Gaming

Ghost of Tsushima review: Making of a legend

A samurai’s journey

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Vengeful Samurai
Rids his land of invaders
Haunting. Like a ghost

Ghost of Tsushima is the last major PlayStation 4 exclusive before the PlayStation 5 hits the shelves. It has the unenviable task of closing a chapter in gaming, and it does so with a lot of heart and subtle flair.

You play as Jin Sakai — a samurai who survived the first confrontation against the Mongols. Among the samurais in the battlefield, it was only you and your uncle Lord Shimura who survived the attack, with many believing you had also fallen in battle.

KOMODO BEACH. Samurais clash against Mongols early in the game.

Your mission is to take the island back by any means necessary. Sometimes, that means going against the way of the samurai which you had dedicated your life to.

The story has several beats but the dilemma between tradition and progression is a constant theme. Many tales along the way reveal that people haven’t always stayed true to tradition, and how that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.

Fight like a samurai

Combat takes a lot of patience, discipline and precision. Especially during the early stages of the game where you’ll really have to rely on your skills to get through enemies.

I thought I had already learned to take my time in combat with a few previous games I played. However, my general lack of patience worked against me. Timing your parries can be hard even with visual cues from your opponents. Either that or my timing is just plain terrible.

Once you get the hang of combat, you’ll develop a thirst for battle. This is because the game does a good job of rewarding you with every successful execution.

You gain resolve with each kill. Resolve is what you use to replenish your health. So if you’re low on health and resolve, you’re actually encouraged to go into battle so you can live to fight another day.

You’ll also encounter different types of enemies. Each one can be dealt with more easily by using a certain sword stance.

You’ll acquire all four stances as you progress to the game, but you will definitely encounter foes you don’t have the exact stance for. This is where your parrying and dodging skills will really be put to test.

Stone, Water, Wind, and Moon – these are your fighting stances

There’s also a stand-off mode where you call out an opponent and you face each other head on. It’s pretty easy at first but, again, timing gets complicated when your opponent starts adding feints to throw you off.

Lastly, there are duels. It’s mostly reserved for key story moments or when acquiring certain mythic items. In terms of combat execution, it’s pretty much the same except your opponent won’t go down after a few thrusts and slashes.

Haunt like a ghost

You don’t always have to face your enemies head-on. You are, after all, trying to take down an entire invasion. Certain tales or missions require that you strike from the shadows. This is where your ghost skills and tools come in.

Much like the sword stances, it will take progressing through the game to unlock all the ghost skills and tools. Skills like focused hearing alter your surroundings so you can tell where each target is at. You move slowly at first but you earn skill points as you build your legend to unlock more skills.

The ghost tools are unlocked after certain points in the story. Some of them aid you in assassinations but some can be also used in direct combats. One especially useful tool is the smoke bomb.

You will inevitably face a horde of Mongols at certain points with a bunch of them attacking you almost simultaneously. Dropping a smoke bomb confuses your opponents and leaves them open to one slash or one thrust kills.

If you’ve played older Assassin’s Creed titles, raiding strongholds and assassinations will feel familiar in Ghost of Tsushima. Approaching from high ground, creating distractions to misdirect attention, all in the service of that slit-throat kill — all these come into play when attacking stealthily.

Every tale adds to your legend 

Ghost of Tsushima probably has the best side-quests in games released from the last two years. Everything you do in the island is interconnected and is aided by environmental cues.

To get to certain shrines you follow either a fox or a yellow bird. The fox only really guides you to the Inari shrines which help open up charm slots to aid you in battle.

Meanwhile, the bird guides you to mostly every other objective — be it an item you can retrieve, a spot to reflect and write a haiku, or the next tale to tackle to continue Jin’s journey.

The game offers a style of play where you rely solely on these things to progress. For an open-world game done as well as Ghost of Tsushima, that’s a perfect way to get lost in its world.

The island of Tsushima is divided into three main areas. The main story will have you progressing towards the north of the island to ultimately rid the place of Mongol forces. But progressing through the story is only half the fun.

The island is teeming with stories that range from gut-wrenching to light-hearted moments to help balance the general grief everyone in the island feels.

Ghost of Tsushima_20200708233214

The side quests do not seem like side quests at all. Each one feels like a small chapter in the bigger story that is being told. Tales from villagers will have you facing off against bandits or taking down Mongol strongholds.

There are also tales corresponding to key characters — allies in your battle to liberate Tsushima. All of which reveal an unexpected truth with each character. The way of the samurai is held in such high regard, but some of the tales will show how even those devoted to that path can stray from it.

Slay in subtle style

Everything about Ghost of Tsushima’s style and visuals is just absolutely stunning to me. Persona 5 was lauded for being a very loud and stylish depiction of modern Japan, this game should be lauded about style but for a different reason.

First, the environment. I’ve seen people talk about grass mechanics. Honestly, it’s not one of the things I usually look at when playing, but rest assured this game does it right just as well as the best ones.

It is, after all, built upon the idea that you can explore the island with a minimal game hub. This is so you can take in Tsushima in all its glory and explore every nook and cranny of the island to your heart’s desire.

The color palette of the game’s menu screen is also extremely satisfying. It’s mostly neutral colors highlighted with red or yellow/gold. It certainly took a minimalistic approach — a characteristic that most associate with Japan.

The Mythic Tales are also done exquisitely. These tales net you key items or techniques — all born from the legendary stories told amongst Tsushima’s inhabitants. In this case, you search the island for musicians who will tell the tale.

Each tale is told with the visual aid of Sumi-e or Japanese Ink Painting. Every tale feels epic as it is being told, and each item or technique learned in the pursuit of each tale proves incredibly useful in battle.

Everything flows seamlessly

Every single element in Ghost of Tsushima flows seamlessly. From combat to exploration, absolutely nothing feels out of place. It all makes sense within the confines of the story.

There are no mindless fetch quests or fighting for no reason. You roam different parts of the island with the ultimate goal of freeing it from the Mongols’ control. This, while also dealing with bandits and traitors — which also goes to show how not even a single, formidable enemy can unite a people.

You will deal with many emotions as you progress through the game. The constant tug of war between the traditional ways of the samurai and the necessity to fight in the shadows is reflected in many different tales of the story. It’s the theme that, at its facade, feels old and tired, but is given new life and deeper meaning in the story.

Being the sole surviving samurai following the initial Mongol siege, you turn into the de facto hero. Jin, naturally, was reluctant at first. But as his legend grows, so does the hope of the people that they can indeed fight back and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

This hope is forged through your countless exploits around Tsushima. Freeing one area after another, taking down strongholds, and using both all you learned as a samurai and the ghost methods you’re forced into by necessity — all of it adds to one grand legend. The legend that is the Ghost of Tsushima.


Ghost of Tsushima will launch on the PS4 on July 17, 2020

Gaming

Marvel’s Midnight Suns now available worldwide

On PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC

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Marvel's Midnight Suns

Tactical action RPG Marvel’s Midnight Suns is now officially available worldwide. It is playable on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Midnight Suns is created by Firaxis Games — the studio behind the critically-acclaimed, world-renowned XCOM and Civilization franchises. The game promises a rich story, character relationships, customization and progression of an RPG. And combines these with tactical strategy and combat mechanics of a card-based tactics game.

What to expect on gameplay?

Midnight Suns

Your Marvel Adventure. You are the Hunter, the first customizable original hero in the Marvel Universe. Lead a legendary collection of heroes that span across the Avengers, X-Men, Runaways, and more as you customize your team, tailor your selection of abilities to suit your playstyle and unlock iconic outfits that will delight any Marvel fan.

Explore the Darker Side of Marvel. Rise up against the demonic forces of Lilith and experience an immersive personal story that brings familiar heroes to an unfamiliar world, filled with the supernatural and the mystical. The stakes are higher than ever as you face-off against fallen versions of iconic Marvel characters and attempt to stop Lilith from reviving her evil master, Chthon.

Live Among the Legends. See heroes in a new light and unlock additional abilities as you develop relationships and strengthen personal bonds outside the field of battle with some of your favorite Marvel Super Heroes such as Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain Marvel. Dive deep and explore the Abbey – your very own mystical secret base – as you explore the grounds and uncover its hidden mysteries.

Fight and Think like a Super Hero. From the creators of the critically-acclaimed tactical XCOM series comes a new engaging and deeply customizable card-based battle system that rewards clever thinking with Super Hero flair. Team up with your fellow heroes, assess the battlefield and launch devastating iconic attacks against the forces of darkness.

Different Editions

Midnight Suns

Legendary Edition

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be available in four editions: Standard Edition, Enhanced Edition, Digital+ Edition, and Legendary Edition:

Standard Edition (US$ 59.99) on Windows PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. It includes the base game.

Enhanced Edition (US$ 69.99) on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. It includes a next-gen optimized version of the game for next-gen consoles and five premium cosmetic skins.

The Digital+ Edition (US$ 79.99) on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. It includes 11 premium cosmetic skins. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S SKUs include the next-gen optimized version of the game for next-gen consoles.

The Legendary Edition (US$ 99.99) on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. It includes the Marvel’s Midnight Suns Season Pass. The pass contains 23 premium cosmetic skins for the base game. It also has 4 post-launch DLC packs, each featuring a new playable character, new missions, new enemies, and additional character skins.

These are all based on 2K’s suggested retail pricing. You may check with your local stores and your region’s digital stores for local pricing.

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Gran Turismo 7 might get a PC port

According to the creator

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Between last year’s Forza Horizon 5 and the upcoming Need for Speed Unbound, it’s a great time to be a racing gamer. Now, if you prefer playing on the PC, you’re likely getting another title to fuel your racing ambitions. According to the creator himself, Gran Turismo 7 might make a pitstop for PC.

Speaking to GTPlanet, Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is “looking into” a PC port for the latest entry to the series. Released back in March, Gran Turismo 7 became the quintessential racing simulator for the PlayStation 5 (and the PlayStation 4, too).

That’s no surprise, though. If the “7” in the name of its latest entry hasn’t given it away, the Gran Turismo series has (usually) wowed gamers for years using the top-of-the-line hardware packed inside the most recent PlayStation console. It highlights and underlines the “simulator” in the car simulator genre.

However, amid all the hype, the series had a major flaw: You need a PlayStation. Now, as more former exclusives are making their way to the PC, the racing simulator might join in, adding another playable title for PC gamers. If the title makes the jump, it will join illustrious names like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Days Gone, and Uncharted. In fact, more are likely on the way. Sony is now fine with exclusive titles making the jump.

SEE ALSO: Gran Turismo 7: For car enthusiasts

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Gaming

Genshin Impact v. 3.3 to arrive on December 7

First trading card game also announced

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Genshin Impact v. 3.3

Version 3.3 of global gaming sensation Genshin Impact, called All Sense Clear, All Existence Void will finally be available on December 7.

There will be a new season of events, and two new playable allies in the powerful Wanderer and Faruzan to surprise players with more stories, fun, and challenges.

The trailer for version 3.3 may be viewed here:

Trading card game announced

Genshin Impact v. 3.3

On top of this, HoYoverse announced its first trading card game — Genius Invokation TCG. With it,  players will soon be able to duel NPCs, friends, and others online.

This combines the fun of Genshin Impact’s element-based combat system with strategy development, as players compete against each other with their collection of cards.

More wins here equal more redeemable cards and Dynamic Skins from the Card Shop.

Wander in the Archon Quest interlude chapter

After being defeated in the Archon Quest main story, Scaramouche is now the Wanderer in the interlude chapter called Inversion of Genesis.

Here, players will head to Irminsul with the Wanderer to discover how the story unfolds. The character is playable as a five-star Anemo catalyst wielder, and can hover and attack in mid-air.

The other character, Faruzan, will be a four-star Anemo archer. She’s an ageless Akademiya genius in mechanics. The character also wields a bow as a weapon and supports teammates with Anemo DMG Bonus effects.

There will also be more challenges as the new seasonal special “Akitsu Kimodameshi” is set to arrive. Players will meet with Arataki Itto to master a series of “brick-breaker” mini-games.

Another special event, “Across the Wilderness” will require players to collect Wilderness Balloons.

Windtrace and Misty Dungeon shall likewise return with new updates.

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