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Ghost of Tsushima: The road to launch

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Ghost of Tsushima: The road to launch

Looking back at the journey that led us to July 17, 2020.

inFamous Second Son and First Light had just shipped. We’d completed three big and two small games in the series, spanning nine years of work. The PS4 was still pretty new, and yet it was time for us to move on from inFamous. You could feel it in the room. 

So we set off towards an uncertain future — to conceive and create a new game — but starting that process without the faintest idea of what the final product would be. We launched ourselves into the unknown…

Early on, we concluded that we wanted to build a large, open world experience — and one that featured melee combat.  But beyond that we were uncertain. Pirates? Rob Roy? The Three Musketeers? All these were considered — but we kept coming back to feudal Japan and telling the story of a samurai warrior. Then one fateful fall afternoon we found a historical account of the Mongol invasion of Tsushima in 1274, and the entire vision clicked into place. 

Here’s some of the very first concept paintings we did — shortly after deciding this was our path:

We had a lot of creative problems. We wanted to tell the tale of one of the only samurai who survived the initial assault, but what was his story?  Who would our adversary be? Could we structure a game and story that featured a relatable, human experience — but also surround it with an anthology of other stories to explore? And how would we present the story? The world we were building had no modern technology, so no cellphones to help us communicate with the player, no glitzy super-powers to create visual spectacle. Oh, and the entire game would collapse if we couldn’t figure out how to make melee combat work. We had some serious problems to get to work on.

We’d helped launch the PS4 with Second Son. We’d built our rainy home of Seattle and a powerful visual effects system to provide visual sizzle. Now we were trying to build a place half a world away and more than 700 years in the past… that’s a lot of distance to cover. But the real challenge? The scale. Nothing was immune. World size, foliage placement, dialog lines, missions, characters. These things didn’t just increase, they multiplied. 5x, 10x, 20x, even 40x in some cases. And none of the tools from inFamous were up to the task…. except for our visual effects system.

At times, the task seemed impossible. The game got away from us a little bit — it felt like we were wrestling an octopus. We had trouble just keeping track of the state of the game. Was it playing better with yesterday’s new changes? It’s a simple question to ask, but hard to answer unless you can cancel all your meetings for a week and play through the game. (Shout out to our amazing QA team who came on and provided excellent counsel in the late stages!) 

In the end, what pulled us through this six (!!!) year project? I think the key was the clarity of the original vision. Unlike any project I’ve previously worked on, Ghost of Tsushima’s topline vision stayed almost entirely unchanged throughout years of development. The story evolved, the combat went through countless iterations, but the vision was clear from the first presentation to today:  “A lone Samurai survives the Mongol invasion of Tsushima, and is forced to reinvent himself to save his island home.”

This has been a remarkable project that has tested us as game creators. Along the way we came to trust ourselves a little bit, and to trust players too. So, It is with great pleasure and immense pride that we present Ghost of Tsushima to you today. It’s the best work we’ve ever done as a studio, and we hope you enjoy your time with it!

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54 Comments

  • Congrats to everyone at Sucker Punch Productions on the launch. Can’t wait to spend the weekend in Tsushima. Take a well deserved break team. Can’t wait to see what you do on PlayStation 5.

    P.S. Please have someone bring the original Infamous games back. Would love to play through them again.

    • A remake of inFamous 2 for the PS5 would be incredible!

      I love Sucker Punch, but I have no interest in a hyper-violent game like Tsushima.

    • @mclaren777

      This is far from hyper-violent. If you want that you can look at MK which brought about the ESRB ratings.

    • Congratulations to Jason Connell and Sucker Punch Productions. Jason really spearheaded this project with his incredible art direction.

      Hopefully the systems built for Tsushima will be useful in future works. Six years brings a project to a point were it has little chance to be reasonably profitable unless it hits absurd AAA numbers. Especially without MTs or DLC.

      To be honest though, SP likely needed to revamp their tech in order to compete in the next generation anyway. Infamous is an incredible series and Second Son was a fantastic game with breathtaking visuals and powers, but the world scale and mission structure was perhaps lacking.

      Two things i worried about with Tsushima, scale and side missions, now seem to be a plus. It was a curious decision to essentially abandon the ranged powers and visual flare that made your previous IP so successful, the morality system as well, but i would imagine that it will only make SP a more well rounded studio capable of creating a more diverse game in the future.

      I’m interested to know what the next project will be. I wouldn’t abandon Infamous, especially with the newfound scale and melee excellence in your arsenal. I’m not sure Tsushima is a franchise based on the story at hand, but i’m day one on whatever you decide to do. Infamous: Two Sons featuring Delsin and Reggie in a future where Reggie’s conduit genes were activated by his thought to be death. Co op game where the brothers round up the escaped super conduits from Curdun Cay. Some sort of Tsushima sequel if possible. A Sly reboot. Or new IP. SP has earned the reputation as a day one studio.

    • No, no, that’s fair. Ghost of Tsushima is a pretty gory game but, it’s a lot more tame then The Last of Us Part II, or Mortal Kombat. It’s Samurai violence. It’s like the movie The Last Samurai. You wondered why it was rated R compared to most other movies, but to make it authentic, reality it, war is a bloody mess.

    • There’s also a setting to turn off blood in this game. You’d still be stabbing people in the face, I guess, but maybe it would help.

  • Can’t wait to play this masterpiece

  • Congratulations to the whole team, game looks incredible. I’ve been waiting for such a game for so long, and everything I’ve seen about the game makes me so happy.
    I’m sure those 6 years of hard work will mean a lot for many players around the world.
    Love from France :)

  • The game looks stunning already and I’ve only seen review copies! My only regret, not buying the collectors edition for that Sakai mask! Bravo!

    • You may not have received it anyway, apparently fewer CEs were produced and distributed than planned/expected by distributors.

  • First congratulations 👏 this is awesome game 🎮 so far. Second, enjoy your work done as we will enjoy it too as players 😉

  • Had an hour on it before bed but can’t wait to get back to it.

    Is stunning to look at love the combat and how you’re not just hacking away at a health bar for ages.

    Feels a bit weird not being able to lock onto people but hopefully get used to it

    • From what I’ve played so far, the game design doesn’t inherently demand a lock-on feature. But the fact that the camera seems to have a mind of its own much of the time can make the player feel as if some sort of lock-on should be there to reign it in.

    • Agreed – it’s not like your swings will miss because of the lack of lock-on, Jin will automatically face an enemy most of the time in combat anyway. Controlling the camera can get a little tricky at times (it’s not too bad though)

  • Congratulations to Sucker Punch for your wonderful work and to PlayStation for another kick ass exclusive.

  • I’m so happy to read you talk about this. I have found it bewildering wondering why it took so long to make the game and to hear it from the horse’s mouth (Nobu lol) is a relief.
    For the longest time I thought the studio was in trouble before the game was announced in late 2017. Its very surprising that the game took an additional 3 years to release.
    Played the first 2 hours last night and its all paid off. Can’t wait to jump back in this evening and I hope it sells well and you can start on your next next gen project :)

    • Especially considering how fast they spit out each Infamous game. Six years is almost development hell territory. HZD took less time and that has more RPG elements and massive hulking robot enemies. Horizon was an investment into the future as well. The Decima engine has already been used on multiple projects by multiple different studios. It also spawned a hit franchise with expansions and sequels. The investment by GG was worth it to say the least. HZD also sold 14+ million copies with more to come.

      I’m all for new IP and allowing a developer the necessary time to achieve their goal, but it has to make financial sense as well. Hopefully Tsushima sells 8 million copies and the SP engine is now primed for their next gen offering.

      I know Tsushima will be a stellar game, i receive my Special Ed. copy later today, but i encourage SP to reuse what they can on the next project in hopes that the wait is only half the time. I crave a new SP game on PS5. I’d love to see what they can do on a ground up PS5 game with that SSD, DualSense controller, Tempest audio engine, and 10.3 Tflops of power. Please, choose your favorite non Spiderman Marvel hero and pitch a game to SONY/Marvel. SP already mastered the superhero genre, but with the improved SP engine, the power of PS5, and the Marvel universe at their disposal i could see SP hitting the same highs that Insomniac did in 2018. In reality, SP is even more capable than Insomniac in this realm. It’s your wheelhouse. With the newfound Katana gameplay you could make a wicked Blade prototype for Marvel. A Blade game essentially combines the newly mastered melee/Katana mechanics with the powers and visual fx that SP is known for. A proper Deadpool game would also be in your newly assembled wheelhouse featuring ranged combat and Katana gameplay. You could pitch DC on a Green Lantern game. Anything. SP is primed to take on a monster IP from Marvel or DC.

  • Just played for a couple of hours so far but I’m in love. You’ve created a world I don’t want to leave. It’s beautiful and mystical and filled with tiny details if one only takes the time to look. I rarely platinum games but I can definitely see myself trying this time, if only to be able to run around in Tsushima for a while longer.

  • Congratulations Sucker Punch! I’ve been a hug fan since the Sly Cooper days. Ghost of Tsushima will be my first Day 1 purchase of 2020 and I can’t wait to jump in! All of you deserve a break after making this beast of a game. Stay safe! :D

  • Congrats to everyone involved. And aside from a bit of lip-sync and camera wonkiness, the game is incredibly impressive from top to bottom.

  • I can’t wait to play Ghost of Tsushima….but part of me really wants to see this Rob Roy / pirates / Three Musketeers idea come to fruition from Sucker Punch. On PS5 maybe?

  • Loved the inFamous games. Can’t wait for weekend to start, so I play Ghost of Tsushima.

  • Great job to the team. The game is amazing so far and has been one of my most anticipated games for awhile.

  • Just got my copy and I can’t wait to start playing this game.

  • Ggggg

  • CONGRATULATIONS ON ALL OF THE AMAZING REVIEWS AND A SUCCESSFUL GAME RELEASE!

    I know it can feel perhaps a bit intimidating to follow up Naughty Dog but in the end, it was Sucker Punch that for to close out this generation and many critics have dubbed Ghost of Tsushima “the PS4 swan song”. To be honest, Ghost of Tsushima was my most anticipated game this year, not The Last of Us Part II and I think a LOT of gamers fully agree and are on board with me. I finished The Last of Us Part II and have been playing GoT and your studio really ought to be proud of themselves. I’m liking GoT much, much more. I actually messaged your studio to see if Jason, Nate, Billy, and Chris might sign a copy for me and I’d buy a t-shirt or something, coming from a small town where we never get to see you guys, but in a neighboring state, and didn’t hear anything but, we appreciate the polar opposite we’ve seen from Naughty Dog. You’re team and studio have been very humble and we respect that. But you’re still very confident and very proud of your work. Maybe I’ll see some of you somewhere and you can sign my steelcase for me.

    Thank you for your hard work. And yes, I did watch Samurai movies each day this week to the buildup: Shogun, Yojimbo, The Last Samurai (I love this one), 13 Assassin’s, Seven Samurai. SHOGUN IS FRIGGIN 9HOURS LONG!

    Anyway, congratulations again and thank you! Always a fan of your games. Sucker Punch ARE the new Naughty Dog, your the poster boy of PlayStation now.

  • Ghost of Tsushima is really awesome looking game but i wonder is it possible to still get the dynamic theme

  • I woke up friday the launch day at 8:30am and played ate lunch play more ate dinner, shower really quick and played more, and now it’s 2:14am Saturday and just got off. I’m REALLY into this game, from the fights to riding your horse through beautiful landscapes and even making those poems. Game of the year in my book.

  • The combat is some of the best I’ve ever experienced, so grounded and responsive while being visually pleasing. Love how the attacks and blocks build up this bar that you can use for healing etc., making it feel more organic than hoarding your health until the very last moment. Outside of combat the game does feel a bit technically outdated (pulling the bow out of thin air, going into first person to crawl under things so as not to have to show the animation,…) and like they skimped out on some of the animations, but the wonderful combat makes up for it all.

    • Ok nevermind, apparently the bow is only missing on my first attire (traveler), probably because of the cloak. It’s there on the other outfits :) And they might’ve gone with first person while crawling under things to improve visibility. Loving the world and exploration as well. Reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus <3

    • Also love that the outfits have different effects like in Horizon, but I didn’t want to upgrade samurai clan armor because it looks so awesome, just found out you can revert back to the previous in terms of looks, and still keep the upgrades <3

    • For me; having the bow/quiver always strapped to my back kills several of the outfits’ aesthetics.

      I know you can unequip the bow, but having that little quiver floating off the back of the Ronin outfit is just distracting.

  • Congratulations to the developers at Sucker Punch!!!

    I had been following Ghost of Tsushima ever since the glorious unveiling at E3 2018.

    Having sunk around 8 hours into it so far, I’m loving alot and slightly perturbed by a few of the excises made to the final product…

    Aforementioned, I absolutely love the combat. It’s tight, grounded, looks and feels incredibly satisfying to the player. Viscera galore with every single duel. Extremely well made and highly polished.

    However, the caveat comes into play during the stages I was most impressed with the E3 2018 showing. That being the open world design.

    It seems as if massive, juggernaut-sized cuts were made to the environments. What once appeared as an inhabited landscape of feudal Japan, slowly became a lifeless landscape. Peppered here and there with the occasional oddly animated deer or fox.

    Rolling fields of grass, that for some reason now, did not move or flow with the player as appeared to have been envisioned earlier, maybe due to technical limitations.

    Within the first few moments of the wonderous opening sequence, the moment the player has control of Jin, you can feel that something is slightly amiss. The animation seems to have an odd “jank” to it. Almost as if the character is wrestling with a half removed physics engine that had once inhabited the world.

    The character of Jin almost seems to float atop the world, rather than being hard set onto the landscape. A landscape which at times, seems to exhibit some fairly rough texture work, as seen in any of the bodies of water, cliff facings, building exteriors, etc.

    Small details are what pulls players into that gaming universe, so riding a horse straight through a bamboo forest, clipping through the actual trees, is incredibly jarring. It feels almost as if the textures all become ethereal and not really manifested in the reality of the game. Incredibly odd design choice.

    Highly commendable however is the lighting system, which while different than before, still looks extremely good.

    While I’m satisfied with the final product, but I was hoping to be blown away, as I have been recently with alot of other SCEA offerings. Especially given that I already has a predisposition towards loving the setting of Tsushima.

    Maybe some of the issues I mentioned could be fixed through some crafty patchwork or possibly reinstated for the (hopeful) Playstation 5 Upgraded Edition.

    Regardless, Sucker Punch should be proud of their overall work. A good title, slighly bogged down by some archaic facets.

    • After the latest patch, which I believe is 1.05, and over 60 hours of gameplay. I stand firmly to redact anything negative I had to say about Sucker Punch’s work on this title.

      It is easily one of the FIVE best games of this generation.

      Sucker Punch has gone above and beyond, even in this early stage, to remedy many of the issues I had with the game at launch.

      Granted, I still feel the HDR implementation takes a backseat to the Software Driven SDR lighting, but taking a backseat to something that makes the game look stunning isn’t really a complaint.

      Marvelous work Sucker Punch! Highly commendable and recommendable!

  • Need to be The Last of Us Part 2 first and then an easy light hearted game to step back and recharge after this incredible journey.
    I AM BEYOND STOKED to play this game. Congrats Sucker Punch on what I’m sure will be an amazing journey. You guys never disappoint.

    Side note – not sure how it works but would love a ps5 version of the infamous games from ps3. One of my favorite series from that generation of gaming.
    They would be benefit IMMENSELY from the power of the ps5.

  • Hello,

    This is my first time posting on these forums. I feel compelled to post a comment because I am very disappointed with some of the mechanics of this game. Specifically, I am disappointed in the fact that the game has no lock-on targeting mechanic.

    I now understand (after looking into it) that the developer chose not to include this mechanic for a variety of gameplay and narrative reasons. I believe this to be a little absurd given the kind of game it is. The developer could have at least made the camera work better to keep enemies in your field of view, or could have provided some sort of alternative for those of us who do prefer to lock onto enemies during combat. I am disappointed that the game doesn’t even give us the option. This is a problem because enemy placement is awkward at times.

    Unfortunately, I am unable to return the game given Sony’s refund policy. As a result, I am posting this in case someone at the company happens to read it as feedback. For my part, I won’t be playing this game unless and until lock-on targeting is added (I cannot “let my wallet do the talking” on this one because I already bought the game – a testament to the fact that I never even thought to look this up before purchasing the game given that third-person combat-oriented action games almost always have this mechanic). However, this experience has left me sour, and I will approach future purchases of Sony exclusives more cautiously. I am not sure what this means right now, but what I can say is that I am beginning to like your exclusives less and less, so much so that I’m considering switching to X-Box for the next generation due to the fact that they have been acquiring first-party studios (at this point, the only reason for me to even buy a future Sony console is to play the next entry in The Last of Us – a game that could take almost a decade to be released to the extent it is even in development right now; I might as well give the other side a try if I don’t really like your games all that much).

    I do hope you reconsider adding a targeting mechanic to the game.

    Thank you for your time.

    • I wrote about the lock on above but after a while it’s not a problem at all and I’ve completely forgot about wanting it.

      Change the camera speed to fast makes it feel better. Hardly an issue worth not playing it for.

  • cant wait to play this masterpiece

  • Been playing this great game since Friday. So hard to put down, can’t wait to see what else comes for Ghost.

  • ¡Qué gran trabajo chicos de SP! Respeto y sigan así

  • This is suppose to last me until November. I’m afraid that it may not. It’s so damn good. Its beautiful and I love the side missions. They are like mini stories. The game loads so fast. This is absolutely witch craft. Shame on Sucker Punch for making the greatest PS4 open world game.

  • Finished LOU2 and started playing this. Loving the mission; the visuals are stunning and even though I seldom use a photo mode I am often taking photos of landscapes which I cannot stop admiring. I am in awe of GOT and I just found myself wanting to play more and more. The art style is amazing and even though, in the beginning, I did not like the combat system I have grown to like it as I learn how to use stances. PS4 pro is leaving the space to PS5 but this game shows this console can still perform miracles.

  • Really nice to read and know about this.Just came here to thank y’all at SP for such an amazing game and for not disappointing your fans like some other devs do cough ND cough.Ghost was ma most anticipated game since its announcement in 2017 and that never changed,am like 15h in the game and can’t believe how amazing it is,you guys did nearly everything right.The amazing feel I get while playing it,PS4 couldn’t ask for a better game as its last.

    Totally worth the wait and couldn’t have come in a better time…I needed this to clean ma soul of the stinking putrefied TLoU 2 experience.

    PS:Just 1 thing SP please add playtime to it…not putting playtime in an open-world game is a huge mistake,I spend countless hours in open-world games and it’s always cool to know how much exactly so please SP add that.Thank you for such a fantastic game.

    GOTY.

  • AMAZING GAME!!

  • Congratulations!

    This game is a masterpiece and I hope that this is not the end of Tsushima. Maybe some DLC:s or a sequel to PS5? A whole new game with the same age and theme? Anyway, great job with this one.

    TLOU2 really have a true challenger when we are wrapping best games of 2020…

  • Please Sucker Punch
    New Game Plus please

  • It takes a long time for me, but the result is amazing. Great work!
    First I thought I’ll play stealth only, but now I need to say the open fights are funny as well.

    But I’ve got 2 wishes for the next upcoming update(s):
    (1) 3-5 Gear-Slots to change the clothes for travelling or visiting some villages/camps.
    (2) Insert a “New Game” option like “Horizon Zero Dawn” to play the story again, but with current/earned weapons, e. g. full Katana upgrade etc.

    At last a bug: As I tried to free the uncle, Jin was killed on the top floor. After reload the last saving the guards/enemies are away. I moved Jin 2-3 floors down and up again. Then the enemies spawned again and the door to uncle would be opend.

  • Congratulations Sucker Punch! This game is really amazing. Love everything about it 🙏

  • The game is amazing.
    Just please let us hide the bow/quiver.

    Having it hover on the back just pulls me right outta of the game.

  • I have a big problem with this game, I can’t quit a mission and now I’m stuck trying to forever defeat a boss :|. I’m at the mission “From Darkness”, and at the boss I hit abandon mission and that just resets the mission from the beginning, I can’t get back to the open world at all.

  • Ghosts of Tsushima is a brilliant game but desperately needs a new game plus!!

  • It would be great if loadout slots were added to Ghost of Tsushima so we can customize each set of armor with specific charms that work best. Since charms need to be changed on given situations, it makes it a bit cumbersome having to manually change each charm when you change your armor.
    Similar to the loadout slots we see in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

  • Really awesome game. It awhile to beat too, which is awesome. I hate when games are too short. But I am wondering, are there any plans for a multiplayer co-op style and/or open world DLC planned in the future? I think there would be a lot of great possibilities for multiplayer scenarios in this game…

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