Since the Marvel’s Spider-Man games are open-world titles, the developers at Insomniac Games naturally had to give them a fast travel feature. Moreover, because the first two Spider-Man games launched on the PlayStation 4, the devs had to program loading screens to keep players entertained while the consoles processed the request. As a PS5 exclusive, Spider-Man 2 does away with those loading screens, but it doesn’t really need them anymore because of how awesome (and awesomely fast) the game is.
To fast travel in the PlayStation 4 versions of Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, players have to select a landmark, hold down the “X” button, and watch a cutscene of Peter Parker (or Miles Morales, depending on the game) riding the subway. It’s a fun little touch that acts as a character moment for the illustrious web-slingers and also helps players forget the console is loading a new area.
The PlayStation 5 versions of those games work the same way, but the amount of time the console spends on the loading cutscene is drastically reduced. Gamers thought Spider-Man 2 would use a similar fast-travel system, but it doesn’t. Instead, the game’s fast travel mechanic feels less like a fast travel system and more like Star Trek-style teleportation. The result is turning a lot of heads.
Recently, several clips of Spider-Man 2 gameplay have been swinging around the internet, and for good reason. These videos show a player opening the in-game map, selecting a random location, and instantly teleporting to it. No loading screen, no downtime; just point and go. Remarkably, the player doesn’t even have to pick an in-game landmark. Some people have claimed this is probably the most seamless fast travel system they’ve ever seen. According to IGN’s calculations, the loading process takes as little as 1.33 seconds, which really demonstrates the full power of the PS5’s SSD.
When fans discussed the clip and its implications on ResetEra and elsewhere, they thought it was some sort of trick. Maybe the button prompt to select a destination was a stealthy loading screen? Insomniac’s Core Technology Director, Mike Fitzgerald, responded to the thread and said that no, the game really is that fast.
According to Fitzgerald, holding the “X” button down is just a “hold-to-confirm prompt” to make sure nobody teleports to the wrong location. The previous Spider-Man games used the same prompt, so that explanation checks out. However, the rabbit hole goes even deeper. According to Fitzgerald, Insomniac considered making Spider-Man 2’s fast travel even faster by removing the prompt and just letting players teleport around like Nightcrawler with the press of a button. However, the studio kept the system intact for the sake of “player usability,” because, in Fitzgerald’s own words, player usability “is far more important than internet cred points.”
Compared to other modern open-world titles, Spider-Man 2’s fast travel system is easily the quickest and easiest. At the very least, it’s a far cry from a title like Starfield and its myriad of loading screens. In the long term, though, the implications of these mechanics are far more exciting than that. Not having to stare at loading screens is one thing. Being able to instantly swap between characters, settings, and actions is quite another. Just imagine how GTA 5‘s already excellent character-swapping system could have been improved by that kind of performance. Actually, given that rumors strongly suggest GTA 6 will feature a similar system, there may come a day when we won’t have to imagine how this kind of technology will impact such an experience.