(Warning: Some Spoilers)
The very first moments of Spider-Man’s second DLC pack “Turf Wars” immediately set a much darker tone for the story than what we’ve previously come to expect. Black Cat’s meddling with the gangs of New York have created a, well, turf war that involves notorious villain Hammerhead and the fight to stop them from acquiring the Sable tech that has been left throughout the city.
Upon infiltrating Hammerhead’s hideout, police captain Yuri Watanabe fails to stop Hammerhead before he kills her entire squad with Spider-Man arriving just a few moments too late.
Rather than tell more of Spider-Man’s story, “Turf Wars” is very much about a grieving Watanabe and the lengths she goes to for revenge on Hammerhead. Hammerhead hideouts act as a sidequest as we’ve grown accustomed to and clearing them prompts the help of Mary Jane to uncover the surprising past that Watanabe has with Hammerhead. Her reasons for revenge become clearer after finishing each hideout, and her motives are more complex than we’re originally led to believe.
“Turf Wars” makes it a point to delve more into Miles Morales’ story as well. We discover that he’s still trying to become Spider-Miles in his own way as Peter tries to make up excuses to not train him, worrying about the dangers it could lead Miles in to. Miles’ also acts as a comic relief foil to the revenge story we’re plunged into with most of his phone calls to Peter involve him doing something silly. Jumping off a bridge in Queens and breaking his toe definitely isn’t one of his smartest moments. Just the Facts with J.J. helps bridge the gap between downtime in the story, but no information on Harry Osborn or Black Cat was a bit frustrating, if not understandable.
Spider-Bot makes a return in arguably its most fun mission yet. The newest DLC finally gives us a mission that is interesting, plot related, and not disarming bombs. I hope to see more clever implementation of our robot companion in the next pack.
Although this expansion manages to avoid the horrendous repetition of the puzzles found in the last DLC and the main story, our live streaming amateur terrorist Screwball returns as the supplementary side missions to the Hammerhead hideouts spread throughout New York City, and it’s a huge disappointment. Apart from being annoying, this side mission feels thrown in, and her inclusion a second time in a row makes me wonder if we couldn’t have used a new character or even gave an old one a second appearance. I had almost no motivation to pursue her challenges, and unless you need the tokens, I would probably just skip it.
The length of the DLC may be a bit short once again, but the darker storyline kept me more engaged than I expected, especially with how impressive Black Cat’s implementation was in the previous expansion. We saw Watanabe and Spider-Man grow close and watched their friendship evolve in the campaign, which makes Watanabe’s dark turn so much more interesting to see.
Spider-Man’s greatest strength continues to be how well it understands the relationships in the spider-verse, both for friends and foes alike. Those who enjoyed Spidey’s relationship with Watanabe in the main story shouldn’t skip this expansion, even if it may be light on content.
Turf Wars doesn’t answer lingering questions from the last expansion or seem to move things forward, but that’s not its purpose or it’s main attraction. Though we’ve seen revenge stories like this before, Insomniac understands exactly how to craft compelling stories between Spider-Man and his closest friends. A much more brutal and darker tone accents a DLC that is both worth your time and attention, even if that only amounts to a handful of hours.