(Note: This review contains light spoilers for the The Heist DLC. If for some reason you’re reading this and haven’t played the main story, come back when you have.)
When we first heard that Insomniac would be bringing DLC to Spider-Man PS4, everyone got excited. It’s easy to see why – the game was a resounding success and players certainly want more from the game. We also know that the expansion will encompass three parts of a larger overarching story, known as The City That Never Sleeps. The first part of this DLC story – appropriately subtitled The Heist – centers on Felicia Hardy, aka Black Cat.
Although it was initially unclear what The Heist would actually be, questions also remained about how much content there would be. As it turns out, the actual length of the play though amounts to roughly three hours. Unfortunately, Black Cat is not a playable character. Although you certainly work together with her in the story. There are also new challenges and collectibles, along with a new side mission. While there is certainly enough to whet the palate here, It’s also not really enough to feel substantial.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the new content, the first act of the story begins by selecting it under the “DLC” tab. This opens a side map of sorts, allowing players to focus on the challenges and collectibles in The Heist. After a short opening cinematic, you’re thrust into the mission “The Maria” where a suspicious art heist is going down. This mission certainly fulfills the tease of the character in the game proper. But how does the story hold up?
Main Story & Gameplay Mechanics
Luckily, the best part of The Heist’s story is the dynamic that Black Cat introduces into the game. In many ways, the DLC perfectly captures the love/hate nature of Felicia and Peter’s relationship. It was smart of Insomniac to have such a complicated backstory between the two, particularly because it ultimately makes Peter even more conflicted. If there’s one criticism, it’s that the story doesn’t lean enough into Peter’s reluctance to join Felicia.
Much like the game itself, the best part of this story is the attention to detail. There are two intriguing tidbits in the story that help to inform the aftermath of the main game. During a conversation with MJ over the phone, we learn that she is currently working on an “Oscorp expose”. Additionally, a different conversation with Miles hints that he is looking for guidance form Peter with his newfound powers. These are both great callbacks to the events of the game’s story, but they also reinforce what is sure to happen in the eventual sequel.
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The Story of The Heist further explores the intricacies organized crime in the city by introducing the Maggia Crime Families. We quickly learn that Hammerhead and his branch of the Maggia Family are attempting to take over the crime syndicate. Although Hammerhead himself lurks in the background for most of the story. The Heist does a good job of setting up the new crime dynamic after the events of the main story. With that said, there’s also a feeling that Hammerhead was kind of an afterthought.
In terms of the gameplay mechanics, it’s pretty much more of the same from what we saw in the game proper. Unfortunately, there are no new abilities or Suit Powers that come with the new suits. Nor is a boss fight included, which felt like a missed opportunity. The most noticeable difference in the gameplay however, is the degree of difficulty in the combat scenarios. The game introduces a new enemy that is basically one of the big thugs with a gatling gun. While this added a bit of variety to the combat, it felt very rinse and repeat for the most part.
Side Missions, Challenges & Collectibles
Unfortunately, there is only one side mission in The Heist. At the same time, that mission is so good that makes up for the lack thereof. In “Like a Fiddle,” a police officer by the name of Detective Mackey enlists you in collecting various hidden art pieces around the city. There are 10 in total, and each time that you collect one you learn a little more about their owner – Walter Hardy. What’s great about this side mission is how well it integrates into the overall story, informing Felicia’s actions in an unexpected and well thought out way. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say that this side mission is far better than that of those in the main game.
Much to this reviewer’s dismay, Screwball makes a return with five new challenges for Spider-Man to complete. Screwball’s side mission in the main game was a fun nod to one of the lesser-known Marvel characters. In the The Heist however, Screwball’s increased presence is annoying at best. Aside from having no arc in story, the challenges associated with her are horribly thought out. Not only are the challenges painstakingly uneven, but also the “photo bomb” mechanics are the DLC’s worst sin.
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Aside from the challenges and the ten aforementioned art collectibles, there are also three unlockable suits in The Heist. The first – aptly called the Resilient Suit – is an original design unlocked by completing the first story mission. The second, a Spider-UK homage, is unlocked by completing the entire storyline. The third and easily the coolest of all the new suits is Scarlett Spider II. Again, it’s a shame that that there aren’t any new suit powers. But with over thirty suit skins to choose from now, it’s really hard to complain.
Is The DLC Worth It?
I guess it’s kind of implied, but there’s something cheap about how The Heist ends it’s story on a cliffhanger. This DLC is absolutely not a standalone story, and it ultimately leaves a lot to be desired. While this might be part of the point since it’s essentially the first of three acts, there’s also the lingering question of why this story wasn’t just part of the game in the first place. In terms of the Black Cat plotline in The Heist, there’s no reason why the character couldn’t have been included in the game for a proper set-up here.
Ultimately, if you’re a hardcore fan of this game you’ve probably already purchased the season pass. You’re expecting the first part of a larger story, which is technically what was advertised. With that said, the DLC lacks a standalone feel. For the casual gamer, it’s slightly deceptive to sell The Heist by itself. Considering that it’s only a chapter in the larger story, it feels overpriced. When it comes down to it, if the DLC was a bit cheaper, it might feel a little bit more satisfying. It’s hard to slight The Heist because for the most part, it fulfills what was promised. At the same time, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before deciding whether to purchase The Heist DLC.