Ahead of its 17th July launch on PS4, Sony has offered a closer look at developer Sucker Punch's open-world samurai adventure Ghost of Tsushima, and, as if there was any doubt left after previous showings, it's looking utterly breathtaking.
At its heart, Ghost of Tsushima appears to be a fairly traditional open-world adventure, enabling players to explore the titular island, engaging with enemies along the way. There are two paths to the action - the samurai path, which sees protagonist Jin entering direct confrontations with opponents, and the ghost path, which offers a more stealthy approach to challenges.
The former gives players access to a range of combat stances, with different stances proving more effective against different enemies, and swordplay is built around needing to parry enemies at the last possible moment in order to break their defences. As for stealth, it's your usual game of sneakery and distraction, with players able to toss firecrackers, ring bells, or drop smoke bombs to get the slip on opponents, grappling to higher ground if need be.
None of which sounds like a particularly radical deviation from similarly styled games but that's hardly a complaint if it's sufficiently satisfying to play. And besides, I'd wager most people won't be signing up specifically for Ghost of Tsushima's action, but rather to get thoroughly lost in its staggeringly beautiful world, which we were offered another tour of today.
Indeed, Ghost of Tsushima is gorgeous, packed with endlessly arresting vistas that forever dance and sway in the wind - all shimmering blades of grass, swirling leaves, drifting fog, and flexing boughs; there are fields of rich deep greens pocked with starkly coloured flowers, mountain top shrines bathed in yellow blossoms, mist shrouded lakes, moonlight hued settlements, and more, and it's never less than stunning.
Better yet, Sucker Punch is doing its damnedest not to distract from that beauty, by incorporating navigation mechanics integrated naturally with the world; Sony's latest livestream showcased the Guiding Wind, for instance, a more immersive take on your usual objective marker, with its directional gusts pointing players toward their next chosen destination.
And for those that thrill in off-the-beaten-path exploration, subtle visual cues - whether they be smoke stacks, unusually shaped trees, or wild animals - are used to tease players to points of interest. Foxes, for instance, will lead players to shrines where Minor Charms can be found. There's certainly a touch of The Witcher 3 about Tsushima's horseback exploration and scavenging, but again, that's hardly a poor core to build your own unique action around.
Elsewhere, Sucker Punch gave a brief look at Charms - used to increase the potential of different abilities - and at armour sets, each offering different mechanical advantages and customisable using dye flowers. There's also a Photo Mode - featuring familiar options such as colour grading and depth of field, as well as more exotic additions, including the ability to adjust wind direction and particle effects, adding drifting fireflies or dancing leaves at will.
Rounding off today's closer look at Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch confirmed a Japanese voice track will be available for added authenticity, and that those really wishing to lean into the game's samurai movie aesthetic can opt for Samurai Cinema mode, which increases the wind, adds a stark black-and-white filter, and amplifies film grain.
More will be revealed, according to the developer, in the run up to release on 17th July.