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Spider-Man PS4 swinging and traversal guide

Fwip, fwip, fwip to my lou

Spider-Man swinging cutscene image Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The open world — well, open Manhattan — of Spider-Man PS4 means that you’re going to be spending a lot of time swinging across town. At its core, it’s a pretty simple mechanic — hold R2 to swing, let go, hold R2 to swing again. You’ll have to guide your direction with input on the left thumbstick, but that one button is technically all you need. Just like a lot of the mechanics in the game, though, you can get faster and have a lot more fun when you learn some tricks and habits.

There’s a few reasons you want to get comfortable with navigating with city via Web Shooters — what the game calls Traversal. First, you’re going to do it a lot, so it’ll just be a big help if you’re not struggling the whole time. Later in the game, you’ll get challenges where you’ll have to navigate a Traversal-type course nearly flawlessly. Finally, and more subtly, you’ll build Focus while swinging — Focus that you can use to heal by pressing down on the D-pad (see our Spider-Man PS4 fighting guide for more on that).

Below, we’re going to help you think about swinging, jumping, and diving your way across New York. Then, we’ll show you our favorite skills and habits to make Traversal faster and more fun.

A guide to swinging

Throughout Spider-Man, R2 is your move faster and keep moving button. When you’re on the ground, it’s your parkour button. When you’re in the air, it’s your swing button. But there’s a lot of subtlety that goes into how Spider-Man reacts when you hit the trigger and what that means for your swing.

It’s about physics

Without getting too much into the actual (simulated) physics, there’s a logic to the way swinging and Traversal works. Think of playing on a swingset as a kid (or as an adult — we don’t judge here). If you sit on a swing and only take a single step backward, you’re going to swing pretty slowly. But if you back up all the way until you’re on your tiptoes, you’ll have a lot more speed. The other thing to notice is that you’re moving fastest at the bottom of your swing and slowest at the top — when you’re about to switch directions.

These things carry over into how Spider-Man moves through the city. The speed of your swing — how far you’ve backed up on the swingset — is determined by how fast you’re moving when you start. So if you just stand still and jump straight up, your swing will be relatively gentle. If, however, you’re sprinting or plunging straight at the ground when you start your swing, you’re going to carry a lot more speed into it.

Picking up speed

There are a few ways you can pick up speed while Traversing. The first is to let go of a swing when you’re moving the fastest — just after the lowest point (remember the swingset above). If you let go here, you’ll carry that momentum forward and into your next swing. You need to wait until just after the lowest point in the swing so that you have a little bit of upward momentum, otherwise you’re going to lose altitude and end up running along the sidewalk.

You can also make sure you’re moving fast when you start a swing. That means either sprinting along the ground or, if you’re already airborne, waiting until you’re close to the ground. If you’re diving or falling, the longer you wait, the faster you’ll be going (something something gravity) and that speed will transfer into your swing.

When you let go of your web (by releasing R2) at the end of a swing, you can hit the X button to add a jump. The effect depends on which way you’re moving when you let go. If you swing all the way through to the top of your arc and add a jump, you’ll gain some extra height. If you add a jump at the bottom (the fastest) part, you’ll add some horizontal distance and some speed.

Each of the above will add some speed to your swings and cut some time off of your commutes. If you practice and can get all three working together, though, you’ll be zipping across the city nearly as fast as the fast travel mechanic could get you there.

Swinging isn’t always the answer

Hanging from a web and swinging in a big long arc is great for getting some distance, and you can even make it pretty fast if you use our advice above, but it’s not the fastest way Spider-Man can travel. This is where Point Launch and the Point Launch Boost skills come in.

Point Launching is when you use your webs to zip to a point — usually the corner of a building or a lamppost. These points are indicated on your screen by a small white circle. If you hit L2 and R2 at the same time, you’ll use both hands to throw out webs and then perch on the point you’re aiming at. You can even hold down L2 first to slow down time and aim more carefully.

Traversing with Point Launch

If you hit X right when you hit your perch, you’ll do a move called a Point Launch. This will launch you off of the perch point, giving you a speed boost and a little height. If you purchase the Point Launch Boost skill, you’ll get an even more substantial boost to your speed.

Point Launching is great for Traversing the city because it’s faster than swinging. Period. You’re limited to the points that the city and the game provide for you, but you can cover a lot of distance quickly if you’re careful. Point Launching is the key to successfully completing the Drone and Bomb Challenges, so get some practice in when you’re just wandering the city.