Miles Morales adds intrigue to 'Spider-Man' on PS4

Mary Jane Watson will be a playable character, too.

Last year, Insomniac Games got our spidey-senses tingling with the announcement of Spider-Man for PS4, and a gameplay trailer at E3 2017 amped up the buzz even more. At Sony's PlayStation Showcase event at Paris Games Week (PGW), we learned more about the characters, which will include Mary Jane Watson, villain Negative Man, Aunt May, and, intriguingly, Miles Morales. Engadget chatted with Insomniac Games' Creative Director Bryan Intihar and Community Director James Stevenson about what role those characters will have in the game.

The studio decided early on that the best Spidey experience is when Peter's and Spider-Man's worlds collide. "You have to experience his private life in the games, not just the cut scenes," said Intihar. "When Spider-Man fails, Peter has to succeed, and vice-versa."

Parker is 23 and has been Spider-Man for eight years, so he's "at the height of his powers," Stevenson says. Mary Jane is a reporter for the Daily Bugle and Peter works as a scientist, barely scraping by. His (non-grey-haired) Aunt May is employed by philanthropist Martin Li, the alter-ego of villain Mister Negative, setting up plot complications for Parker.

One website joked that Parker looks like a weird blend of several Spider-Man movie actors. Stevenson acknowledged they did study the comic versions and film actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland played Spidey in the last three film series). "There are so many over the years, you can't make a Peter Parker that doesn't resemble one," he said. Insomniac worked with Marvel on Peter's look and facial animations, however, and the studio is apparently satisfied with the work.

Intihar revealed a few character-related game details. "We've confirmed that you can play as Peter Parker, and Mary Jane Watson is more than just a person in the story," he said. "You can also play as her at certain parts of the story as well. What would you imagine a reporter might do, and what kind of situations can they get into?" He wasn't more specific, but by that, you might infer that MJ will be digging up clues that drive the story forward.

Miles Morales is a friend of Parker, and knowing that he actually was Spider-Man in the comic's alternate universes makes his presence intriguing. On that front, Insomniac was less forthcoming. "We're not talking about Miles right now, we're only talking about Peter, but Miles does have a role in the game," said Intihar. Stevenson elaborated a bit more, saying that he'll give players a "different perspective" on Peter's daily life.

Gameplay was a big priority too, of course. Marvel's New York City environment will be Insomniac's biggest open world ever, giving players plenty of space to explore. The idea was to create a "playground for players to use Spider-Man's powers and play with speed," said Stevenson. At the same time, there's plenty attention to detail, and you'll see a lot of Marvel Easter eggs, some of which were in the last trailer -- look for a Dr. Strange reference and check out the poster in Peter's room.

Insomniac learned a lot from its open world experience in Sunset Overdrive, both from a technical and design perspective. "I remember when Sunset came out, someone said its open world would apply nicely to Spider-Man, and here we are," Intihar joked.

The game will take advantage of Spider-Man's speed and agility, along with his intelligence. "We had to nail the swinging, as it's the most iconic thing about the character," said Intihar. There are also parkour aspects and "melee webs" that lets Spidey attack villains at close-to-mid distances or pull down objects like scaffolding. Improvisation, between the superhero and what's around him, will also be a big part of the game.

Fans are excited about the game, but as always, there's concern that it will be bloated or delayed if developers try to cram too much in. The lack of a specific release date (sometime in 2018 is all we have right now) has some folks worried, and with just over a year, max, until release, there hasn't been any play time or in-game demos yet. Still, if Insomniac can pull it off, Spider-Man will have both the character elements and fast-paced, open-world action that the webslinger's fans love.

As for what role Miles Morales will play -- maybe a second Spidey to play at some point in the game? Insomniac isn't saying... yet. "He's a great character," says Stevenson. "We can't wait to tell you more about him."