Ghost of Tsushima looks awesome! Exploration, battles and stealth gameplay

This week we got a closer look at Ghost of Tsushima from Suckerpunch coming to PlayStation 4 on July 17th 2020. We’ve had a couple of trailers before, but this was our first in-depth look into one of the last major releases for the Sony exclusives this generation. I knew we’d be getting an open-world Samurai game, but otherwise, I was pretty much in the dark on what to expect. The following is a look at the Ghost of Tsushima from Sony’s State of Play.

Suckerpunch walked through various gameplay styles in the game starting with exploration. The first thing that struck me was the look of the game; the beautiful Japanese countryside and vistas from the top of hills overlooking the scenery below. There’s some nice innovation in here using the elements and wildlife to guide you around your environment. Rather than detailed waypoints, or a list of sidequests you can use the wind to guide you to undiscovered locations. You can pick leaves from the ground or trees and throw them into the air to get a sense of where to go, or birds and other wildlife help guide you.

There’s a nice example where you’re riding along on your horse and a bird flies next to you to help guide you to a villager sitting on the ground ready to give you an objective. There’s another nice scene where you enter an open glade and fox guides you to a local shrine, which you can then use later to fast travel if you want to. The world looks dense and full of secrets. There are some nice touches and efficient use of animations where you can pick resources without having to get off your horse or stop while you’re running, which keeps things moving along and won’t slow you down.

Next up we had a look at the combat in the form of The Samurai. The music is dramatic and the battles seem really cinematic. It’s not clear from the gameplay how the combat is going to feel, but from strictly a visual point of view this looks very good. The combat looks precise, allowing you to take on multiple enemies at once. It definitely gives off some Assassin’s Creed vibes. You can attack with your samurai sword and you also have a bow for ranged attacks. I really liked the ability to bat away the arrows that were being fired by enemies with your sword.

Then we got to see more about the Ghost style of gameplay, which is much more stealthy compared to the direct Samurai and combat approach. It’s unclear at the moment if you can choose the mode of play you want to go into battles, although they did compare one scene with another so this may be a possibility. As the ghost, you can use all kinds of dirty tricks, like smoke to hide you from enemies and firecrackers for distraction. Fear is used as a weapon as you can intimidate enemies as they crawl back on the floor trying desperately to get away from you.

Again, there are calls back to Assassin’s Creed and Sekiro here with sneak attacks and one-hit kills. This segment showed off a mission where you have to burn down an area with Jinn jumping and traversing through an environment with ropes, climbing and stealth – taking out enemies as you go and finally getting to the objective and blowing up a stash of firecrackers.

As well as the different styles of gameplay you can also customise your character and the way you interact with the game in a few ways. First of all, there are different outfits in the game which have different attributes and mechanical advantages. As you progress through the game you can collect charms which give you an edge in battle. By collecting flowers throughout the environment you can change the colour of armour allowing you to customise the gameplay as well as the look and feel of Jinn.

There’s also a nice photo mode with various wind, particle and music – not only allowing you to create photos but also videos too. You can also play the game with an original Japanese voice track with subtitles for that more authentic feel. Finally, there’s a mode called Samurai Cinema, allowing you to add a black and white filter and cinematic grain to the screen.

I went into this State of Play not really knowing much about Ghosts of Tsushima, however, now I’m really looking forward to its release. It felt like it had elements of Breath of the Wild’s an exploration and Assassin’s Creed combat. The minimal UI and using the wind and nature to traverse the environment looks great, keeping the UI at the minimum. It’s hard to know just by looking at the game how the battles are going to feel, and also how full the world is going to be. It looked like a dense open world, but this was a controlled environment walkthrough.

I think there’s a lot to look forward to here, and I’ve now marked July 17th in the diary with Ghost of Tsushima.

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