Ever since Ghost of Tsushima was revealed, it has been a game that has intrigued me the more I see and read about it. It was no surprise that this month’s suddenly revealed ‘State of Play’ edition would be solely devoted to showcasing more about this game now it has a confirmed release date of July 17th 2020. It does have to be said that PlayStation did make it abundantly clear is that this episode would NOT be featuring anything remotely PS5 related, so with that said…and my fresh cup of tea to hand, it was time to see what Ghost of Tsushima has to offer:
I will always be taken back how the final titles right before a new generation of console is set to launch, truly showcase how great the current gen consoles really area and Ghost of Tsushima certainly showcases what is still possible with the PlayStation 4. This game is just beautiful in every single way and the entire 18 minute preview of it just blew my mind as the lighting effects and the colours just poured out of my TV and right into my eyes and it was a shame that there was no 4K streaming to showcase it even more.
The setting of Samurai era Japan is just breathtaking and it was the very first thing that grabbed the eyes out of their sockets when the game was revealed. This demonstration showed how lush everything looks and the added detail of how the wind itself can make individual blades of grass move as you either walk, run or ride your horse through it is just staggering to see. The more I watched the more I lost myself in the visuals making this a must have day one title for me even before seeing the first real look at the gameplay.
I loved the inclusion of a classic ‘Kurosawa’ cinematic mode dedicated to the Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa, which will remove all colour from the game visuals giving it that classic Japanese Samurai Movie feel. The photo mode that it will launch with is going to be used a lot by players so I am giving people fair warning that their social media timelines are going to be full of Japanese Countryside screenshots come July 17th!
So we definitely need to address the elephant in the room which was pretty much the shared reaction as this State of Play aired, the gameplay which was “oh this is Assassin’s Creed Japan”. Now I do not think that this is a criticism at all, many games have had a very similar action adventure style to Assassin’s Creed series which after over 12 years of that series is going to be the first thing you compare other games to. There are indeed elements that if you have played a recent AC Title that will make you go…oh yeah, Assassin’s Creed. But whilst there is a fair comparison to be made, Ghost of Tsushima owns that comparison but also makes sure to deliver something new. For example there is clearly a deliberate effort to make the HUD as clear as possible so no mini map or compass and certainly no ?’s dotted all over the screen. Exploration is left to the player and I love that the wind itself is used as a guide as well as animals who will hint at a place of interest for the player, leaving the player to naturally find things of interest based on what they can see and hear in the environment and the world instead of a glowing ? on their display.
Combat wise was very interesting to see although I think I will need to actually play the game to really appreciate it more at this point. From what was shown there will be two styles of combat that players can shape with one termed as the ‘honourable’ Samurai style and the ‘Dishonourable Stealth’ Ghost style, which looks like a Ninja skill based style. The Samurai is all swordplay and with a duel system where you will honourably stand off against enemies in a swordfight with an almost Bushido “One kill strike” timing of swings of enemies. You will be wearing traditional Samurai style armour and face your enemies head on, which I really liked.
The Ghost style however really brings more comparisons with Assassin’s Creed as this style will have you sneaking around and using items of distraction such as smoke bombs or firecrackers to distract and disorientate the enemy for you to approach for a stealth assassination from behind or above. One aspect to this I really loved was the fear element you can put into your enemies as shown when one enemy dropped his weapon and begged to be left alive. Not only will stealth be a weapon of the Ghost style but so will fear which reminds me of the Fear system used in Arkham Knight. Again, comparisons with other games is natural and here they look as though they have been inspired by a good many but they have managed to forge their own take with them and I have to say, I am definitely on Board.
There is an RPG system to upgrading weapons, armour and even skills which we are told can evolve as you playthrough the game. There is a robust customisation system as well so that the clothes and armour you wear will not only have a cosmetic appeal, you can even pick enough flowers to dye your armour and clothes as you wish, but will also impact how you play and fight. This is something we have seen in recent Assassin’s Creed titles in Origins and especially Odyssey where you can put together armour sets that impact your play style. I love these little touches and it opens the door for replay-ability in order to try out different combat styles and builds.
This 18 minute presentation certainly left me wanting Ghost of Tsushima even more but I do have some reservations such as how big is the world and just how much freedom will you have to explore it around the main story campaign and do side content. There is certainly a lot I loved about what was shown and the State of Play did end with the promise of more being shown before release on July 17th. Ghost of Tsushima could well be the surprise hit of 2019 and not a bad way for PlayStation to lead into the PS5 reveals than the double hitter of The Last of Us Part II in June followed by Ghost of Tsushima in July.
Until then I will just have to relish in the music and the visuals delights of every trailer for this game for the next two months!