Game Theory

How Spider-Man 2 could handle the game's biggest dilemma

Can Peter and Miles coexist as Spider-Man in the sequel?

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is in the works at Insomniac Games, but, aside from some brief teases about the release of a sick Harry Osbourne from some sort of cryogenic stasis, there’s a lot we still don’t know about the upcoming game. One key element that seems all but certain, however, is that Peter Parker and Miles Morales will unite as two Spider-Men, each with their own toolkit of abilities enhanced from the previous games.

The lingering question that remains, though, is how will Insomniac solve the constantly present quagmire of having two high-profile protagonists in Peter and Miles?

The previous two games leading up to this point in the story told some deeply personal narratives about our two heroes to great effect, but can they share the screen in a way that offers the same emotional resonance? Given Insomniac's unrivaled talent, this challenging feat seems possible — and we’ve got four different ways the team could pull it off.

4. Choose your hero — In games like Scarlet Nexus, players select one of two possible protagonists that they stick with throughout the entirety of the campaign. But, as the plot threads unfold, the two characters meet and even battle each other. Then you can replay the game as the other hero and wind up at a similar ending.

Scarlet Nexus lets players experience the game as two different characters with an intertwined destiny. Bandai Namco

When we think about how Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is expected to unfold, there’s a strong opportunity for a system like that to work narrative wonders in the sequel.

If players select Peter as their main character, maybe the bulk of their adventure is focused on the Green Goblin. Choosing Miles, on the other hand, might pave the way for a direct encounter with Venom. (That is, assuming these characters are not one and the same.) And, if the end-credit allusions to Venom and the Symbiote are to be believed, maybe Miles or Peter are taken over by the parasite in a way that temporarily turns them evil. When that happens, the other character may be forced to knock some sense into their former ally. With multiple villains in play, why can’t we have two converging plots?

3. Separate Segments — Another route Insomniac might want to take is to have bespoke story segments for Peter and Miles much like how the parallel narratives of Kiryu and Majima unfold in Yakuza 0.

In Yakuza 0, the game’s two protagonists had separate story moments.Sega

In this case, players wouldn’t be able to choose their Spider-Man and would instead take control of Morales or Parker based on what’s happening in the story at that time. For a narrative-focused property like Marvel’s Spider-Man, this approach may be best, as it allows developers to curate every single moment players see, knowing that they’ll absolutely witness each part of the story.

Having players fight different villains as described above may encourage multiple playthroughs, but most buyers probably won’t partake in that. That fact makes narrative design a bit more difficult because it mostly guarantees only one viewpoint of the story will ever be seen. Cut out those questions by forcing character control on the player.

2. Location-based storytelling — Now that we know Miles has his home base in Harlem with Peter looking over some of the larger city areas, maybe the location is how this two-character narrative can split. We’ve seen this tactic leveraged before, as GTA V’s Michael, Trevor, and Franklin experienced their stories within different quadrants of Los Santos. Maybe the character you use will depend on precisely where that mission is.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

After all, we recently saw Insomniac employ a similar design technique with Ratchet and Rivet in 2021’s Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart. In that game, the planets you travel to dictate who you control, but Skill Points and currencies are shared between heroes. New York City could be divided in similar ways with a short handoff animation while the other Spidey takes control. It’d be a bit confusing, but it’d make sense given how large of a role the Harlem location plays when it comes to Miles in particular.

1. A co-op buddy — While this scenario seems a bit unlikely, it’s also not impossible to consider that maybe both Peter and Miles could be playable at the same time. You could adopt one of the more rigid design styles for single-player adventuring, while your partner may be able to hop in locally or via online play.

Could Sony be adding another co-op experience to its ranks?Sony Interactive Entertainment

This model sounds antithetical to Sony’s single-player narrative focus, but it’s worth remembering the publisher has seemingly flirted with similar ideas in the past. A little over a year ago, VGC floated a report that Horizon Forbidden West would feature some kind of co-op mode. That seemingly never came to pass, but we have seen co-op added to single-player games like Ghost of Tsushima through the Ghost of Tsushima: Legends module. If it existed in Spider-Man 2 it probably wouldn’t be very in-depth, but co-op is definitely a fun way to make use of two awesome superhero protagonists.

No matter which method Insomniac opts for, it’s bound to be an exciting adventure.

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