During Sony’s PlayStation 5 “Future of Gaming” livestream in June 2020, Insomniac teased a new Spider-Man game that has fans excited. While Insomniac’s previous title, “Spider-Man,” had blown players away with its 2018 release on the PlayStation 4 featuring none other than Peter Parker, Spidey-fans will now finally get to swing around the city with the new fan-favorite character Miles Morales. The stand-alone game is officially titled “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” and aims to release this holiday season alongside the new PlayStation 5. But why all the hype? What makes Morales’ stardom so alluring for fans? Well, Morales might be just one important step in a huge direction the gaming industry needs to take.
PlayStation exclusive “Spider-Man” buried its Xbox competitor with its impressive release, captivating starstruck comic fans with arguably the greatest known Spider-Man game to date. Video game developer Insomniac Games Inc. studied the beloved comic book hero. The game felt more like a love letter to the character than a cash-in on the popularity of superhero movies. The developers took just about every bit of Spider-Man media and made it a part of the game.
Insomniac understood that fans of the character come from varying places: some started with movies, others with games and comic books. Insomniac looked to all the different Spider-Man media appearances for inspiration for their title. The attention to detail, the iconic web-slinging action, the narrative and the voice acting brought Peter Parker’s Spider-Man to life and gave fans what can be described as a dream come true. Just two years later, and the next game in the series is set to release. But the game will not be just any Spider-Man sequel; this time around, Morales, who was introduced in the first game, is the main protagonist.
The Miles Morales character has been around since 2011 as part of the “Ultimate Fallout” Marvel comic series. Morales has gained greater popularity in recent years thanks to other versions of the character portrayed in later comics, “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” a movie that brought the character’s debut to the big screen.
The story goes that Miles Morales was also bitten by a radioactive spider — like Peter Parker. Spider-Man in this alternate universe died tragically saving Morales’ family, where afterward Morales then decided to wear the mask and live by Parker’s motto, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Since then, different versions of the Morales origin story have been made into games, movies and comics. But still, what’s with all the hype surrounding “Spider-Man: Miles Morales”?
For one, Miles Morales has a unique skill set that would give players a new Spider-Man experience. Additionally, a title focused on Miles Morales is a win for people of color (Miles Morales was born to an African American father and Puerto Rican mother). Not only is Morales a rich and interesting character, but he also gives Black and Latino communities a genuine and well-written character to resonate with, one that is well-fitted for the Spidey suit.
One of the most significant themes of Spider-Man’s character is the mask; it was the first superhero mask in comics to cover someone’s entire face. Anyone could have been bitten by a radioactive spider and anyone could put on the mask and therefore anybody, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender or religion, can be Spider-Man.
As Peter Parker (Yuri Lowenthal) in the “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” trailer puts it, “A hero’s just someone who doesn’t give up.” Anyone can be a hero. Spider-Man always had to manage the struggles of being a kid (and an adult) first: paying rent, helping Aunt May and keeping his relationship in order. Now, some fans have a hero underneath the suit that they better identify with. A unique Peter Parker that better represents some readers (or in this case some players). Morales faces different issues than Parker, and it would be interesting to see their portrayal in the upcoming release.
The gaming industry itself needs some diversity. Countless video game titles bear similar white-male protagonists, giving limited range. Not only are players bored of the lack of variety, but they are also not benefitting from the lack of diversity and inclusion. Miles Morales will give players a chance to take the wheel of a character who might come from a different background than themselves, allowing them to relate to Morales and gain a different perspective. Hopefully, the success of a “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” will encourage game developers to seek out new experiences and tell new stories. At the very least, it may be a step in the right direction for diverse leads in video game titles, and with the influence of #blacklivesmatter, a long-needed change may arrive at a pivotal time.
There remains, however, some confusion on whether “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” is truly its own stand-alone sequel or rather an expansion tacked onto the original game. Simon Rutter, a Sony Interactive Entertainment EVP, hinted that the game was merely an expansion for the PlayStation 5 remastered version of the previous title. Meanwhile, Insomniac Games specifically tweeted that the game was a stand-alone.
It should be noted, however, that the game will be much shorter than the first. Creative Director Brian Horton suggested in a blog post that “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” would be roughly the same size as “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” — about 7-10 hours of gameplay, or half of the original game. With only two years to develop, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the game as an expansion for a remaster, though it may dampen a lot of the enthusiasm currently surrounding it.
Full game or not, a Miles Morales-centered video game came as a surprise for a lot of Spider-Man fans. Insomniac Games seems to be placing their bets on the success of this iteration of the character, with gamers awaiting the “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” release this holiday season. Will it be any good? Well, if it’s anything like its predecessor, the game will be fun; however, one can hope that the Miles Morales game is the same dream come true that Peter Parker’s was. Either way, I for one am anticipating my chance to swing around the city as Miles.