Sony's E3 2016 press conference was full of surprise reveals: from the show's opening moments, fans were treated to the likes of Resident Evil 7, God of War and Crash Bandicoot. It was a monumental showcase, and one that many would argue was the best of this year's lineup.
One reveal that caught absolutely everyone off guard was Insomniac Games' new Spider-Man title. Games like Resident Evil 7 and God of War were expected to be at the show, but a PlayStation-exclusive, Insomniac-developed Spider-Man game came as a shock.
Now that E3 2016 has wrapped, the team has been opening up a bit more about the game. Most of the info given has been in response to questions about the trailer's visuals, but what stood out more than anything was the studio's take on Peter Parker. At one of Sony's E3 events, Insomniac's Bryan Intihar stated that the Spider-Man featured in the game will be a bit more experienced than most of the web-slinger's modern portrayals.
That might not sound like a big deal, but giving players control of an older, more mature Peter Parker could fundamentally change how Insomniac's Spider-Man game plays — and it's not just about hitting harder or swinging faster, either ...
First things first: let's take a look at the story.
At this point, everyone is familiar with the story of Spider-Man. The character has had three different film incarnations in the last 15 years, and two entire movies dedicated to telling and re-telling Peter Parker's origin story. In fact, many fans were worried that they'd be forced to sit through another version in Captain America: Civil War — thankfully, Marvel skipped over that part of the mythos and jumped straight into the action.
In a lot of ways, it looks like Insomniac is doing the same thing: the team's choice for a more experienced Peter Parker essentially gives them an excuse to dump any sort of origin story. Instead, the game will be free to dive straight into the story, without wasting players' time by explaining something they already know.
Speaking of the story, Insomniac also has free reign to use whatever story they choose. Regardless of whether or not the team chooses to adapt one of Spidey's comic book storylines or craft something entirely original, they're not limited by a specific time in the wall-crawler's history.
An older Peter Parker also frees up his alter ego's rogues gallery. Early Spider-Man stories tend to focus on the same villains over and over again: Doctor Octopus, the Vulture and the Green Goblin are foes with which fans are intimately familiar. While these villains could make an appearance in Insomniac's game, Spider-Man's more modern foes will also have a chance at the spotlight.
Take Mr. Negative, for instance: he's a relatively new character, but the villain has been a big part of several different Spider-Man stories over the past few years. Looking closely at the game's reveal trailer seems to hint at Mr. Negative's role as Spidey's antagonist, something that probably wouldn't have happened had Insomniac settled on re-telling Spidey's origins.
This updated take on Peter Parker should also allow Insomniac to bring the story closer to the continuity of the comics. Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham series took cues from the comics at the time while simultaneously creating its own unique story arc — hopefully, Insomniac can do something similar.
Finally, there's the gameplay. Considering Insomniac's pedigree, there's no real reason to worry about the moment-to-moment mechanics of web-swinging or combat — instead, gamers should be more excited about the game's pacing than anything else.
Upgrades have always played a big part in past Spider-Man games — the only problem is that most of these upgrade systems were garbage. Players were forced to spend experience on arbitrary abilities like stronger punches and kicks — it didn't change the gameplay, it just tacked on some extra padding.
With a more experienced Spider-Man, there's really no need for these sorts of upgrades. If Peter Parker is confident in his abilities, locking extended combos or Impact Webbing behind an experience gate would feel silly. Ideally, this would mean that all of Spidey's abilities would be unlocked from the get-go: instead of creating an upgrade system that feels out of place, Insomniac could focus on forcing players to use Spider-Man's abilities in new and interesting ways.
If Insomniac does include a set of upgradable abilities, they wouldn't be limited by a young Peter's skills: instead of unlocking extra web attacks, the team could introduce more complex maneuvers like Spider-Man's web net or web slingshot. Either way, there's no reason why Peter Parker should be unlocking extra punches — and to include something like that would be a waste.
Even at this early stage, Insomniac's Spider-Man game looks great. It's been a long time since the wall-crawler has been in something worth playing — with any luck, the team over at Insomniac can inject some life back into everyone's friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.
Unfortunately, there's still a ways to go before fans can take this new version of Peter Parker out for a swing: Insomniac's Spider-Man game currently has no release date.