ALL ABILITIES IN MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN 2 RANKED: Feature
Written by: Nikola Hristov
!SPOILERS FOR SPIDER-MAN 2'S STORY MODE!
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 features a vastly improved combat system, mainly led by the new special abilities both Peter and Miles can equip. A highlight amongst the refinements Insomniac made is the difficulty spike. In previous titles, even on Ultimate you wouldn't really struggle. None of the bosses were especially challenging, and all of the enemies could be cheesed with the overpowered Suit powers. In the third installment, however, that is far from being the case. With most of the enemies being much more annoying to kill, enemies that force you to use the parry system and of course – the bosses actually having deadly patterns you need to learn, one thing is certain – you're going to want the best possible offense against the threats which plague New York city.
In this ranking, I will be listing all of Miles' and Peter's abilities from worst to best, from my personal experience playing through the game twice – once on Spectacular and once on Ultimate. Before I begin, I want to mention that indeed all the abilities are useful, and this is just my opinion. If you feel like using something else, then feel free to do so.
This is your last spoiler warning! Some of the abilities are late-game story unlockables! You have been warned.
We're going to begin with the younger of the two Spider-Men. Sporting 8 different abilities, Miles doesn't give the player as much freedom as Peter's arsenal does. However, the abilities the ultimate Spidey has are not to be underestimated on their own. During the story, Miles gains access to Evolved venom – which is a blue version of his orange venom attacks. By the end of the game, he has 4 orange and 4 blue venom attacks – 2 of each per attack slot. But are the blue ones better because they're newer, or not?
8. GALVANIZE (L1 + X)
Unlocked towards the end of the game, Galvanize is an uppercut that launches a single opponent in the air. Once fully upgraded, you have two options with this ability – to let the airborne enemy stay in the air, which sends out lighting bolts to your opponents every 2 seconds for small period of time, or to yank down the enemy, slamming them into the ground for an electric explosion. This ability is cool, but there's a few problems that cannot go overlooked – firstly, it's unlocked very late into the game. Secondly, the counterpart of this ability which applies orange venom is simply superior against big hordes of enemies. Thirdly, it's quite useless versus bosses. There's really no incentive to use this in the late game, where Venom Jump is just going to be better. Perhaps in NG+ this can climb the rankings a bit, but certainly not now.
7. VENOM DASH (L1 + TRIANGLE)
A returning ability from Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the Venom Dash is similar to its previous version. There are two differences however: 1) You can no longer press X after the dash to launch an enemy into the air and 2) You can instead use Venom Dash twice in a row. These changes allude to the fact that they want this ability to shine in its "niche" territory – which is throwing enemies off buildings. Environmental kills are all this ability is good for, as it deals low damage and only targets a single enemy – so it doesn't even apply Venom Stun much. It's important to mention that it's also relatively useless vs brutes and bosses, where it applies venom stun but nothing else. In short, this is an ability meant for hunters and gang members – whose worst fear is being thrown off a ledge. I do dislike the fact that you can no longer start aerial combos though, which is why this ability loses points.
6. THUNDER BURST (L1 + TRIANGLE)
In my opinion the better of the two Triangle abilities, Thunder Burst, is the newcomer based on Evolved Venom instead of the orange one. It too can be cast twice and essentially teleports Miles to an enemy he's targeting, slamming the ground and doing some damage in an AOE. This is not a damaging ability, however, it's an engager – it's meant to get Miles into melee range as quickly as possible. And it does that just fine, while also dealing some damage to surrounding enemies as well. The main selling point of this ability is its range – it can be cast from virtually anywhere, as long as you have line of sight on your opponent.
5. VENOM JUMP (L1 + X)
Another returning ability from his own game, this ability gives Miles the ability to launch people upwards. It doesn't do much damage, but it easily applies Venom stun to surrounding enemies and sets you up for air combat. In general, that's a good position to be in – because during aerial combat you do more damage and fill your focus bar quicker. You also avoid a lot of attacks while in the air, such as the annoying jumping attacks from hunters you are forced to parry on the ground. This is undoubtedly the better of the two X abilities and although it's not particularly useful against bosses, any other combat encounter will be made easier just by using this.
4. REVERSE FLUX (L1 + CIRCLE)
One of the new blue venom abilities, Reverse Flux is a Circle special attack, which sucks in nearby enemies and then blasts them for a decent amount of damage. This is a great attack and it's unfortunate that you can only equip one ability per Button slot, because the other Circle attack is quite overpowered. That being said, you can absolutely run with this one as well. In terms of the actual ability, it may even be stronger – bigger range, more damage, etc. But it lacks two key aspects that make the other Circle ability shine – we'll get to those later.
3. VENOM PUNCH (L1 + SQUARE)
The first and classic Miles ability from the insomniac games is making its return – and it's as good as ever. This is the only case where I can safely say choosing between the two abilities of a slot is up to the enemy you're facing. Venom punch is generally really strong versus bosses – it does devastating damage, applies venom stun, and knocks back your opponent. It's got one single problem – it only works for enemies in front of Miles, not around him. It's a very direct attack, and although it has a cone aftereffect and it shocks other opponents, it's mainly a single-target attack.
2. CHAIN LIGHTNING (L1 + SQUARE)
The first Evolved Venom power you unlock, I'm a big fan of this one. There's nothing inherently wrong about this ability, which is also why it's higher than Venom Punch on the list. Yea, perhaps it's not as good against most bosses, but for every other part of the game? Chain Lightning, once fully upgraded, can hit up to 6 enemies for great damage, electrocuting them and paralyzing them for a few seconds. It comes out quick, cancels attacks from enemies that need to be parried and recharges quite fast. Its range is also much better than Venom Punch and due to the nature of the ability, it can chain to opponents behind Miles – which is impossible for the Punch to achieve. As iconic as the Punch is, I would prefer this in most scenarios. Also, just because Venom punch is stronger versus bosses doesn't mean this ability is bad. In fact, versus a specific late game boss that flies around on wings, I'd rather use Chain Lighting from afar.
1. VENOM SMASH (L1 + CIRCLE)
In my opinion, this is the best Miles ability in the game, simply because it has too much stuff going for it. Firstly, it's an instant I-frame, which means Miles can't be hit. It deals a decent amount of damage. It has a great AOE that synergizes well with the Web-Grabber gadget. It can knock opponents off of buildings. But they decided to give it an extra advantage – in the skill tree you can unlock an ability to send enemies airborne instead of knocking them back. This is incredibly powerful as it begins aerial combat, and we already established why that's so powerful – extra damage and focus. Did I mention everyone is Venom stunned as well? This is the best ability against any hordes of enemies, and although it's not the best in terms of damage, is also quite useful versus bosses. Some bosses can even be airborne, such as Wraith, which gives this ability extra points. It's a shame Reverse flux has to compete with this ability – they're both so badass, I wish I could use them at the same time!
It's also important to mention that Miles has two abilities in the skill tree which give orange venom attack an advantage – Bio-Siphon and Critical Venom Stun. The first recharges your abilities if you attack enemies with the Venom Shock status effect, and the second gives you chance to trigger an instant finisher, again, against those enemies. However, only the orange venom attacks apply Shock, for some reason. So when deciding the best ability layout for Miles, you have to balance both Old and Evolved Venom attacks for maximum efficiency.
For me, this is the best layout for Miles:
L1 + SQUARE – CHAIN LIGHTING or VENOM PUNCH (for bosses)
L1 + TRIANGLE – THUNDER BURST
L1 + CIRCLE – VENOM SMASH
L1 + X - VENOM JUMP
Now comes the really fun part – the original Spider-Man's arsenal! Unlike Miles, who already had some of his special attacks in his own spinoff game, this was a first for Peter. And Insomniac went all out – he has 4 special Spider Arm, 4 Symbiote and 2 Anti-Venom attacks for a total of 10, two more than Miles. Interestingly enough, despite what happens in the story, by the end of the game Pete retains all of his abilities. You're also not restricted to using Symbiote attacks only with the black suit, so you can mix and match abilities however you like, no matter what you're wearing.
10. SPIDER SHOCK (L1 + CIRCLE)
It was very hard to decide which ability to place at the bottom. Not even just number 10, but number 9 – 6 also. But in my humble opinion, Spider Shock is in last place. Its damage is subpar and it only targets enemies in front of Peter. It has decent range but sometimes lining up the ability to hit as many enemies as possible is hard. Web-Grabber can help, sure, but that's not the only problem. The problem is that the electrocution effect isn't even that powerful – it doesn't apply a Shock effect like Miles' attacks. Not to mention there's a different ability which is ironically better at chaining electricity than this one. It's usable, I'm just not a fan.
9. SYMBIOTE STRIKE (L1 + TRIANGLE)
Although this is one of the coolest looking abilities in the game, it suffers from the same problem as Spider Shock – its targeting. Sometimes it's hard to land this on as many enemies as possible. It deals pretty poor damage, but it does have two saving graces – it launches enemies into the air (and we all know how good air combat is) and it can web them up to walls. Unfortunately, the other dashing ability does that too, while not suffering from the same problems.
8. SPIDER RUSH (L1 + TRIANGLE)
It might be up to debate, but in my opinion, this is the better of the two triangle attacks. Spider Rush creates a huge tornado, and it is so satisfying to line up enemies together. It can web up to three enemies to a wall, does a decent amount of damage and knocks everyone back, which also opens the possibility of environmental takedowns. Yes, it doesn't air launch enemies like Symbiote Strike. Yes, it's not that useful against bosses either. But guess what? Symbiote Strike's damage isn't that good to begin with. So when it comes down to AOE and Crowd Control – Spider Rush is the winner.
7. SYMBIOTE PUNCH (L1 + SQUARE)
I was relatively surprised with this placement, because this ability was so heavily marketed, and I thought it would be much stronger. On paper, Symbiote Punch is quite powerful. It does similar damage to Spider Barrage, can instantly takedown enemies by slamming them to a wall and when upgraded, can take out any Brute out of a fight. However, this ability's power fades once you get to the endgame. It cannot take out the giant symbiote behemoths because they don't count as brutes, its targeting is rather singular, so you can only hit 1 or two enemies with it, and there's a better Square Anti-Venom ability which has more AOE. In short, this ability is at its peak when you unlock it, and it remains good while you have the Black Suit. After that, better options arise.
6. SPIDER WHIPLASH (L1 + X)
Originally, I wasn't a fan of this ability, but there's one simple reason behind why it made it this high on the list – the Electrocution effect you unlock in the skill tree. Coupled with the Web-Grabber, you can achieve the electrocution effect of Spider Shock to enemies all around you, not just in front of you. You also launch them in the air for aerial combat, which is ideal. If the other two abilities from the X slot weren't so good, this would definitely be top 5.
5. SYMBIOTE BLAST (L1 + CIRCLE)
The better of the two circle attacks by a mile, Symbiote Blast is as straightforward as they come. Spider-Man spikes out in a large AOE using the symbiote. It's one of the few abilities which have an unlockable skill that directly increases their damage. Just run in the middle of a group – whether it's a gang, hunters or a symbiote horde – and EXPLODE. This is just a solid AOE damaging ability – can't go wrong with it!
4. SYMBIOTE YANK (L1 + X)
Oh man, this is probably one of my favorite animations in the game. The sheer force to just slam a bunch of opponents on the ground…so satisfying. Originally, this wouldn't have been this high on the list, despite how much I liked it. However, upon further consideration, I've changed my mind! This is an amazing ability – it can collect many enemies in front of Peter, which sets you up for other attacks! Its damage is not that great, true, but Insomniac still went out of their way to make sure this ability can work on bosses – such as Lizard! However, what really elevates this to another level is a hidden tactic – if you use this ability mid-air, all enemies you slam will be bounced back up! Which sets you up for AERIAL COMBAT! In short, this ability has some of the best crowd control, ok damage and can airborne enemies! Sadly, there's a better ability for the X button slot.
3. ANTI – VENOM BOMB (L1 + SQUARE)
Once you unlock the Anti-Venom suit in the third act, you're introduced to the Anti=Venom status effect – all of your previous symbiote attacks apply it, along with your newfound babies of Bomb and Tempest. It allows Peter to deal increased damage to Symbiote enemies – which are by far the hardest to defeat. This applies for the symbiote bosses too, by the way. This is where your main damaging tool comes along – the Anti-Venom Bomb. A decent ranged attack with ok AOE which deals amazing damage, especially against those Klyntar monsters. Pair this up with the Web grabber and you can put any Symbiote Horde to rest easily. This is one of the best attacks to use against the Behemoths as well. But despite being the newest, it's still not the best attack for the Square slot.
2. SPIDER BARRAGE (L1+ SQUARE)
The first ability you use in this game, your first introduction to the Spider Arms. Some of you may not like them much, but you have to agree that their attacks are badass. It reminds me of a Marvel vs Capcom combo – Crawler Assault, but instead of his hand, Spidey uses the iron arms. This flurry of attacks is powerful for many reasons. 1) It's one of the best damaging abilities, if not the best. 2) The skills you unlock for it add more AOE to its attacks and decrease the cooldown of the ability quite a bit. And 3) It's great vs bosses because of its I-frame animation. Although the damage may be on par or lower against symbiotes because Anti-Venom Bomb has an advantage there, Spider Barrage still has more DPS – it's the only ability in Pete's arsenal that has a dedicated skill to lower its cooldown, which means you can output more of this attack than others during a fight.
1. ANTI-VENOM TEMPEST (L1 +X)
On the contrary, you have the last ability you unlock for Peter, which just so happens to be the most powerful. This is simply put an incredible attack. It's a combination of many other attacks – the Symbiote Blast's AOE, the Air launching of Spider Whiplash AND the amazing damage of Anti-Venom Bomb – this ability is like a mini-ultimate! It can destroy EVERYTHING in its path – it can one-shot normal gang crimes, just like how Web Blossom could do it in Spider-Man PS4, it can demolish Symbiote hordes because of it being an Anti-Venom attack and dealing extra damage, and whatever it doesn't kill is available for aerial combat. It's even strong versus bosses, especially, you guessed it, Venom himself! There is not a single test you can put this ability through that will cause it to fail – it's simply that broken! The unequivocal best attack in the game, bar none.
Remember that you can mix and match abilities for Peter no matter what you're wearing, aside from that small portion of the story after you remove the black suit and before you get Anti-Venom.
For me, this is the best layout for Peter:
L1 + SQUARE – SPIDER BARRAGE
L1 + TRIANGLE – SPIDER RUSH
L1 + CIRCLE – SYMBIOTE/ANTI-VENOM BLAST
L1 + X – ANTI-VENOM TEMPEST
Thank you for reading if you made it this far! It took a lot of time and testing, but I think I've done something I'm proud of here. At the end of the day, however, this ranking is just my opinion, you can use any attacks you want so long as you like them. But for the players who want that extra edge in Ultimate mode, well, this was for them!
Written by: Nikola Hristov