an open world experience, and at our behind closed doors demo at E3, Insomniac's James Stevenson took great pains to explain that there's going to be plenty of freedom. 

“It’s a free roaming New York open world, so this is a set piece in the game,” he said. “Even then, if you clock that nine minute demo there’s only about 20 seconds of QTEs, whereas the rest of it you’re in control of the combat, you’re in control of the traversal, you’re running through that building on fire. I wouldn’t even classify the helicopter because you’re climbing up the outside. And certain buttons do certain things. A lot of the time we try and match those button inputs to what they actually do. Certain sequences will have those moments.”

Indeed, at a more recent demo, creative director Bryan Intihar would recently explain that the QTEs have been downscaled since Spidey's E3 2017 debut: 

"There really aren’t that many QTEs. I promise. I know you saw one in the Fisk fight, and I know E3 two years ago scared some people, we know that. And actually in that mission we’ve removed some of the QTEs. Some of them, looking back, we were like “Why is there a button press here?”, just watch the movie. Just watch it. We don’t need anything here. 

"But I would say that, over the course of the game, we don’t use them that much. We use them for some certain key moments in the game, but, every boss fight does not have QTEs. I can tell you that. It does not. Certain moments, and some things we want to achieve in a certain way, with a certain type of camera, and we certainly do still use them but it’s just to extenuate certain moments, not as a design rule that every boss fight has a QTE or every big moment has a QTE."

Spider-Man PS4 trailers are all about duality, acrobatic improv, and Spidey on the ropes (also, playable MJ) 

The latest Spider-Man PS4 trailer is from San Diego Comic-Con. A far more story-driven affair, it lifts the lid on the game's wider narrative, revealing that not only is Spidey going up against a whole cabal of escaped villains, but he's doing it in a city that no longer trusts him. For whatever reason, Spider-Man has been painted as a dangerous vigilante, is fighting the good fight from the fringes of society, with only a small team-up of allies to help him, and apparently has a sanctioned hit-squad led by Silver Sable on his tail to boot. This is all rather bad news for Spider-Man, but very good news for a massive, dramatic story. 

As for the gameplay details we can glean from the previous trailers, let's put on our conjecture specs and dig in... 

While Insomniac hasn't shown it off just yet, it's looking a lot like Spider-Man on PS4 is going to let you play as Peter Parker. There's no sniff of it in the action in the trailer above as Spidey swings through Manhattan but the development team is constantly referring to the need for a true duality for a proper Spidey story. "One of the most compelling things about Spider-Man is just when Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s world collide and we’ve tried really hard to weave the two stories together to create a story that is not necessarily a superhero story but a human story as well," says art director Jacinda Chew. How the team will do that without letting you wander New York as a certain Mr Parker is anyone's business.... 

Other juicy info bits thankfully further suggest that the QTEs of the E3 trailer were just there to deliver some bang for the end of Sony's conference and that the majority of the game will be all about choice. "We always think of Spider-Man as the ‘acrobatic improviser," explains creative director Bryan Intihar. "He’s looking for not just how he can take advantage of where the enemies are positioned but what’s around him. Could he use this object to grab with his webs and then throw at an enemy? We want people to not only see the enemies in front of them but the environment around to take advantage of both of them."

Following the somewhat scripted-feeling E3 2017 demo, we now have a rather more dynamic, cinematic trailer from Paris Games Week. Blending cut-scenes and gameplay to deliberate, movie-like effect, it shows off a boatload more of Spider-Man's kinetic combat and traversal, but just as importantly it dumps a whole lot of new story info. Following the arrest of Wilson 'Kingpin' Fisk, Peter Parker is hoping to tone down the spider-action in favour of a normal life (because when isn't he?), but the criminal power vacuum is about to be filled by something new and very dangerous. Perhaps Fisk's claim that he "kept order in this city" isn't entirely off the mark. 

Anyway, as Mr. Negative touts the scale of his devastating, (so far unknown) plan via severe threats to Peter, we also meet Miles Morales (eventual Spider-status also unknown), Mary-Jane Watson and Aunt May, and glimpse a battle in a bank vault with the Shocker, as well as Norman 'Green Goblin' Osborn's re-election as mayor. Clearly, Spidey is up against a vast array of holistic, citywide odds, as well as the villainous central scheme. 

It's worth noting though, that he's not alone. MJ gets a notable amount of voice-over and screen time in the trailer, and in a couple of shots during a Spidey-foiled bank heist, she gets a conspicuously gameplay-style camera angle while hiding behind some boxes. That's not an accident. Mary Jane is going to be a real, playable presence in the game, as well as a big factor in the story, as Bryan Intihar discusses: 

 "What I love about Mary Jane is she’s another great example of how we’re reimagining some of [Peter's] most important relationships. Most people think of her as the actress and club owner, but in our game she’s actually an emerging investigative journalist for the Daily Bugle. And, her story plays out in more than just cutscenes. She will actually be a playable character at certain times in the main story, each with their own unique missions and gameplay mechanics." 

Spider-Man PS4's web-swinging is physics-based, not scripted

Were you wondering just how scripted that chase sequence from the Spider-Man E3 gameplay demo was? It certainly looks smooth enough to be, but Insomniac says nope:

“There is always a web anchor point,” Stevenson confirmed at E3. “It’s completely momentum and physics-based. We focussed a lot on traversal, wall running, leaping off of things, swinging.” This sounds a lot like Spider-Man 2 on PS2 with added realism which looks and sounds perfect. Hopefully we'll get a hands on soon to try it out for ourselves. 

The original Spider-Man PS4 trailer is still explosive

The first Spider-Man PS4 trailer shows a very acrobatic Spidey, not only swinging through the streets but also performing some very springy indoor stunt-work. The combat also seems to take advantage of both webs and agility. Throw in the action under the truck and the rooftop battling, and this looks like a world just waiting to be beaten to a pulp with webs. It's all in-game too, so further proof that this is going to be one hell of an eye meltingly beautiful world to explore. 

Spider-Man PS4 story stars plenty of well known villains and big, human, Spider-Man themes 

Spider-Man PS4 is a who's-who of Spider-Man villains, but rather than being thrown in to tick boxes, ever challenge Peter is up against seems to have been hand-picked to serve real story purpose. Spider-Man PS4 is a story of a maturing Spider-Man facing up to life changes and matters of mentorship, as relationships and his pwn sense of self shift during his early 20s. As such, there are going to be a whole lot of relationship dynamics in play. 

As Insomniac creative director Bryan Intihar recently told us, the game will take in "Old acquaintances like Norman Osborn, who’s now the mayor of New York City; new friendships like Miles Morales, who in our game you meet him as a 15-year-old Spider-Man fanboy; unexpected adversaries like Mr. Negative, who personifies worlds colliding as Peter realises Aunt May is working for basically the new super villain in town... Of course, we have formidable foes like Super Sable; and we have the biggest fight of his life, The Sinister Six." 

As such, the Spider-Man PS4 story is far from an origin tale. It's about Peter's further growth, and the realisation that real maturity comes not through being able to do everything, but with the realisation that you can't, and that supportive relationships are an important fact of life. 

Says Intihar: 

 "In many ways we’ve been calling this his next coming of age story. His journey to becoming a young adult. Two themes really drive this experience, the first one being mentorship. We look for the moments in people’s lives that we all remember. For me it’s when I graduated high school, or obviously now I’m married, but we didn’t want him married with kids. So [we looked at] what is another significant time in your life, and that is just after you’ve graduated from college. 

"You’re starting to look for and to build a career. Mentorship can be a very big theme for him, and Peter is looking for guidance in his job. And for the past eight years he has been saving the city as Spider-Man, but through his work and through this mentorship he can see the world changing and change the world, but for the first time, as Peter Parker. So you’re going to see mentorship carried through this entire game. 

The other big theme is partnership. And that’s going to be carried through his on again, off again relationship with Mary Jane Watson. Another thing I noticed when I graduated college was that my relationships and my friendships evolved, they changed. And what Peter’s going to realise through MJ and his relationship with her is that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to lean on others, even if you are a superhero."

If all of this talk of human themes and relatable personal journeys sounds familiar, that's because with this first, major, post-MCU Spider-Man game, Insomiac is indeed stepping up to the challenge set by the standard of the modern movies. As Intihar explains further: 

"I think most recently story, especially with Marvel - story and Marvel they go together so closely - and I think that quite honestly people’s expectations are “how will it live up to a Marvel movie”, and that’s really scary. Yet, if we can achieve it, and I’m not saying we’re a Marvel movie, I’m not saying that, but I’m saying that was the goal. 

"To have that sense of a great superhero story, but you boil it down to a very memorable human story as well. That’s the biggest thing I learned from Marvel movies. If you look at a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, right? Strip away all the superhero-ness and it’s a story about family, and about how family can take any shape or form. Take Black Panther and strip away all the superhero-ness, and it’s really about someone learning how to be king. She even says in that one fight, “show him who you are”, that’s all it’s about."

Spider-Man PS4's open world is four to six times the size of Sunset Overdrive and will be open from the get go 

New York is big. No, seriously. It's HUGE. Insomniac has confirmed that Spider-Man's open world is "four to six times" the size of Sunset Overdrive, the team's previous open world game. According to Comicbook.com, Insomniac has also confirmed that the whole open world will be available from the get go so no introductory missions to unlock New York. Phew. 

Insomniac is working very closely with Marvel 

And if you were worried about the authentic nature of the story, stand down, Marvel is very much involved. Marvel Games creative director Bill Rosemann has been enthusing about the game. As reported on Reddit by GamingSince95 (me too, pal), Rosemann was waxing lyrical about the Insomniac and Marvel teams' shared love for Spidey. They even eat together and had the same underpants growing up, and it's all leading up to one thing; showing the world how brilliant Spider-Man is.

"You may have heard that we’re making a Spider-Man game with Ted Price’s team at Insomniac and our friends at Sony Interactive Entertainment," he said. "The other day we were sitting around talking… Insomniac is only ten minutes away from Marvel Games offices… and we’re eating lunch and talking, asking each other: “hey, when you first get into Spider-Man? And we all realized we had the same story. We discovered him when we were very little. Not only that, we all realized that we all owned the same Spider-Man underoos back in the day." 

"And it feels like our lives have driven us to this moment. This is our purpose: to show the world why this character is so awesome. To bring this fictional world into the real world. It’s very personal for us. We’re going to focus our life’s journey into this game, to celebrate him with the world." Hmm, anyone betting on promotional Spidey underwear with the special edition...?

The Spider-Man PS4 costume is an original comprised of familiar parts - and you'll be able to make your own

Not only is Insomniac's Spider-Man story brand new, so is its take on the iconic superhero outfit. While the red and blue motif of the Spider-Man PS4 costume is in line with almost every depiction of the character dating back to 1962, the enormous white spite logo stretching across his torso is a striking deviation from the norm. While not exact, the white logo does recall the classic design of Spider-Man's black costume which in the late '80s turned into the villain Venom.

There's a reason for it according to Insomniac but we don't know whether that reason is alien symbiote-related. That said, according to GameInformer, the game will take in multiple different costumes, each with special powers - Spider-Punk is pictured above - so expect new abilities and upgrades to be very much a thing. In fact, it now turns out, via that GameInformer story we mentioned earlier, that full-blown suit-crafting is in the game, alongside levelling, so expect those unusual visuals to be a direct result of personal customisation. 

Spider-Man PS4 E3 billboard is really very impressive indeed 

It’s that time of year when we all start trying to gauge what’s going to be hot at E3 based on which games have the biggest promotional art scrawled and pasted onto buildings around Los Angeles. And while the battle of scale is yet to be decided, Spider-Man certainly wins in terms of number of pictures. Because his poster moves, because it’s a trailer billboard, which technically makes it 24 posters per second. We currently only have a photo of it, via a tweet by Marvel Games operations manager Chuck Roquemore, but if you’re in LA and recognise the street corner, you can get down there and check it out for yourself right now

New Spider-Man PS4 artwork from Marvel should be the alternative box-art 

Seriously, just look at that. Recently commissioned by Sony, and created by Marvel Comics cover artist Alexander Lozano for use as magazine cover art, this beautifully posed portrait of Spidey is a masterpiece of detail and dynamism. The sense of movement and life is brilliantly affecting, and that’s before you even get near the amount of background detail and ambient world-building, filling in the gaps on the game’s distinct version of Marvel’s New York. There’s just something about Spider-Man under exactly those kind of big, bright blue skies that makes you immediately happy, isn’t there? 

Are you excited about Marvel's Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter @GamesRadar.