Tips For Playing Spider-Man

Screenshot: Sony, Spider-Man

You might have heard there’s a new Spider-Man game out now. You might have also heard it’s very good. For those who have decided to try out this little old game for themselves, I have some guidance to offer.

Spider-Man is a surprisingly approachable game, but beneath the surface there are a lot of systems at work with little details that can be easy to overlook. I’ve spent around 40 hours with the game so far, and during my time in Insomniac Games’ Manhattan, I’ve learned a thing or two.

Below, young web slingers, you’ll find the most helpful tips I wish I’d known from the start.

Descramble police towers whenever you’re nearby.

Spider-Man’s map is broken up into a handful of regions, just like the real Manhattan. Each of these areas houses a police station with a radio tower you can descramble to de-fog the surrounding parts of the map.

Of all the game’s side-activities and collectables, these are the most important, because they’re key to locating the rest. Early focusing on descrambling the towers, all of which sit atop NYPD buildings, is also a great way to get acquainted with the game’s web slinging.

They also become fast travel points later in the game, at which point you’ll be glad you completed so many of them.

Don’t try to get all the collectables at once.

There are backpacks to collect, landmarks to take pictures of with Peter Parker’s camera, and a host of other activities to complete such as stopping nearby crimes, taking down enemy hideouts, and completing little science projects for your friend, Harry Osborn.

This stuff is spread all over the map, and each type of activity gives you a unique type of token for completing it. An easy way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by them all is to do a few things on your way to each new story mission.

Not only will this give you a diverse smattering of tokens that can be used to unlock and upgrade Spider-Man’s suits and gadgets, it also provides a change of pace and makes it so by the end of the game you aren’t stuck with just one or two types of these missions left on the map.

For example, I left most of the Osborn science missions for the end of the game, and mainlining all of those in a row quickly became a slog.

Don’t skip the Challenge missions.

Some of the most fun and difficult side-missions in the game are Challenges that revolve around showing off all your combat and platforming skills. You’ll get bronze, silver or gold ratings on each depending on how well you do, and the number of Challenge tokens you receive will vary accordingly.

It can feel grindy to keep trying for the gold, but the number of tokens you get is multiples higher and well worth it. Many of the best suits and upgrades require a handful of them, and there’s nothing worse than wanting to try one of them only to realise you’re broke.

This little guy has saved my arse more times than I can remember. (Screenshot: Kotaku, Spider-Man)

Web Bombs are your best friend.

Spider-Man has a lot of gadgets, but Web Bombs are by far the best. When launched at an enemy they web up everything in the immediate vicinity, and the effect gets stronger with a bigger blast radius the more you upgrade them, which you’ll want to do.

In addition to being extremely useful for crowd control, the Web Bombs can be invaluable for quickly subduing small groups of enemies during stealth missions without alerting everyone else.

Web enemies when they’re on the ground or near walls to cocoon them there.

If you just keep spraying enemies with webs they’ll get stunned but will eventually rebound and come back to the fight. To subdue them for good in the most Spidey-arse way possible, make sure you’ve knocked them to the ground or near another object before you web them.

Stay in the air.

Spider-Man is at his strongest and most versatile when he’s jumping around and swinging through the air. The key to winning fights and also having fun with the superhero is never staying on the ground for long. Pop down, punch some guys, web some other guys, then swing back into the air to another part of the fight.

Sneak into enemy bases to start out.

In addition to the stealth missions in the main game, there are base missions scattered throughout Manhattan that revolve around clearing a zone of all the bad guys inside.

While you can go in swinging, it’s better to take your time sneaking up on individual enemies instead of alerting the whole base. It’s a good opportunity to get the lay of the land before engaging the later waves of enemies that will start coming out, and it’s also a great way to see all of the unique animations for Spider-Man’s silent web takedowns.

Pressing square at an enemy while hidden up in the rafters or on an I-beam will tie them up and keep them out of the way. (Screenshot: Kotaku, Spider-Man)

Prioritise these three suit upgrades.

There are over a dozen mods you can unlock for Spider-Man’s suit in the game, which has room to equip three at a time. While you should definitely play around with all of them to find a mix that suits your personal play style, I’ve found the best three by far to be Combat Analyser, Long Range Scanner and Webbed Striker.

Combat Analyser increases the XP you get, which is very helpful early on when you’re trying to level up to increase the size of your health bar and unlock new parts of the skill tree.

Long Range Scanner expands the radius of the R3 Spidey sense which shows the location of nearby collectables and lets you see enemies through walls. Especially in some of the larger stealth sections, being able to track enemy movements from a distance is extremely helpful.

Finally, Webbed Striker gives you extra focus whenever you web an enemy, including with Web Bombs. Your focus meter is what you use to heal and also execute instant takedowns, and since you’ll always be webbing enemies during the natural flow of a fight, getting bonus focus is a huge perk.

Invest in the web slinging skill tree early on.

The skill tree is broken into three sections. There are cool abilities in all of them, but the Web Slinging tree to the far right on the menu screen is where most of your traversal abilities are.

Since you spend the majority of the game shooting a web at something to get from point A to point B, it’s worth having all of the manoeuvres as early as possible. The most notable ones are Quick Zip, which lets you use the zipline web twice in a row; Quick Recovery, which lets you press X after rolling to immediately lunge forward; and Air Tricks, which lets you do small stunts while falling through the air.

The last one is more for fun than anything else. While you get a small amount of XP for holding circle and triangle to do tricks in the air, the real purpose of the skill is just to look extra stylish while falling through the air, which you will spend more than half the game doing.

It’s best to start by unlocking some of the skills on the Webslinger tree. (Screenshot: Kotaku, Spider-Man)

Unlock the Homecoming suit.

There are a lot of suits in this game. Some of them look really cool. Some of them don’t. Almost all of them come with special suit powers that, once unlocked, can be equipped to whichever suit you prefer to spend your time fighting crime in.

The Homecoming suit, inspired by last year’s movie, is by far one of the most useful and versatile thanks to its Spider Buddy power. When available, you can unleash it to summon a drone that goes around the battlefield shocking enemies, both stunning and damaging them.

While useful for crowd control during fights with mobs of enemies, it’s also useful for stealth sections since it doesn’t give your position away.

Press R3 to see what the bonus challenges are for a fight.

In addition to just kicking everyone’s arse, every brawl in the game comes with side challenges which, if completed, net you extra experience and tokens. Usually it’s something like getting a certain combo length or knocking people off a building (which automatically finishes them off).

You can always punch the R3 stick during a fight to bring the challenges back up and see how close you are to getting the bonuses so you don’t accidentally subdue the last few guys before finishing.

Don’t forget to relax once in a while and just take in the sights. (Screenshot: Kotaku, Spider-Man)

Turn up the difficulty once you get near level 25.

Spider-Man handles difficulty in a somewhat interesting way. While you’ll get overpowered a little more than halfway through the game, it’s still very easy to die. Gun fire especially will take you out quickly, while bosses can deal a lot of damage.

If you’re nailing your combos though and web slinging in and out of the chaos at the right times, you’ll be almost invincible. I recommend putting the game on hard once you feel yourself being able to sleep walk through fights and just mash buttons. It won’t make anyone into a damage sponge, but it will give you less chances to fuck up and keep you on your toes more.

Spider-Man isn’t the most complex game, but there are a lot of little moving parts to keep track of between all the different upgrades and all the different types of tokens. The tips above should help you get a handle on the key stuff early on though, though of course it never hurts to experiment on your own. And if you think there’s anything big I missed, be sure to share it in the comments section below.


    If you've played the Arkham games, definitely start on the hardest difficulty.

      nah start on the medium setting till you get a feel for combat then crank it up when you get the hang of it. It may have similar mechanics, but this is no arkham game. I played it like I would Batman and kept forgetting spidey can't vault over his enemies, so i end up zipping all over the place. :P

        Yeah that was a bit annoying hey, took a while to stop trying to vault.

          I still find myself trying arkham inputs, but I'm getting better.
          I just have to remind myself HE DOESN'T VAULT!

        Also, if you dodge/counter the second you see the indicator, you'll dodge prematurely then get wiped out anyway, unlike Batman's dodge/counter which just straight-up trigggers the move. Which takes a bit of adjusting, because Spidey's indicator seems to pop up like ten minutes before the blow connects, to the point of near uselessness.

        "What's that? I'm surrounded by eight guys and one of them is going to hit me in the next minute? THANKS FOR THE HOT TIP, SPIDEY SENSE."

          (Which is why the blue 'perfect' dodge indicator is the first upgrade you should get.)

            Yeah I got smacked around for a bit until I realized.
            The brutes still get me on occasion, they are surprisingly fast. but I'm getting the hang of combat now. Timing is key, like disarming, things like that.

            Last edited 10/09/18 6:54 pm

    I've started on the hard setting ("spectacular") and found it an appropriate level. Though I'm more of a side-quester than a main story guy so I tend to get OP pretty quick.

    I recommend the middle skill tree "defender" to upgrade first, where you'll get perks like subduing enemies when you time a dodge and get bonus focus, and allowing one-hit kills on firearm enemies when dodging. I then recommend the suit bonus that allows fast auto-filling of your focus which will allow for big heals deep into a fight or alternatively a series of finisher moves if your health is decent but you've got a mob to clear. I finally use the suit perks that reduce melee and firearm damage, and grant more XP to hasten further upgrades. All these things better your defense/healing capacity and, secondarily, increase the frequency of doing one-hit kills, which I've found most valuable during the early-game on hard mode. I might branch out into more elaborate offensive traits later in the game when I become a bit OP.

    Last edited 08/09/18 12:10 pm

    Don't try to get all the collectables at once.

    You say it, but I can't help it!
    I hate the idea of getting all the "good stuff" at the end of a game.

    Oh, so I hit 'max level' (50) last night, and it turns out that's sort of a soft cap. There's + levels after 50, where each level gives you a 1% damage+health boost. So, basically... NEVER UNEQUIP THE EXP BOOSTER LVL150 HERE WE COME FOR DOUBLE DAMAGE CHOO CHOOO!

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