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Ghost of Tsushima: Everything you need to know ahead of this week’s release

Ghost of Tsushima is set for release this Friday. Widely considered among the most exciting remaining releases of this generation, Sucker Punch’s long-awaited samurai open-world is finally almost here nearly 3-years after its 2017 debut. Sucker Punch is best known for its Sly Cooper and Infamous titles, but Ghost of Tsushima is easily its most ambitious project to date. With hands-on reviews starting to roll in, we have a much better idea of what players can expect to get their hands on later this week. Head below for everything you need to know about Ghost of Tsushima.

Ghost of Tsushima

Firstly, here’s a quick refresher of the setting and narrative setup. Ghost of Tsushima takes place on the island of Tsushima in Japan circa 1274. The island and its samurai are the last line of defense before the invading Mongol armies make it to mainland Japan, but Tsushima’s forces are outnumbered and decimated in the process. In the wake of this tragedy, a lone samurai or ronin is joined by a small cast of characters as they attempt to take the island back from the Mongols.

A Gorgeous Open-World

Ghost of Tsushima features one of the most gorgeous open-worlds ever to grace a console. Everything from windswept cliff sides to gorgeous bamboo forests, one thing Sucker Punch has certainly nailed here is the art direction on the open world. Featuring over 40 different biomes, it sits somewhere between entirely realistic and a little bit mythical to great effect. The look and feel of the game world have been praised in early reviews thus far, and rightfully so.

A wonderfully minimal UI keeps the game world front and center with a series of immersive navigation methods in place. Players can call for a gust of wind at any time to direct them to their next destination. You’ll also come across a series of foxes and wild birds that will naturally guide you to secrets, shrines, and more. It is a particularly nice touch that will likely inspire a host of game devs moving forward.

Campaign, Side Quests, and More:

Ghost of Tsushima’s campaign spans between 30 and 50-hours of gameplay depending on how many of the side quests and collectibles you bother with. The main campaign missions are complemented by a series of side quests including multi-part character-specific quests that can span the entire duration of the main game, Mythic Tales, and the smaller Tales of Tsushima side quests.

While the multi-part character stories and the Mythic Tales have been mostly praised thus far for their emotional narratives and impressive in-game rewards, it seems like the Tales of Tsushima side quests are mostly throw-aways or just don’t offer up enough diversity overall.

The charms collected from these side missions are used to upgrade and spec into different builds for your character, but most accounts seem to suggest there are plenty more out there than needed, leaving much to be desired in terms of motivation to get them, especially in the late game.

Jin Sakai and Character Customization:

Players take on the role of Jin Sakai, a samurai warrior forced to employ new tactics in order to push back the invaders. Once an honorable warrior trained in the arts of the samurai, Jin and subsequently the player is forced to learn new skills and expand the breadth of his arsenal in order to take on what seems like insurmountable odds. Through leveling up, players garner new active skills, while collectibles and armor customizations allow for passive bonuses. A set of combat stances also play a major role in the effectiveness of your attacks — certain enemies are significantly weaker to attacks in particular stances.

You’re essentially deciding to play as a samurai or a ghost, or something in between. While there’s nothing groundbreaking here, most accounts of these systems are positive, although some seem to suggest the stealth and ghost options are somewhat stunted here. While most of the issues seem to be surrounding the not-so-intelligent enemy AI, and things of that nature, it is something to keep in mind for players hoping to stealth their way through this thing like a ninja.

Ghost of Tsushima Combat:

Ghost of Tsushima’s combat is focused on a more grounded approach that is heavily inspired by classic samurai films. Jin can take enemies down in a few swipes of his katana, but the same goes the other way around. That’s not, however, to say this is a difficult experience, like something along the lines of a Dark Souls game. In fact, most reviewers seem to suggest the game was easier than not. While you’ll mostly be relying on your blade, there are also longbows, kunai, smoke bombs, and a grappling hook (it’s not nearly as cool as Sekiro’s but it gets the job done just fine and is significantly more realistic), among other things.

Stand-offs

Along with the ability to parry and block attacks, Jin can also get into a stand-off with groups of enemies — classic movie style. Unsheathe your blade at just the right time and you’ll dice your enemy in a single cinematic slash. The upgradable ability to chain these stand-off strikes together to take out the rest of the group of enemies is a particularly immersive feature as well.

Ghost of Tsushima Special Features:

While there’s no real new gameplay here, Ghost of Tsushima does have some interesting tricks up its sleeve. The photo mode is particularly impressive, allowing gamers to swing the camera freely, add particular effects, animated backgrounds, and more. A Samurai cinema mode blankets the entire experience in a rainy old film filter and puts the whole thing in black and white — like an old Kurosawa film. Dropping this insanely good work down to back and white should really be a crime, but you can turn this mode on and off just for the fun of it, making it a particularly cool add-on here.

Ghost of Tsushima releases this Friday, July 17, exclusively for PlayStation 4 with pre-orders now available. For those wondering about a PlayStation 5 version, last we heard both The Last of Us 11 and Ghost of Tsushima will be compatible. We aren’t sure just yet as to how that will work in terms of upgrades, but it does appear as though the game went gold with PS5 compatibility intact.

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