I didn’t know how much I liked Felicia Hardy until she was missing from Turf Wars, the second chapter in Spider-Man’s The City Never Sleeps DLC, released today. The cat burglar’s duplicity and romantic chemistry with Peter Parker, the highlight of chapter one, are replaced in this latest outing by the sociopathic antics of old-school crime boss Hammerhead. He’s menacing but ultimately one-dimensional, leaving Turf Wars with no emotional center to help propel it to a satisfying conclusion.
Where The Heist DLC saw Spider-Man reunited with Black Cat as the two tried to navigate an escalating conflict between Manhattan’s crime families, Turf Wars focuses mainly on Hammerhead as he tries to eradicate his rivals and claim the city for himself. Captain Yuri Watanabe returns to lead the NYPD’s efforts to rein Hammerhead in, but her character and motivations feel off compared to what was established in the main game. After an attempted crime bust goes awry, her relationship with Spider-Man frays as she begins to flirt with vigilantism herself. Yuri receives too little screen time to build out those apparent contradictions into emotional nuance. I’ve seen forgettable episodes of Law and Order with more setup time.
Where the first DLC was approximately three to five hours long, depending on how much of the side content you did, Turf Wars is noticeably shorter. At roughly two hours, it feels rushed. The Heist lacked a compelling villain on the level of the main game’s Doctor Octopus or Norman Osborne, but despite getting center stage in Turf Wars, Hammerhead is a decidedly B-tier antagonist who’s even reduced to scraping together stolen Sabel equipment to try to achieve his small-minded ambitions. Spider-Man’s main narrative arc succeed in part due to the deeply human vulnerabilities that made its villains relatable, even sympathetic, but Hammerhead doesn’t have any of that. It turns out he’s just as ugly on the inside. Surprise.
I was also disappointed that the DLC doesn’t add any collectibles. Surprisingly one of the most enjoyable parts of the base game, The Heist had a collection of stolen paintings scattered throughout the city for Spider-Man to retrieve. Turf Wars does not, stocked instead with a handful of new Screwball activities and Hammerhead crime bases to complete. They are fine, but they don’t diverge meaningfully from what’s found in the main game and previous DLC.
If you’re looking for bigger, more challenging web-slinging brawls, Hammerhead’s crime bases provide that with larger mobs of henchmen that include every enemy type in the game, as well as the Gatling gun-toting brutes added in The Heist and a new Sabel jetpack-wearing thug wielding an energy shield who likes to ram into you. It’s a remix of existing enemy types rather than a fundamentally new one, but combined with laser-whip guys, rocket launchers, snipers, and the rest it makes for fights that require you to be cognisant of what’s going on around you and how each incoming attack is best countered.
Sadly, though the game adds three more suits to Spider-Man’s wardrobe, none of them comes with a unique new power. It’s easy to see a piece of DLC like Turf Wars adding a few new enemy types and additional suit powers to deal with them, but that’s not the case here. Turf Wars is mechanically unimaginative, and without the charisma or intrigue of the sexual tension between Parker and Hardy, it’s mostly boring.
If each of The City Never Sleep’s chapters worked independently of one another, I might suggest skipping Turf Wars altogether. There are enough cliffhangers in place though, including the likely return of Black Cat for the last DLC, Silver Lining, that I still think it’s worth ploughing through. Compared to the standards set by some other game’s post-launch DLCs (The Last of Us, The Witcher 3), Spider-Man’s Turf Wars is a letdown.