I think, without a doubt in my mind, people play video games to take a walk in a character's shoes. Escapism. Don't get me wrong, there are quick "I'm just killing time" games, and "I want to have fun with my friends" games. Though, I think that a single player comic book character-based game is meant to make you feel like you are that character. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, have shown what it's about and how to do it. Not in terms of copying that gameplay, but in following the structure.
This is not a post to discuss specific ideas for the next Spider-Man game. This is a topic discussing what the core gameplay is.
Personally, I think Arkham Asylum/City break down to six things: Plot, Characters, Abilities/moveset, Gameplay, Side Gameplay and Extras.
A story that is taken seriously, and deeply involves the main character we are playing as. Essentially it should answer "Why am I playing this?" and "What do I have to do here?" A good Spider-Man game should have a reason that Spidey is doing what he does, while at the same time allowing us to make our own choices as him. You're presented with a problem and have to come up with your own ways of solving that problem. The actual "plot" should only drive you along to do those things. Characters making choices and doing things, causing you to respond.
People like seeing their favorite characters. Even generic enemies should generally be interesting. The thugs of the recent Batman games are not pushovers. You truly get to feel like Batman, so they're not too tough in comparison, but they will kill you if given the chance. They also talk about interesting things and make it seem like a real world. Small details like simply discussing larger more mainstream characters like The Joker, Harley or Two-Face.
Spider-Man's enemies should offer interesting insight on those they work for. To assume that a villain working for Black Cat is not going to say anything when she leaves the room is silly. Likewise for any other character. And then the main characters should definitely have an on-screen prescence. Doc Ock appearing should definitely make the player nervous for a moment. However your abilities, should give you the confidence to not back down.
More than just fancy tricks, spidey's moves should be useful and multi-faceted. Web should be something that spidey uses for a reason, not to just spray all over town. Especially if we're to believe that he has web shooters and not organic webbing. Developers rely too heavily on the web. His mode of travel should be Le Parkour/Free Run/Urban Ninja with web swinging as an alternative. Again, I'm NOT saying take web swinging out or anything, I'm just saying that as a character he should feel adequate without it. Did any of you ever try playing these games without swinging? Very boring, very slow. It shouldn't feel that way.
In the Batman games you can grapple or glide, and they both have their own uses. In future Spidey games, swinging might get you there faster, but running and jumping might have it's advantages too.
Also, in Batman, you get "Detective Mode" and other ocular abilities, they help you see through walls or find special things. The problem was easily summarized: "Why turn it off?" However, one of the things that Rocksteady did for Arkham City was to not only give you more modes, so that you don't rely on just one, it also made the visuals become somewhat confusing if you left it on. There was a REASON to turn it off. Spider-Man's gameplay should be interesting without relying on specifics movesets or abilities.
Spider-Man games should be more than...
Introduction of level>Horde of Generic Baddies>Next Room>More Generics>Next Room>A puzzle that a baby could figure out> Sub Boss>Generics>Boss.
Sadly, that's how it's felt for a while in Spidey games. For a super powered being with a genius level intellect, he should be doing more than punching his way through enemies. Why not allow players to do more things that use his brain or powers without relying on any specific one? For example: a level that needs you to master sticking to walls and not touching the ground? Maybe a level that needs spidey to swing accurately? The original Spider-Man game for N64, Dreamcast and PSX did not rely heavily on hordes of enemies or specific abilities to tell the story.
As I said above...Escapism. No one wants to be forced to do one thing for hours on end. Batman games have recently let players Collect Riddler Trophies, Solve Puzzles, Look for clues and easter eggs, Explore the unlocked areas and backtrack, collect audio recordings, look for "chatter teeth", etc etc..It wasn't just about the plot, and Arkham City added even more things. both games also implemented alternate costumes. So let's translate that to Spider-man. Fans keep talking about costumes, including the original outfit and Peter Parker, but they'd also like random crimes to go on unlimited. Why not make those crimes more in depth? I say take a cue from every single Spider-Man game yet:
-Fires you have to rescue people from.
-Falling off of buildings
-Gangs breaking into rooftops
-Destruction. If there's a bad guy that's playable, or even as Spider-Man himself. And like when you played as Venom in USM, he'd have to run from SHIELD or maybe have a random boss fight with another hero like Ironfist, Daredevil, Elektra or Luke Cage.
-Thieves breaking into stores and rooftops
-Races against other famous characters
-Randomly generated boss fights
-Hurt pedestrians from car accidents
-Children and Teenagers(instead of balloons, maybe they'd like Spidey to perform tricks. they could take the place of the Hot air balloon and TRICK RACES)
-Photos around the city for special reports (Like with chang)
-Photos for the Bugle
-Dates (Like you have to meet MJ or whomever somewhere and so you have to get there on time, or sometimes she wants you to just swing her around)
-Pizza Delivery (This could easily be changed into something else)
-Spider-Logos you have to get photos of to unlock costumes
-Stores that upgrade and unlock things
-Your apartment to switch costumes and replay levels, talk to Gwen/MJ
-Movie theater to view cutscenes
-Talk to other characters (like in Web of shadows)
That would be an awesome combination of all the free-roam Spider-Man games. And is about equal with what you can do with any other free roam game like GTA or Saints Row.
I think people would like the same extras that any other game offers. Let's take a look:
-Extra Costumes available on the disc from day 1
-Playable Characters (Unlockable is fine, even DLC is fine...Even costumes that give you different powers could fit under this, just change up gameplay)
-Figurines with audio. People like the character designs and want to look at the characters without having to play the game again.
-Unlockables. (Moves, skills, upgrades, comic books, alternate endings)
-Easter Eggs in-game
-Cameos and guest appearances
That would be, to me, the core gameplay necessary for any future Spider-Man free-roam games. And these are all things that players have gotten in other games. Even other Spider-Man games. So why not put it all together? It is more profitable to make a game that fans want, than to make sub-par games over and over.