Marvel's Spider-Man - Black Cat

So, I’d heard Marvel’s Spider-Man was quite good long before I actually played the thing. It was even a real Game of the Year contender in 2018. But what no one told me about was just how freaking good its first DLC, The Heist, actually is. This content pack is seriously fantastic.

The Heist begins with a museum… well, heist, in which you must (as Spider-Man) take down a bunch of baddies and prevent them from stealing some art. While the catch-the-bad-guy-before-he-escapes-with-an-armfull-of-expensive-art concept is new, the majority of this mission plays out very much like so many of the base game’s missions. It might be tempting to write this off as a rehashed content pack that stretches the Spider-Man game formula a little too thin.

But then you realize things are not what they seem, and you’re tossed into a very emotionally satisfying narrative, with fantastic character work and reveals that are so big I’m surprised they were saved for a DLC pack instead of being a part of the main game.

Felicia Hardy, AKA Black Cat, is in the middle of all this. She showed up in the main game, but she was sort of sidelined a bit, relegated to a short series of side quests that abruptly ended just when it felt like it was getting started. Thankfully, she’s front and center in The Heist, and she might be the game’s most interesting villain (or is antihero a better term?)

Marvel's Spider-Man - Black Cat

The best parts of the base game were the character moments between Peter, MJ, Aunt May, and, of course, Miles Morales. The dialogue was exceptional, and the emotional character arcs were really well-constructed. The big villains, in comparison, felt sort of poorly defined.

Even the relationship between Peter and Otto, which was really interesting toward the beginning of the game, didn’t really sell me on Doctor Octopus as the game’s ultimate villain. In fact, Martin Li felt the same way for me. He was really well-written as a character initially, but his transformation into a major villain felt sudden and over-the-top. (There are some really good character moments with Li late in the game, but they’re too infrequent to really make his arc feel satisfying for me.)

So having Felicia as a fully realized character — with a backstory that complicates Peter’s and even intertwines with the DLC’s one real side quest — was a great turn for the game. This was an element that Marvel’s Spider-Man really needed: a complex, fleshed-out villain who you feel compelled to side with, even though you know you can’t trust them. This allows the game’s writing to work in some interesting ways, and it plays into the strengths that were always present in the narrative. It’s lovely.

The side activities play out much like the ones in the base game, yet they have some new twists. The new Challenges are hosted by Screwball instead of Taskmaster, and all of them offer photo ops that will help you go viral (and boost your score). There’s even a new challenge where you must use the suspension matrix gadget to levitate your opponents before using trip mines to snap them back to the ground.

On top of that, there’s a new crime side activity where you must use the Spider-Drone gadget to disarm bombs. It’s certainly not the best crime activity (I’d much rather be punching dudes and flinging webs), but at least it’s something that’s kind of fresh (there were some Spider-Drone sequences in the base game, but they weren’t a part of the crime side activities).

Marvel's Spider-Man

Oh, and I was playing one of the other crimes, which had me beating up a bunch of low-level mobsters in an alley to free a hostage they’d stuffed into the trunk of a car. All of a sudden, the car drove off, and the activity transformed from a back-alley brawl to a car chase. I don’t remember this ever happening in the base game.

So there are plenty of surprises and fresh twists on the formulas that were established by the first game. Throw in a great narrative, packed with emotional ups and downs, and you’ve really got a good thing going on here.

I estimate that you can probably finish up all this content in about five hours (including the new side activities), so it’s nowhere near as big as the main event, but this seems like a good amount of content for the asking price (especially if you manage to get it on sale).

If you’ve completed Marvel’s Spider-Man but haven’t yet dabbled in the DLC, The Heist is well worth your time. In fact, I’m tempted to say that it’s one of the best parts of the entire game.

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