Spider-Man is coming to Marvel’s Avengers soon, and he’s not looking good. Ever since Spidey was announced as a PlayStation exclusive, I, a PC player, have been moaning about missing out on one of my favorite characters. Now that I’ve seen everything included in the update, I can’t help but feel like it's the PlayStation players who are getting the raw deal. I’d rather have nothing than the half-baked Spider-Man coming at the end of the month, which is lucky because that’s exactly what PC players are getting. It’s distressing to see how poorly he’s being handled here, and it pains me to think about how different things could have been. While I don’t think Spidey’s a total lost cause - and the cosmetics are certainly enticing - the Spider-Man update is an indictment of Sony and the exclusive-content shenanigans it’s been pulling for years.
What we’ve seen from Spider-Man so far looks abysmal. He swings from an invisible barrier in the sky like a PS2 game - which he bumps into if he swings too high - and he can’t achieve any kind of real speed thanks to the limitation of the maps. The combat is acrobatic and has some Spider-Man flair, but it isn’t agile or free-flowing in the way we’ve come to expect from other Spidey games.
The problem is that Spider-Man is obviously being shoe-horned into a game he doesn’t belong in. The deserts, forests, and other rural landscapes are the worst environments for Spider-Man’s style of traversal, and while his fighting style definitely looks Spider-Man-like, the wall-crawler just doesn’t match up well against tanks, giant mechs, and spongy enemies that take tons of damage. Spider-Man is at his best when he’s zipping around the battlefield fighting dozens of grunts at once, but that just doesn’t align with the combat in Marvel’s Avengers. Spider-Man isn’t a good fit for this game and the fact that he’s coming with such a barebones update just makes matters worse.
It’s not a huge surprise that there’s no story mode Operation to go along with Spidey, but that only contributes to how half-assed he feels. Even the comic book-style cutscenes - which look nice - feel totally out of place in a game that always uses in-engine cutscenes. On the one hand it makes sense that Crystal Dynamics would not want to invest in a full campaign just for PlayStation, but I can’t imagine PlayStation players are going to be satisfied with a lower-effort update like this. It feels like the bare minimum, and a lot less than Spider-Man deserves.
Unfortunately for Marvel’s Avengers, there’s a very good Spider-Man game on PlayStation already, and this is just begging for comparison. Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Spider-Man are very different games of course, but you can put gameplay footage side-by-side and see how much better Spider-Man looks and feels in his titular game. It’s not a good situation to be in, but you have to wonder how we got here and what Crystal Dynamics expected.
Sony has been paying for exclusive content for years, but never to this degree. Destiny has had a few exclusive strikes that could only be played on PlayStation, but those were full strikes that reached the same quality bar as any other strike, and eventually made their way into the PC and Xbox versions of the game after limited-time exclusivity. Call of Duty often has content exclusive to PlayStation too. Cold War had a game mode called Zombies Onslaught that was only on PS4 and PS5, but once again that exclusivity was limited. This year’s CoD, Vanguard, has no PlayStation exclusivity at all.
Spider-Man is on a whole other level, and likely represents Sony finally realizing it’s overextended beyond what players will find acceptable. Unfortunately, it's Marvel’s Avengers that will pay the price ultimately. My respect goes to the developers who did their best with what they had, but Spider-Man was doomed from the start. Without including web-slinging and Spider-Man’s combat style in the core design of the game, and without a full-sized Operation just as there was with every other DLC character, Spider-Man was never going to be anything more than an underdeveloped half measure.
The student who acquired the drive has been given a life sentence and others who watched it will do five years hard labor.