One of the undisputed highlights of E3 2018 was seeing the first full gameplay reveal for Sucker Punch Productions’ majestic new samurai action epic, Ghost of Tsushima.
Too busy gawping at the game’s stunning visuals to catch the finer details of the game’s combat, traversal and environmental storytelling? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Cinematics and Animation Director Billy Harper gave us a blow-by-blow run down of the clip, pulling out a few things you might have missed…
Welcome to Tsushima
“As Cinematics Director I was most excited to work on this shot. When I was a kid, while everyone else was watching The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars, I was watching Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. So many of the cinematics in our game are a love letter to Akira Kurosawa.”
“I was fortunate enough to go on a research trip to Tsushima Island with the team. As soon as we got off the plane we went to this location. It’s on the top of a hill and I got to stand and overlook the bay. In the game, you’ll be able to go anywhere you can see from here.
“We’re really fortunate to be part of Sony Worldwide Studios. We’re very collaborative – we’ve worked with Naughty Dog, Guerrilla, Santa Monica and Japan Studio in the past. But in this instance we worked with Japan Studio particularly closely.
“They’ve consulted a lot on the game and arranged the trips we took to Japan. We continue to reach out to them for advice and to have them let us know that we are doing things right!”
Brawl in the mud
“This is an actual attack the player can perform.”
“We had three things in mind when we put together this sequence: mud, blood and steel. We put a lot of tech into the visual effects for the mud and blood, and what you can do with the katana.
“Look at him roll around in the mud as he’s fighting – you can see the dynamic mud in action. These aren’t just textures that are turned on – it’s actually dynamic mud that sticks to you.
“We’ve done this demo several times and each person in the pit always comes out looking different depending how it’s been played. They all look like they’ve been through a struggle and a fight. You will feel like a warrior – the mud is all over everybody.”
“This is Masako – she’s a skilled warrior.
“We want to make sure that everyone knows that what you’re seeing in this demo is a sidequest – it’s not part of the main throughline for Jin. It was important for us to have this first experience of gameplay for viewers to be through the lens of what a sidequest is, to show the depth of the game and how seriously we are taking the open world experience.”
The temple assassination
“This is an important element of the game – the evolution of our hero as he goes from being a samurai into something different; into being the ghost.
“We have that fluid motion through the environment that Sucker Punch is known for, and these stealth opportunities you can engage in.”
“If you see something and you expect to be able to climb on it, then we want you to be able to climb on it.”
“Assassinations are one of the tactics you can use. There’s a fear factor here. If you do successfully assassinate someone then it stuns the other enemies around you and gives you an opportunity to perform follow-up attacks.
“We will have a HUD but decided not to have it in the demo in order to offer a more cinematic experience. But one thing we did learn internally was that people reacted very positively to not having it there so we are going to look for ways to make it minimal.
“The perfect example of this is the chain attack that happened when Jin drops down into the temple. One of our UI artists came up with a way to communicate to the player visually how they have opportunities to perform actions without utilising UI.”
“Another important element in the demo is the duel with Masako – not just because the duel is a unique type of fighting you can do, as opposed to the normal combat against a group of enemies, but also because we want to highlight the fact that what is happening is something that happened to real people.
“People react to conflict in different ways. They have different motives. It’s a human-scale interaction that happens within this larger conflict. This is just one of many of these, and in this particular case Masako and Jin have motives that are at odds, forcing them to face off against each other.”
“Look at the leaves. They are actually reacting to the player’s every motion.”
“This symbol is Jin’s family mon. You might have noticed a cool Easter egg in our debut trailer we released at Paris Games Week last year. There’s a shot that’s very similar to this where Jin is riding on a horse and there are two mountains in the distance. Those mountains do represent something and are the inspiration for Jin’s mon.”