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At the start of the game, you are given four difficulty options: Friendly (easy), Amazing (normal), Spectacular (hard), and Ultimate (very hard). These difficulties affect the amount of damage enemies dish out with their attacks, as well as the amount of damage they can take before being knocked out. There is only a trophy for beating the game on Ultimate difficulty, though it isn't required for the Platinum trophy and may be best attempted on a New Game+ file; to start, feel free to select whichever difficulty fits your play style. Keep in mind that you can change the difficulty at any time by opening the pause menu with Options button and selecting the settings option, then the game option.

As far as actual gameplay goes, Spider-Man has a good amount of abilities that should make combat and traversal of the city a breeze. Web-slinging can be done when near buildings, trees, etc. by holding R2 button. Release at the lowest point of a swing to launch yourself forward or at the highest point of a swing to launch yourself upward. R2 button can also be used to run up walls or perform parkour stunts across obstacles. Web-zips, performed by pressing Cross button in mid-air, can be used to speed up your web-slinging, as it has Spider-Man shoot out webs on either side of him in order to launch himself forward. This can also be useful when getting across areas in which web-slinging is impossible, such as across bodies of water, but take note that only one web-zip (two if a certain skill is unlocked) can be done at a time without losing altitude.

The use of skills, gadgets, and suits can aid you tremendously in battle, so make sure to unlock and experiment with them. Skill points are acquired as experience is gained, while gadgets and suits must be crafted by collecting certain tokens across the city; stop crime and clear specified objectives in the process to earn Crime Tokens, find remnants of Peter's time as Spider-Man in the form of backpacks for Backpack Tokens, clear out enemy bases while fulfilling specified objectives for Base Tokens, take photos of New York City's landmarks for Landmark Tokens, clear missions at research stations and perform extra tasks at Octavius Industries (such as circuit projects or spectrographs) for Research Tokens, and perform well at four types of challenges (bomb, drone, combat, and stealth) assigned by the Taskmaster for Challenge Tokens.

In certain parts of the game, you'll be playing the alter-ego of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, as well as Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. Peter assists Dr. Octavius in lab duties and occasionally investigates, while MJ and Miles dodge the wandering eyes of enemies in stealth segments. For a more detailed look at the game's controls, see the controls page. To begin the story, see the first mission.