“With great power comes great responsibility.” Even if your knowledge of Spider-Man lore is limited, you’re probably familiar with that iconic quote from the comics and various films starring the superhero web-slinger. The PS4/PS5 exclusive DLC for Marvel’s Avengers featuring Peter Parker is aptly titled With Great Power, but does it ultimately live up to what fans may have wanted for one of the world’s most popular superhero characters? And are other fans missing out on something truly amazing due to the console exclusivity? The answers to both of those questions are complicated. Boiling it down to another free DLC for the action RPG, Spider-Man himself is a welcome addition to the roster for those who happen to own Marvel’s Avengers on a Sony console, at least.
Because the Spider-Man content is console exclusive and not available to all players, the developers’ approach with it is rather unique compared to how they handled the Kate Bishop and Hawkeye story missions or Black Panther story expansion. Rather than an expansive storyline to play through right away like those heroes, Spider-Man’s story takes place in the multiplayer-friendly Avengers Initiative segment of the game. Once Marvel’s Avengers updates to give you access, merely start up a round and have your chosen hero approach a “suspicious web” now on the front window of the Helicarrier. Spidey will pop up just a few seconds later with a rather fun and deceptively cinematic intro before you can play as him. Like the other playable characters, he has his own mission chain/Hero Event with trackable progress, and it is through this mission chain that With Great Power plays out.
Rather than having story missions of his own, Spider-Man has a series of objectives to be completed before advancing to the next. These range from opening a certain number of loot boxes to performing a specific move so many times, and even traveling to differing Avengers Initiative zones and beating them. Doing so will often net you an audio file (that you can both read and listen to at your leisure) that sheds more light on just what Peter Parker is up to and how he interacts with the Avengers. On occasion, you might even have to travel to Ant Hill when prompted for a five-second conversation with an NPC connected explicitly to the Spider-Man plotline to advance to the next mission objective. This continues until you fulfill the last objective, which nets you the final audio logs and also lets you see a brief, comic book-inspired “ending” to Peter Parker’s mission chain that cements his place in the Avengers’ roster.
To say that the narrative approach is less involved than the War for Wakanda expansion or other character DLC story missions is an understatement. There aren’t even specific Spider-Man missions to peruse at the War Table. Rather, you can reach any of the objectives for With Great Power by playing through already available missions. This causes Spider-Man to feel somewhat removed from the main plot, and the minimalist presentation of his storyline doesn’t exactly help matters much. In a way, I can understand it because I think the developers were trying to accommodate those without access to the DLC by making it seem less grandiose in the grand scheme. Still, Spidey fans playing the DLC hoping for more content will be somewhat disappointed, especially since the snippets of story we get during the mission chain are intriguing.
With Great Power opens by presenting Peter Parker and his friend Liz Allan and their ill-fated internships with AIM; Peter sabotages said internships when he starts suspecting AIM of being up to no good. This results in Liz being quite terse with him. Peter realizes someone from the Allan family’s chemical company is supporting AIM’s more nefarious super-villain antics, so he approaches the Avengers as Spider-Man hoping they can help him get the evidence he needs to convince Liz and prove that AIM isn’t on the up and up. The audio files flesh out the details of the storyline nicely as it evolves with every new objective. I strongly liked the more positive stepsibling storyline that is gleamed between Liz and her stepbrother Mark during it. Out of the Avengers, Spider-Man bonds the most with Ms. Marvel and Black Widow, as shown in their audio texts to him. The little touches showing how he interacts with the superheroes as a whole made me wish we actually got to see more of them in general throughout the mission chain. The Hero Event bookends with a slightly more detailed cinema scene than what the meat of the plot progression does, which further adds to the sense that it would’ve been nice to see more done with the campaign.
Still, the storyline itself is enjoyable for what it is; you do gain access to Spider-Man as a playable character, adding another varied superhero to the Marvel’s Avengers roster. Given how many missions you go through to complete his mission chain, I became quite familiar with Spider-Man’s moveset and playstyle. He’s agile and quick, with many ranged abilities in his arsenal. Wrecking Ball was an absolute blast to use on groups of foes, and I kind of loved the animation for him throwing webbed opponents around in a circle. I had a great deal of fun going through missions to reach his objectives and learn moves, and I think he may have just cemented himself as one of my mains in the game from here on out. Adding another fighter into the mix for players to experiment with is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and it is clear that a lot of care was put into ensuring that the Spider-Man of this game was a solid all-around addition to the cast.
While trying to reach some of the objectives could be fun, I do admit that the mission chain could border on tedious at times. It was a “rinse and repeat” sequence of events in a lot of respects and, because there were so many steps, there was a sense of it being dragged out, especially since there were some objectives that had obviously been designed to ensure players would have to do numerous missions. I would’ve much preferred having the entire list up front to check off as I went, as I’m also fairly sure I could’ve completed some of them together while playing through mission fields. The attempt to prolong the game time was understandable, but it certainly wears out its welcome as some objectives could be more frustrating or even boring to reach than others. Still, overall it wasn’t a horrible experience and gave me the excuse to explore Avengers Initiative more, so I was quite content with seeing some more story scenes from that campaign as I progressed. I’m hard-pressed to say whether I’d like other superhero characters added into the mix in quite the same way since I think the lasting appeal of Marvel’s Avengers is the fact that the more extended storylines are surprisingly engaging despite the game’s flaws.
From a visual perspective, there isn’t much to say about With Great Power. I did adore the comic book story scenes whenever they appeared and certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them incorporated more in the overall game, given its comic book roots. Graphically, the game looks as good as it always does. Spider-Man blends in well to the visual style and remains rather iconic in terms of his design. There does appear to be some fuzziness when it comes to his character model comparatively, though it doesn’t show up quite as much while the game is in motion as it does in screenshots.
The soundtrack’s sound direction was just as fitting, and I have to give kudos to Sean Chiplock, who many RPG fans might recognize from his role as Rean from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, for his portrayal of Peter Parker! He really grew on me with every wisecrack and audio log I heard, portraying Peter as a more experienced solo hero hesitant to join a team while staying as relatable as fans expect Spidey to be. I wish he’d had even more lines to speak because he brought this game’s Spider-Man to life! The other characters’ voice actors did great work bringing identity to their more limited performances as well.
Honestly, I can’t complain too much about With Great Power. It’s a free DLC that gives you an excuse to boot up the game again if nothing else, and gives some gamers an entertaining new character to play as. It’s regrettable that the story presentation wasn’t built up more because what’s there is surprisingly decent, but I can understand the storytelling approach due to the exclusivity issue. The largest shame here is that some gamers won’t get to experience the DLC at all since Spider-Man is certainly another welcome addition to Marvel’s Avengers roster.