Ghost Of Tsushima: Gameplay Footage, Film Filter, Release Date, Combat, And Everything Else We Know
A rundown of everything we've learned about PS4's Ghost of Tsushima, including its new trailer, details on combat and gameplay, and difficulty settings.
Update: Ghost of Tsushima headlined Sony's latest State of Play presentation. The 18-minute demonstration offered an extended look at new gameplay footage, including exploration, combat, customization, photo mode, and more. We've updated the article below with all the new details.
Sony's reveal of Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima was one of the highlights of Paris Games Week when it was announced in 2017 and its Game Awards trailer gave us another glimpse at the game's cinematic beauty. Now, we finally have a release date. Ghost of Tsushima will be released in June of this year, exclusively on PS4. Below, we've compiled together all the essential details you need to know about Ghost of Tsushima, as well as how to pre-order it.
If you don't remember the original trailer, it laid the foundation for Ghost of Tsushima's premise: a fictionalized take on an actual 13th-century Mongol invasion, with a protagonist who transforms from samurai to ninja in order to protect the island his people call home. If that entices you, then be sure to keep reading all the details below.
Ghost of Tsushima's release date has been delayed from its original launch of June 26 to July 17. It was announced as an update after the delay of The Last of Us Part II, which was put off due to the COVID-19 situation impacting distribution.
Characters, Story, and Setting
Ghost of Tsushima is set on the Japanese island of Tsushima, a location that in 1274 was invaded by Mongol raiders. Sucker Punch did extensive research on the actual island, including the study of the original beach where the Mongols first struck land. The team's vision is best summarized as an informed remix of the real island's geography, flora, and fauna. For Sucker Punch, it's all about glorifying the source material to set the stage for equally beautiful and tense moments in a war-torn idyllic countryside.
The lead character is Jin Sakai, and Jin will have to take what he's learned after years of training as a samurai and adjust his techniques in order to fend off forces that greatly outnumber the island's inhabitants, let alone the one-man army fighting to protect them. Sucker Punch's Chris Zimmerman described the tone of the game as brutal, but he also clarified that both sides of the conflict will reflect the humanity that so often gets lost in combat-driven games, with both Mongols and Japanese characters that will defy expectations--Masako, the character in the E3 trailer, being a prime example.
One of the primary conceits of Ghost of Tsushima is Jin's gradual adoption of ninja-like fighting and stealth techniques, of which we've only gotten a taste of so far. The majority of the available info on combat is focused on swordplay, either in one-on-one fights or with Jin facing off against small groups of enemies. An 18-minute gameplay demonstration gave a closer look at how combat plays out, both as a samurai and as the ninja-like ghost.
Traditional samurai combat seems more focused on sizing up your opponents and remaining observant of enemy attacks in order to counter them, instead of aggressively mashing away. It seems varying enemy types will keep you on your toes, and as such, which calls you to switch between different combat stances to more effectively attack and defend yourself. Ranged attack options are also available, such as a bow and arrow. Interestingly enough, you can challenge foes and even can honor their dead bodies once slain foes--though not much is known about how these actions will impact gameplay.
Despite the prevalence of realism, Ghost of Tsushima is not Bushido Blade, a fighting game where a single sword strike could spell death--just like real life. According to Zimmerman, this model simply isn't fun in the team's eyes. Still, we have seen moments in the available footage where Jin successfully takes off body parts and kills enemies with a flick of his wrist, and it appears this is more likely to happen while fending off common enemies, versus more important battles where opponents can absorb multiple slashes.
While Sucker Punch has hired weapons experts to help direct combat and attack animations, the studio is also going to play up traditional techniques by judiciously adding flair for effect. "There are things that Jin does when you're fighting that no samurai would ever do," said Zimmerman. "He does spin strikes, which are fun, they're very showy, they are completely… you would never do that [in real life]. You would never turn your back. There are things that he does even right now that we may continue to edit as we look for that balance. We'll see if we can find the best of both worlds, where it's as real as it can be while still being a video game."
On the other hand, stealth combat veers more towards what the developers at Sucker Punch Studios identify as "dishonorable." As the ghost, you can make use of more underhanded techniques and weaponry to take out enemies. This ranges from stealth-kills you can perform from a variety of angles to special tools, like smoke bombs, firecrackers, and kunai (throwing knives). You're also much more agile as the ghost, being capable of performing parkour maneuvers and even using a grappling hook to get around the environment. As you continually murder enemies from the shadows, those around will start to fear your presence and may even choose not to fight you if they see you wandering around.
It's possible to customize Jin in a variety of ways to enhance his overall capability. Different sets of armor are available in the game, and each apply to either playing as a Samurai (combat-focused) or as the Ghost (stealth-focused), as they give you specific advantages for either playstyle.
There are also Omamori Charms, which you equip to grant specific perks. For example, the Charm of Okuninushi is a defense charm that slowly recovers your health out of combat, while the Charm of Unseen Respite grants 25% health recover when using smoke bombs. The menu screen shown also stated that you earn more Charms by finding Inari Shrines which are scattered across the open world.
In addition to Charms, you'll earn Technique Points to learn and upgrade skills, further fleshing out some RPG-like mechanics in Ghost of Tsushima.
Where you can start to personalize Jin's clothing is with dye flowers, a resource you collect in the environment. If you collect enough of them you can change the color of your armor, clothing, and even your sword's handle and sheath. And we also got a peek at several different armor sets
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When you're not fighting or sneaking about, it seems like you're spending a lot of time exploring in Ghost of Tsushima, navigating through vast open fields, climbing up the more mountainous regions, or rolling through local farmsteads. As you explore, you can scavenge resources for crafting and even interact with NPCs for added story moments.
An interesting component to navigation that Ghost of Tsushima does differently from other open-world games is what happens when you set a waypoint on the map. Once a point is designated, the game will find natural ways to guide you in the right direction, whether that's the wind blowing in the direction of where you want to go, or a bird flying up above to lead you to that point.
One of the most interesting discussions around the game was about Sucker Punch's philosophy behind making a fun, fictional game based on dramatic real-life events. Zimmerman offered valuable insight. The team knows what historians have reported, but only so much of it will be honored--a decision made to cater to mainstream expectations of samurai, informed by movies and games alike.
According to Zimmerman: "we're going to deviate from historical truth, we just want to do it intentionally. A lot of the support we get from our friends from Sony in Japan, and our Japanese friends in Sony US, and all the cultural consultants we've assembled to help us do this stuff, is to make sure we don't deviate accidentally. There are things we are going to do that are different and we want to choose those wisely."
"If you have an idea about what samurai look like or how they act or how they think we're going to give that to you," he added. "Most people's idea is really based on an idea of samurai which is really more of a 16th-, 17th-, 18th-century idea of samurai; 13th century, historically, is pretty different. In terms of how they fought, what they wore, it doesn't match your expectations. So we're not sticking exactly to the historical truth of Kamakura-era samurai. It's gonna be a little different. The armor that you see him wear, it's not 13th century armor. It's more warring-states-period armor. Because, honestly, the 13th century armor is pretty jarring looking, it's not what you'd expect. It's really boxy. It doesn't look aspirational. And we wanna make sure that what we give you is your fantasy of what being a wandering samurai is."
The debut gameplay trailer at E3 2018 had some of us concerned due to the use of English voice acting, which stood out given the game's historical basis and the stated import of cultural identity. According to the State of Play presentation, there are language options available for players who prefer to hear Japanese and Mongolian voiceovers with English subtitles. Main protagonist Jin seems to be voiced by the actor who plays Roronoa Zoro from the massively popular One Piece anime franchise.
Speaking to Zimmerman, it sounds like Sucker Punch will create multiple difficulty settings in order to cater to a wide range of players. "There are difficulty levels and that's actually kind of more important for us than it is for a lot of games, because it's an open world game and lots of different people play those games for different reasons. There are people who are going to say it's beautiful and they just want to see what it's like, and yeah, their experience has to be different than somebody who looks at it like they've always wanted to play a really grounded katana fighting game, and the fantasy for them is about challenge, discipline, practice and precision--that's what they expect of samurai and that's what the game should demand from them as the player."
The State of Play presentation also confirmed that Ghost of Tsushima will have a photo mode, which has a suite of options you can customize, including color grading, depth of field, as well as the ability to manipulate elements in the world, such as wind direction, lighting, and particle effects.
Black And White Filter
For all of you chambara cinephiles out there, Ghost of Tsushima will feature a black and white filter that makes the game feel like an old school samurai film.
Since we finally know when Ghost of Tsushima is expected to release, you can now pre-order it. Be sure to head to our Ghost of Tsushima pre-order guide for more details and links.
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