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Spider-Man PS4 beginner’s guide

Friendly neighborhood tips

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

When you start playing Spider-Man on PS4, you’re already Spider-Man. That means you don’t get to learn about your superpowers and abilities. You just have them. You still unlock new things — like gadgets and moves — as you progress, but this isn’t an origin story.

The game is good about helping you along with on-screen tips and tutorials, but you’re still kind of starting in the middle. Trust the game (and follow the main story) to let you know how to do things as you need them. Following the main story will also continue to unlock additional activities throughout the city.

The city that never sleeps

Spider-Man’s New York is packed with things to do — and even more things unlock as you progress through the game. Between collectibles, side missions, crimes, and landmarks, your map gets really crowded. But there’s a point to everything and it’s all (relatively) bite-sized.

Start with the Surveillance Towers. These police towers dotted across the city fill in the details on your map. Once they’re activated, you’ll see nearby crimes, collectibles, and side missions. Yes, this makes your map look busier, but it lets you see everything and plan accordingly.

The interesting thing about Spider-Man is that all of these side activities aren’t overly distracting. Sure, collecting every backpack or photographing every tourist trap is going to take a good chunk of time, but it’s rarely going to feel like a slog. Once you unlock all of the towers, you’ll have all of your options right there on your map and your minimap.

Several activities — research stations, landmarks, bases, crimes, challenges, and backpacks — earn you tokens for each one you complete. These tokens are your currencies for new suits, new suit mods, new gadgets, and gadget upgrades. You can see what you need to unlock these in the game’s menu.

Tokens, tokens, and more tokens

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything happening around you while you’re fwip-ing your way through New York. There’s always crime to stop, research to do, landmarks to visit, or backpacks to track down. It’s tempting (and possible) to just do it all at once, but you don’t have to. If you’re a completionist or just really into photographing bridges, go for it. Nothing’s stopping you from clearing the map — and it’s possible to do it relatively early in the game.

If you’re not worried about finding every single backpack or completing every single research station right away, you can use your map to quickly find exactly what you need. In the suits and gadgets menus (and their submenus), you’ll be able to see what each suit, mod, gadget, or gadget upgrade you want costs. Look at what you have and what you need, then check your map. You’ll be able to pretty quickly collect your tokens and move on.

Suits are about powers, not just appearance

Spider-Man has worn many outfits over the last 50 years and 26 (or so) of them show up in Marvel’s Spider-Man. You unlock suits by earning XP and leveling up. Just like suit mods and gadgets, suits also require tokens to unlock. But the various suits aren’t just about looks.

Most suits (but not all) unlock a suit power. Suit powers are like special abilities. They recharge on a timer and give you a temporary boost to your abilities. For example, one refills your focus meter and one makes you temporarily bulletproof.

Once unlocked, you can equip a suit power in any suit. So unlocking suits — even if you don’t like the appearance — is usually worth it (even though there’s no Spider-Ham suit).

Don’t forget about those powers. Or your gadgets.

Especially since it’s not always available, it’s easy to forget about your suit powers. They’re not always required, but ignoring them just makes playing Spider-Man marginally harder. Pick one you like or one that’s useful for your current task and keep an eye on its recharge meter.

You’ve also got a wheel of gadgets to choose from ready all the time. You start with your Web Shooters, then add seven more as you continue through the game. Each of the gadgets you carry have their uses and can give you an advantage in a tough fight.

Click R3 constantly

Any time you click the right thumbstick, you get a flood of information on your screen. It brings up your current objective as well as highlights enemies, access points, and collectibles nearby. During a fight, clicking R3 will also bring up your current fight’s Bonus Objectives.

Complete Bonus Objectives in fights

Most fights — especially Thug and Demon crimes — have a set of Bonus Objectives along with them. These are usually things like “Web three enemies to walls” or “Use air launch move on five enemies.” If you have the time (or the skill) to complete these objectives while you’re fighting, you’ll get a few extra tokens (so you can buy more toys) and some bonus XP.

These Bonus Objectives carry over between fights. If you don’t get them all during this fight, you can complete it on the next group of thugs that cross your path.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

A lot about Spider-Man is frenetic. From swinging through the city to a street brawl, things are happening fast. Peter already knows what’s going on, so you, as the player, are the one who needs to catch up, and that means practice (and failing a bunch along the way).

Your various collecting activities and main story missions will have you crossing from one side of the island to the other. Take that time to get used to the flow of the traversing controls.

Fisk Hideouts are a great way to get in some practice fights against relatively easy enemies. Even after you complete them, you can return to the location and replay the fight as many times as you’d like.

Don’t force fine controls

A lot of Spider-Man is about big, sweeping movements and that can make some of the smaller navigation — things as simple as climbing down off a ledge — really frustrating. The first thing to learn is you can just press circle to climb down off of something (relatively) calmly. Pete will still put a lot of flair into it, but you’ll most likely not dive off into the void.

Another difficult task while you’re screaming across the city is stopping. At any point — while standing still or soaring through the air — you can hold in the left trigger (L2) to aim. This also slows time a bit, so you can be a lot more careful about your target. While holding down L2, you can hit R2 to zip straight to the target. If you’re aiming at a wall, the ground, or a ceiling, you’ll stick to it. If you’re aiming at one of those white circles that appear along ledges or on street lamps, you’ll perch. Either way, you’ll come to a much more controlled stop than you otherwise would.