Ghost of Tsushima showed off 18 minutes of gameplay today, and there's good news for anyone who loves roaming an open world, hunting down every quest, and checking every dark nook and cranny for curios. Watching Jin ride his white horse through the lush landscapes of feudal Japan, I got the same tingles of greedy excitement I felt starting The Witcher 3 or Red Dead Redemption 2. It's a massive, beautiful map, and it's all mine to play in.
Something in the wind
One major draw is the minimal UI. Instead of ugly icons, the guiding wind - breezes full of blossoms - direct you to the waypoint you picked out on your map. If you're trying to find something new and undiscovered, Sucker Punch has turned to nature to be your tour guide. In the demo, we saw a yellow bird showing the way to a man with warnings of vengeful samurai spirits - I smell a quest - and a fox that could lead you to a hidden shrine. Bonus, you can pet the hell out of that fox. Even in the small section Sucker Punch showed off today, the world felt alive, rather than just a lot of pretty set dressing.
Sucker Punch's Jason Connell also hinted that less feathered and furry landmarks can alert you to areas of interest, like smokestacks on the horizon that will lead you to people in need, or even odd-shaped trees. That's going to lead to a lot of me making weird eye contact with maple trees, but at least the game is outrageously pretty. There are worse things to stare at like a garden pervert.
Weeding for war
We got a glimpse of how you'll live in the world, picking up bamboo for crafting and flowers for dyes that can customize Jin's armor. A gorgeous open world can feel very empty if you can't interact with it, and I'm a sucker for the small dopamine rush of spotting a handful of useful herbs in the middle of a meadow. From what we saw in the demo, it looks like you'll also need iron and yew, linen, and supplies, and the full game will no doubt have me stressing over some rare resource with the same fervor as toilet paper panic buyers.
What we didn't get to see today was much in the way of NPC sidequests - this demo was very much about how we'll interact with the setting, not the people - but with a world so rich in legend and life it feels as if my July is going to be very busy helping the wounded, dealing with bandits, and freeing villages from Mongol hordes.
An infamous past
It's hard to imagine a landscape more different from the grimy, urban sprawl of Infamous than the meadows and mountains of feudal Japan, but Sucker Punch proved it could make a cohesive, lively open world with the superhero series. Empire City may not have been as large as the Island of Tsushima, but you were encouraged to explore every inch of it with breadcrumbs of quests, NPC behavior and collectibles, the game always ready to pull you off the story path and into a little journey of your own. Jin's story looks to be building on those foundations and hitting it with all the power of a console that's in the last few months of its prime.
If you haven't already, here's how you can sort out a Ghost of Tsushima pre-order.