Sony live streamed it’s State of Play on Thursday of this week. Breaking away from it’s traditional ways of highlighting future titles coming to Playstation. Instead it consisted solely of a special eighteen minute presentation from Sucker Punch, the developers of upcoming samurai open-world epic; Ghost of Tsushima. I’ve broken down the key features we were shown in the presentation.

For those that just want to watch it in it’s entirety, I’ve linked the video at the bottom.

Navigating the landscape

Ghost of Tsushima has some stunning looking locations

From everything we’ve seen up to now of the game, we know the developers have spent a lot of time on crafting a stunning looking, feudal Japan. And for a player to find their way around this carefully crafted land, Sucker Punch has tried to keep it as organic as possible. They’ve done away with the usual compass or HUD that would normally indicate objectives. Instead opting for a system involving the wind direction. The winds direction (represented by a white looking whisp) will always blow in the direction of the next objective or marker placed by the player on the games in menu map. This system is designed to allow organic integration with the games visual style.

Objective and side mission discovery

Fires and smoke indicate places of interest

There are two ways to find notable places to visit, objectives and side missions. One is simply by looking around in the distance. Pillars of smoke or odd-shaped rocks and buildings are pretty good hints that there is something there worth checking out. It’s reminiscent of other open-world games, such as Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, which represents places of interest with visible smoke plumes. The second is to follow nature, in particular animals. If you spot a fox, and follow it, it will always lead you to shrine that will unlock upgrades and other items. A bird may indicate a person or side mission near by. This system allows the players to remain immersed in the games setting and surroundings.

Combat

The presentation featured two very different combat styles available to the player. We were shown a very hands on, very traditional samurai way of fighting. Involving the lead character (Jin Sakai) approaching a camp controlled by The Hun, dismounting his horse and initiating a stand off with the guard at the gate. This involved some careful timing and button combinations. Resulting in an almost cinematic slow motion, stylised execution of the enemy, the likes of which you’d expect to see in a Samurai movie.

The second style was that of a Ninja. In this demonstration the same camp was approached, but this time Jin was taken in stealthily and across the rooftops. Dropping down to assassinate foes with skill. Jin was also shown to be able to utilise smoke bombs and grappling hooks, to aid in his stealthy movements.

Both styles looked a lot of fun to use. The developers didn’t go into any detail on wether these play styles were interchangeable, or wether you had to choose a path from the beginning. Hopefully, the former as the ability to change tactics on the fly would get my vote.

Customisation

Styles and colours are all customisable

A brief montage was shown of Jin in varying styles of dress fitting the period. Each with its own colours and accessories. It was explained that dying your outfits is possible by collecting a certain number of wild flowers available in game. The developers then showed that changing outfits can also enable you to have unique attributes fitting to individual styles of play.

Going old school

Relive old school Samurai cinema

The developers also showed off something called ‘Samurai Cinema Mode’. This placed an old school visual filter over the whole game. Making the game resemble the black and white samurai movies of the 1960’s and ’70’s. This mode can be left on for the entirety of the game. To further authenticate this experience, Japanese dialogue mode with subtitles can also be turned on. Pair this with the games photo mode and I imagine we’ll be seeing some rather impressive YouTube videos pretty soon.

I’ve got to be honest. I was extremely impressed with what Sucker Punch has to show, teasing they have even more to show us, closer to release. Given how Ubisoft recently dropped the ball with their ‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla gameplay reveal’. This is just what we needed to get us interested in a new game. If Sucker Punch can keep this up and deliver what they’ve shown so far, I’d hedge my bet now, that Ghost of Tsushima could well be the game of the year. Having said that, with the recent announcement of the Tony Hawk’s remaster and oldies like me getting excited, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Ghost of Tsushima is set to release on PlayStation 4, July 17th 2020.

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