Sony led its Paris Games Week 2017 press conference with a heavy-hitter. Sucker Punch, the internal Seattle-based Sony team behind the inFAMOUS series, revealed that its next project will be something new. The game, Ghost of Tsushima, will be a PlayStation exclusive open-world game about samurai in 13th-century Japan, and is currently the last major first-party PS4 game scheduled to release this year. Since its reveal, Sony was very slow to trickle out information, but now that it’s less than two months away, we have a much better understanding of what the game will be like.
Here is everything we know about the game so far.
An island invaded
The debut trailer, shown above, depicts a lush, beautiful countryside and details a young samurai warrior’s ascent toward his ultimate challenge. Sony provided a brief plot premise below the trailer:
“The year is 1274. Samurai warriors are the legendary defenders of Japan — until the fearsome Mongol Empire invades the island of Tsushima, wreaking havoc and conquering the local population. As one of the last surviving samurai, you rise from the ashes to fight back. But, honorable tactics won’t lead you to victory. You must move beyond your samurai traditions to forge a new way of fighting — the way of the ghost — as you wage an unconventional war for the freedom of Japan.”
In Ghost of Tsuhima, you play as Jin Sakai, a skilled samurai with the ability to take out enemies silently, use a grapple hook, and explore a huge open world. He is one of the last remaining samurai of Tsushima island. Sakai is joined by Masako, a female samurai that aids him throughout his journey to protect the island.
More “real” than real
Despite the setting and the real-world event that took place in 1274, Sucker Punch isn’t strictly following history. Instead, the story will feature fictional characters and the studio’s own take on Japanese landmarks. During a panel on the game during PlayStation Experience 2017, the studio’s creative leads explained how the team created certain areas, such as a large, pristine field and an open patch of flowers, as artificially perfect versions of what actually existed during that time. The game takes place on Tsushima island — a place that must be defended by Sakai and his companions.
In another effort to add a layer of authenticity, Ghost of Tsushima creative director Nate Fox suggested that the game would give non-Japanese players the option to play the game with Japanese dialogue and subtitles.
A different kind of open world
After making three inFAMOUS games from 2009 to 2014, the Sucker Punch team is something of an expert when it comes to open-world games. Members of the Ghost of Tsushima team said it will seek to fix certain problems that have plagued open-world games for years.
For example, the studio will move away from turn-by-turn “hand-holding” user interface and design many games have used this generation, including Sucker Punch’s past project. In a developer diary, creative and art director Jason Connell stressed that they wouldn’t use waypoint markers to reveal interesting areas to players. Instead, you’ll just have to go exploring to find what the game has to offer.
“We just, hopefully, are presenting something that’s beautiful and exotic — that’s different than the current place that you might be in,” Connell said.
Perhaps the most standout difference between Ghost of Tsushima and Sucker Punch’s previous efforts can be found in tone. The Infamous series, like Sucker Punch’s PS2- and PS3-era stealth platforming series Sly Cooper, frequently had comedic relief. Ghost of Tsushima, from the looks of this first trailer, seems completely serious and even somber at some points. With the (presumed) protagonist berated by an enemy for his inability to save his home, we see villages burning and citizens running for their lives.
“I’ll ask you once again, samurai,” the invader says in the trailer. “Do you surrender?”
Ghost of Tsushima will play like a mix between Assassin’s Creed, Shadow of War, and Breath of the Wild, with a focus on action combat, stealth gameplay, and exploration. As revealed during a recent State of Play, the game will not feature waypoints that tell you where to go. Instead, the wind will change directions to lead you to your destination. This frees up the HUD and gives it a more natural and realistic look.
As for the combat, you’ll be free to engage with enemies using swords, much like you’d expect in a samurai game. From what we’ve seen, the sword gameplay seems to be complex — allowing you to counter enemy attacks and take various stances similar to Nioh.
There will also be an emphasis on stealth, though playing as a “ghost” is deemed to be dishonorable. It’s unclear if there will be a “good” and “bad” system like in the inFAMOUS games, or what the consequences are of playing as a “ghost.” Taking out enemies stealthily is a great way to even the odds, especially when you come equipped with smoke bombs. You’ll be able to use firecrackers, grappling hooks, and other pieces of equipment to take enemies out.
Ghost of Tsushima will allow for armor customization, similar to Breath of the Wild. The armor sets grant you different abilities, depending on your situation — all of which can be upgraded. There are also charms you can equip to your armor that grant you perks like automatic health restoration. You can alter your armor’s colors if you have the right items, so be on the lookout for various ingredients that can be used to make dye.
The inclusion of a Photo Mode has become a Sony first-party staple, and Ghost of Tsushima is no different. The recent State of Play highlighted an in-depth Photo Mode, which allows you to set a number of different filters, including a classic film grain — making it look like an old samurai movie. You’ll even be able to create short videos as part of the Photo Mode, too.
When can we play it?
After much silence throughout its development, it was finally revealed that Ghost of Tsushima will launch for PS4 exclusively, on July 17, 2020. It was originally planned to release on June 26, 2020, but was pushed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been in development since the completion of inFAMOUS: First Light, which debuted in 2014, giving Sucker Punch a six-year dev cycle. This is more time than any game in the company’s catalog.
Pre-order bonuses and special editions
As with most first-party Sony games, Ghost of Tsushima will feature a slew of different versions, including a Collector’s Edition, as well as preorder bonuses for you to enjoy.
For preordering any version of the game, you get the following:
- Ghost of Tsushima digital mini soundtrack
- Ghost of Tsushima Jin dynamic theme
- Ghost of Tsushima Jin avatar
There’s also a fancy Collector’s Edition that includes a ton of goodies, but it’s since sold out. If you can find one, it’ll set you back $169.99 and it includes the following:
- Sakai mask with stand
- Cloth map
- Sashimono (war banner)
- Furoshiki (wrapping cloth)
- SteelBook case
- 48-page mini art book by Dark Horse
- 1 technique point
- Charm of Hachiman’s Favor
- Hero of Tsushima skin set: Golden Mask, Body Armor, Sword Kit, Horse, Saddle
- Director’s commentary: The creative team sits down with a renowned Japanese historian to look at the world of Ghost of Tsushima and how it compares to the real-life events that inspired it
- Ghost of Tsushima samurai theme
The Digital Deluxe Edition will cost $70, is available to preorder on the PlayStation Store now, and includes:
- Hero of Tsushima skin set: provides an additional in-game horse, saddle, mask, sword, and armor set for Jin
- Charm of Hachiman’s Favor
- One technique point
- PS4 dynamic theme based on the box art
- Samurai PS4 dynamic theme
- Digital mini art book by Dark Horse
- Director’s commentary