How the Studio Behind The Last Guardian Helped Ghost of Tsushima Find Its Direction by Mike Williams for USgamer
“We reached out to them very early and we were like, ‘hey, here’s this game we want to make. First of all, what do you think? And two, do you want to help us out for obvious reasons?’ It was great, they were super excited about it,” says Connell. “They flew a number of us to Japan and helped us with a 10- or 11-day guided tour with a historian through central Japan, southern Japan, Fukuoka. We got to go to Tsushima. We actually got to go to the beach that the invasion happened on which is [Komodohama]. So they were very supportive early on.”
With the help of Japan Studio, Sucker Punch also spent time talking to consultants and historians. It needed to know about the history of the invasion of Tsushima. It needed to know how Japanese people from that time lived and how they moved. Sucker Punch even flew in modern-day practitioners of the samurai sword-fighting style to consult on the game and do some motion capture. “They were so freaking fast,” says Connell. “We had to ask them to slow down because it was too fast to capture.”
Ghost of Tsushima will launch with two voice tracks, the English recorded by Sucker Punch and the Japanese voice track overseen by SIE Japan Studio. Both tracks were recorded “almost simultaneously” and players will have the ability to choose one or the other when they load up Ghost of Tsushima for the first time on PlayStation 4.
I love hearing that Sucker Punch had such strong support from Sony to make Ghost of Tsushima as authentic as possible. Being a first-party studio has such a strong benefit of having Sony’s backing, both financially and creatively. I imagine this dedication will help translate to stronger sales in Japan as well. Ghost of Tsushima feels like a beautiful blend of Western and Japanese development. It is a unique pairing.
While the presentation showed gameplay as a Samurai or the Ghost, those aren’t two different combat systems. Jin can fluidly move between both as the need arises, with all of the tools at his disposal.
“We want to clear up that this is not a game where you choose to be the Samurai, or choose to be the Ghost,” says Connell.
So my initial read on being able to switch between styles is spot on. I can’t help but think that will lead to some sort of narrative disconnect with the gameplay though. The story side of Ghost of Tsushima is anchored in Jin’s transformation into “The Ghost” as he reclaims the island of Tsushima from the Mongols. Being able to ignore this Ghost path on the gameplay front, while great for actual mechanics, doesn’t jive with the narrative presented so far. Here’s what I wrote earlier this week.
But when watching the gameplay styles, it looks like maybe you don’t have to move beyond those samurai traditions after all, at least when playing. That could be a point of disconnect between the narrative and gameplay if there is not a karma system. Sucker Punch’s last franchise, inFamous, used karma as a key pillar in its storytelling and gameplay, so it does make sense for them to continue that practice in Ghost of Tsushima. The marketing so far just does not communicate that. It will be interesting to see how this element shakes out.
Interestingly enough, there is no karma system in Ghost of Tsushima.
Unlike the Infamous games, there is no good-evil karma system. Within the story of Ghost of Tsushima, the fall of Jin and his transition into the Ghost is the emotional core, but there will also be gameplay benefits to becoming that legendary figure.
I don’t want to judge the story and gameplay experience before I play the game myself. Color me curious to see how it all pans out thematically.
There’s also no hunting system in the game, where you kill deer, foxes, or bears for materials to make armor or items.
This strikes me as an interesting choice for an open-world game. There are clearly crafting mechanics with other supplies like bamboo and linen. while you may not kill animals for supplies, I still assume you can and will kill some animals. In the State of Play video there was a bear that was attacking some NPCs. I doubt there is a peaceful way to resolve that. I wonder what rewards, if any, there will be for killing animals.
“I knew that it would be a technical hurdle to get right,” he says. “That’s not an easy thing to do, have everything in your game react to wind if possible. About two years later, a year and a half later, the game had it. Everything was windy. There were trees moving, and grass moving, capes moving, and hair moving, and particles… it was insane. At that time we were realizing that the game was just stunning. It was very very pretty, even early.”
The Particle Masters have proven themselves again with the wind interacting with everything. I like that the wind began solely as a visual element that turned into a mechanic. I really hope the technical performance can remain steady in particularly windy scenes that are dense with elements whipping around.
It’s remarkable that we are getting two first-party PS4 exclusives back-to-back to close out the generation. Especially since both Naughty Dog and Sucker punch kicked off the PS4’s life with The Last of Us Remastered and inFamous: Second Son. I hope it all ends on a high note.