Urban development: Building up, not out, in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man is pretty incredible among super heroes. Rather than hide away from the world when confronted with the death of a loved one, he uses that very personal loss as motivation to invest even greater in society. Spider-Man can tango with street thugs, mutant hybrids, and mechanical monstrosities, but he’s not above your everyday cat-in-tree rescue. He doesn’t have a secret lair or concealed base of operations; he’s just a guy in bright blue and red tights doing mid-air somersaults down Fifth Avenue. He wants to be seen. He enjoys this.
We had a few core goals for The Amazing Spider-Man 2: invigorate the experience with greater variety in play, more focused storytelling, and more natural pacing; deliver a world worth protecting; and finally, give you all the tools you need to make it fun to do so. It means improving and refining on what came before with fresh content, to be certain, but it also means staying true to that unique personality, using it to inform every decision we make.
We’ve added a few new things to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to achieve that end. First and foremost, we think sandboxes work best when the player’s actions (or inaction) impact the game experience, so we’re introducing the Hero or Menace system, which rewards players who save citizens and keep crime rates down through side activities, with some potentially meaningful consequences for those who shirk Spider-Man’s responsibilities. And to make it more interesting, we’ve added new crimes to thwart, like arson and hostage rescue crises, while further developing the existing ones from the first game.
Equally important is getting right the neighbourhood part of “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man,” creating a more diverse New York City that’s fun to spend time in. That starts with revising our Manhattan, getting it closer to the look and feel of the real thing, complete with more varied buildings and architecture, distinct districts, more realistic street sizes, and more reasons to explore.
This design philosophy of focusing on Manhattan is about more than just mixing up the aesthetics; we want the city to be your playground, which means treating it as more than a hub for going off to other, more confined places. More missions and side activities take place within the city, and many progress dynamically (e.g., you fight some thugs in the streets, their leader takes off in a car, and you chase him down). This also means getting away from the constraints of what typically defines a “level” in Spidey games, opening them up in a way that offers far more variety.
Underlying all these additions and revisions is ensuring that Spider-Man himself is still a joy to play. Web Rush, a great mechanic introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man, offering movement and action choices on-the-fly, is back, along with new abilities – like dodges, rolls, and critical strikes – as well as new upgrades and special powers. Web-swinging works a bit differently this time around, and if it’s always bothered you that Spidey can somehow soar above the city, shooting webbing into thin air, rather than swinging through it, you’ll be pleased to learn the web-head now attaches to actual objects in the environment.
Moreover, by opting for more open spaces, we can offer players greater choice in tackling combat encounters, most notably by drastically increasing the number of opportunities for viable stealth solutions, as well as increasing Spidey’s prowess when striking from the shadows.
If that’s not your thing, new enemy countertypes add greater depth and challenge to combat brawls, discouraging button-mashing and incentivizing you to use your whole arsenal. We’re also changing up the pace of upgrades so that they’re something you acquire appreciably throughout the adventure.
That improved sense of pacing also applies to the story, which we’ve been crafting closely with Marvel with great attention to character. Taking place alongside the events of the movie this time (rather than after-the-fact), it takes on a more personal tone for both Spider-Man, on the hunt for Uncle Ben’s killer, and Peter Parker himself, who will have his own role to play in the narrative outside of the costume (which I’m personally excited for). The game’s impressive cast of villains will also get their due, playing a more central role throughout the plot while providing some memorable boss showdowns.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lands this spring on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3.