Beenox interview: Web Rush, open world experience, combat and Bruce Campbell

PlayStation Universe spoke with Brant Nicholas, Executive Producer at Beenox, about some of the biggest aspect of its upcoming game Amazing Spider-Man. From the Web Rush mode, to the combat system, and Beenox’ first open-world game, we spread our questions across a diverse spectrum to learn exactly what this open-world Amazing Spider-Man game has to offer.

PlayStation Universe: "Does Beenox feel any type of pressure after going open world, as it’s much more work creating such a massive world? On the other hand, does the team feel relief because they’re finally delivering what quite a bit of the fans have been clamoring for with the world?"

Brant Nicholas: "Easy question. Did we feel pressure in trying to tackle creating an open world game?  Absolutely!  There are so many awesome games out there that were inspirations, we really had to pick and choose our feature set carefully as we were constantly debating what would build the best Spider-Man experience in Manhattan.  At the same time, we’re huge fan-boys ourselves and so we really poured our hearts into getting as much as we possibly could into the game.  

"With such a strong Spider-Man legacy from Spider-Man 2, Web of Shadows, and Shattered Dimensions, and more, our team worked super-hard (along with a lot of focus-group testing) to find the best combination that we could for the final game."


PSU: "What was the design process behind the Web Rush mode?"

BN: "Web Rush really began as a dream.  We saw all of the awesome things that Spider-Man can do when swinging around in the city in the movies, and we wanted to find some way to put that same level of agility and extreme acrobatics into the hands of the players without requiring painful finger-gymnastics to make it happen.  

"In the end, we had a whole team focused on just Web Rush from the beginning of the project.  Web Rush took dedicated focus and iteration by itself, until we felt that not only finally could you now move like Spidey in the films, but that it was also a ton of fun to play.  

"What makes Web Rush even more complicated is that it must integrate seamlessly through all aspects of the game, from navigation in Manhattan, to stealth tactics, to combat, to interacting with objects in the environment, to multiple types of unique attacks for each major boss in the game, and more. It was a blast to create as a game feature, but it was a ton of work at the same time.

"One of the hardest aspects of creating the Web Rush was identifying the huge variety of animations required to handle every condition of whatever the player could choose to do, whether it was flipping on signs, swinging around flag-poles, running on busses, and more.  In practice, this meant that we would work on it for a while, create new animations to match the expanded capabilities, see how much cooler it had become, then redesign it again to push the functionality even further.  

"For the more technically minded fans out there, one little-known fact about the Web Rush is that we had a constant internal trade-off between the player’s speed and abilities when Web Rush.  Using Web Swing to navigate around not only Manhattan, but indoor as well raised some real issues when you could also navigate very precisely using Web Rush.  Both mechanics had to feel fun and completely natural, yet at the same time, both had to be completely interchangeable in every single environment of the game.  It was a real challenge that took years of focus to balance and reach the final game."

PSU: "From trailers, the random (they are random, right?) car chases seem really fun, what other world events are going to keep players interested in the city?"

BN: "If you took a single “slice” of Manhattan at various points in the story where everything has been unlocked, a quick sample could vary from the Car Chases to Petty Crimes, to Police Deadlocks (Police are in a stand-off with a bunch of criminals exchanging gunfire), to side-missions, photo-missions, unique collectibles, massive boss fights, and a ton more.  In case you did not already know, the collectibles in our game actually unlock fully digitized comics from Marvel…not just a page or piece of art.  

"What’s even better is that the content in the city evolves over time as the story progresses.  Without giving any spoilers away, the types of encounters that you will find at the beginning are designed to be simple and easy.  “Quick-samples” if you will.  As the story progresses, events will get more and more complicated, and depending on your difficulty level, you might find yourself engaged in aerial dog-fights."

PSU: "I hate to bring up the old Treyarch games, but they had a legacy for having Bruce Campbell as the training announcer. Does Beenox have any special people in mind, or is there even a training mode?"

BN: "One of the points in Manhattan that I did not mention above is that we’ve actually brought Bruce Campbell back!  Even better, he gets to play an extreme news reporter that has challenge missions for you as he flies around Manhattan in a huge blimp over the top of the city.  If you can get high enough and Web Rush to his blimp, he’ll offer you some challenges to see how good you have gotten.  There are a ton of different challenge missions; and, he is constantly taunting you depending on how well you’re doing.  Bruce was a blast to work with during the recording sessions and it really makes it fun when you’re playing to hear him mocking you in the background!"


PSU: "How do you keep combat in such an expansive place fun and fast paced? Is Spidey going to have move sets that let him move a lot during fights, or is he going to be more restrained?"

BN: "(In regards to Manhattan pacing) When we considered bringing our game out into the open space of Manhattan, we had to keep in mind that every player would be looking for a different kind of experience.  Some will look to find all the bad guys and bring them to justice, others will be seeking out instanced side-missions, others will want to collect comic-books, and still others just swing and have fun with acrobatics in the city.   

"In the end, whatever you are doing, this is still Manhattan…located throughout the city, there are areas where civilians are in trouble, and we let the player choose when they want to be beating up on bad-guys, or chasing getaway cars, or even dodging and taking down roof-top snipers that want to put a quick end to your do-goodery if you ignore them too long."

"(In regards to combat pacing) When you do choose to take on the bad-guys in combat, our team at Beenox actually found our inspiration from Marc Webb’s reboot of the Spider-Man character as a super hero that is more “grounded” in reality than might have been the case in previous incarnations.  The new Spider-Man isn’t perfect.  He can still get roughed up pretty badly in a fight, and we wanted to bring that experience to our game as well.

"In practice, this lead us to completely re-imagine Spider-Man’s combat system from the ground up, based on moves inspired by a Mexican wrestling style called lucha-libre.  In short, it’s awesome, and represents Spider-Man’s extreme agility and speed in combat, while still keeping things grounded in reality as much as we could.   

"This means that you get to take Spidey all over the place in combat!  One minute you are throwing punches and kicks, the next you are flipping around the head of another opponent, and in the next second, flinging webs out behind you to snap backwards into the face of the enemy you left behind.  When it’s all said and done, we worked hard to make sure that the player is always in control as much as possible while also keeping it challenging if you do miss a dodge. 

"When we finally got the balance of moves, timings and abilities just right, the whole team knew it instantly.  It’s a blast to just wade in to a large group, fight for a bit, use Web Rush to retreat, dodge their flashlights while you heal, perhaps take out an enemy or two using stealth, then dive right back in again.   Our team wanted you to choose how you wanted to fight, so it’s really down to individual preference and how you level-up your skills that will influence the way that combat unfolds."