Spider-Man 2 is a stellar addition to the PS5’s library and Insomniac’s portfolio, and one facet of its incredible experience is the fast travel.
Imagine swinging through the New York City streets and realize that you have to travel all the way from FiDi (Financial District) to Queens for a mission (might as well be a world apart). I scrambled to see if I unlocked fast-travel for that area — I did. “Okay, I don’t see a fast-travel symbol, let’s see where it puts me.” Without missing a beat, I went from clicking the fast-travel button to web-gliding exactly where my cursor was hovering.
Spider-Man 2’s fast-travel system shook me — let’s talk about this amazing feat, and how well and truly this kicks every other game’s fragile booty.
Fast travel? I might as well walk
I’ve played a few games with frustrating fast-travel systems, and the most offensive are the most recent releases because they have the capability to be better.
In Baldur’s Gate 3, you have to select certain waypoints to travel to and, while you can do it from anywhere, it takes forever for the game to load. Also, some of the fast-travel points don’t even make sense. For example, in Act I, the closest one to the Grove is outside and around the corner from the Grove’s entrance. I have to walk just to get inside (this doesn’t sound bad, but keep in mind you can’t sprint in this game). There’s a fast-travel portal directly in the heart of the Goblin Camp, why not the Grove?
Cyberpunk 2077, on the other hand, features a number of fast travel points, but you have to discover them all and they’re not explicitly labeled. This doesn’t make any sense to me because the points are mostly based on public transportation, so our characters would just have access to them, no? There is a loading screen for fast-travel as well, but it’s not too long. My problem with Cyberpunk is that you have to physically get to a fast-travel point before you can fast travel. It’s like The Witcher 3, and I hate it. If you’re 500 meters away from a fast-travel point, and your objective is 450 meters, you might as well just drive.
Sea of Stars is a tricky one to complain about because it’s not explicitly designed to be easily traversed, but I’m going to complain regardless. Why in the love of everything holy and unholy do I have to go through the same jungle for the umpteenth time just to find a Rainbow Conch in an obscure area deep in the bowels of a faraway island? The only fast travel available in this game (before the end) is via the living statues that fling you across the map. However, there are only a few and they drop you in general areas as opposed to a specific place.
This is where Spider-Man 2 comes in.
Spider-Man doesn’t get any breaks
Web-swinging, gliding, and maneuvering across the expanded NYC is so damn satisfying, but when the narrative is also in full swing, I don’t want to miss a beat of that action. I can get around the city quickly, but if I’m across the map, it can take longer than I’d like.
With Insomniac’s new fast-travel mechanic, I can be in mid-swing or mid-glide and I can fast-travel to any point on the map and continue swinging or gliding. It’s fluid, smooth, silky — all the adjectives you want to throw at it. I love it.With Insomniac’s new fast-travel mechanic, I can be in mid-swing or mid-glide and I can fast-travel to any point on the map and continue swinging or gliding. It’s fluid, smooth, silky — all the adjectives you want to throw at it. I love it.
But with any video game, there are mechanics that always take you out of the immersion. Not every single detail in a video game is going to keep you locked in at all times. Like when you’re reading tutorials, or when you’re organizing your inventory. Sometimes there are things that take you right out of the action. One of those things for me has always been fast travel.
Slowly but surely, with every new generation, I feel like we are eliminating the busy work that some games need to deliver to progress the narrative. I’d love to say that loading screens have been cut out, but as we’ve seen with Baldur’s Gate 3, we’re not fully there yet. However, with games like Spider-Man 2, cutting down loading screens and instant fast travel keep me deeply immersed in that world.
I beat Spider-Man 2 in the span of three days because of how hooked I was, and it’s not a stretch to say that the fast-travel was a pivotal feature in getting me around the city.
I want to see the Spider-Man pointing meme
Honestly, this subhed says everything that I want to say. I would love to see other games learn from Spider-Man 2’s seamless fast-travel mechanic.
In Cyberpunk 2077, I want to point in a direction and immediately be on my motorbike driving down the road in that direction. In Baldur’s Gate 3, I want to use the equivalent of a teleport spell to zip around the map in a stylish fashion.
Some game mechanics are tough to roll into the immersive experience, but Spider-Man 2 proved that fast-travel is a system worth doing it for.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.