Since its first announcement at Paris Games Week in 2017, expectations have been high for the upcoming sprawling samurai epic Ghost of Tsushima. At E3 this week the extended gameplay trailer truly didn't disappoint. Sony seem onto a winner with the beautifully cinematic, wonderfully fast flowing open world game set in feudal Japan.
What is Ghost of Tsushima?
GoT is the next release from Sucker Punch productions, a studio many Playstation players will recognise from the Infamous franchise. In comparison to the gritty city superhero/supervillain setting of Infamous however, their latest venture travels to feudal Japan to join take up sword and bow in a brutal hack and slash epic.
We follow Jin Sakai, one of the last survivors of a noble samurai clan as he fights off the Mongol empire on Tsushima island. Tsushima was the scene of many bloody battles during the invasion and seems like an ideal location for a rich open world game telling a powerful story.
What happens in the trailer?
This trailer was one of our first long looks at how the gameplay will handle in travel, battle and stealth. Opening up with Jin making his way to a nearby temple, a title appears informing us that it is the ninth day of the Mongol invasion. What follows is the stunning sight of a windswept grassland, a dark and stormy skybox, and the distinctive red leaves of the Japanese Kouyou where the temple is located. This outlook in the first few minutes of the gameplay trailer just shows how impressive the open world aspect of the game will hopefully be. When Jin summons his horse (with a Link like whistle) what is immediately striking is the absence of a heads up display. No map, no compass or waypoint - just visual clues and natural navigation. This game clearly isn't going to hold your hand, offering a pleasingly clean experience.
What follows is an example of the kind of combat we can look forward to in GoT; first off our protagonist faces off against three standard looking enemies, stabbing, slashing and parrying with a single katana. New enemies are then introduced with a shield and spear, showing off the game's focus on dodging, blocking and attacking sequences. This is a gory game make no mistake; with dismemberment, backstabbing and neck slicing-a-plenty.
Joining up with a bow and arrow user, we're taken to the temple for a lesson in stealth combat. Much like Assassins Creed, a stealthy instant takedown is available in Jin's arsenal along with the ability to sneak around the environment. This is where one of the few prompts are made available to the player; enemies glow with a white outline revealing who you're targeting for a speedy takedown. If you time things right, you can set up a sequenced attack allowing a series of deadly strikes. This looks, and feels, like it draws it's influence heavily from Rocksteady's Batman games. The uninterrupted flow of combat; utilising environmental factors, enemy positing, and unique takedown animations was an insanely fun mechanic in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and looks just as well polished here.
Finally, a third form of combat is shown - a one-on-one duel setting. The camera pans back just enough for an almost cinematic perspective for a sword fight, and leaves on the ground move realistically under character's feet as they charge and parry. If it's as fun to play as it is to watch, these moments of single combat could be a truly unique gameplay experience by themselves. Once again, it's in these moments that the total lack of a heads up display really make all the difference - it's looks like you're actively playing a Toshirô Mifune movie, pulling off counter attacks while flaming arrows rain down from the sky.
When is the release date for Ghost of Tsushima?
So far there is no word on when exactly Ghost of Tsushima will be released, but the fact we have a lengthy high quality gameplay trailer out at E3 suggests we could hope for the end of this year or start of 2019. As approach the run up to Christmas, it wouldn't be surprising to hear about pre-orders or indeed get an official release date. If we have to wait until 2019 though, it will mark a whole two years of expectation and hype since Paris.
What will GoT be released on?
Congratulations Playstation users - GoT is slated to be an exclusive to the PS4. Considering that none of the Infamous games were ported to PC or rival's Xbox, it seems highly unlikely that we'll see Jin and his fight against the Mongols on anything other than a Sony platform.