Update: Turns out this is actually an intentional Easter egg from Insomniac, not a trick to lower the rendering load. The models are parodying the boat people models from Spider-Man 2 on the PS1, which were also notoriously terrible. This is actually pretty clever. Good game Insomniac! As long as they don’t try to parody the emo Peter Parker from Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man movie, I think we’ll be okay.
Original: Games are complicated creatures. There are often a number interesting behind-the-scenes tricks that developers use to make everything work. Sometimes, playing against the developers intentions can reveal these tricks. That’s exactly what happened with the Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 boat people, the terrifying polygonal mannequins who pilot the boats in New York City’s waters.
Players love photo mode, but it’s a risky proposition for developers as fans get to scrutinize the smallest details of their worlds. There are fun Easter eggs hidden there, like the Sable rockets that say “Guaranteed to Kill Spiders” on the side in fine print, and there are also horrifying creatures of nightmare hiding just beyond the water’s edge.
Spider-Man doesn’t exactly perform well in water, so Insomniac didn’t think that players would hurl themselves into the bay. The boats out there aren’t even physical objects. Spidey just passes through them. They are meant to to be visual flavor on the fringes of the city, but with photo mode, the true nature of Spider-Man’s watercraft reveals itself.
Insomniac never intended players to see these angular horrors up close, but launch Spidey into the water and do a couple of awkward water hops, photo mode lets you see that not only do the hills have eyes, but the water does too. Are these beings the true villains, surrounding New York City as it tears itself apart, waiting for the opportune time to move in and exact their vengeance for not being given the same number polygons as the animated people on the streets? Maybe the guy in the boat just wanted a high five from Spider-Man too, but it’s too late for the simple solutions now. Look at them.
They were designed to be silhouettes on the water, but we have cast them into the light. We’ve allowed the rigging of their own vessels to launch straight through their handless misshapen figures.
Remember their faces, for they don’t have names. We call them the boat people, and they watch us from afar.
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Terrifying Spider-Man PS4 Boat People Watch Us From the Water