The Marvel’s Spider-Man series is off to a strong start, as Insomniac has delivered two games that have been received well by fans and critics alike. Praised for their strong storytelling, thrilling gameplay, and top-notch graphics, the latest Spider-Man games have quickly become some of the most popular titles that the hero has ever featured in. Insomniac’s Spidey is also becoming a prime example of what a good superhero franchise looks like, something that the Batman: Arkham series did years ago.
The Marvel’s Spider-Man games certainly have some major shoes to fill, as Rocksteady’s work with The Caped Crusader was top notch. However, they have already done a great job following in the footsteps of Batman: Arkham, using some of the same concepts to great effect. While Batman: Arkham was highly influential on the superhero games genre and can still teach Marvel’s Spider-Man a few things, the webslinger’s games could make a mark of their own. If Insomniac continues to refine elements of the series while leaning into what makes its universe unique, Spidey’s latest games might just surpass Batman: Arkham.
While Spider-Man and Batman are two very different heroes, and Marvel and DC are two very different brands, the two have plenty of similarities in the realm of video games. Outside of Batman: Arkham Asylum’s metroidvania style, the Batman: Arkham series boasts an open world gameplay style that is much like that or Marvel’s Spider-Man. Where Batman makes great use of gliding and grappling, Spidey’s webslinging sees him accelerating through the streets of New York. Some similar side objectives are seen as well, though combat and stealth show even more shared concepts.
With the Batman: Arkham series perfecting combat and stealth, it is no surprise that Marvel’s Spider-Man took notes. While Spidey has webs and suit powers to add even more to his arsenal, the use of gadgets, dodges, finishers, and the combo meter all feel as if they are taken straight from the Arkhamverse. Stealth is even more telling, with perch takedowns and similar distraction strategies included throughout. While the Marvel’s Spider-Man games take after Batman: Arkham in terms of its sales success and strong reviews, the influence is felt in gameplay as well. With both franchises offering well-rounded superhero experiences, the love for the games is understandable – and for Marvel's Spider-Man, that appreciation may only grow greater.
While a majority of the Batman: Arkham games were seen during the PS3 generation, it is unclear just how much of a life Marvel’s Spider-Man will have on the PS5. The series might just be getting started, with several Spidey games possibly launching on the PS5 over the next few years. If this is the case, the series could eventually be viewed in enough of a positive light to be considered the Batman: Arkham of the generation, setting a new standard for superhero video games. For this to happen, though, future Marvel’s Spider-Man games needs to be just as great as the first two, making more than just visual improvements.
While fans always debate their favorite Arkham game, all have their strengths, with consistency throughout the series being one of its biggest accomplishments. With this in mind, the next Marvel’s Spider-Man game needs to be just as strong as its predecessors, with an engaging story joining exciting gameplay. It can also take notes from the way that the Batman: Arkham series used its villains. While the main story of Marvel’s Spider-Man used the Sinister Six well, nearly no villains appeared inside missions. With only Taskmaster, Tombstone, and Screwball seen, getting more villains involved in the side content would be a great plus. With this being a major strength of each Batman: Arkham game, as it let small characters like Professor Pig and Mad Hatter play a role, seeing more of Spidey’s rogues gallery would be a big plus.
While using more villains will be a great way to make the series better, and help it become as strong as Batman: Arkham, Marvel’s Spider-Man has the advantage of several lead heroes. While the Bat Family allowed for some neat team-up fights and DLC, there was only one Batman, with the focus placed primarily on Bruce Wayne. However, Insomniac’s Spidey universe now has two leading men, and if the Spider-Verse is opened, this number will only grow further. Not only does this allow for more diverse gameplay, as both Miles and Peter’s power sets can be used, but more complex stories can be told as well. If Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and any future entries double down on this concept, the series is on the path to becoming the leading force in the superhero genre. Just like Batman: Arkham defined superhero games on the PS3 and Xbox 360, Marvel’s Spider-Man may do the same on PS5.
Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales are available now on PS4 and PS5. A sequel has not been officially announced.
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