The highly anticipated Spider-Man 2, a PlayStation 5 exclusive from Insomniac Games, is now available. The game gives us all the swinging adventures of Spider-Man (2018) and Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020), with one amazing benefit: In this game we get to play two Spider-Mans for the price of one.
Spider-Mans? Spider-Men? Spider-Guys? Even Peter Parker isn’t sure about what to call himself and his partner in crime-fighting, Miles Morales. But what’s certain is that we think Spider-Man 2 is a fabulous game, and double the spider is double the fun — and double the complexity. So, after more than 20 hours of hands-on gameplay, we’ve come up with 13 tips to turn playtime with Spider-Man 2 into your best high-flying experience.
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Tip 1: Play Peter Parker’s storyline first
Best. Suit. Ever.
When we first started playing Spider-Man 2, we alternated between Miles’ and Peter’s stories, giving each arachnid-based hero equal screen time. But after more than 20 hours of gameplay, we now consider this a mistake.
Half of Peter’s skill tree doesn’t unlock until you reach a particular story beat and acquire the powers of the Venom symbiote, a creature of dubious intent and startling, explosive abilities. We wished we had acquired Venom sooner, because with great power came a great urge to use it to beat down villainy. While we ultimately want to play with Miles’ bioelectricity talents, Peter’s extra powers are some of the best fun Spider-Man 2 offers.
When you eventually take a break from Petering out and about, you can easily switch between the Spider-Dudes by activating Ganke Lee’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man App, or FNSM App, swiping left on your touchpad. Eventually, you can use the FNSM App to view your many quests and side quests, then activate your choice of nontrivial pursuits.
Tip 2: Level evenly
The real Anansi Boys.
With each acquired skill point, you have the ability to level up either 1) Peter Parker, 2) Miles Morales or 3) both Spider-Master and Spider-Apprentice at the same time. Considering you can easily swap back and forth between Miles and Peter, if you level only Miles, then Peter is now potentially vulnerable to the mean streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. (No love for Staten Island and the Bronx? Insert Bronx cheer.)
To counter this potential imbalance, we put seven points into the duo’s skill tree before allocating a single point into either character. Then we evenly advanced both Peter’s and Miles’ abilities because, even though both Los Hombres Arañas can hang on top of skyscrapers, we didn’t want to leave either of them hanging.
Tip 3: Re-slot your abilities
Yes, Miles has a cat in his backpack, why do you ask?
As PlayStation gamers know, your action buttons (triangle, circle, X and square) take on new traits when you combine them with trigger buttons. Here in Spider-Man 2, pairing the L1 trigger first gives you access to your abilities; pairing the R1 trigger lets you reach for your gadgets.
As you progress each Spider-Person, you acquire more powers. Still, you’re still limited to four action buttons. Thanks to the Abilities menu, Spider-Man 2 gives you the chance to pick and choose which abilities you want keyed to your action buttons. For example, Miles can L1 + triangle to tackle an enemy with Venom Dash or he can attack-teleport with Thunder Burst. The choice is yours, Spider-You.
For your further re-slotting pleasure, you can assign the left and right D-pad buttons, which are found in Settings under the main menu — not the in-game one.
Tip 4: Prioritize your currency
As his 1967 theme song tells us, action is Spider-Man’s reward. Here, your reward comes in the form of three resources: “tech parts,” “city tokens” and “hero tokens.” You earn these currencies with side quests, such as finding missing musical instruments (a Miles-based quest), balancing a day job with saving the city (that one’s for Peter) and taking a spider-bite out of crime (handled by both the Messrs. Spider).
These tech parts and tokens let you upgrade your gadgets as well as style and mod your spider-suits. We learned that tech parts are easy to come by, and the city and hero tokens take more effort to acquire.
Additionally, earning currency takes time, and you will find yourself having to choose which item needs to be instantly gratified. If you spend your currency on gadget upgrades, then it will come at the expense of sartorial splendor — and vice versa. So keep your eyes on whatever prize that applies.
Helping out around town with side quests is the best way for your Spider-Self to earn. Good citizenship aside, you can’t upgrade unless you’re an actual friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Tip 5: Study the moves list
There’s another reason to delve deeply into side quests: Each time you smack around an enemy, you build up your combat skills. This is important because there are multiple combos to memorize, some of which are situational. For example, you can square 4x to beat down baddies with a basic combo. But if you acquire Wall Thrash, then you can pin an enemy against a wall, and with the same square attacks, take them out in a cinematic, knuckle-dusting spree.
As the list of our moves and countermoves grew, we found ourselves a bit overwhelmed by combat-choice fatigue. That’s where the Moves List menu comes in handy. Before a particular mini-boss encounter, scan the list of tactics to remind yourself that Spiders Miles and Peter can, say, follow up a web strike with an extra punch.
Tip 6: Boost your focus first
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can, albeit slowly.
After a few levels, you’ll have access to four Suit Tech trees: Health, Damage, Focus and Traversal. While boosting Health and Damage makes you more resilient in combat, we strongly suggest ignoring both of them and instead filling out the Focus options first.
Boosting your Focus gives you more ways to play with your Spider-Elder or Spider-Younger, such as taking down Brutes with two finisher attacks. You can also unlock a second and then a third focus bar, which lets you heal more often. Likewise, when you eventually master your combat skills and become less squishy, instead of using your Focus to heal yourself, you can use it for more sweet, sweet power attacks. Ultimately, Focus gives you health and damage benefits that reduce the need for those passive bonuses while being more versatile.
After you finish the Focus tree, concentrate on Traversal. This gives you more ways to get around town, do it faster and swing with more style. Because we don’t play Spider-Man just so we can walk.
Tip 7: Use Suit Tech options
Each Suit Tech tree gives you some minor options. For example, under Focus, you can select either Target Acquisition, which lets you tag enemies, or Focused Strike, which boosts your general focus by 10%.
These Suit Tech options are situational. For example, you may not want to tag enemies when you’re taking on a single boss, yet Focused Strike is more useful when you have to deal with lots of lackeys lurking behind walls. Unfortunately, this part of the game is clunky because you need to dig into a submenu when you’d rather shoot webs at an enemy’s face.
Tip 8: Use different methods of traversal
Yes, Miles still has the cat in his backpack.
Spider-Man 2 allows New Yorkers to live out their fantasy of crossing the city without taking the A train. (Is using the US’ greatest subway system a bug or a feature? That depends on if you have to commute North-South or East-West.) Multiple ways of crossing the city — some of the best fun in the game — include:
Acquire “loop de loop” on your Miles-and-Peter skill tree. This lets you generate speed as well as altitude. And altitude is important for …
Use web wings that let you glide through the air with the greatest of ease. The higher you start — top of swing, top of buildings — the farther you can soar.
Dive into a wind corridor so you can zip speedily in one direction. We found keeping altitude to be tricky at first, but we managed to fly true in the end.
Boost your spider-pal by jumping onto one of the many vents that are spread across New York City’s rooftops, then immediately activating those web wings.
Unlock fast travel for instant, no-load-time locomotion by ticking off map activities, such as taking photos and revealing Prowler stashes. This teleportation is important because, while many video games let you fast travel, Spider-Man 2 has freed gamers from traveling between specific save points.
Here, you can travel to any point in your unlocked neighborhood. Simply hover over your street of choice and hit the triangle button — no save point necessary. Amazing.
- Bonus hint: If you’ve unlocked, say, Midtown, and you need to get to Harlem, then make sure to place your cursor on the northwest corner of the map. This brings you closer to Harlem and saves you some travel time.
Eventually, your map will reveal slingshot icons that let you fling yourself off buildings with wild abandon. You get a massive boost of speed — and a nod to the camp of the 1966 Adam West version of Batman. We’re just surprised it’s not called a Spider-shot.
Tip 9: Suit up as Spider-Man Noir
Comic book fight words aren’t just for Adam West’s Batman. “Thoooom!”
After a few hours, we unlocked Peter’s Spider-Man Noir suit and, of course, we snapped it up faster than you could say, “Sometimes I let matches burn down to my fingertips just to feel something. Anything.”
When you don the black threads, you get two visual bonuses: The first bonus unlocks “Film-Style Animation,” which lets you walk around a video game universe as an animated character. It looks absolutely dazzling, albeit slightly distracting, so we eventually turned it off in the Options menu (Settings > Visual).
The second bonus gives Noir Peter some pop-up comic book sound effects during fights. This effect persists even after we updated our look. Best of all, Miles gets the same cartoon pop-ups. We knew this game had a Batman 1966 spirit yearning to break free.
Tip 10: Read the environment
Flinging, flying and seriously fiery fun.
As we saw in the previous games, your Arachnid-Man utilized manhole covers, shelves and trash cans as flingable, enemy-smashing objects. That’s still true in Spider-Man 2, only now you can play more strategically.
You can beat down all of Sandman’s avatars or you can line them up under a nearby pipe and yank, spraying them with water and watching them melt (à la the Wicked Witch of the West). Minimize combat fatigue by locating a water tower and pulling it down on top of multiple cultists rather than taking them out one by one.
It can be a bit more time-consuming to determine and then line up the right attack, but that’s how spiders do.
Tip 11: Simplify car chases
Stop the criminals from getting away with their dastardly deeds. When you’re swinging across swaths of the city, trying to thwart a speeding car, don’t swing high. Swing low, sweet spider.
You want to be as near to the ground as possible in order to swoop in and attack — that is, hit that pesky triangle button when it finally appears. While you’re at it, use X + R2 for a small burst of Spidey speed.
Tip 12: Get the high ground
I spy with my Spider eye something beginning with C (for “collectible”).
Get the high ground; you’ll be able to spot some collectibles from a good vantage point. Crates (which dole out necessary tech parts) emit a blue light, while random spider-bots (which give you both tech parts and XP) cast a circular prism.
Sure, you can populate your map with crate locations by unlocking the All Seeing ability under Suit Tech > Traversal. But that requires you to build up your Traversal skill tree. And as we learned, it’s better to upgrade your Focus tree, at least in the beginning.
Don’t limit Les Hommes des Araignees to skyscrapers like the Avengers Tower either. Circumnavigate the map and you’ll find those collectibles in unexpected places.
Tip 13: Enjoy the maps
Spider-Man 2’s map may start off simple, a vast emptiness where fetch quests and collectible hunting should be. At first, we thought these barely-there activities were a weakness, but now we see they’re actually a strength. Each neighborhood reveals new activities as the plot unfolds, allowing for a more natural experience.
This is a game that builds you up before it throws cultists, hunters, Mysterium challenges and even Venom at you. Will you be ready to save New York? Because as Miles says in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” he and Peter aren’t the only Spiders.
Now suit up and get swinging!
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: Official gameplay reveal trailer
Be sure to pick up your copy of Spider-Man 2, but before you do, check out this official gameplay reveal trailer to sneak a peek at all the breathtaking visuals and exciting web-slinging gameplay that awaits!