While the game itself is intact and looks better than ever, the face model for Peter Parker was recast in order to "get a better match to Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor Yuri Lowenthal’s facial capture" on PS5, developers wrote in a PlayStation Blog post. This new design, which is based on the face of actor Ben Jordan, looks a lot more youthful and Tom Holland-esque than the previous version of Insomniac's Spider-Man.
While it may look a touch more realistic, the design ultimately undermines one of the most important themes of the original game.
The redesign was unveiled in a PlayStation Blog post published Wednesday and almost immediately met with backlash in the comments of the post. The sentiment across the comments section and social media is mostly that this redesign looks way too young and less fitting for Insomniac's Spider-Man despite the improved visuals and facial motion capture.
While Insomniac's version of the character is only 23, he has been Spider-Man for over eight years. As a result, he's supposed to be a more experienced, mature, and stressed-out version of the character that has some wear and tear. The design based on the face of John Bubniak demonstrated all of these things while still retaining that classic Peter Parker look.
Even though the Spider-Man based on Ben Jordan looks like he could be Spider-Man due to how close it resembles Tom Holland, it just doesn't felt right for this character to look so youthful. When the design conflicts with the character's experiences and motivations, it can break immersion, especially when people are already familiar with the previous look. It would have been preferable if they'd made Spider-Man look like voice actor Yuri Lowenthal instead of a Tom Holland knock-off that doesn't match the character.
It speaks to the lasting influence of the Sony movies and Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which itself is distracting and immersion-breaking for the game.
Obviously, no story content is getting changed or removed in the remaster. Even the voice will remain the same. Technically, it will be the same character with the same life experiences and the same excellent performance from Yuri Lowenthal. Still, the game goes through a lot of effort to show that this is an experienced Spider-Man, and this youthful design does get that across as well as the previous character model.
At this point, there's no way this design alteration will change in any way, especially when the devs have doubled down.
Creative Director Bryan Intihar said on Twitter that the team debated the redesign quite a bit but ultimately found that changing the face to make the facial animation more believable was "a necessity." Lowenthal also tweeted, "It’s my face’s fault. The stupid stupid bones in my face. Blame my bones."
A character model change like this isn't something that can happen overnight. It would take weeks or months of work, so swapping Peter's new model before the launch of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the remaster alongside the PS5 simply isn't possible.
Still, it's a disappointing change to see as a player, and we can only hope the Insomniac tweaks the design further to make Peter look a little older before the inevitable Marvel's Spider-Man 2 comes out after Miles Morales.
Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered will be released on November 12.