Ghost of Tsushima's unique blend of stealth combat and sword fighting duels makes for some incredibly varied gameplay. It's that system that lies at the center of the game, according to Fleming, and it wasn't easy for Sucker Punch to get it right.
While speaking at a virtual AMA session during the GDC Showcase, Fleming was asked which Ghost of Tsushima feature was the most difficult for the Sucker Punch team to work on. Fleming responded with, "“Easy answer and the answer is combat. The combat system was something that the team that worked on that — the handful of programmers and designers and animators — you know they worked nonstop for six years and built multiple versions of it with multiple approaches.”
Fleming goes on to say it was a "long, difficult road" that required the team to test the combat in every lighting and terrain situation, or whatever "strange mode the game might be in" as combat could break out anywhere on the map. Some of the game's most brilliant moments are beautiful combat set pieces, like the Duel Among the Spider Lilies, or the Duel Under Autumn Leaves. Fleming says, however, that perfecting a combat system that could look and feel good on any terrain and in any lighting was an "elusive, nonstop effort over literally a six-year journey continuing to work on that." It's no wonder Ghost of Tsushima shines - there's been more than half a decade of work put into it.
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