The basic gameplay in Spider-Man on the PS4 boils down to two things: swinging and fighting. It’s obviously a lot more subtle than that and there’s always plenty to do, but you’re going to spend lots of time fwipp-ing around and punching bad guys.
Fighting in Spider-Man is frenetic. You’re always outnumbered and outgunned, and despite his other superpowers, Spider-Man is very allergic to bullets. All of that gives nearly every fight high stakes. Even after you hit the level cap and have fully upgraded gear, a gang of street toughs can kill you quickly if you don’t take every fight seriously. That means you’re going to have to get good at fighting early on.
This guide will start you off with a few tips to improve your chances in a fight — fighting basics, as we call them. Then we’ll get into some more advanced tips for later in the game — which we’re calling advanced fighting.
Fighting mechanics is Spider-Man are similar to games you may have played before. You really only need to press one or two buttons to fight — one to punch and one to dodge. That’s going to be a long fight, though, and long fights mean there’s more chance for you to take a lethal amount of damage (which is surprisingly easy to do).
Your goal is to control fights — where your opponents are and how much damage they can do — and finish them quickly. In this section, we’ll show you how to do that.
Peter’s Spider Sense is the key to surviving fights. A glowing, white-ish halo will appear around your head when things are about to get dangerous — like when you’re about to be noticed, punched, or shot. Don’t ignore it hoping to get one more punch in. Train yourself early to press Circle and dodge often — and make sure it’s prominent part of your fighting vocabulary.
Seriously: This isn’t a game just about attacking. Spider-Man is a game about fighting and dodging.
Understand your Spider Sense (Perfect Dodge)
There are two phases to your Spider Sense’s warning. Think of it as an “uh-oh” warning — something might happen soon — that starts as soon as you see the white halo appear, followed by a “danger imminent” warning — someone’s going to pull the trigger or throw a punch now. The second phase starts a couple moments after the first and is indicated by a brighter, bluer, more distinct halo. The trick to using it is knowing the difference in a fight. You don’t have to dodge the instant your Spider Sense kicks in, but you’d better be moving when your halo turns blue.
No, seriously, dodge
Spider-Man isn’t invulnerable, and you’ll be facing a lot of strong (and heavily armed) enemies. Especially early in the game (and even very late in the game), it doesn’t take much damage to kill Spider-Man. Dodge. Dodge early and dodge often.
Do not pick your target — let the game do it
In a fight, pressing Triangle will zip you over to your next target via a web. Let this control your fight. Punch someone until you complete a combo (four hits), then press Triangle. This will automatically pick your next target for you and even moves the camera around.
As a general rule, when you’re in the middle of a fight, do not pick your next target. Press Triangle to let the game decide who you’ll fight next. It takes a lot of the pressure off of you so you can focus on the hitting and dodging.
Learn to balance healing and finishers
In the top left corner of the screen, you’ve got your standard health meter. Below that, you’ve got a Focus Meter. It fills as you land punches and as you land more hits in a row, but doesn’t deplete if you take damage.
Your Focus has two uses — Healing and Finishers. At any point, you can press down on the D-pad to convert your focus into health. If you don’t use it to heal, once your Focus Meter is full, you’ll get the option to perform a Finisher by pressing Circle and Triangle together. This will consume all of your Focus (or one chunk of your Focus when you level up enough), but will take out an enemy instantly (well, after an animation).
Deciding when to use a Finisher and when to heal is a delicate balance. A Finisher will take an enemy out of the fight permanently, making it an easier fight to win, but without health, you’re not going to be able to keep fighting at all. Early on in the game, prioritize healing. As you get more comfortable — and start taking less damage (see dodging above) — you can mix in some Finishers, especially for enemies who are a pain to fight, like bad guys with shields.
Train yourself to not mash the Finisher buttons as soon as the option appears, while keeping track of your health, and you’ll be able to use your Focus more efficiently.
Don’t forget about your gadgets
While you never get the Spider-Mobile, Pete still has a lot of gadgets to use during a fight. You unlock these Gadgets as you level up and progress through the game. Hold down L1 to pull up a radial menu with all of your available options and pick out what you want to use.
Each gadget has a specific use and situations where they’re most valuable, but this isn’t a gadgets guide. The important thing to remember is just that they exist. They’re easy to forget about when there’s a chaotic fight happening. Punching, dodging, throwing, and swinging are all great in a fight, but you’ve got web-shooters that can slow down — or completely take out — enemies. Remember them. Use them.
Fight like Spider-Man
Peter can hold his own in a fistfight, but brawling is not his superpower. Spider-Man fights with a combination of jumping, swinging, web-slinging, and quips. When you start to think like that, combat in Spider-Man becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun. Here are a few things to think about that’ll help you fight more like a superhero:
- Look around for ways to use your environment. Start fights with some stealth takedowns where you web the bad guys to a lamppost or press Triangle to swing down out of nowhere to surprise them. Jump off of walls by dodging toward walls, then attacking with Square. Use as much of your surroundings as you can to keep moving and keep the baddies from ganging up on you. A straight up donnybrook is a sure way to get Spidey killed.
- Throw things. Every fight will have things to throw. From grenades to scaffolding to manhole covers to car doors or even webbed-up baddies, there’s almost always something to throw. Whenever you see the L1 + R1 prompt, you can grab an item and toss it. There’s even a skill (see below) that will let you hit multiple enemies with your windup, clearing the area around you during a fight.
- Get airborne. Hold down Square during a punch to use your Air Launcher ability. This will launch your target up into the air (which is probably where the name comes from) with an uppercut. Once they’re airborne, you can jump up and continue punching them out of the reach of their buddies (as long as they don't have, like, guns). While you’re up there, you’ll have more options to dodge and web strike, too.
- Swing. The obvious way to dodge is to hit the Circle button, but this is a small movement and isn’t really thinking like Spider-Man. The other way to dodge is to just get out of there. You have all of your Traversal moves — like jumping, swinging, zip webbing, and point launching — during a fight. These will get you out of the way just as well as or even better than a plain old dodge.
The best skills for fighting
Every single one of Spider-Man’s skills is useful in some way, so it’s hard to pick favorites. But there are a few that you’ll use more than others. Most of the fighting skills fall under the Innovator skill tree.
- Perfect Dodge. This is the first skill in the Defender skill tree, but it’s also probably the most useful skill in the game. A Perfect Dodge will now web up your enemies a little as you dodge an attack, letting you deal extra damage and manage the fight better.
- Web Throw. This one is obvious because you have to buy it to unlock the rest of the Innovator skill tree, but it’s also very useful. This is how you’ll learn to throw all the stuff we mentioned above.
- Hazard Zone. Follow up Web Throw with Hazard Zone. Now, every time you fwip something to thrown, you’ll clear out some space around you.
- Pistol and Baton Yank followed by Rifle, Shield, and Launcher Yank. Guns are really bad for Spider-Man’s health, and it’s hard reliably focus on armed baddies first. These two skills will let you yank their weapons right out of their hands, making the fight a lot more balanced. (If you add in the Yank and Throw skill along with the Hazard Zone skill, every time you disarm a thug, you’ll be able to knock back some bad guys in the process.)
The above skills are a great place to start and will unlock just about everything Spider-Man can do during a fight. But like we said right at the beginning, every skill is useful, so you’ll rarely go wrong with your choice.
Once you get the basics down, you’re going to be fighting crime like a seasoned hero. Your skills will get you through the generic street crime you run into, but there’s always room to improve — and you’re going to need to keep getting better to earn the best score in a [Spoiler] combat challenge.
- Gadgets. We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. Gadgets are the key to quicker fights. You can web an enemy near a wall to that wall with just a few shots from your Web Shooters — and that removes them from the fight much faster than a bunch of punching. Impact Webs, even if they don’t take an enemy out altogether, can launch your target back and out of your way. Trip Mines can surprise patrolling baddies or even tie two enemies to each other.
- Combine Gadgets. Switching between your gadgets and using them in concert can end a fight in seconds. Our favorite is starting with a Web Bomb to get several enemies webbed up, then following that with a Concussive Blast. If your aim is good, you can take out several enemies at once with just a couple buttons.
- Suit powers and suit mods. With as frantic as fighting feels, it’s easy to forget about all of the options you have. Suit mods can change the way you fight. From extra focus to gadget refills to better armor, mods can give you the edge you need in a fight. The Suit Powers that unlock every time you change your outfit are very powerful — and they’re not tied to the suit that unlocks them. Make sure you pick out a Suit Power that matches your fight.